Connecting sounds

In French, when a word ending in a normally silent consonant is followed by a vowel or h muet, that consonant might be transferred onto the next word. This euphonic technique is called a liaison and it’s one of the aspects of French pronunciation that can make it difficult to determine where one word ends and the next begins.

Par exemple…

ont [o(n)]   ont-ils [o(n) teel] [o(n) eel]
un [uh(n)]   un homme [uh(n) nuhm] [uh(n) uhm]
Letter Sound
D [t]
F [v]
G [g]
N [n]
P [p]
R [r]
S [z]
T [t]
X [z]
Z [z]

Certain consonants offer a further complication: they change sound. The normally silent s at the end of vous is not pronounced like an s in a liaison, but rather like a z. Other consonants have similar changes – see chart.

Par exemple…

vous [voo]   vous avez [voo zah vay] [voo ah vay]
deux [deu]   deux enfants [deu za(n) fa(n)] [deu a(n) fa(n)]

  As if that’s not enough, some liaisons are required, others are optional, and still others are forbidden. Just because a normally silent consonant is followed by a vowel or mute h does not automatically mean that a liaison must or even can occur. The rules for when and why to pronounce liaisons are fairly complicated and have to do with linguistics and register – I’ll explain this in more detail in a future lesson.

Liaison lessons

  Liaisons are not the same thing as enchaînement – see the comparison at the end of that lesson.

 Related lessons

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French liaisons
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