French Mnemonics – Double Letters

Double letters are always a tough things – there are quite a few words in French (as in English!) for which some take a double ‘r,’ for example, and others just one ‘r.’

Although the French language does not make any aural distinction between single or repeated letters in words (i.e. ‘Nourrir’ and ‘Nourir’ would be pronounced exactly the same), it is of course important to be able to express yourself in writing in a distinguished way. One of the most frustrating parts of reaching an intermediate or advanced level of a language is still feeling like you can’t fully express your thoughts or knowing that your speaking and/or writing comes off as less accurate that you would in your native tongue.


The following sentences are fun mnemonics to help you remember if the associated words are written with one ‘r’ or two, double ‘l’ or a stand-alone one, etc. Solidifying your spelling in French is an important step on the way to fluency and one that will reinforce your other language skills.

Nourrir prend deux “r”, car* on se nourrit plusieurs fois.

Mourir ne prend qu’un “r”, car on ne meurt qu’une fois.

Courir ne prend qu’un “r”, car on manque d’air en courant.
-The word ‘air’ in French is pronounced the same as the letter ‘r

L’hirondelle prend deux “l”, car elle vole avec ses deux ailes.
-An ‘aile’ is a wing (bird wing, plane wing) and is also pronounced the same as the letter ‘l’. A swallow (hirondelle) needs both of its wings in order to fly.

La vieille ne peut marcher qu’avec ses deux bâtons.
-A ‘bâton’ is a cane (also the shape of the letter ‘l’); ‘une vieille’, or an old woman, needs two canes in order to walk.

Appuyer prend deux “p”, car on s’appuie mieux sur deux pattes.

Un balai prend un seul “l”, car il n’a qu’un manche.
-There is only one broomstick (un manche) – shaped like the letter ‘l’ – on a broom.

L’orthographe illustrée – Sylviane Valdois

Un ballet prend deux “l”, car pour danser il faut deux jambes.

L’orthographe illustrée – Sylviane Valdois

Enveloppe prend un seul “ l ”, car on ne met qu’une lettre dans une envelope.

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La vieille, qui fait ménage avec un balai comme si elle dansait dans un ballet, s’étonne de trouver une hirondelle en train de se nourrir d’une enveloppe sur le rebord de fenêtre ; ayant envie de courir vers l’oiseau, la dame a appuyé sur son bâton afin de ne pas mourir !

*Check out the previous blog post for information on the coordinating conjunction ‘car


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