I just started learning French, and I came across the word enfant. The question I have concerns this word's pronunciation. I looked in the dictionary, and it said /ɑ̃fɑ̃/, which is supposed to sound like "amfam" ("am" as in the word champ and "f" as in the word flip or "at).

Is that really the correct way to say it? Whenever I hear the word in online dictionaries, I can clearly hear a hard "n" and not an "m" like in "amfam."

  • 3
    Your confusion comes from the fact that the combination of letters am (in the word champ) is pronounced just like the combination an. So champ and enfant have the same sound /ɑ̃ /. And that is pronounced like the word en. If you listen to en on Forvo you have the exact sound (the clearest pronunciation to me is probably the 4th one, female, French). Two good pronunciations of enfant on that page of Forvo.
    – None
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 7:55
  • On wikipedia the list of the various ways the sound /ɑ̃ / can be written in French.
    – None
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 8:04
  • 1. "am" as in "champ" is wrong and very far from the correct sound (at least if you are American -- I don't know how British people pronounce the vowel in champ). If you are American, think of a Southerner saying "aw" in "lawn." Or, better, search for french nasal vowels on youtube, where you can find lessons. 2. If you are hearing an "n" in the dictionary, something is wrong with the dictionary.
    – hunter
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 13:30
  • (I think the OP is referring to the English word "Champ." If OP is referring to the French word "champ" then disregard part 1 of my previous comment.)
    – hunter
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 13:34
  • 1
    @Laure, you should post your comment as an Answer below.
    – Sifu
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 19:16

2 Answers 2


Actually to pronounce "enfant" you can put your tongue completely into sleeping mode. Don't try to pronounce any "hard n" or "m" or other consonant except for for the "f".

Other than that, what the comments under your post says is right, pronounce it like the little word "en".

Other examples of the pronunciation of both "en" and "ant" can be found in following words:

"grand" (tall) "gens" (peoples) "empathie" (empathy) "France"

I hope I could help!


I had a lot of trouble to explain how to pronounce this to my Chinese friend. I went with the following explanation:

First you have 3 nasalized vowels sound: an, on and in each one derived from the vowels a, o and è respectively. (en actually pronounce very similarly to an, I would not do the distinction as beginner)

To pronounce the n sound you let air go trough your nose. For those you need to put the front of your mouth in the position you would to pronounce the associated vowels (a -> an, o -> on and è -> in) and arrange the back of the mouth let air go trough your nose like for n.

It is quite hard to explain how to do it but I hope this help.

  • Explaining that the sound which is written in comes from the vowel i is wrong. The in sound uses ɛ as base vowel (usually written è or ê). See this answer for more correspondances. And by the way, Polish has similar sounds (nasalized vowels). Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 11:28
  • @StéphaneGimenez thank you for the correction, answer accordingly edited.
    – Oneira
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 13:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.