French accents: aigu, grave, circonflexe

French accents, acute (aigu), grave, circonflexe, tréma.

Let’s speak about 4 accents:
L’accent aigu
L’accent grave
L’accent circonflexe
Le tréma

french accents


1. Acute accent: accent aigu

just for the letter e: é
This accent changes the sound of the letter as shown in the video.

Cheminée (chimney)
École (school)
Télé (tv)

2. Grave accent: accent grave

A. è

This accent changes the sound of the letter as shown in the video.

Règle (rule)
Après (after)
Fièvre (fever)

B. à, ù

The pronunciation is the same, the accent helps avoid confusion between words.

a is the verb avoir, third person, present tense
à is the preposition, I go to Paris: je vais à Paris

Ou is the comparaison: or
means where.

3. Circumflex: accent circonflexe

â, ê, î, ô, û

The circumflex is the mark of an S in old French.
In modern French we say: Hôtel
In old French it was: Hostel

So this accent is not always useful and today it is allowed to write paraître or paraitre, but sometimes it is useful to avoid confusion.

A. î, û

île (island)
fraîche (fresh)
Jeune (young)  Jeûne (fast)
Du (the preposition of the)  (the past participle of the verb devoir)

B. â

Château, no change but:
patte (animal leg)  pâte (pasta)
The sound is different

C. ê

Crêpe (pancake)
Être (to be)

D. ô

To avoid confusion:
notre (our)  nôtre (ours)
The sound is different

4. Tréma

ë, ï, ü

No change with the letter e: aiguë (it is also allowed to write: aigüe)
With ï and ü, the accent imposes to say the two vowels separately:
Égoïste: ego/iste (selfish)
Saül: sa/ul (a name)

5. Some Rules

There is no accent on the letter E when it is followed with a X:
exemple, exercise…
There is no accent on the letter E when the syllable ends with a consonant:
respect (res/pect)

6. Keyboard

To get an easier access, choose the US internal keyboard in your Windows settings.
In Windows 8, go to Settings, then “change settings” then “time and language” then “regional language”, click on the language already installed (English (United States)) then click on “options”, on the new window click on “add a keyboard”, add the Us International one.

é  ALT + 130    É  ALT + 144 or then e (on your US international keyboard)

è  ALT + 138    È  ALT + 0200 or ` then letter
à  ALT + 133    À  ALT + 0192
ù  ALT + 151    Ù  ALT + 0217

â  ALT + 131    Â  ALT + 0194 or shift + 6 then letter
ê  ALT + 136    Ê  ALT + 0202
î  ALT + 140    Î  ALT + 0206
ô  ALT + 147    Ô  ALT + 0212
û  ALT + 150    Û  ALT + 0219

ë  ALT + 137    Ë  ALT + 0203 or shift + ‘ then letter
ï  ALT + 139    Ï  ALT + 0207
ü  ALT + 129    Ü  ALT + 154

You press any key a few seconds and a popup windows is displayed with the accents.
French accents

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