Optional Liaisons

Liaisons facultatives

French optional liaisons
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Some French liaisons in front of a vowel or h muet are optional, so it’s up to you to decide whether to pronounce them. However, that decision matters: more liaisons means more formal speech, so fewer liaisons obviously means more informal, possibly even familiar speech.

Here are types of liaisons from most common to least common: even teenagers will usually pronounce the first type of liaison, but very few people will pronounce the last type. The ones in the middle are where it starts getting tricky. 😉

Each sound file includes the phrase pronounced with the liaison and then without.

1. After plural nouns

des livres utiles [day leev reu zu teel] [day lee vru teel]*
les hommes arrivent [lay zuhm zah reev] [lay zuh mah reev]*

2. Between two-part verbal structures**

ils ont eu [eel zo(n) tu] [eel zo(n) u]
je suis allé [zheu swee zah lay] [zheu swee ah lay]
tu vas aller [tu vah zah lay] [tu vah ah lay]

3. Present tense of être + adjectiveadverb, or noun

il est heureux [ee lay teu reu] [ee lay eu reu]
il est ici [ee lay tee see] [ee lay ee see]
il est idiot [ee lay tee dyoh] [ee lay i dyoh]

4. After multi-syllable adverbs and prepositions

après être venu [ah preh zehtr] [ah preh ehtr]
assez utile [ah say zu teel] [ah say u teel]
depuis un an [deu pwee zu(n)] [de pwee u(n)]
tellement avare [tehl ma(n) tah var] [tehl ma(n) ah var]

5. After some conjunctions***

mais enfin [meh za(n) feh(n)] [meh a(n) feh(n)]
puis on est arrivé [pwee zo(n)] [pwee o(n)]

6. Verb + article, noun, or preposition

This liaison is found only in very formal French.

Elle prend un livre [pra(n) tu(n)] [pra(n) u(n)]
Ils arriveront à midi [ah ree vro(n) tah] [ah ree vro(n) ah]


* If you don’t make a liaison with the normally silent s at the end of livres and hommes, the always pronounced vr and m still require enchaînement.

** Two-part verb structures:

*** Also see required liaisons and forbidden liaisons

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French liaisons

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