I was watching this video and she says that quatre pronounce as "cat".

Also vingt pronounce as "va" and vingt et un pronounce without et.

But this webbpage says that quatre pronounce as qatre and that's more fair in my opinion. Also vingt pronounce as vint and vingt et un pronounce as vint e a. Which is more close to just vint a

Also listen to quatre in the web page. It's not pronounced as cat.

So which one is right? Is there a dialect between them two?

French numbers 1-100 (Learn French With Alexa)

French numbers

  • You are hitting one of my pet gripes! Welcome, by the way :-) It seems to be mostly English speakers who sin against French (and just about any other language). The worst one, which makes me shiver every time, is when I hear 'Ypres' pronounced as 'Eep'.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Jan 13, 2020 at 11:01
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    Note that both your links point to the same page Jan 14, 2020 at 8:07
  • 1
    The problem with us English folk is we heard the "un-deux-trois cats sank" rhyme in our youth ... Jan 15, 2020 at 19:47
  • @WillCrawford I heard that French people don't prononce some letters in a word. Why? Was it to hard?
    – euraad
    Jan 15, 2020 at 20:27
  • 2
    Eliding the odd syllable here and there is just as common in English as it is in French, and I've already come across a few common Japanese phrases that drop a mora or two. I think sometimes it's not so much difficulty, as that things you say often and are more than a handful of words seem to want to be abridged... :) For example, "je suis" often becomes something like "schwee" and similar contractions happen to "je ne suis pas" ("schwee pa") and "je ne sais pas" ("chez pa"). Jan 15, 2020 at 21:10

4 Answers 4


Quatre is often pronounced a little like the English "cat" or "cut" (but with a slightly different vowel) unless it is followed by a word starting with a vowel in which case the /r/ is almost always pronounced (e.g. Elle a quatre ans). The final r might not be pronounced in quatre euros (c'est quat'euros) and in a very few cases, an extra /z/ appears in spoken French (quatre-z-yeux, quatre-z-amis, ...). See La fausse liaison dans "quatres enfants" ?

When quatre is ending a sentence, it is also often pronounced /kat/ (e.g. J'en ai vu quat re.)

Vingt before a pause can be pronounced with or without the final t. There is no single "standard pronunciation", the standard mostly depending on the region. The g is on the other hand never pronounced. The pronunciation of the nasal vowel in widely vary depending on the region or the people, and might indeed be close to the vowel /a/. The et of vingt-et-un is always pronounced so vingt-et-un is never pronounced like would be the hypothetical vingt-un (or vingt ans) and even less like we pronounce quatre-vingt-un (where no /t/ is heard).

See also: Pronunciation of "vingt"


Mathieu Avanzi, le français de nos régions :

enter image description here

  • "cat"? You mean "cut", don't you? I learnt "cut-r" or "cut-r(ö)". Disclaimer: Neither English nor French is my native language. Jan 14, 2020 at 14:07
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    @rexkogitans It might be either. The way the vowel is pronounced in the French quat' or the English cat and cut substantially vary depending on the locutor. The usual phonological representation of quat' is /kat/ while "cat" is either /kat/ or /kæt/ and "cut" is /kʌt/. Your mileage may vary.
    – jlliagre
    Jan 14, 2020 at 14:33
  • I once spoke with an alsacien and we were arguing over the pronounciation of vingt, as I pronounce it vin and him vinT, so I asked him to say 80 and he pronounced it quatre-vin (without the final T). Funny, right?
    – Rafalon
    Jan 15, 2020 at 7:44
  • @Rafalon Well, that's the standard pronunciation in eastern France. Do you pronounce the T in cent euros ?
    – jlliagre
    Jan 15, 2020 at 17:11
  • @jlliagre No, I don't. Do they?
    – Rafalon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 7:30

In everyday speech, these are generally fine.

  • vingt can sound as if it has /ɑ̃/ like "an" rather than /ɛ̃/ like "in" depending on how far back the speaker pronounces that vowel. Compare the first two recordings here. And here, one speaker actually uses the same vowel for "cent" and "vingt", whereas the other doesn't.
    • To my knowledge, most speakers delete /t/, but some do not. However, in "vingt-et-un", the liaison from "et" means you will hear the /t/ on the end of "vingt". Listen here.
  • et can be virtually elided in fast speech — not totally but enough to make it hard to hear
  • quatre will tend to lose the /r/, much like every word ending in "-re" or "-le" (table /tab/) when speaking informally

We'd need to see the video to know for sure, but from the description that pronunciation is okay.

  • 6
    I would note that while 21 is "vingt et un", 81 is "quatre-vingt un" without the "et". This may be part of the confusion surrounding the "et". Jan 13, 2020 at 9:12
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    @MatthieuM. No, the two contexts have nothing to do with one another. Just as you keep apart without problem such constructions as « entre chien et loup » and « un chien-loup » so do you not mix « vingt-et-un » and « quatre vingt un».
    – LPH
    Jan 13, 2020 at 13:03
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    @LPH but people who are still learning the language may nonetheless be confused from time to time about which number properly includes the word et.
    – phoog
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:27
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    I'm not convinced by your liaison explanation. The t is also pronounced in vingt-deux, vingt-trois, ... where there is no such liaison.
    – Édouard
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:38
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    @PatrickT Vingue-teu-quatre, really!! 😲
    – jlliagre
    Jan 14, 2020 at 21:30

La langue populaire, à peu près partout, réduit au premier élément les groupes consonantiques finaux dont le deuxième élément est r ou l : quatre prononcé °[kᴀt] ; souffle prononcé °[suf].
À l'intérieur d'un syntagme, cela appartient simplement au registre familier : Votre papa [vɔt pᴀpᴀ]. Dans le nom composé quatre-quatre (§ 597, d, 1°[« véhicule automobile dont les quatre roues sont motrices. »]), la prononciation [kᴀt] pour le premier élément est à peu près générale.
Devant voyelle, le groupe reste intact : Quatre amies.
Autres réductions populaires : -isme, -iste prononcés °[is] dans communisme, communiste, par ex. ; — ex- prononcé °[ɛs] devant consonne : dans exclure, par ex.

[ Le bon usage, Grevisse et Goosse, éd. Duculot, 14e, §36 « suites consonantiques » c) ]

  • Il y a 20 ans on constatait déjà : « [...] tout le monde relâche sa prononciation de façon naturelle, réductions de formes discursives ou non : les jeunes ne sont pas des « massacreurs de la langue » pas plus que les personnes âgées ne sont les « invalides de la langue ». Au-delà de problèmes de génération, le stéréotype de la dévaluation de la jeunesse semble très prégnant : il permet de légitimer le discours de ceux pour qui évolution et dégradation sont confondues. » (Wachs Sandrine. Le relâchement de la prononciation en français parlé en Ile de France. (résumé), Lang. et soc., 1998).
    – user19187
    Jan 13, 2020 at 22:38
  • Re: your comment: Just because young people tended to speak a certain way twenty years ago, that doesn't necessarily mean that they continued to speak that way as they grew older. Age-related speech differences can be stable for a surprisingly long time. (Example #1: in anglophone Canada, the letter 'Z' in anglophone Canada is called /ziː/ by children and /zɛd/ by adults. This has been the case for several decades at least. Example #2: in Alsace, people have claimed for generations that alsacien is on the verge of death because kids no longer learn it.)
    – ruakh
    Jan 14, 2020 at 1:03

I "Quatre" will be pronounced "cat" especially in rapid speech. At the end of a sentence it is never pronounced "cat" (substandard).

  • Combien de chaises se trouvent dans cette pièce ? Il y en a quatre.
  • Combien en voyez-vous ? J'en vois quatre. Je vais les prendre tous les quatre.

For instance, it is impossible to say "quatre cents fois" rapidly, you have to say "cat cents fois". However, when speaking slowly you do have a choice and it is not wrong to say "quatre cents fois" in full.

II "Vingt-et-un" should always be pronounced /vɛ̃.t‿e œ̃/. The type of pronouciation that you can hear on this page, https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/vingt-et-un#Prononciation, is not recommanded; you can still make out /e/ but it is blurred and almost melted into the following /œ̃/; that is not typical of people who speak well.

III "Vingt" is pronounced "vint" in some régions of France, but that is not standard French; the standard pronunciation is "vin" [vε ̃] (TLFi); here are three very good pronunciations of "vingt": https://fr.forvo.com/word/vingt/.

  • 2
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Evpok
    Jan 13, 2020 at 12:53
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    "At the end of a sentence it is never pronounced "cat" (substandard).". This is inaccurate.
    – user19187
    Jan 13, 2020 at 22:29

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