A consonant is a sound you create by modifying 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 following 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).
In French, a vowel is a sound you create by making your vocal cords vibrate. French vowels are represented by the letters a, e, i, o, u, y, as well as letter combinations such as (e)au, ai, ei, in, ein, ain, on, un, oi, ou... The vowel is the most important sound in a syllable.
Faire une liaison means that you pronounce the final consonant of a word, which isn't usually pronounced, to link it to the next word, if that next word starts with a vowel. You are pronouncing a new syllable using the consonant-vowel structure, which makes up 50% of French syllable structures.
Final consonants connect to other words; the most common linked consonants are [z, t, n, p, R] sounds.
Liaisons are compulsory:
- 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 before a verb, for example:
When an important word is followed by a less important word, liaisons are forbidden.
- after Quand, combien, comment, EXCEPT in the following expression:
- after et, for example:
"Et // elle apprend le français."