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French Pronunciation: Liaisons and Elisions

Liaison rules:

Liaison is a term that covers a specific pronunciation rule. Simply, the rule states that when a word ends with a consonant and the next begins with a wovel or a silent h (most French words beginning with h begin with a silent h, unless the word has a foreign origin), the final consonant joins the following vowel to form a complete syllable.

Some examples:

Un éléphant / an elephant is not pronounced un + ay-lay-fant.
Approximatively, it is pronounced un-nay-lay-fant.

Trop avancé / too advanced is not pronounced tro-a-van-say.
Approximatively, it is pronounced tro-pah-van-say.

When using the liaison rule, the pronunciation of some consonants is transformed when they are placed at the end of words:

The pronunciation of S and X becomes Z:

Les deux enfants / The two Children is pronounced (approximatively): lay-duh-zan-fan
Pris au piège / caught in a trap (approximatively): pree-zo-pyej

The pronunciation of F becomes V:

Dix-neuf ans / nineteen years (approximatively): deez-neu-van

The pronunciation of D becomes T:

Grand arbre / big tree (approximatively): granh-tarbr

Elision rules:

The Elision rule states that the letters a and e in the following words (Le, la, ce, je, me, te, se, de, ne, que) is dropped when the word that follows them begins with a vowel or silent h.

Thus contrast:

Le lapin / L’espadon (the rabbit / the swordfish)
La tortue / L’orange (the turtle / the orange)
Ce cheval / c’est bien (this horse / this is good)
Je suis / j’ai (I am / I have)
Je me lève / Je m’y oppose (I rise / I oppose it)
Tu te tais / Tu t’en moque (You keep quiet / You laugh at it)
Elle se prépare / Elle s’habille (She gets ready / she gets dressed). Note the silent h.
De haut en bas / d’or et déjà (from top to bottom / already)
Ne pas déranger / N’y pense pas (do not disturb / Do not think of it)
Que faire ? Qu’a tu acheté ? (What to do ? / What did you buy ?)