An elision is a type of contraction that occurs when two words are combined: one or more letters are dropped and replaced with an apostrophe. In English, elisions like "I’m" and "can’t" are optional and indicate informality. In French, however, written elisions are required, regardless of the register you’re speaking or writing in.

There are four main groups of written French elisions:

1) Definite articles: le and la elide with nouns that begin with a vowel or h muet.

le + animal   l’animal
le + homme   l’homme
la + école   l’école
la + haleine   l’haleine

Exception: la une (front page of a newspaper)

2) Direct object pronouns: le and la contract with verbs that begin with a vowel, h muet, or adverbial pronoun y.

je le + ai   je l’ai
tu le + hérites   tu l’hérites
il la + obéit   il l’obéit
elle la + y voit   elle l’y voit

3) Other two-letter words that end in e muet elide when followed by a vowel, h muet, or adverbial y

ce   ce + est   c’est
de   de + azur   d’azur
je   je + aime   j’aime
me   je me + habille   je m’habille
ne   il ne + aime pas   il n’aime pas
se   ils se + adorent   ils s’adorent
te   tu te + y mets   tu t’y mets

Exception: No written elision when je is inverted.

 Puis-je + aller   Puis-je aller
 Ai-je + envie   Ai-je envie

 Je and tu have additional elisions in informal French.

Que, jusque, lorsque, and puisque also elide in this way:
que   que + elles qu’elles
jusque   jusque + à jusqu’à
lorsque   lorsque + on lorsqu’on
puisque   puisque + il puisqu’il

Exception: presque – presque à, presque impossible*

4) Elisions figées (Fixed elisions)

aujourd’hui today contraction of au + jour + de + hui from the 12th century
d’abord in the first place, first of all  
d’ailleurs besides, moreover  
d’après according to  
usually, as a rule  
entr’acte ~intermission contraction of entre + acte only used in English; the French write entracte
*presqu’île peninsula the only contraction with presque
quelqu’un someone  
si + il  (if he/it)
si + ils  (if they)
but not si + elle
si + elles
si + on
si elle
si elles
si on
  No elision

before h aspiré   la haine, je hoquette
before onze   Je pense que onze euros seront suffisants.
before oui   le oui et le non
after qui   Je ne sais pas qui il cherche. (qu’il = que + il)
in la une   (front page of a newspaper)
before nouns that begin with y   le yaourt, le yacht…

 Elision also refers to the dropping of the e sound (e instable), which Le Bon Usage calls « l’élision comme phénomène phonétique ».

 Two words that combine into one with a different spelling result in a contraction.

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French elision

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