I have only studied French for a week. I run into the word "compte" and when I check my dictionary it appears that it is pronounced as: "\kɔ̃t\". I have also run the word through various speech-machines and I get an impression that there is a slight "m"-sound but I am not 100%.

Perhaps any of you can tell me if it is general rule that words beginning with: "com" suppress the "m"?

  • 2
    It's the same sound for a majority of French user as "con + consonant (other that other "n", or "m" in our case to double it)". It's the rule that transforms the "n" before a "p" or a "b".The 'p' is also mute in our case, and its presence is here for etymological reasons ("computus" from Latin).
    – Larme
    Sep 5, 2016 at 11:25
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    The best audio resource for French pronunciation, in my opinion, is Forvo. Real French-speaking people, not speech-machines. :-)
    – mlj
    Sep 5, 2016 at 17:24

3 Answers 3


As a French person, I'd say it is a specific case: the root "comp-" is never pronounced with a "m". For instance, the "m" is silent in "comparable", "compatibilité", etc. It is also silent in "comte".

However if there is a double "m", then it is pronounced: "commutation", "commère", "commentaire".

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    In the latter examples, the "m" is indeed pronounced but you should state there is no nasalisation: /ɔ̃/. The "o" is simply pronounced /ɔ/ or /o/, depending on the accent.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 5, 2016 at 11:01

Compte is pronounced the same way than conte and comte.

The problem for you is the "-omp-" part: in this case it's pronounced like a "on".

The same sound than in bon, maison, garçon, leçon...


The classical grammar rule says :

"before m, b, p, one always replaces the n by an m. The only exception is the word 'bonbon'"

The French prefix "con" is also used in English, and means "with". Without that rule, we would write "conmerce","conbinaison", "conptable", but the rule being applied, we write "commerce","combinaison","comptable",

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