We do not pronounce 's' or 'x' sounds at the end of a word when the word is read on its own. But if it is followed by another word starting with a vowel (or 'h'), we generally pronounce 's' or 'x', i.e. aux Etats-Unis.

However, many times I encounter with counter-examples. One is below:

Les ados aiment cette nouvelle série.

Here, although both are followed by a vowel, we pronounce the 's' in 'Les', but not the one in 'ados'. So, is there a general rule about pronouncing (or not pronouncing) these silent letters when followed by a word starting with a vowel? Also, what would be the reaction of a native speaker for someone pronouncing 's' in every such situation? Thank you.

  • 2
    Liaisons aren't a systematic phenomenon, but something that affects specific classes of words in specific syntactic contexts. Roughly, article-noun, pronoun(-pronoun)-verb and verb-pronoun, are the only contexts in which it always happens, and it's frequent in monosyllabic preposition-pronoun and adjective-noun context. There's also few noun-adjective compounds where a /s/ serves as a sort of compounding marker (soins intensif, jeux olympiques, États-Unis). Everywhere else, it's rare to impossible, and pronouncing them sounds stilted to ridiculous Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 22:48
  • In other words, a noun with an s followed by a verb is not a usual place for it. Ils aiment, a pronoun with a verb is. Also, think how funny it would sound to have two together.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 1:04
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? When to pronounce “s” at the end of words?
    – None
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 7:15
  • @None it partly answers my question. 'Eau qui dort's answer includes the part about pronouncing 's' sound in all conditions.
    – Xfce4
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 13:31
  • @Eauquidort Thank you. Can you provide your comment as the answer too?
    – Xfce4
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


In French, with slight regional variations, there are three categories of liaisons: liaisons obligatoires, liaisons facultatives and liaisons interdites (yes, I am referring to the linguistic kind of liaison). The rules governing the different categories are complicated, but generally francophones know these rules intuitively without needing to be taught what they are in school, so they are usually unable to articulate them.

I believe the juncture between a plural noun functioning as the subject of a verb and the verb itself is an example of a liaison interdite.

  • This is a nice link to make your point more clear. Interdit means forbidden / prohibited.
    – Xfce4
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 13:44

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