How Do You Say “Swallow” In French?

Learning a new language can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Whether you’re traveling to a French-speaking country or simply expanding your linguistic abilities, mastering a new language opens up a world of possibilities. In this article, we’ll explore the French translation of the word “swallow” and provide some helpful tips for learning French vocabulary.

The French translation of “swallow” is “hirondelle”. This word is pronounced “ee-ron-dell” with the emphasis on the second syllable. It’s important to note that the French language has gendered nouns, so “hirondelle” is a feminine noun. This means that when using it in a sentence, you would use feminine articles and adjectives.

How Do You Pronounce The French Word For “Swallow”?

Learning how to properly pronounce French words can be a daunting task, but with practice and guidance, it can be achieved. If you’re wondering how to say “swallow” in French, it’s important to understand the proper phonetic breakdown of the word.

Phonetic Breakdown

The French word for “swallow” is “hirondelle”. The phonetic breakdown is as follows:

Letters Phonetic Sound
h silent
i ee
r rolled r sound
o aw
n nasal n sound
d silent
e uh
l l sound
l l sound
e silent

Tips For Pronunciation

Here are some tips for pronouncing “hirondelle” correctly:

  • Practice rolling your “r” sound if you’re not familiar with it. This can be achieved by flicking the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  • Emphasize the “aw” sound in the middle of the word.
  • Make sure to pronounce the nasal “n” sound at the end of the word.
  • Don’t forget to make the “l” sound twice in a row towards the end of the word.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to confidently say “hirondelle” like a native French speaker.

Proper Grammatical Use Of The French Word For “Swallow”

Proper grammar is essential when using the French word for swallow, as incorrect usage may result in confusion or miscommunication. In this section, we will discuss the appropriate placement of the French word for swallow in sentences, verb conjugations or tenses, agreement with gender and number, and any common exceptions.

Placement Of The French Word For Swallow In Sentences

The French word for swallow is “avaler.” It is typically used as a verb in sentences, and its placement depends on the sentence structure. In a basic sentence, “avaler” usually comes after the subject and before the object. For example:

  • Je vais avaler un comprimé. (I am going to swallow a pill.)
  • Le bébé a avalé sa nourriture. (The baby swallowed his food.)

In more complex sentences, “avaler” may appear in different parts of the sentence, such as in a subordinate clause or as part of a compound verb.

Verb Conjugations Or Tenses

Like most French verbs, “avaler” is conjugated based on the subject pronoun and the tense of the sentence. Here are the conjugations for “avaler” in some common tenses:

Subject Pronoun Present Tense Passé Composé Imperfect
Je avale j’ai avalé j’avalais
Tu avales tu as avalé tu avalais
Il/Elle/On avale il/elle/on a avalé il/elle/on avalait
Nous avalons nous avons avalé nous avalions
Vous avalez vous avez avalé vous avaliez
Ils/Elles avalent ils/elles ont avalé ils/elles avalaient

Agreement With Gender And Number

Like most French nouns and adjectives, “avaler” agrees in gender and number with the subject of the sentence. For example:

  • Je vais avaler une pilule. (I am going to swallow a pill.)
  • Elle a avalé des médicaments. (She swallowed some medicine.)

In the first example, “pilule” is a feminine noun, so “avaler” is also in the feminine form. In the second example, “médicaments” is plural, so “avaler” is also in the plural form.

Common Exceptions

One common exception to the grammatical rules for “avaler” is when it is used in the reflexive form, “s’avaler.” In this case, the reflexive pronoun “se” must agree with the subject of the sentence. For example:

  • Je vais m’avaler une gorgée d’eau. (I am going to swallow a sip of water.)
  • Elles se sont avalé les mots. (They swallowed their words.)

Another exception is when “avaler” is used in the figurative sense of “to believe without question.” In this case, it is often followed by the preposition “tout.” For example:

  • Il avale tout ce qu’on lui dit. (He believes everything he is told.)

Examples Of Phrases Using The French Word For “Swallow”

Learning a new language can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to mastering the intricacies of pronunciation and vocabulary. If you’re looking to expand your French language skills, one word you’ll want to know is “swallow.” Here are some common phrases that include the French word for swallow:

Examples And Usage

  • “Avoir du mal à avaler” – This phrase means “to have difficulty swallowing” and can be used in a medical context or to express emotional distress. For example, “Je suis tellement stressé que j’ai du mal à avaler ma nourriture.” (I’m so stressed that I have difficulty swallowing my food.)
  • “Avaler des couleuvres” – This idiom translates to “to swallow grass snakes” and means to accept an insult or unfair treatment without protest. For example, “Il a dû avaler des couleuvres pour garder son travail.” (He had to accept unfair treatment to keep his job.)
  • “Avaler son chewing-gum” – This phrase means “to swallow one’s gum” and is used to express disbelief or skepticism. For example, “Tu as fini tous tes devoirs en une heure? J’ai du mal à avaler ça.” (You finished all your homework in an hour? I find that hard to believe.)

Example French Dialogue

Here are some examples of how the French word for swallow might be used in conversation:

French Dialogue English Translation
“Je n’arrive pas à avaler ces comprimés.” “I can’t swallow these pills.”
“Il a avalé des couleuvres pour garder son poste.” “He swallowed grass snakes to keep his job.”
“Je ne sais pas si je peux avaler ça.” “I don’t know if I can swallow that.”

By familiarizing yourself with these phrases and practicing their correct usage, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the French language.

More Contextual Uses Of The French Word For “Swallow”

Swallow is a common English word that has multiple meanings, including the act of swallowing food or liquid, the bird species known as the swallow, and the action of suppressing emotions or hiding something. In French, the word for swallow is “avaler,” which has its own unique set of contextual uses.

Formal Usage

In formal French language, “avaler” is the most common and appropriate word for the act of swallowing food or drink. It can also be used in medical contexts to describe the action of swallowing medication or other substances. For example:

  • Il a avalé une pilule pour la douleur. (He swallowed a pain pill.)
  • Elle a du mal à avaler son repas. (She has difficulty swallowing her meal.)

Informal Usage

While “avaler” is still used in informal contexts, there are other informal words that can be used to describe the act of swallowing in a more casual way. For example:

  • Bouffer: This slang term is often used to describe eating quickly or voraciously. It can be used in the context of swallowing food or drink. For example: J’ai bouffé mon sandwich en deux minutes. (I swallowed my sandwich in two minutes.)
  • Gober: This informal verb is often used to describe swallowing something whole or in one gulp. For example: J’ai gobé mon comprimé sans eau. (I swallowed my pill without water.)

Other Contexts

Aside from its literal meaning of swallowing, “avaler” can also be used in idiomatic expressions or cultural/historical contexts. For example:

  • Avaler des couleuvres: This expression means to swallow one’s pride or accept something unpleasant without complaining. For example: Il a dû avaler des couleuvres pour garder son travail. (He had to swallow his pride to keep his job.)
  • Avaler des kilomètres: This expression means to travel a long distance. For example: Nous avons avalé des kilomètres pour arriver à la plage. (We traveled a long distance to get to the beach.)

Popular Cultural Usage

There are no major cultural references or popular usage of the word “avaler” in French culture. However, it is worth noting that the French word for the bird species “swallow” is “hirondelle.” This word is often used in literature, poetry, and art to symbolize freedom, springtime, and the beauty of nature.

Regional Variations Of The French Word For “Swallow”

French, like many languages, has regional variations in its vocabulary and pronunciation. The word for “swallow” in French is no exception. While the standard French word for “swallow” is “hirondelle,” there are variations in different French-speaking countries.

Usage In Different French-speaking Countries

In France, the standard word “hirondelle” is used to refer to the bird. However, in other French-speaking countries, different words are used. For example, in Canada, the word “hirondelle” is also used, but the word “martinet” is also common. In Switzerland, the word “martin-pêcheur” is used instead.

It’s important to note that these regional variations in vocabulary are not necessarily exclusive to the word for “swallow.” Many words have different regional variations throughout the French-speaking world.

Regional Pronunciations

In addition to variations in vocabulary, there are also differences in pronunciation of the word “hirondelle” itself. In France, the “h” is typically silent, and the emphasis is on the second syllable (“ee-ron-dell”). In Canada, however, the “h” is often pronounced, and the emphasis is on the first syllable (“hi-ron-dell”).

When it comes to the word “martinet,” the pronunciation also varies. In France, the emphasis is on the first syllable (“mar-tee-neh”), while in Canada, the emphasis is on the second syllable (“mar-tee-net”).

Overall, the regional variations in vocabulary and pronunciation of the French word for “swallow” add to the richness and diversity of the French language.

Other Uses Of The French Word For “Swallow” In Speaking & Writing

While the French word for “swallow” typically refers to the bird, it can also have other meanings depending on context.

Distinctions Between Uses

Here are some examples of how the French word for “swallow” can be used in different contexts:

  • Verb: The verb “avaler” is often used to mean “to swallow” in the literal sense. However, the verb “engloutir” can also be used to mean “to swallow up” or “to engulf.”
  • Noun: In addition to referring to the bird, “hirondelle” can also be used to describe a type of pastry that is shaped like a swallow.
  • Idiom: The phrase “avaler des couleuvres” (literally “to swallow snakes”) is a French idiom that means “to put up with something unpleasant.”

It’s important to consider the context in which the French word for “swallow” is being used in order to distinguish between these different meanings.

Common Words And Phrases Similar To The French Word For “Swallow”

Synonyms And Related Terms

When it comes to finding common words and phrases similar to the French word for “swallow,” there are a few options to consider. One option is “avaler,” which is a verb that means “to swallow” in French. Another option is “ingurgiter,” which also means “to swallow” but is typically used in a more formal or medical context.

Additionally, there are a few related terms that may be useful to know. For example, “déglutir” means “to swallow” in a medical context, while “engloutir” means “to engulf” or “to swallow up.”

It’s worth noting that while these words may be similar to the French word for “swallow,” they may have slightly different connotations or nuances in certain contexts. For example, “avaler” is a more common and everyday term for “swallowing,” while “ingurgiter” may be used more in a medical or scientific context.


On the other hand, if you’re looking for antonyms or words that have the opposite meaning of “swallow” in French, there are a few options to consider as well. One obvious option is “recracher,” which means “to spit out” or “to regurgitate.” Another option is “vomir,” which means “to vomit.”

It’s worth noting that while these words have the opposite meaning of “swallow,” they may not always be used in the same context. For example, “recracher” may be used when you want to spit out something that you accidentally swallowed, while “vomir” may be used when you feel sick or nauseous and need to expel the contents of your stomach.

Mistakes To Avoid When Using The French Word For “Swallow”

When using a foreign language, it’s easy to make mistakes, especially when it comes to words with multiple meanings. The French word for “swallow” is no exception. Non-native speakers often encounter difficulties when using this word, which can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. In this section, we will introduce common errors made by non-native speakers and provide tips to avoid them.

Common Mistakes

The French word for “swallow” is “hirondelle.” However, non-native speakers often make the following mistakes:

  • Using “avaler” instead of “hirondelle.” “Avaler” means “to swallow,” but it is not the correct term for the bird.
  • Mispronouncing “hirondelle.” The correct pronunciation is “ee-rohn-del,” but non-native speakers often say “hy-rohn-dell” or “hee-ron-del.”
  • Confusing “hirondelle” with “rondeau.” “Rondeau” means “round,” but it is not related to the bird.

Tips To Avoid Mistakes

To avoid these mistakes, follow these tips:

  1. Learn the correct word for “swallow” in French, which is “hirondelle.” Practice saying the word correctly to improve your pronunciation.
  2. Use a French-English dictionary or translation tool to avoid confusion with similar words.
  3. When in doubt, ask a native French speaker for help.



In conclusion, we have explored the French word for swallow and its various contexts. We have learned that the word “swallow” can be translated to “hirondelle” in French, and we have discussed its usage in both a literal and figurative sense. Additionally, we have examined the importance of learning new vocabulary in a foreign language and how it can enhance our communication skills and cultural understanding.

As with any new language skill, practice is key. We encourage you to incorporate the French word for swallow into your daily conversations, whether it be through ordering a dish at a French restaurant or discussing the migratory patterns of birds with a francophone friend. By actively using new vocabulary, we can expand our linguistic abilities and deepen our appreciation for diverse cultures.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority and He’s a seasoned innovator, harnessing the power of technology to connect cultures through language. His worse translation though is when he refers to “pancakes” as “flat waffles”.