As a general rule, the double L after A, E, O, U, and Y is pronounced like an L: une balle, elle, mollement, une idylle, etc. There are almost certainly exceptions to this rule, but I can't think of any.
In words with I followed by LL, the rules are a bit more complicated. The double L is always pronounced like a Y in letter combinations with vowel + ILL (links go to lessons):
aill (e.g., taille)
And LL is pronounced like a Y in words such as fille, la Bastille, Millau, and chantilly.
However, there are are also many words in which the double L is pronounced like an L (the following links go to sound files):
- un bacille - germ, bacillus
- un billion - trillion
- capillaire - capillary
- un codicille - codicil
- distiller - to distill
- Lille - town in France
- lilliputien - Liliputian
- mille - thousand (un millénium, millier, etc.)
- un mille - mile (le millage)
- milli- (prefix)
- un milliard - billion (un milliardaire, le milliardième, etc.)
- un million - million (un millionaire, le millionième, etc.)
- osciller - to oscillate, swing
- un/e pupille* - ward of the state
- une pupille* - pupil
- tranquille - calm, tranquil
- une ville - town (une villa, un village, etc.)
The (parentheses) indicate derivations which are also pronounced like an L.
If you know of any additional exceptions, please let me know on the forum so that I can add them to this list.
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