A consonant is a sound produced by changing the way air passes through your mouth: you can block the air flow and suddenly release it again (in French, this is how you say the letters b, c, d, g, k, m, n, p, q, t) or reduce the air flow (f, ch, j, l, r, s, v, w, x, z).
A vowel is a sound produced by the vibration of your vocal cords, without changing the air flow. Vowels in French correspond to the letters a, e, i, o, u, y, and to the letter combinations, (e)au, ai, ei, in, ein, ain, on, un, oi, ouetc. The vowel is the base, the most important sound of the syllable (except the final “e”).
To make a liaison, means pronouncing the final consonant of a word, usually not pronounced, and link it with the following word which starts with a vowel. Therefore, you pronounce a new syllable which has a consonant-vowel structure. It is the structure of most syllables in French.
Final consonants are linked and are formed with the sounds [z, t, n, p, R].
Liaisons are required:
- After un, deux, trois, six, dix, les, aux, des, ces, mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs, quelques, plusieurs, certains, (de) nombreux, quels, aucun, mon, ton, son, tout ;
- After en, dans, chez, sans, sous ;
- After très, moins, mieux, plus, bien, trop ;
- On, vous, nous, elles, ils before a verb, for example:
On_a faim. ”
Liaisons are forbidden between a important word and a less important word.
- After Quand, combien, comment, except for the expression:
- After “ et”, for example:
“Et // un quart de rouge.”
- Before a word starting with a "h” and which is not of Latin origin:
- “les harengs”,
- “les Hollandais”,
- “les Hongrois”.