2

I noticed that the inversion of many phrases has a t inserted in between, like y a-t-il (is there), a-t-on (have we), or even y sera-t-il (will there be), but not always.

Quand faut-il ajouter un t à l'inversion? (je sais qu'il n'y a pas un t en devrais-t-je)

3

Le "t" est principalement utilisé pour faciliter la prononciation .

Dans les exemples "y a-t-il" et "y sera-t-il" seraient difficilement prononçables sans ce "t". On enchaînerait 2 voyelles d'affilées "y sera-il". Cela est dû au fait que le sujet de la question est à la 3ème personne du singulier "Il / Elle/ On". "Que mange-t-on ce soir ?"

Le problème ne se pose pas pour certains verbe dont la 3ème personne du singulier se termine par un "t" ou un "d" "Que doit-il faire ?" "Que vend-elle ?" (car ici le "d" se prononce "t", comme si le verbe s'écrivait "Que vent-elle ?")

La 3ème personne du pluriel l'évite également, car en général, le verbe se finit par un "t", il n'y a donc pas besoin de l'ajouter une nouvelle fois "Que font-ils ?" "Y seront-ils ?"

Les autres pronoms commençant par une consonne (je, tu, nous, vous), ils n'ont pas besoin de lettre supplémentaire pour faciliter la prononciation. "Que dois-je faire ?" "Que fais-tu ?" "Où allons-nous ?" "Que vendez-vous ?"

Pour résumer : si une inversion implique les pronoms "Il / Elle / On" et que le verbe ne finit ni par un "t" ni un "d", il faut ajouter un t entre le verbe et le pronom.

  • Is there a list of verbs whose il form ends in neither T nor D, and is not a vowel? – iBug aux erreurs Jan 27 at 4:32
  • I don't think that this kind of list exists. But for examples, all verbs from the 1st group (which end by -er : aimer, donner, marcher, ...; always end with an 'e' "Il aime", "elle donne", "on marche") will need this additionnal 't'. But for the 2nd and 3rd group, there's no such rules, you'll have to know each verbs. – Rémi Henry Jan 28 at 9:36
1

This is a form of liaison: a consonant is inserted to breaks up hiatus, a sequence of vowels.1

Specifically, this is a liaison obligatoire, because the verb and subject pronoun form a tight bond.

Hence, you insert ⟨t⟩ if the verb ends with a vowel and the pronoun begins with one.

As far as the spelling goes, this situation only arises with the pronouns il, elle, and on.

A-t-on déjà payé ?

Fera-t-il la tâche avant jeudi ?

Note that in this inversion, a final e muet is considered non-silent,2 so you insert ⟨t⟩.

Regarde-t-elle la télé ?

In terms of writing, that's all you need to know. However, listening to the actual sounds, notice that the last sound you hear in many verbs is a vowel. So you don't write an extra ⟨t⟩, but you do pronounce the last consonant, usually /t/.

Veut-il toutes les pâtes ?

That also affects ils and elles: they start with a vowel and the verbs end with a vowel sound, despite being spelled ⟨nt⟩. That's true even in present tense, because of the e muet phenomenon above.

Vendent-ils du café ?

Voudraient-elles déjeuner chez toi ?


1 Meanwhile, four pronouns begin with consonants: je, tu, nous, vous. The last two have conjugations that end in vowels: -ons, -ez. But je and tu have conjugations that end in consonants. This results in the opposite problem: overfull consonant clusters. That question is discussed in this thread.

2 In practice, that doesn't mean you'll actually hear a clear re-gar-deu-tel. A deletion rule can still follow.

  • Slightly OT: Does -ent remain silent in vendent-ils or voudraient-elles? Or does -en- remain silent while t makes a sound? In other words, does vendent-ils sound like vende til or venden til? – iBug aux erreurs Jan 17 at 15:48
  • @iBug It sounds like vende-t-il. But much like my note on regarde-t-elle, in practice you might not hear two distinct consonants, maybe an unreleased /d/ and an audible /t/. For other tenses, like voudraient-elles, you'll always hear a clear voudrai-tel since the vowel before the nt isn't a schwa. – Luke Sawczak Jan 17 at 15:51

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.