Essentials of Spoken French – Cutting the “e”

A correct French sentence: Je suis dans le train, je crois qu’on aura du retard.
How we actually say: J’suis dans l’train, j’crois qu’on aura du r’tard.

It’s part of why it’s so hard to understand fast spoken French!
Let’s see how you can make sense of it.

Let’s dive into cutting the “e”.

Want all the vocabulary of the lesson ?

1) Cutting the “e” in correct, textbook French

Cutting the “e” happens in correct, textbook French.
Especially when two vowels are being placed next to one another.

For instance, with Je (= I) :
Je + vowel → J’
Je + ai = J’ai (= I have)
J’ai froid. = I’m cold.

Same thing with Le / La (= the) :
Le / La + vowel → L’
Le + éléphant = L’éléphant (= the elephant)
La + amie = L’amie (= female friend)

And more rules that appear in textbooks.
But in everyday spoken French, we tend to go even further in cutting the “e.”

2) Cutting the “e” in everyday spoken French: Je, Le, Te, Me...

In everyday spoken French, in order to speak faster, French people often drop the “e” even before a consonant.
For instance:
Je + verb → J’ + verb
Je suis → J’suis (= I am. That’s pronunciation only, don’t write it that way!)
Je comprends pas → J’comprends pas. (= I don’t understand.)
Je crois. → J’crois. (= I believe / I think)

Or almost anytime the letter “e” is pronounced “uh”. For another example:
Le + consonant → L’ too !
Le train → L’train (= the train)
Je suis dans le train. → “J’suis dans l’train.” (= I’m on the train.)

It works with reflexive pronouns too!
Me / Te / Se → M’, T’, S’…
Je me lève. → Je m’lève. (= I’m getting up.) (or J’me lève !)
Tu te réveilles. → Tu t’réveilles. (= You’re waking up.)

3) Cutting the “e” in spoken French: nouns and adjectives

Cutting the “e” also applies inside nouns and adjectives:
Petit → P’tit (= small, short ; the final “t” is silent)
C’est un petit train. → C’est un p’tit train. (= It’s a small train)

Le retard → Le r’tard (= lateness)
On aura du retard. → On aura du r’tard. (= We’ll be late.)

And that’s why you can pronounce:
Je suis dans le train, je crois qu’on aura du retard.
→ J’suis dans l’train, j’crois qu’on aura du r’tard.
= I’m on the train, I think we’ll be late.


4) Cutting the “e” : the limitations

Cutting the “e” doesn’t always work. Or at least it’s not that simple.

a) It depends on your accent.
→ For instance, French people in the South don’t cut the same “e” (or as often) as in Paris.

b) It only works for “e” when it sounds like “uh.”
→ Not when it sounds like “é” / “è” (“eh / ey”). For example, l’éléphant is never shortened into “l’él’phant” or “l’léphant”.

c) You shouldn’t overdo it.
→ Too many consonants in a row, or the wrong ones, can make cutting an “e” impossible. You couldn’t quickly pronounce J’m’lève for example (cutting two “e” in a row). We pronounce samedi as sam’di (= Saturday), but we don’t cut the “e” in mercredi (= Wednesday) because “merc’r’di” would be too tough to pronounce.

d) Sometimes it actually is the official pronunciation.
→ For longer adverbs for instance, such as parfaitement pronounced parfait’ment (= perfectly) ou totalement pronounced “total’ment (= totally.)

Now you’re ready to practice cutting the “e” ! Congrats! 🎉🎉🎉

Practice understanding fast spoken French right now with a scene from a real French movie. You’ll also get to learn more about French accents, AND other spoken French essentials.

Click on these links to get to the next lesson for you:

Cutting letters / Understanding Spoken French with l’Auberge Espagnole
French Accent tips for English speakers
Other Spoken French Essentials videos

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

Double your Frenchness! Get my 10-day “Everyday French Crash Course” and learn more spoken French for free. Students love it! Start now and you’ll get Lesson 01 right in your inbox, straight away.

Click here to sign up for my FREE Everyday French Crash Course

Join the conversation!

Double Your Frenchness

Crash Course

Enroll in in my free 10-lesson course that has helped thousands like you 2x their Everyday French in 10 days!

Share this post!


Download this lesson as a PDF!

Please enter your name and email address to get the lesson as a free PDF!