French Liaisons: A Mess That You Can Master!

Liaisons in French is what makes it so difficult to understand for a foreigner and make him doubt about his listening skills in French. Liaison are complicated because there are several rules and exceptions. You will find here a recap of what you must remember to be right most of the time!

Liaisons

First, there are three types of liaisons:

  • Compulsory ones.
  • Forbidden ones.
  • Optional ones.

The most common liaisons are :

Rate in use Liaison type Example can be written
50% [z] Elles arrivent. Tu prends deux œufs ? Achetez-en deux. s as in ils ont x as in deux enfants z as in allez-y

49% [n]       Un enfant sage. J’en appelle à votre bon sens. On a dit bonjour.   n as in on allait
Less than 1% [t]   Un petit appartement. Quand il a plu, la route est glissante. Prend-il de la viande ?   d as in quand ils sont partis t as in ont-ils trouvé ?

Less than 1% [p]   Vous êtes trop aimable.   p written p as in trop aimable  
Less than 1% [r]   Il habite au dernier étage.   r written r as in dernier étage.

Because you are smart forget the optional, focus on forbidden liaison and compulsory liaison.

-rules reminder:

Required Examples Forbidden Example
After pronouns Vous_avez Full names Robert a 15 ans.  
Numbers and nouns Deux_amis After et Avant et après
One syllable preposition Chez_eux Before Onze et oui Il y avait onze personnes Il a dit oui
After determiners Mon_ami Before aspirated H En haut
After proceeding adjectives Un grand_arbre After plural and singular nouns La maison est jolie  
After some one syllable adverbs De plus_en plus Before de letter a Comment est-elle?

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