What Is the Difference Between Eau and Au?

“Eau” and “Au” are terms from the French language, each having a different meaning. “Eau” translates to “water” in English and is commonly used in the perfume industry to represent the concentration of perfume oils in a fragrance, as in “Eau de Parfum” or “Eau de Toilette”. On the other hand, “Au” stands for gold in French, but it’s also the symbol for gold in the periodic table of elements. While “Eau” could be associated with fragrances and scents, “Au” is primarily related to gold and elements in the field of chemistry.

Is Eau Singular or Plural?

French is a precise language, with distinct rules that dictate the usage and pronunciation of it’s vocabulary. One of the linguistic intricacies of the French language is the distinction between singular and plural nouns, and the subtle ways in which this is reflected in their spelling and pronunciation.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the way in which the French word “eau” can be both singular and plural. In it’s singular form, “eau” simply means “water”, while in it’s plural form “eaux” it takes on the broader meaning of “waters” or “bodies of water”.

The difference between these two forms is reflected not only in their meanings but also in their spelling and pronunciation. While the singular “eau” is pronounced with a closed O sound, similar to the English pronunciation of “o” in “cologne”, the plural “eaux” is pronounced with a slightly elongated closed O sound, which reflects the broader meaning of the word.

In the case of “eau”, it’s the letter combination “aux” that tells us that we’re dealing with a plural form of the word.

Of course, as with many linguistic rules, there are exceptions to be aware of. While the majority of nouns in French follow this pattern of adding “-s” or “-x” to indicate plurals, there are some words that behave differently and must simply be learned.

It’s a subtle but important nuance that’s essential for anyone wanting to communicate effectively in French, whether through writing or speech. With practice, however, it’s a rule that can be mastered like any other aspect of language learning.

As we delve deeper into the topic of different pronunciations of “au,” it’s worth noting that these variations extend beyond just the two examples mentioned. Let’s explore some other sounds that different languages and regions might use when pronouncing this combination of letters.

What Sounds Does AU Make?

The pronunciation of the sound “au” varies depending on cultural and regional factors. For example, in Australia, the sound “au” is pronounced with an /aʊ/ as in the word “house.”. This pronunciation is distinct from the North American pronunciation, which is closer to the /ɔ/ sound. As such, it’s clear that both cultural and linguistic factors can influence the way that people pronounce this sound.

In some languages, such as French and German, the sound is pronounced with a rounded vowel. This is because the “au” sound in these languages is often associated with words that involve roundedness, such as “Pau” (French for “peace”). As such, the sound is often pronounced with a rounded vowel that’s similar to the /ʊ/ sound.

Indeed, this sound is used in a wide variety of contexts, ranging from basic greetings and expressions of emotion to more complex linguistic structures such as verb conjugation and grammar. Thus, understanding the nuances of the sound “au” is essential for anyone who wishes to communicate effectively in a globalized world.

Whether you’re speaking with a native speaker of a particular language or simply trying to improve your own pronunciation skills, it’s important to pay attention to the subtle differences in how this sound is pronounced. By doing so, you can better understand the nuances of different languages and cultures, and become a more effective communicator in the process.

Whether you’re a language learner or simply someone who wants to become a more effective communicator, paying attention to the subtle nuances of this sound can be a valuable and rewarding experience.

The Origin and Evolution of the “Au” Sound in Different Languages

  • The “au” sound originated from a Proto-Indo-European diphthong *h₂ew.
  • In English, the “au” sound is found in words like “caught,” “taught,” and “daughter.”
  • In French, the “au” sound is found in words like “beau” and “aujourd’hui.”
  • In German, the “au” sound is found in words like “Haus” and “Frau.”
  • The “au” sound has evolved differently in different languages over time.


Overall, while it may seem like eau and au are similar due to their shared pronunciation, they actually have very different meanings. Eau refers specifically to water, while au is simply a word used to indicate a certain object or thing. At the end of the day, language is all about nuance and specificity, and being aware of even the smallest distinctions can make a big difference in how effectively you’re able to communicate.

  • Gillian Page

    Gillian Page, perfume enthusiast and the creative mind behind our blog, is a captivating storyteller who has devoted her life to exploring the enchanting world of fragrances.

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