The accents on the E – when, what, how, the rule

Yes! There is a rule explaining why and when you should use the accents on the E.

Well at least for the accent aigu é and accent grave è! As there is no specific rule for the accent circonflexe ê…. Sorry it is a french rule after all , so easy would not be french!!!!

The different accents on the E

– Accent aigu ‘é’

– Accent grave ‘è’

– Accent circonflexe ‘ê’

You can hear the pronounciation here

L’accent aigu – é

  • When ‘e ’is at the beginning of a word

-Une échelle (a ladder), un éléphant (an elephant)

  • When ‘e’ is between 2 consonants and the next ‘e’ is not a silent ‘e’

-Un mélange (a blend), préféré (prefered, adjectif MS), une génération (a generation)

  • When ‘e is at the end of a word, even if it finishes with the plural ‘s’ or a silent ‘e’

-La liberté (the freedom), des canapés (sofas), un lycée (high school)

L’accent grave – è

  • In front of ere and ‘es

–  Une ère (an era), une patissière (a pastry chef F) des aloès (aloe veras P)

  • When the word is singular and finishes by ‘s

-Après (after), un décès (a death), très (very)

  • When ‘e’ is following by a consonant + ‘l’ or ‘r’

–  Une fièvre (a fever), un lièvre (a hare), un trèfle (a clover)

  • When ‘e’ is followed by a syllable with a silent ‘e’

–  Un problème (a problem), un évènement (an event)

No accent, but pronounced

  • A word finishing by –d, -f, -r, -z,(pronounced ‘é’)

-Un pied (a foot), une clef (a key), chanter (to sing), un boulanger (a baker M), un nez (the noise), vous mangez (you eat)

  • In front of ‘x’ (pronounced ‘é’)

-Flexible (flexible)

  • In front of a double vowel ‘mm’, ‘tt’, ‘ll’, ‘nn’, ‘rr’ (pronounced ‘è’)

–  Une étiquette (a label), belle (beautiful M), ancienne (old F), une femme (a woman), une pierre (a stone)

No accent, the silent ‘e’ not pronounced

A lot of words in French finish with a non pronounced ‘e’

Une année (a year), la joie (the joy), la pluie (the rain), une étiquette (a label), j’achète (I buy), un problème (a problem), une patissière (a woman pastry baker).

Beware: The ‘e’ at the end does not mean the word is feminine.


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