Accents you need to know when learning the French Language


The French accent marks are vital in this language. Missing to place a mark is enough to change the meaning of the whole word. For instance, the word café is popularly known as an English word. But it’s an original word of French. Also, the word résumé is actually sourced from the French. Thus these marks are not optional in this language.


The French language has different marks of accent which are several. Each mark has its own distinct meaning. They can also be referred to as “diacritics”. They have different roles when being applied in the language.


When used, they sometimes have an impact on pronunciation meaning. But they also have no effect at certain times. Thus they have the potential to change completely the meaning of certain words when being used and when not.


Therefore using the accents in a proper way marks the difference between certain words which have different meanings. For example: – between resume and résumé. Which one would you rather send for a job application?Thus, below we have the different categories of French accents and the way you will use them appropriately. It covers a variety of accent and their proper pronunciation where relevant.


It also includes the various impacts they have on words meaning and also their grammar. To make things simple and clear to understand, plenty of French words examples with accents will be included.The diacritics used are:


1. The trema(l’accent tréma)ë/ï/ü

2. The circumflex (l’accent circonflexe)â/ê/î/ô/û

3. The cedilla(la cédille)ç

4. The grave accent – (l’accent grave)à/è/ì/ò/ù

5. TheAcute accent(l’accent aigu)é



How do you pronounce, write or read the various diacritics?


1. The trema (l’accent tréma)


It serves to distinguish 2 vowel sounds, which lie side by side in a given word. It is the least popular accent which is being used, but it has effects on words pronunciation. It is characterized by a pair of dots above a given letter. It is found on ëïand ü.


In other words, it’s also known as “umlaut” or “dieresis”. But despite that, it’s technically not an umlaut. The dieresis and umlaut refer to things with different places of evolution but through coincidence, they have the same appearance. But it doesn’t matter in this case.


For example, the names Chloë and Zoë in this case, the trema has been used to indicate the unattached pronunciation of the sounds “e” and “o”. Thus it sounds more of “–owy” and not “–oe”.Despite suggestions from some of the style guides of English on how to use the trema practically, almost none of us use it in practice. E.g. applying it on various words such as cooperate and reelect.


The trema has the same way of functioning when used in French, and it’s also much popular compared to when being used in English. To indicate separate pronunciation, it’s placed over the two, second vowels to show the distinction.


when not applied in the same instance, the vowels might combine to form a sound which is completely different compared to when the accent is being used. Below are examples of hoe the trema has been used in words.


L’aïeul (The ancestor)

Noël (Christmas)

Up to this point, it’s the most popular way of using trema.


In the instances where you have to consider adjectives, it can be quite confusing and in most cases those that end with “gue”. In French “gue” has a “g” pronunciation with “u” and “e” being silent. The same criteria apply to similar words in English (vogue and fugue).

To get around this confusion, trema is used instead. Therefore the aigu feminine form is used instead (aigüe). After the 1990 spelling reform of French language, the trema is now officially placed on “u”, even though some individuals will still place it on “e” (aiguë).


2. The circumflex (l’accent circonflexe)


This accent mark looks similar to a hat and it’s found on top of the five French vowels, â/ê/î/ô/û. Its uses are quite complicated. The accent mark shows you the proper way to pronounce the vowels “a”, “e”, and “o”.


“â” has an English pronunciation of “ah”. For example, the British word “bath”.


“ê” has an English pronunciation of “eh”. For example, the words “get”. And it is similar to the use of vowel “ê” when using a grave accent.


“ô” has an English pronunciation of “oh”. For instance, the words “close” or “goat”. The “au” word in French uses the same sound.


On instances when you use circumflex on “i” or “u” their pronunciation remains the same, except in combination with other vowels e.g. “eû”. For example, Jeune has a different pronunciation from Jeûne.


Why is circumflex necessary?


In most cases, it denotes the letter “s” which is missing in a word. The removal of “s” in most French words dates back many years ago. And the circumflex serves at certain instances to indicate that the letter used to exist in the word even though it’s not literary included.

For instance:


Hôtel – “hostel”

Août – “August”

Forêt-  “forest”

Hôpital – “hospital


It also comes in handy when distinguishing certain words with the same pronunciation but different meaning. E.g. mur (wall) and mûr (ripe or mature)


3. The cedilla(la cédille)


This mark only applies to the “c” letter and is placed under it. It’s the simplest to understand with the pronunciation sounds like “s”. The “ç” applies only before the vowels “a”, “o”, and “u”. In this case, it will have an effect on the pronunciation, but in cases where it applies before “e” or “i” there is no need to apply it, as the pronunciation automatically becomes “s”.

The common example is garçon = gar son (either a boy or waiter in a given restaurant).


4. The grave accent – (l’accent grave)


This mark is found above the vowels à, è and ù, and serves a few roles. When its marks are found above “a” or “u”, it serves to distinguish words with similar pronunciation but has meanings which differ.

For instance:

“ou” and “où”

“ou” which means (or)

“où” which means (where)

“a” and “à”


“a”  which means (to have)

“à” which means (to, at or in)


When the mark is above the vowels “a” or “u”, the accent grave have no impact on the pronunciation. However, when it’s applied above an “e”, it has an effect on the pronunciation. The “e” is pronounced as “eh” for instance, the word “get”.


5. The Acute accent (l’accent aigu)


This accent mark is found only on the vowel “e” as “é”. It serves to change the vowel pronunciation.

An “e” that is unaccented is open to different ways of pronunciation. But when the accent mark applies, the “é” pronunciation is “ay” as if pronouncing the words “way” and “say” in English.

For instance: épée to be pronounced as ay pay.Also, it can be used to portray the previous existence of the letter “S” as the first letter of a word.


For instance:

étrangler – strangle

étable – stable.


When its use is at the end of a word, it is an equivalent of the past tense “-ed” or past participles which end with é. For example dansé = danced. Moreover, the past tense and past participles that ends with é are applicable as adjectives.


Is it important to learn a new language?

Yes, with the increase in the rate of link or connections between different countries in the world, the need to learn foreign languages increases in demand. This can come in handy on sports, education, trade and even tourism…


Use of language interpretation technology is less convenient and time-consuming. This is considering the fact that you have to wait for the machine to interpret after the response.


Why go through this hustle, when you can learn the language and speak at ease and freely. It is less expensive and convenient at all time. Moreover, it gives you time to bond as it allows for smooth communication.


When you learn a foreign language, you can easily connect and communicate with others who understand it.


Through it, you can interact with people of the same language, understand what they are saying, use and recall of grammar and vocabulary properly.


Also, combine the grammar and vocabulary then put it into context in a manner that is timely.


7 ways to start a new language


1 Traveling becomes economical


When you land on foreign soils for a tour or any other reasons, being familiar with the local language can come in handy. You will be able to conveniently access hotels to rest before beginning your adventures. Moreover, you will be able to get a variety of options compared to when you only speak your language that is foreign to the locals.


Also, when getting transport, it will be faster and at a cheaper rate. This is compared to when you are directed to expensive and slow options since you are unfamiliar with the local communication. Thus learning a foreign language could make your experience more thrilling and less exhaustive.


Also, it will be cheaper and full of adventure compared to using guide books or board of tourism of that region.


2 Gives you a wide range of job opportunities


As compared to the past, many countries have endless demands of foreign services inform of employment. When you search on the internet for jobs, you will get countless results of job opportunities globally.



they are also a countless number of unemployed individuals who seek the same opportunities of jobs.To have a competitive edge, understanding the foreign language will be an added advantage to your curriculum vitae (CV).



with globalization, companies are now opening branches in foreign soil. Thus having the knowledge and understanding of the foreign language makes you more valuable to the company.


3 It boosts your brain capacity


According to studies, having the knowledge of a foreign language despite your age tends to increase the capacity of your brain. Thus this enables you to be more creative, better memory and a good problem solver.


The foreign languages not only make you good in communication but also enable you to learn anything and new languages.


Multi-tasking is handy in the current world which demands a lot of services at a single instance. Through learning various languages, it serves as a good template for multitasking.


4 Gives you more confidence


As a revelation to many language learners, reading the books and listening to tutorials when learning the language is the simplest. The challenge comes in when you are required to employ your knowledge practically to an audience.


Making mistakes is common and it will sometimes award you with hysterical laughter when speaking.


Standing back on your feet after feeling humiliated takes a lot of courage and confidence, which is enough to make you prosper in various fields without shying away.


Therefore, learn a new language and put it into practice.


Build confidence and bonds between different people, and you will surely be successful in life.


5 Gaining Perspective


While exploring the culture from a new language, we often draw a comparison naturally from that which is familiar to our culture. Through this, more light is shed on the various aspects regarding our own culture.


They might be positive or negative sentiments that we may have not put into consideration previously.


In the end, you may either get to appreciate what you are blessed with or loosen up a little bit.


6 Explore the world


Knowing a single or two languages is quite limiting. Knowing several foreign languages, on the other hand, is a jackpot if you love traveling. Different foreign languages enable you to break free of the tourist bubble.


It gives you access to a countless number of regions you can explore.Monolingual tourists are usually restricted to regions where the locals understand their language. Thus learn diverse languages and open up explorations opportunities for yourself.


Get to access regions which are restricted due to the language barrier and have a chance to interact and bond with the locals.


7 Studying abroad


Most of the great professors and scholars are known for studying and doing research in various parts of the world. And it’s actually not difficult or impossible. All you have to do is learn and understand the foreign language of the region you want to study in.


Through this, you will be familiar with various phrases and vocabularies when you go for studies.


Moreover, it will enable you to access the various parts of the locality and services at ease. With the foreign language at your fingertip, you can study in any part of the world with great institutions of education.