accents in french

The Accents in French – Lesson for Beginners

The accents in French – New lesson !

In a previous lesson, Priscilla, who is responsible for teaching and is also a teacher at the language school alpha.b in Nice, explained to you how to spell out a word in French. Click here for the first lesson

Today, in this new lesson, we will look at the accents: acute, grave, circumflex, but also c cedilla, the diaeresis, the Œ

The C Cedilla:

accent en français

How is the word Français (French) spelt?

F R A N Ç A I S

The cedilla is important for the pronunciation.

We use the cedilla on the letter C before three vowels:

C + A : to make the SA sound like in Français

C + O: to make the SO sound like in Leçon (lesson)

C + U: to make the SU sound like in Reçu (receipt)

Next, amongst the other particularities of the French alphabet, there are 3 accents.

The accents in French:

accents en français

In French there are 3 accents:

  • l’accent aigu (the acute accent)

  • l’accent grave (the grave accent)

  • l’accent circonflexe (the circumflex)

  1. The acute accent, we find on E and exclusively on E, like in “poupée” (doll).accent en français

  2. The grave accent, which can also be found on E: like in “je préfère” (I prefer). There are two accents on that word.

It can also be on U like in the word “” (where), which is different to the word “ou” (or). You will also find it on the preposition “à” like for example: “il habite à Nice” (he lives in Nice).

  1. The circumflex which can be found on E like in the words “la fête” (the party) or “la forêt” (the forest).

It can also be found on O like in “un hôte” (a host) or “la Côte d’Azur” (the French Riviera)

Or on I like “une île” (an island).

Sometimes there are words that you can understand if you speak English, German, Italian, Spanish… i.e. a Latin language. This is because the origin of the circumflex accent was an S which has been lost in modern French.

For example the word “fête”: fest, feast, fiesta, festa.

The Diaeresis:

accent en français

What the French call “le tréma”, and the Germans call the “Umlaut”.

We use it on I.

For example in the word “Naïf” (naïve). Without the diaeresis we would it pronounce “Naif” like NEF.

Also in the word “héroïque” (heroic), it is not pronounced like héroique.

We can also find the diaeresis on the letter E in the first name “Joël” or in the holiday: “Noël” (Christmas).

Moving onto the last specificity of the French alphabet.

The æ et œ:

accent en français

First of all, do you know that song by Serge Gainsbourg, Lætitia?

In this song, Serge Gainsbourg calls the name of his lover Lætitia.

Lætitia, how is that spelt?

L A “E dans l’A” T I T I A

We can find this particular form with other combinations of letters like Œ, which is called “O, E dans l’O”.

Like in the words: SŒUR (sister), le CŒUR (the heart), L’ŒUF (the egg).

We are finished for this lesson.

See you soon for the next one!

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