Common mistakes in French pronunciation include using an E sound instead of the French "uh," using diphthongs and pronouncing silent final consonants. Other mistakes include incorrect pronunciation of R and U sounds and trying to use aspirate consonants.
The French pronoun "je" sounds like "zhuh" when pronounced properly. Using the short or long E sounds more common in American English turns this into "zheh" or "zhee."
A diphthong is a sound formed by two vowels pronounced in one syllable, such as "pie" or "boy." They are common in English but not used in French. Americans also use strong, or aspirate, consonants. French consonants are generally softer.
Many French words end with consonants that the speaker does not pronounce, such as "oiseaux" and "dans," which sound like "wazo" and "dahn." Complicating this is the liaison, which is when the speaker takes a normally silent end consonant and pronounces it as part of the start of the next word. An example of this is "vous avez." The S in "vous" is normally silent, but when spoken properly this phrase sounds like "voo za vey."
The French are also known for their use of a guttural R, which comes from the back of the tongue. When pronouncing the French R, only this part of the tongue rises. With the American R, the whole tongue rises.
The French U is a tight sound unfamiliar to American English. To make this sound, shape the mouth as though about to say "ooh," but put an "ee" sound through it.