I have some questions with regard to the liaison between a noun and its first adjective, as well as the subsequent adjectives. I know that in the phrase "des langues étrangères", the "s" makes liaison as /z/. However, I don't know if I should make a liaison for "un étudiant actif étranger".

Should it be

Eu-né-tu-dian-tac-ti-vé-tran-gé ?

or should it be

Eu-né-tu-dia-nac-ti-fé-tran-gé ?

Moreover, how about "un étudiant curieux étranger"?

  • By the way, there's never a case of liaison that turns "actif" into "active" afaik. Jul 23 '18 at 12:18
  • @Teleporting Goat Thanks for the heads-up. I was affected by the liaison for "neuf heures".
    – Jimmy
    Jul 24 '18 at 2:02

There's no liaison between étudiant and actif, and neither between actif and étranger (where do you get that from?). There's always a liaison after un though.

So it's:


And I don't think there's ever a liaison after curieux.

Rule of thumb of the comments, condensed:

Generally, in a sentence with [article]+[noun]+[adjective], there's a liaison on the noun, but not on the adjective after the noun.


Des zhistoires ( )étranges

Whereas in [article]+[adjective]+[noun], there is a liaison both on the adjective and on the noun.

Des zétranges zhistoires

Of course, this applies only if the words can have a liaison. There's no liaison in "Un grand bûcheron" for example.

  • Because "langues étrangères" needs liaison, I thought maybe "étudiant actif" needs liaison as well. Does it mean only plural nouns need a liaison?
    – Jimmy
    Jul 23 '18 at 9:22
  • @Jimmy Actually, liaisons are a little more complicated than that. It depends more on habits than on rules as to what gets a liaison and what doesn't. (For example, a lot of people say "langues étrangères" with a liaison but it's not an obligation). Jul 23 '18 at 9:34
  • @Jimmy As a rule of thumb, most liaison happen on nouns, and rarely on adjectives. Ex: "Des zimmeubles", "Des grands zimmeubles", but "Des zimmeubles immenses" (no liaison on "immense"). "Langues étrangères" is actually kind of an exception. Jul 23 '18 at 9:36
  • Merci beaucoup !
    – Jimmy
    Jul 23 '18 at 10:09
  • 4
    There is certainly a liaison after curieux in some cases, with a "z" sound. Try to pronounce "de curieux échafaudages" for example (yes, I can see construction work outside my office window).
    – N.I.
    Jul 23 '18 at 10:54

Depending on which one is the noun and which one is the adjective, the liaison might be done or not:

Un curieux (z) étranger: A curious foreigner (liaison possible but optional)

Un curieux étranger: A foreign onlooker (forbidden liaison because curieux is singular)

Un étudiant curieux étranger and étudiant actif étranger are not very idiomatic. We'd rather say either:

Un étudiant étranger curieux / Un étudiant étranger actif


Un curieux étudiant étranger.

  • So I guess there's no liaison for "un cours étranger" because the "cours" here is singular, but for "des cours étrangers", there is liaison since "cours" is plural?
    – Jimmy
    Jul 24 '18 at 1:59
  • Yes, the liaison is forbidden in the first case and optional in the second one.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 24 '18 at 6:51

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