How to Use ‘La Liaison’ Properly (Rules + Examples)

As you may remember from your school days, learning French in high school perhaps, French pronunciation is very weird at times. One example springs to mind: la liaison.

La liaison is everywhere in spoken French! Or… almost everywhere. Sometimes you need to use it. Sometimes it’s not allowed. Sometimes it’s optional.

But, what is the liaison?
And what are the rules for using it properly in spoken French?

Let’s look at it together, with examples for using la liaison.

Bonjour I’m Géraldine, your French teacher.
Welcome to Comme une Française!
I’m here to help you get better at speaking and understanding everyday French — anytime, anywhere.


  1. What is la liaison?
  2. The five cases of mandatory liaison
    1.  After a determiner
    2. Between pronoun and verb
    3. Between adjectives and pronouns
    4. After a short preposition and “trés”
    5. In built-in expressions and composed words
  3. Forbidden liaisons (after “et,” and more)
  4. Optional liaisons (after a plural verb, and more)

Want all the vocabulary of the lesson ?

Want to read this lesson later ?

1) What is “la liaison” ?

La liaison is a rule in French pronunciation.

When a word that ends with a silent consonant (like Mon = my where n is “silent”) is placed before a word that starts with a vowel (like Ami = friend), we sometimes pronounce the silent consonant. That’s la liaison.

Mon + ami → Mon ami (sounds like “mon nahmee,” where “mon” has a French nasal sound.)

The most common consonants for la liaison are:

  • s → sounds like “z” in la liaison.
    For example: Des enfants (= some children) sounds like “deyz anfants”, where “an” is a nasal vowel.
  • n → sounds like “n
  • d and t → both sound like “t” in la liaison.
    For example: Mon grand ami (= my great friend.) sounds like “gran tahmee.” Mon petit ami (= my boyfriend, or “small friend” literally) sounds like “puh tee tahmee.”

The liaison with s is the most common, by far.
But you can’t use it every time!

…So when exactly should you use la liaison?

We say “faire la liaison” (= “pronouncing the liaison,” or literally “doing the liaison.”) For example: Dans “mon ami,” on fait la liaison ! (= In “mon ami,” we pronounce the liaison!)

2) Liaisons you have to make

We have some liaisons obligatoires (the “mandatory” liaisons) in French pronunciation.

There are 5 most common examples of this.

1) After a determiner

This is the most common case for la liaison in everyday spoken French!

A determiner is a small word used before a noun, like “the,” or numbers, or possessives… And here, we’ll focus on those that end with a consonant.

Or in French, words such as:

  • Un (= a / one in the masculine)
  • Des (= some)
  • Les (= plural the)
  • Ces (= These)
  • Deux (= Two, where the “x” sounds like “z” in the liaison)
  • Trois (= Three)…

Or possessives:

  1. Mon / Ton / Son (= my / your / his-her in the singular)
  2. Mes / Tes / Ses (= my / your / his-her in the plural)
  3. Nos / Vos / Leurs (= our / plural “your” / their in the plural)

After such a determiner, if there’s a noun or an adjective that starts with a vowel, you need to pronounce the liaison.

For example (the liaison is underlined):

  • Un enfant = a child
  • Les arbres = the trees
  • Deux amis = two friends (“x” sounds like “z”)
  • Ton excellent vin = your excellent wine
  • Ces autres voyages = These other travels

For advanced learners, you also find a liaison after quels / quelles, determiners that are typically used for an exclamation (Quels amis ! = What friends they are!) or an interrogation (Quels amis ? = Which friends?).

You’ll also find more exceptions and details in my lesson on French numbers (check out the special pronunciation for “neuf heures” = 9pm)

2) Pronoun + verb

This very common case is more straightforward. We use it mostly with subject pronouns that end with a consonant:

  • On (= casual We)
  • Nous (= We)
  • Vous (=plural You, or respect: Tu or Vous in French)
  • Ils / Elles (= They, masculine / feminine)

For example:

  • On est là ! = We’re over here!
  • Elles ont faim ! = They’re hungry!
  • Vous êtes sûrs ? = Are you sure?

A pronoun before a verb can also be a complement, sometimes. The personal complement pronouns that end with a consonant are Nous (= us), Vous (= you) and Les (= them).

For example:

  • Tu nous entends. = You can hear us.
  • Je les adore. = I love them.

3) Adjective + noun

The liaison is also mandatory between an adjective and a noun that appears right after it. That noun can be singular or plural.

  • J’ai des petites oreilles. = I have small ears.
  • Michel est un grand ami. = Michel is a great friend. (“d” sounds like “t”!)
  • Je regarde la télé sur un petit écran. = I’m watching TV on a small screen.
  • C’est un ancien élève. = He’s a former pupil.

4) After short prepositions, and “très”

Mandatory liaisons also appear after short, one-syllable prepositions.

For example:

  • Dans = In
  • En = In
  • Sans = Without
  • Chez = At (“z” sounds like “z”)
  • Sous = Under…

But also Très (= very.) For example:

  • C’est très amusant ! = It’s very amusing!
  • Je vis en Amérique. = I live in America.
  • Ils sont chez eux. = “They’re home,” (or literally “they’re at their own place.”)
  • J’arrive dans une minute. = I’m here in a minute.

5) Built-in expressions and composed words

The French language is basically made of exceptions. Sorry, I know this makes things way more difficult 😉 .

So, here is your list of “exceptions”, for all the expressions and composed words where French people automatically use the liaison out of habit.

For example:

  • Les États-Unis = the United States
  • Peut-être = maybe
  • Avant-hier = the day before yesterday
  • C’est-à-dire = that is to say
  • De temps en temps = from time to time
  • Plus ou moins = more or less
  • Tout à coup = All of a sudden
  • Tout à l’heure = Later…
  • Comment allez-vous ? = How are you?
  • Quand est-ce que… ? = When is it that… ?

In avant-hier, the “h” at the beginning of ‘hier’ is usually un H muet (= a silent “h”). It’s like it doesn’t exist! But when we introduce la liaison, the words that start with a silent “h” act as if they were starting with their first vowel, instead.

The problem is that some French words start by un H aspiré (= the “aspirated” H) instead, which is also silent… but doesn’t have the liaison. For example,  les héros (= the heroes) or les haricots (= the beans) don’t make the liaison. That’s the subject for another lesson entirely, but it’s something to be aware of!

3) Forbidden liaisons

In French pronunciation, just like in social life, some liaisons are very dangerous.

The two main forbidden cases:
1) After “Et”
2) After a singular noun

For example: un chat et un chien = a cat and a dog.
There’s no liaison at all here:

  • Not between “chat” and “et”, because “chat” is a singular noun.
  • Nor between “et” and “un chien” → there’s no liaison after “et”

There are other cases where such a liaison is normally forbidden, with some (very rare) exceptions… but you shouldn’t bother yourself with these exceptions. Just consider them as forbidden.

3) Before a verb (when it’s not a pronoun)

Les trains arrivent. = The trains are arriving.
→ No liaison between “trains” and “arrivent

4) After a verb in the singular

Tu vois un problème ? = Are you seeing any problem?
→ No liaison between “vois” and “un.”

5) With first names

On va chez Arthur. = We’re going to Arthur’s place.
→ No liaison between “chez” and “Arthur.”

French language obscure trivia
The mistake of pronouncing a liaison with the wrong consonant is called un pataquès ([pah tah kess].)

4) Optional liaison

Finally, we have les liaisons facultatives (= optional liaisons.) In these cases, French people usually don’t make the liaison, but you can pronounce it to make yourself sound more formal.

1) After a verb in the plural
Les enfants regardent un chat noir. = The kids are looking at a black cat.

2) After short adverbs and conjunctions

Such as:

For example:
Il est trop élégant, mais il est là. = He’s too elegant, but he’s here.

Pronouncing both liaisons sounds very highbrow / elegant.

3) After the verbs “Être” and “Avoir”

The liaison is a bit more common after the conjugated verbs “être” and “avoir” (even in the singular conjugations), especially with a past participle. But it’s still a bit formal.

For example:

  • Je suis arrivé hier. = I arrived yesterday.
  • Ils sont entrés dans la maison. = They entered the house.
  • Elles ont une nouvelle chanson. = They have a new song.

This is a tricky part of French grammar — you can check out my lesson on Le Participe Passé if you want to learn more.

I gave you the basics of la liaison and it’s already a lot to digest. Yet, of course, there are still more exceptions. For example, we pronounce it with Quand (= when), except when it’s before an inversion verb-subject… except for “Quand est-ce que” (where it’s mandatory) ! For example:

  • Quand on a que l’amour = “When we only have love,” a Jacques Brel song.
  • Quand es-tu arrivé ? = When did you arrive?, no liaison.
  • Quand est-ce que tu es arrivé ? = When did you arrive, mandatory liaison

In the end, after researching for this lesson, there are rules I’m still confused about. But with these basics, you can start practicing with confidence and learn as you go!

As always, don’t be afraid of your mistakes. You are already making great progress.

Want to keep improving your spoken French? Check out this short playlist on French pronunciation !

You’ll learn more about:
→ Vowels pronunciation, to complete your pronunciation
→ Le “c cédille”, another peculiarity of French pronunciation like la liaison
→ Pronunciation of French numbers, with real-life expressions.

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

Want to save this for later ?

And now:

→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

Double your Frenchness! Get my 10-day “Everyday French Crash Course” and learn more spoken French for free. Students love it! Start now and you’ll get Lesson 01 right in your inbox, straight away.

Click here to sign up for my FREE Everyday French Crash Course

Allez, salut 🙂


Join the conversation!

  • This is a really useful guide – thank you! I think there might be one more forbidden liaison? Before an aspirate ‘h’, like ‘Châtelet-Les Halles’ or ‘très haut’. I believe these override ‘liaisons you have to make’?

    • Bonjour Iain,

      Indeed, you would not have a liaison in these examples, even though the aspirated “h” does not sound like an aspirated “h” in English.

      Bonne journée,

      CUF Team

  • Hi! This really helped me understand la liasion better, but if I could make a suggestion, it would be to add the phonetic spelling next to the sentences. Much like how this lesson started out : Des enfants (= some children) sounds like “deyz anfants”, where “an” is a nasal vowel.

    • Bonjour Sheryl,

      Usually, there would not be a liaison.

      Belle journée,

      Comme Une Française Team

  • When you say the liaison is forbidden “After a verb in the singular” in point 4) above – ‘vois un’…..But there is a liaison when I say – “Il est une…” between singular verb est and une. Can you please explain?

  • Hi, would there be a liaison before “et” like in: “Elles sont jolies et grandes”
    Or “Elles sont jolies et je pense que…”

    • Bonjour Tee,

      There will be no liaison needed here.

      Bonne journée,

      Comme Une Française Team

    • Bonjour,

      Oui, la liaison peut se faire mais n’est pas obligatoire. Par exemple, pas encore peut se prononcer \pɑ.z‿ɑ̃.kɔʁ\ ou \pɑ ɑ̃.kɔʁ\

      Bonne journée,

      Comme Une Française Team

  • Wonderful. It has been quite helpful. I was looking for such easy and simple explanations with small small examples. Merci beaucoupe. 👍

  • I have been trying to understand this for so long but have never found anything that explained it, let alone this thoroughly. This takes a little of the mystery out of the French movies I am trying to watch. Merci!

  • Bonjour, Madame Géraldine et merci beaucoup! I have written it out, read and re-read it again and again and hopefully some of it will sink in! Thank you so much once again for the wonderful lesson and for all the hard work and detail you put into it! Merci beaucoup ! 😊

  • Thank you so much for this lesson. It’s a lot to digest but now I have the tools. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to use liaisons properly!😀

  • Thanks Geraldine. That was fascinating. I tend to think I get this right instinctively. Most of the time! But I’m probably being a bit complaisant.
    Is there such a thing as a half liaison? To me, some liaisons seem much more pronounced than others. For instance the difference between mon grand ami (a sort of half liaison at most) and mon petit ami (full liaison )?

    • Hi Stephen!

      I see what you mean, but I don’t think it’s been theorized. I guess it only comes for the “d” liaison sounding like a softer “t”.

      Have a great day,
      – Arthur, writer for Comme une Française

  • J’attends cette leçon depuis longtemps! Une question … votre phrase, “Je vis en Amérique” …. on fait la liaison entre “en + Amérique”, mais pas entre “vis + en” …

    parce que “je vis” est un verbe singulier?

  • Bonjour Geraldine, comment allez-vous? Merci beaucoup pour cette lecon. C’etait tre’s interessante et utile’. -votre amie en Australia , Talia.

  • Get My Weekly Lessons

    In Your Inbox

    Join the 30,000+ French learners who get my premium spoken French lessons for free every week!

    Share this post!


    Download this lesson as a PDF!

    Please enter your name and email address to get the lesson as a free PDF!