Accent Marks 1

Accent marks are important for three reasons. They deal with: 1) the spelling, 2) the pronunciation, and 3) the meaning of words. Therefore it is of vital importance to learn the accent marks represented in the French language.  There are 5 accent marks in the French language: four placed on the following vowels  a, e, o, u, ,i  and one for the consonant c .

 The accent aigu  ) is placed on E and lets you know to pronounce an e as the english word a (i.e. date). 

Examples : éléphant , Sénégal, étudiant

The accent grave (` ) is placed over an a, e, or u. This particular accent is used to make distinction between words. Observe the following example : ou (or) vs où (where ; also denotes a location or place).

Examples: zèbre, élève ( the grave accent is placed on the second e).

 The accent circonflexe (^) is very flexible and can appear relatively on any vowel.  It is used to  indicate that an s used to follow that vowel and is placed on a, e, e, o, or u.Examples :  forêt, pâté, île, hôtel, flûte 

The tréma (¨) is used normally when two vowels appear next to each other. The trema on the second vowel indicates to pronounce each vowel separately.  Examples :  naïve, Saül, Haïti.

 The cécédille (¸) is only found under a c, indicating to pronounce the c like an s.  When the cécédille is used under a c it alters the hard sound K to a soft C sound.Examples: français,  ça, garçon 

Language note-Accent marks are not placed on capital letters in French. île (Ile), état (Etats-Unis)