Languages › French Learn Proper French Pronunciation With Liaisons Share Flipboard Email Print Marcus Clackson/DigitalVision/Getty Images French Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Grammar Resources For Teachers By ThoughtCo Updated January 27, 2019 Part of the reason that French pronunciation and aural comprehension are so difficult is due to liaisons. A liaison is a phenomenon whereby a normally silent consonant at the end of a word is pronounced at the beginning of the word that follows it. Examples of Liaisons The sound files below show words such as vous (you), which have a silent "s" at the end, unless they are paired with a word like avez (have). When this occurs, the "s" is pronounced at the beginning of the following word, creating a liaison in French. In each instance, the words on the left contain a silent letter at the end; the words on the right show how the usually silent letter at the end of the word is pronounced at the beginning of the following word, creating a liaison. The word or words are followed by a transliteration to help you pronounce the terms and phrases as you hear them. French Word With a Final Silent Consonant Liaison vous [vu] vous avez [vu za vay] ont [o(n)] ont-ils [o(n) teel] un [uh(n)] un homme [uh(n) nuhm] les [lay] les amis [lay za mee] Pronunciation Key Use this pronunciation key as a guide to help you get the most out of the previous sound files. a fathere bedee meetu fool(n) nasal n In addition, consonants in liaisons sometimes change the pronunciation. For example, an "s" is pronounced like a "z" when it is used in a liaison. Liaison Rules The basic requirement of a liaison is a word that ends in a normally silent consonant followed by a word that begins with a vowel or mute h. This does not mean, however, that all possible liaisons are necessarily pronounced. In fact, the pronunciation (or not) of liaisons is subject to very specific rules, and liaisons are divided into three categories: Required liaisons (Liaisons obligatoires)Forbidden liaisons (Liaisons interdites)Optional liaisons (Liaisons facultatives) If you are a beginner, study just the required liaisons and forbidden liaisons, as these are the essential. If you're more advanced, study all three sections. It may be boring, but your pronunciation and ability to communicate at different levels of formality will improve dramatically. Liaison vs. Enchantment There is a related phenomenon in French called enchaînement (linking). The difference between enchaînement and liaisons is this: Liaisons occur when the final consonant is normally silent but is pronounced due to the vowel that follows it (vous vs. vous avez), whereas enchaînement occurs when the final consonant is pronounced whether or not a vowel follows it, such as pour vs. pour elle, which translates as "for" vs. "for her." Note that enchaînement is simply a phonetic issue, while the pronunciation of liaisons is based on linguistic and stylistic factors. Additionally, scan the pronunciation chart below to see how various letters are generally pronounced in French liaisons. Letter Sound D [t] F [v] G [g] N [n] P [p] R [r] S [z] T [t] X [z] Z [z] Using Encha퀌nement in French Pronunciation Learn How to Pronounce 2,500 Words With This French Audio Guide How to Pronounce French Silent Letters How Do You Conjugate the Irregular French Verb "Haïr"? These French Pronunciation Mistakes Are Toughest for New Speakers A Beginner's Guide to French Pronunciation What Does IPA Have to Do With the French Language? The Top 10 Beginning French Mistakes French Rhythm or Le Rythme How to Maintain the Harmonious Sound in French Is Spanish Really Easier Than French? Do You Know How to Pronounce the 'A' in French? French Pronunciation of the Letter H How to Pronounce the Letter "Y"in French When Does a French 'S' Sound Like a 'Z'? How to Master Conjugation of the French Verb 'Aller'