Liaisons & Enchaînement

Liaisons

In a liaison, an otherwise silent ending consonant is pushed to the next word, where it’s pronounced as part of the first syllable.

  • Articles and adjectives with nouns.
    For example, un homme (“uh-nohm”), mon orange (“mohn-norahnge”), or deux hommes (“duh-zohm”).
  • Pronouns and verbs.
    For example, nous allons (“noo-zalohn”) or est-il (“ay-teel”).
  • Single-syllable adverbs and prepositions.
    For instance, très utile (“tray-zuteel”) or chez elle (“shay-zell”).

Liaisons are forbidden:

  • Before and after et (“and”).
  • After singular nouns (including proper nouns and names).
  • After inversions (which you’ll learn in “Questions”).
  • Before an aspirated H (e.g. héros – “hero”).
  • After a nasal sound, except that un, on, and en do liaise.

Note that some consonants take on a different sound in liaisons, and it’s important to pronounce these correctly when speaking.

Original Consonant Resulting Liaison Sound Example
-s, -x, -z Z des hommes (“day-zohm”)
-d T un grand arbre (“uhn-grahn-tarbre”)
-f V neuf ans (“nuh-vahn”)

Enchaînement

In enchaînements, ending consonant sounds are pushed onto the next word if it begins in a vowel. This is essentially the same as a liaison, except that the consonant sound wasn’t silent beforehand. For instance:

  • elle est is pronounced like “eh-lay”.
  • mange une pomme is pronounced like “mahn-jun-pom”.
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