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When you chose to learn French, did you choose it for its beautiful sounds?

Well one word that confuses many French learners and embodies the complexity of French pronunciation is “plus.” 

Depending on the context, this small word can have three different pronunciations:

  1. [plu]  : The final letter is silent i.e. not pronounced
  2. [plys] : All 4 letters are pronounced and the final sound is voiced as a soft S
  3. [plyz] : Here, the final sound is a hard Z (only as a liaison)

Let’s explore each of these sounds with detailed explanations and examples.


Part 1: The Silent “Plus” [ply]

Firstly, in many cases, especially in negative constructions, the “s” in “plus” is silent, pronounced as [plu]. This usage often signifies the absence or cessation of something.

Examples of [ply]:

  • Je ne veux plus de gâteau. (I don’t want any more cake.)
  • Elle n’étudie plus le français. (She no longer studies French.) 
  • Ils ne sont plus ici. (They are no longer here.)

In these sentences, “plus” negates the action or state, and the silent ‘s’ reflects this negation.

This form is the most straightforward and often the first one learners encounter.

Secondly, when comparing things or people, you will also encounter the French ‘plus’ pronounced [plu] to express ‘more’ or ‘more than’.

Examples of [ply]:

  • Je suis plus grande qu’elle. (I am taller than her. note: taller > more tall)
  • Cette école est plus prestigieuse que la mienne. (This school is more prestigious than mine)
  • Il fait plus froid aujourd’hui. (It’s colder today.)

 In these examples, note that the s is silent when the adjective starts with a consonnant. More on this in Part 3.

Part 2: The Voiced “Plus” [plys]

When “plus” signifies an addition or comparison, the “s” is pronounced, making it sound like [plys].

This form often appears in affirmative sentences or to indicate more of/more than something.

Examples of [plys]:

  • J’ai plus de responsabilités maintenant. (I have more responsibilities now.)
  • Cette option offre plus de fléxibilité. (This option offers more flexibility.)
  • Ils travaillent plus que lui. (They work more than him.)
  • Six plus quatre font dix. (6+4=10)

Here, “plus” indicates an addition, increase or comparison, and the voiced ‘s’ emphasises the additional quantity or degree.


Part 3: The Liaison “Plus” [plyz]

In formal contexts or when “plus” is followed by a vowel or mute ‘h,’ a liaison occurs, resulting in the pronunciation [plyz].

This pronunciation maintains the fluidity often recognised in the French language.

You can comparing things with ‘plus’ + adjective or an adverb.

Examples of [plyz]:

  • Ce mur plus ancien. (This wall is older.)
  • Ils sont beaucoup plus heureux. (They are much happier.)
  • La veste rouge est plus élégante. (The red jacket is more elegant.)

In these examples, the liaison helps connect the words smoothly, maintaining the melodious quality of spoken French.


Part 4: Plus in Formal Speech

Sometimes, the liaison with “plus” is optional, it simply adds a touch of formality. 

Here, it sounds more fomal to native speakers when pronounced [plyz] and more informal when pronounced [ply].

Dual Pronunciation Option Examples:

  • Il n’y a plus assez de temps. (There’s no longer enough time.) Two options: [il nja plyzase də tɑ̃] or [il nja ply ase də tɑ̃]
  • Plus ou moins ( More or less.) Two options: [plyz‿u mwɛ̃] or [ply u mwɛ̃]
  • Plus il pleut, plus mes arbres poussent. (The more it rains the more my trees grows.) Two options: [plyz‿il …] or [ply il …] 

Remember that linking the French ‘plus’ with the next word here will make it sound more formal if you wish to.


Part 5: French Phrases with “Plus”

Certain fixed expressions with “plus” retain a consistent pronunciation regardless of context. These phrases will be sure to make you more conversational in French.

French Phrases:

  • De plus en plus ([də plyz‿ɑ̃ plys]) — More and more.
  • Le plus possible ([lə ply pɔsibl]) — As much as possible.
  • Au plus vite ([o ply vit]) — As quickly as possible.
  • Pour plus de précisions ([puʁ plys də pʁesizjɔ̃]) — For more details.
  • Sans plus attendre. ([sɑ̃ plyzatɑ̃dʁ]) — Without further ado.
  • Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. ([ply sa ʃɑ̃ʒ ply sɛ la mɛm ʃoz]) — The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Mastering the various pronunciations of “plus” in French is a journey into the subtleties of the language. 

From the silent [ply] of negation to the voiced [plys] of addition and the elegant liaison [plyz], each form carries its unique charm and significance.

So, the next time you encounter “plus” in a sentence, take a moment to consider its pronunciation and the subtle meaning it conveys.

With practice, you’ll navigate these nuances with finesse I’m sure! 

Bon apprentissage !


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