https://www.duolingo.com/Remy

French "liaisons" between words

  • 1014

In French, a "liaison" is when a normally silent consonant at the end of a word is pronounced at the beginning of the word that follows it.

Usually, liaisons are required between two words when the first one ends with a consonant (ex: "es") and the second one starts with a vowel (ex: "un"). They are also required when the second word starts with a "mute H" (ex: "honnête" which means "honest").

Cautious: consonants in liaisons sometimes change pronunciation. For example, an S is pronounced like a Z when it is in a liaison.

  • ex: "Tu es un garçon" means "You are a boy", and is pronounced like "Tu es-Z-un garçon"
  • ex: "Tu es honnête" means "You are honest", and is pronounced like "Tu es-Z-honnête"

The pronunciation (or not) of liaisons follows specific rules. Liaisons are divided into three categories:

Required liaisons:

There are many cases, but here are a few examples:

  • Nominal group: "un homme" (pronounced "un-N-homme"), "les amis" (pronounced "les-Z-amis")
  • Verbal group: "vous avez" (pronounced "vous-Z-avez"), "ils ont" (pronounced "ils-Z-ont")
  • etc.

Forbidden liaisons:

There are many cases, but here are a few examples:

  • After a singular noun: "un garçon intéressant" (you should not say "un garçon-N-intéressant")
  • After "et" (and): "un homme et une femme" (you should not say "un homme et-T-une femme")
  • Before a "h aspiré": "les haricots" (you should not say "les-Z-haricots").

Optional liaisons:

There are many cases, but a case of optional liaison is after verbs that are not followed by a pronoun: "L'enfant prend un sucre".

  • You can either pronounce: "L'enfant prend un sucre" or "... prend-T-un sucre".
February 26, 2014

44 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Carolind

I always have a hard time with liaisons. My native French-speaking husband says no liaison in "Tu es honnête" and "L'enfant prend un sucre". Do you have some reference where I can check it out? Thanks for posting. Useful discussion!

February 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Remy
  • 1014

There is a liaison between "es" and "honnête", because the "h" in "honnête" is mute (we say "l'honnête homme", not "le honnête homme").

For "prend un sucre", you can either say it with the liaison or without it.

February 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Carolind

Oh, I got the rule. The thing is: my husband didn't agree. But he is just a native speaker, he doesn't know the rules. I know that native speakers are often unaware of the way they speak (or we speak, cause I'm also native, though not in French...). So I wanted to read more on the matter and I was wondering if you have a reference online for these rules. Some place I can search. Thanks

February 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/tliarch

Hi Carolind, check out the below, on liasons allowed and those forbidden. http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons-f.htm

February 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Carolind

Great! Thanks, tliarch!

February 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence

Forbidden liaisons eh?

I can't speak for anyone else, but that just makes me want to use them more, hehe

February 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/tliarch

oui oui!!!

February 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/msinykin

This URL no longer works correctly, it takes you to a Spanish pronunciation page. The new URL is: https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-proper-french-pronunciation-liaisons-4083657

May 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/helmad

by contrast, this link http://people.wku.edu/nathan.love/Multi-handouts/liaison.htm calls liaison after tu es optional, which is my experience, like Carolind says in her comment. Other question: Will the duolingo French audio be repaired for weird pronunciation of things like les yeux? It's been the same for a long time, it seems.

August 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Remy
  • 1014

I agree, the liaison after the verb "être" is optional. (It just sounds better if you pronounce the liaison.)

The audio problems will be fixed, but it not a trivial thing to do, that's why we could not do it so far. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

August 8, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/abel176913

I'm pretty sure 'tu es honnête' has no liaison.....

August 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.

Merci beaucoup Rémy! :) Is there some rule about when an "h" is considered "h aspiré" or mute? Is there a difference in pronunciation? Merci d'avance.

February 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Laetitia_Lalila

Hi Nitram, there is no rule for the nouns starting in "h" that can help you identify from which catheogry they are. You just have to memorize them by heart, or look them up in a dictionary. H aspiré words are marked with an asterisk, for example: *hérisson=hedgehog

February 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.

I see, thank you! :)

February 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Remy
  • 1014

There is no difference in pronunciation between "h aspiré" and "mute h", when you just pronounce the words that start with these letters:

  • ex: "homme" (mute h) and "haricot" (h aspiré) sound as if they started with the first vowel ("omme" and "aricot").

There is a difference between the pronunciation of articles before words starting with an "h aspiré" and the pronunciation of articles before words starting with a "mute h". For example, you have to say:

  • "l'homme" (the article "le" is elided before a mute h, and becomes "l'")
  • "le haricot" (the article "le" is not elided before an "h aspiré")
February 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Nitram.

Merci! Maintenant je comprends!

February 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/DXLi
Mod

    Thanks. I had been duped into thinking that liaisons only occur when two words love each other very, very much.

    February 26, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/gauchowatcher

    Once I saw that there was a very complete article about liasons on French Wikipedia.

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/lisa4duolingo

    Indeed, there is. The link to it below is the English translation of the French article:

    Liaison (French)

    The translated version of a Wikipedia article isn't always as comprehensive as the original, so if your French is at a sufficient level, I do recommend taking a look at it in its original language which you can access via the link below:

    Liaison en français

    Tout chemin mène à Wikipedia.

    December 26, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/jitengore

    Thanks, Remy. I should visit this forum more often :) I also want to personally thank you since only because of the two Duolingo courses French <-> English, forward and reverse that you have created, I have begun to believe that I can learn French. In my past life, I had attempted a few times without much success. I am still struggling around the middle of the tree and more practice is helping clear things up! Visiting here is going to help further. This was a great post!

    February 28, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/sigmacharding

    Très utile. Merci beaucoup, vous avez aidé ma prononciation!

    February 26, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/DanyKreep

    Good to know! And just how forbidden is the "et un(e)" liason? I've been pronouncing that for 5 years, and I fear it may be too late to stop lol.

    February 26, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/Thakelo

    Completely forbidden! Source: http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons-f.htm

    I think it's because it can be mistaken with "est" when you make that liaison (which is correct)

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/gauchowatcher

    My French teacher always corrected us when someone said " et-une femme", for example. Pas deliason avec "et".

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchCrazy

    In an attempt to improve this explanation:

    Which consonants could receive a liaison??

    The /Z/ sound - written as an s, z, or x. (trois‿ateliers sounds like: twa Za teh leeay)

    The /T/ sound - written as a t or a d. (c'est‿ici sounds like: say Tee see)

    The /N/ sound - written as an n. (en plein‿air sounds like: on pleh Nair)

    The /R/ sound - written as an r.

    The /P/ sound - written as a p.

    And the /G/ sound - written as a g.

    There are 7 obligatory rules when you would use a liaison, without getting into too much detail one of them is:

    1. Place a liason between a nominal-group (a bunch of words used to represent an entity).

    Examples: mes‿étudiants, ces‿animaux.

    In French, liaisons rely on phonetic, lexical, syntactic and stylistic factors rather than just a phonetic concept (linking). A liaison is the obligatory or optional pronunciation of a latent consonant. A latent consonant is a consonant that is not pronounced when the word is alone, BUT has the ability to become pronounced when placed in a liaison context.

    Not surprisingly, liaisons are in the process of disappearing in French. Their usage is becoming used less and less with the new generations. The reason for this is because they are not easily defined by formal rules and are sometimes optional.

    Sources:

    1. One of my majors is French Linguistics

    2. Bien Entendu - Valdman (1993)

    More info on French phonetics/phonology can be found on my website.

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/snowyee

    Thank you for the information! What is your website called?

    March 9, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchCrazy

    Frenchcrazy.com :) I mentioned it on my profile page

    March 9, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/snowyee

    Thank you!

    March 9, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/sdiwan

    Thanks for posting this, very useful =)

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/MaelFr

    A link to the website of "l'académie française", which is THE reference in France:
    http://www.academie-francaise.fr/la-langue-francaise/questions-de-langue#46_strong-em-liaisons-em-strong

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/lisa4duolingo

    Thank you for sharing that link, but I got an error message when I tried to link to it. If I'm not mistaken, the same page can be accessed via this link here:

    Liaisons

    “Qui n’avance pas, recule”

    December 26, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/rob1745

    great info...but just visited my neighbour, had a couple of drams...need to read this tomorrow...2 hours of French...my nobble is spinning avec Breton and Francais...bed time me thinks.......not to mention the uisghava

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/MarzipanSky73

    Grazie davvero! Thanks, really helpful and complete.

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/Camilla345

    :)

    February 27, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/Daleska9

    Merci beaucoup! :)

    March 7, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/samoliverasi

    What about this sentence: Vous avez un livre

    I know the 's' in Vous should have a liaison but what of the 'z' in aves to un? Would it be: Vous-Z-avez-z-un-livre??

    January 3, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/JenniferClair0

    No, because the "Vous + Avez" is required liaison, and you don't want too many liaisons in the same sentence. A liaison after the verb is optional, but in this case since there is a required liaison in the same phrase, "Avez + un" becomes forbidden. http://www.lepointdufle.net/ressources_fle/liaisons_obligatoires_liaisons_interdites.htm

    February 10, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/SzilviaRosental

    Would you use liaison in the example <<Je suis accro aux langues.>>? (Je sui - Z - accro) My French teacher doesn't pronounce it and I'm just really confused! Please help!

    February 16, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Remy
    • 1014

    Yes, you should make the liaison in this case.

    February 16, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/semeur

    "Je suis en communication avec ..." Is that an optional liason? For one of the DL exercises the speaker does not include a liason.

    February 23, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/JenniferClair0

    Suis+en is optional but I would make it for sure. It sounds a lot better.

    February 24, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/Beatrice_Lucie

    'Forbidden' by who? It's important to distinguish between prescribed 'book' language and real actual language. Plenty of people liaise 'et' which means it shouldn't be fed to learners as 'forbidden' when actually loads of people do it in real life French.

    December 20, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/La_Mariette

    By whom*. ;-)

    September 2, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/JimMcMahel

    Duo's recording of this sentence, "j'avais une voiture différente." I hear a "t" sound as follows, "j'avai-T-une..." Is this a correct change of sound for this liaison example?

    February 6, 2019
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