I began to study French. I think it is a pretty good language. However, I am confused about some special pronunciation rules. E. g., pronunciation of S in words "disent" and "lisent". Does it sounds [s] or [z]? (I think it can be [z], because it is between two vowels even if E is silent. But I'm not sure.)

  • 2
    The "between two vowels" clue is indeed a good one. aise, philosophe, ose, peser, base, etc. all follow this rule. Note that between two vowels across two words doesn't count: la soupe [s]. Unless it is due to liaison: les oiseaux [lez].
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


The 's' is pronounced [z] in these cases because it is between two vowels but you should be careful because there are a few exceptions.

They are relatively easy to spot if you are able to detect that the word is a concatenation of a prefix (or another word) and a word that starts with an 's', e.g.:

  • parasol
  • vraisemblable
  • désolidariser (but désolé = [dezɔle])
  • dysenterie (but dysurie, an exception in the exceptions…)
  • asocial
  • resalir

Note that the word abasourdi is very often mispronounced by native French speakers with an [s] while it must be pronounced with a [z].


In both words, the s sounds like [z].

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