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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Remy

French "liaisons" between words

  • 1664

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

54 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Remy
  • 1664

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Remy
  • 1664

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tliarch

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Carolind

Great! Thanks, tliarch!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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

UPDATE: Here is a more comprehensive article; be sure to follow the links to "Required liaisons", "Optional liaisons", and "Forbidden liaisons": https://www.lawlessfrench.com/pronunciation/liaisons/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DianaM

Thanks, msinykin. Now I'm curious how you got one more indent for your reply. As far as I can see, replies indented 5 times (like tliarch's "oui, oui!!!", above) is as deep as you can go - no "reply" option given. Do you have secret powers? ;>)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DianaM

Argh! That article is highly deficient. It tells us that there are "required liaisons", and "forbidden liaisons", and "optional liaisons", but it doesn't say what they are, or provide any links to pages that would. At least, not in my (Chrome) browser. Anybody have a different experience?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/msinykin

I have updated my entry above to reference a better article with more detail.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EvAxvB

Thank you for your updated entry Msinykin, very useful. Have a lingot, it's under your lawlessfrench link.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chilvence

Forbidden liaisons eh?

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALLintolearning3

They have changed the link.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/msinykin

"french.about.com" has become "thoughtco.com". Most "french.about.com" links still resolve to the corresponding thoughtco link, but not the one referenced by @tliarch. I provided the new link 2 months ago, at the same level as your comment in this thread.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JanSilver53

Similarly, I had a problem with 'The bean' on Duo. I put 'L' haricot' because the 'h' is not pronounced, and it was rejected the first time, but accepted the second time. Very confusing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/msinykin

It depends on whether the "h" is "muet" or "aspiré". Long ago, the "h aspiré" was actually pronounced, but now they are both silent. The h mute is much more common, but which one it is depends on the history of how the word entered the French language. See https://www.thoughtco.com/french-pronunciation-of-h-1369563

A dictionary will generally tell you which form of "h" it is in the phonetic spelling, by putting a single quote at the beginning if "h aspiré": "haricot" - [ˈaʀiko]". If it is h aspiré, you don't use a liaison.

See also the answer by @Remy to the question asked in this discussion by @Nitram.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/abel176913

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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


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

I see, thank you! :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Remy
  • 1664

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")

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

Merci! Maintenant je comprends!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JanSilver53

Thank you !! Explained at last!


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gauchowatcher

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/snowyee

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrenchCrazy

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/semeur

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pppmntgrl

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

"Tu es honnête" means (..) pronounced like "Tu es-Z-honnête

It's very rare to say "tu es-z-honnete".

And also very rare to say "tu es-zungarçon." in common French.
It's like an hyperformalism. Would seem strange in everyday language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sigmacharding

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bananydany

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gauchowatcher

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sdiwan

Thanks for posting this, very useful =)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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”


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarzipanSky73

Grazie davvero! Thanks, really helpful and complete.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daleska9

Merci beaucoup! :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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??


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pppmntgrl

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DianaM

Oh. My. Goodness. The exceptions and exceptions to exceptions are head-spinning. This is the first time I've come across that one! Ha ha.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Remy
  • 1664

Yes, you should make the liaison in this case.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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.

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