Can you give some examples of the aspirated "h", as in when the h is aspirated vs. unaspirated at the beginning of a word? Thanks!
There are two types of -H in French :
- H aspiré ( aspirate)
- H muet ( mute/silent)
1. - H aspiré ( aspirate)
It works like a consonant, it is not sounded or aspirated as its name indicates but its presence is felt by the lack of elision and liaison.
le haut = the top
en haut = at the top
la hâche= the axe
le haricot = the bean
la haine = hatred
le hibou = the owl
la harpe = the harp
le hublot = the porthole
le hareng = herring
Haïr = to hate
Hâcher = to mince
Hâleter = to pant
2. H muet ( mute)
An H mute ( or silent) is a consonant that is not sounded ( unlike in English) just as if it wasn’t there at all. You will use an elision and a liaison.
l’hôtel = the hotel
l’hôpital = the hospital
l’heure = the time
l’horloge = the clock
l’homme = the man
les hommes ( sounding the -s as a -z) = men
It is just a case of getting used to which ones are sounded or not.
The term is essentially a misnomer as, although the words determined as 'h aspiré' may have had an aspirated, or pronounced, h at some stage, they are not pronounced differently in French than expected for words that have 'h muet'. h aspiré words however do not undergo elision or liaison as the h at the beginning of the word is treated as a consonant, not a vowel.There is no easy way to 'guess' (even though foreign words are often in the list) - another one of the features of French vocabulary that has to be learned as the word is encountered. See link https://www.lawlessfrench.com/pronunciation/h-aspire/
The answers to this question of yours, Karthik, would have made an excellent lesson by itself, especially in preparation for the extensive lesson on Tout/Tous/Toute/Toutes. Beforehand, I hadn't realized there were two distinctions of pronounced "h"s, so that in testing myself for improvement using the example sentences, I kept getting one or two wrong but didn't understand why. Thanks for your question --and its answers, Cecile and Maarten.
The examples are from a lesson I have been working on but which had to be put aside as other material had to be created but I am glad you found it useful.
The prononciation of the -h is interesting across languages and it is why French people pronouncing English words often sound as if they are 'dropping their aitches' and the Spanish often make it sound like a jota ( -j).
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