Forbidden Liaisons

Liaisons interdites

Some French liaisons are forbidden: they aren’t—can’t be—pronounced even in the most formal French. Sometimes this is to avoid confusion with similar expressions, sometimes it has to do with a sort of respect for names and foreign words, and other times there’s no apparent logic to it.

1. Before h aspiré IPA  
en haut [ã o] [a(n) oh]
les héros [le e ʁo] [lay ay roh]
  deux homards [dø o maʁ] [deu oh mahr]
2. Before onze and oui
les onze enfants [le ɔ̃ zã fã] [lay o(n) za(n) fa(n)]*
deux oui et un non [dø wi e œ̃ nɔ̃] [deu wee ay u(n) no(n)]
3. After names
  Robert a 15 ans. [ʁo bɛ ʁa kɛ̃ zã] [ro beh ra keh(n) za(n)]
  Nicolas est prêt. [ni ko la ɛ pʁɛ] [nee ko la ay preh]
4. After singular nouns
mon chat aime jouer [mɔ̃ ʃa ɛm ʒwe] [mo(n) shah ehm zhoo ay]
un garçon intelligent [œ̃ gaʁ sɔ̃ ɛ̃ tɛ li ʒã] [gar so(n) eh(n) teh lee zha(n)]
5. After et
avant et après [a vã e a pʁɛ] [ah va(n) ay ah preh]
un homme et une femme [œ̃ nɔ me yn fam] [u(n) nuh may un fahm]
6. After interrogative adverbs** and toujours
Comment est-elle ? [kɔ mã e tɛl] [ko(n) ma(n) eh tehl]
Combien en vois-tu ? [kɔ̃ bjɛ̃ ã vwa ty] [ko(n) byeh(n) a(n) vwah too]
Quand aimes-tu étudier ? [kã ɛm ty e ty dje] [ka(n) ehm too ay too dyay]
toujours aimable [tu ʒu ʁɛ mabl] [too zhu reh mahbl(eu)]
7. After inversion
A-t-on osé ? [a tɔ̃ o ze] [ah to(n) oh zay]
  Parlez-vous espagnol ? [paʁ le vu ɛ spa ɲɔl] [par lay voo eh spah nyuhl]
Ont-elles étudié ? [ɔ̃ tɛ le ty dje] [o(n) teh lay too dyay]
Vont-ils habiter bien ? [vɔ̃ ti la bi te bjɛ̃] [vo(n) tee lah bee tay byeh(n)]

* Note that the pronunciation of the z in onze at the beginning of enfants is enchaînement, not a liaison.

** Also see required liaisons and optional liaisons

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French liaisons
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2 Responses

  1. g 11 September 2018 / 2:08

    if there’s no liaison after toujours, why is it pronounced tou-jou-REH-mabl?

    • lkl 11 September 2018 / 11:38

      Liaison is only with normally silent letters, like the “s” at the end of toujours. The “r” in toujours is always pronounced. When that happens – when a sound that is always pronounced is attached to the next word – that is called enchaînement.