S or Z? Zat iz ze question!

Did you know that “lisping” is zézayer or zozoter in French? While lispers cannot produce the “S” and/or ”Z” sounds in English, zozoteurs have an abusive use of the letter “Z” in French!

The vast majority of French speakers who haven’t been taught English diction properly use that consonant to replace “the” and other similar sounding words in English. Zat often sounds so funny!

While in the process of learning how to pronounce a new language, we inevitably make mistakes when trying to express ourselves. The important thing to remember is that… it is perfectly fine! Making mistakes is totally normal and you should never feel ashamed of it. Yes, there will be plenty of embarrassing moments along the way, but they are in fact the best memory tricks to help you remember the right way from the wrong.

This reminds me of the little mistake I kept making during my first months in Germany:

Ich werde Sie eine Email schenken.

schenken = to give a gift / schicken = to send

I kept using the wrong verb until my German friend made me realise my mistake and told me it was the cutest misuse of this verb she had ever heard! It stuck with me from that moment onwards and I never made that mistake again.

Unlike Spanish or Italian, French can be particularly tricky to pronounce intuitively, especially when noone provides you with the appropriate pronunciation rules.

Mais pas de soucis: I am here to answer your questions!

As a French learner, you must have heard of les liaisons, these perilous connections between two words, very often produced with the sound “Z”. Do you know when to use them?

And what about “le poison” vs “le poisson”? Would you be able to pronounce these two words correctly?

Here Are My Great Tips to Always Remember When To Say “S” or “Z” In French!

I hope you now have more tools to speak French more confidently!


As a native Québécoise, born to a Franco-Belgian family, now living in Nyon with her two children, Isabelle is no stranger to the expat reality! Trained as a professional opera singer, her passion for arts and languages led her to become an ambassador of the French language & francophone culture, i.e. a French Teacher!

She founded Prêt à Parler in January 2015. Since then she's been hard at work helping native and non-native English-speaking expats make French part of their everyday life! Prêt à Parler's mission is based on what Isabelle does best: helping busy professionals and parents improve their French language skills by providing a high quality, eco-friendly, fun, no-nonsense approach to learning French online!

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