If you are just learning to speak French, one of the first things you will learn is to count to ten. Counting to ten is an excellent practice to continue learning French, since you will be able to work on the pronunciation of certain letters, such as r and u, which have sounds that do not exist in Spanish. Once you master how to count to ten, you will be well on your way to learning to communicate in French.
Method 1 of 3: Learn How to Say Numbers
Step 1. Start with the numbers one through five
If you are learning to count in a new language, it can be helpful to learn numbers in small groups. Practice with the first five numbers until you have them memorized. Then move on to the next five.
- One says an (an).
- Two is said deux (du).
- Three is said trois (thrua).
- Four is said quatre (katr).
- Five is said cinq (sank).
Step 2. Learn the numbers six through ten
After you have memorized the first five numbers and can pronounce them quickly, you are ready to move on to the next phase. Pay close attention to six, which is spelled the same in English and French, but is pronounced differently.
- Six is six (sis).
- Seven is said sept (set).
- Eight is huit (uit).
- Nine is called neuf (nef).
- Ten is said dix (dis).
Step 3. Pronounce the numbers together to count to ten in French
Once you have all the numbers memorized, practice counting to ten. Like in Spanish, most of the other numbers in French are based on these first ten, so you will have a good base to learn the rest.
If you have trouble remembering all the numbers or saying them in order, search the internet for children's songs to count in French. The melody can help you remember, as can the songs you may have used to learn Spanish
Step 4. Memorize how you say “zero” in French
The French word for this number may surprise you because it is very similar to Spanish, but it is pronounced slightly differently. The zéro accent indicates that you should pronounce the e long: ZEE-ro.
Method 2 of 3: Perfect Your Pronunciation
Step 1. Pinch your nose to produce the correct sound of a
The French word for "uno" includes a nasal vowel that does not exist in Spanish, so it can be difficult to pronounce it correctly. Practice your pronunciation while pinching your nose a bit with your fingers.
You can also learn to tighten your nostrils slightly as you speak the word, similar to how you tense them when you inhale
Step 2. Do exercises with your mouth to pronounce the French u correctly
The French u, as in neuf, does not exist in Spanish either. This sound can be particularly difficult for Spanish speakers trying to learn French.
- Start by opening your mouth and saying oh. Prolong the sound until your lips are horizontal, as if you are saying the letter w.
- Purse your lips and pronounce iii. This sound is the most similar to the French u. You may need to practice this exercise several times a day for several weeks to be able to pronounce the vowel naturally.
- Distinguish between the French u and the ou. While they are similar, you will know that they are different if you want to pronounce French words correctly. The French ou is similar to the ou sound in English.
Step 3. Pronounce the French r from the base of your throat
This letter, found in quatre, has a guttural sound. To produce this sound, press the tip of your tongue behind your lower teeth while pronouncing the r.
You can practice saying "ra, ra, ra" or saying the French word ronronner, which means to purr
Step 4. Memorize the pronunciation without looking at the words
Some numbers are very similar to numbers in Spanish. If Spanish is your mother tongue, it can be difficult not to read those words with your native pronunciation.
- This is especially important with words like zéro and cinq, but it is also important with words that are pronounced radically differently in French. For example, if you see the word quatre, you might pronounce it as "fourth."
- To practice, make flashcards that only have the numbers and not the French words.
Step 5. Watch French videos on the Internet
Watching videos or movies with native French speakers can help you become more familiar with what the language sounds like. You don't even have to look at the images (you can close your eyes and listen).
- Listening to music in French can also be helpful, especially slow songs so you can distinguish the syllables.
- Don't worry if you don't understand the words at this point. You should only listen to the pronunciation, not try to understand what they are saying.
Method 3 of 3: Use the numbers in context
Step 1. Change the gender of a when necessary
Because the French word for "one" is also used as the article "one, one, or one," it must match the subject's gender when used that way instead of a specific amount of something.
- Create the feminine form by adding an e at the end: une (yun). For example, you can say "J'ai une chaise" or "I have a chair."
- If you're not sure whether a word is feminine or masculine, see how it ends. Some endings, such as -ée or -enne, are always feminine. Other endings, such as -ent or -il, are masculine.
Step 2. Learn when the last consonant is not pronounced
There are four numbers (cinq, six, huit and dix) in French where the final consonant is not pronounced if it is immediately followed by a word that begins with another consonant.
For example, if you mean “ten minutes” in French, it would be “dix minutes”, but it would be pronounced di min-UT
Step 3. Use avoir to talk about age
As in Spanish, you must use the correct conjugation of the verb avoir, which means “to have”. If you mean you are ten years old in French, say "J'ai dix ans", which literally means "I am ten years old."