There are four main points where liaisons happen:


In American English, words are not pronounced one by one. Usually, the end of one word attaches to the beginning of the next word. This is also true for initials, numbers, and spelling. Part of the glue that connects sentences is an underlying hum or drone that only breaks when you come to a period, and sometimes not even then. You have this underlying hum in your own language and it helps a great deal toward making you sound like a native speaker.

Once you have a strong intonation, you need to connect all those stairsteps together so that each sentence sounds like one long word.


The dime.
The dime easier.
They tell me the dime easier.
They tell me the dime easier to understand.
They tell me that I'm easier to understand.


The last two sentences above should be pronounced exactly the same, no matter how they are written. It is the sound that is important, not the spelling.
Consonant & Vowel Words are connected when a words ends in a consonant sound and the next word starts with a vowel sound, including the semivowels W, Y and R. (You can check out the individual sounds as well: Pronunciation).
Spelling Pronunciation
My name is Ann. [my nay mi zæn]
American accent [amer'k' næksent]

You also use liaisons in spelling and numbers.

Spelling Pronunciation
LA [eh lay]
909-5068 [näi nou näin, fäi vo sick sate]
Consonant & Consonant Words are connected when a word ends in a consonant sound and the next word starts with a consonant that is in a similar position.

  Lips Behind Teeth Throat
Unvoiced P, F T, Ch, S, Sh K, H
Voiced B, V D, J, Z, Zh G, Ng, R

For example, if a word ends with a letter from the Behind Teeth category and the next word starts with a letter from that same category, these words are going to naturally join together. This is the same for Lips and Throat.


Spelling Pronunciation
I just didn't get the chance [I jussdidn't ge(t)the chance]
I've been late twice. [äivbin la(t)twice]
Vowel & Vowel When a word ending in a vowel sound is next to one beginning with a vowel sound, they are connected with a glide between the two vowels.

Spelling Pronunciation
Go away. [go(w)away]
I also need the other one. [äi(y)älso need the(y)other one]

A glide is either a slight [y] sound or a slight [w] sound. How do you know which one to use? This will take care of itself--the position your lips are in will dictate either [y] or [w].

For example, if a word ends in [o], your lips are going to be in the forward position, so a [w] quite naturally leads into the next vowel sound: [Go(w)away].

After a long [e] sound, you lips will be pulled back far enough to create a [y] glide or liaison: [I(y)also need the(y)other one]. Don't force this sound too much, though. It's not a strong pushing sound.
T, D, S or Z + Y
When the letter or sound of T, D, S or Z is followed by a word that starts with Y, or its sound, both sounds are connected. These letters and sounds connect not only with Y, but they do so as well with the initial unwritten [y] sound of syllables and words. They form a combination that changes the pronunciation.

T + Y = CH
Spelling Pronunciation
What's your name? [Whacher name?]
Can't you do it? [Canchoo do it?]
Don't you like it? [Donchoo like it?]
actually [achully]


D + Y = J

Spelling Pronunciation
What did you do? [Whajoo do?]
Would you help me? [Wüjoo help me?]
Did you like it? [Didja like it?]
graduation [graju(w)ation]


S + Y = SH

Spelling Pronunciation
insurance [inshurance]
sugar [shüg'r]


Z + Y = ZH

Spelling Pronunciation
How's your family? [howzher family?]
Who's your friend? [hoozhier friend?]
casual [kazhyoow'l]
usual [yuzhoow'l]




Last Updated October 12, 2006