Lesson 2 – Accent Marks

Leçon 2 – Accented Marks

Accent marks are important in the pronunciation of French words; a different accent has a different sound. French uses accents and spelling marks that do not exist in English. These marks are part of the spelling and cannot be left out.

In French, there are four accents that may appear on vowels.

Les signes orthographies (Spelling marks)

  • l’accent aigu – acute accent: looks like this ( ´ ) Cécile; Stéphane.

The acute accent ´ only occurs on the letter e.

The pronunciation of  é would be like the ay part of the word day.

  • l’accent grave – grave accent: looks like this ( ` ) Mylène; Hélène.

The grave accent ` occurs mainly on e, but also in letters a & u ()

The pronunciation of è would sound like eh, like the e sound in the word end. (à – ah; ù – oo)

  • l’accent circonflexe – circumflex: looks like this ( ˆ ) Jérôme; forêt; mât.

The circumflex ˆ can occur on all vowels; often the corresponding English word has an “s”.

While a & o have the same sound as they appear in the alphabet, the ê sound is different: eh, like the e in the word end.

  • le tréma – diaeresis: looks like this ( ¨ ) Noël; Joëlle; naïf.

The diaeresis ¨ is placed on the second of two vowels to show that they are pronounced separately.

For example: Noël – no-elle

There is only one accent mark used with a consonant, the letter c.

  • la cédille – cedilla: looks like this ( ¸ ) Français; garçon.

The c cedilla ¸ is used before ao, & u to show it is pronounced like the letter “s”.

It’s important to note that accent marks are not often placed on capital letters.

For help with typing out accented letters, this website has every accented letter known to man. 🙂

I hope this lesson wasn’t too confusing! If there are any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.


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