In French, there are 3 different accents on « e ». It is important to know them as it changes the pronunciation of the word.
The 3 accents:
“é”: acute accent like : été (summer)
“è”: grave accent like accès (access)
“ê”: circumflex accent like tête (head), less used
So how to know which accent is the right one, here are few tips :
- “e” before the last consonant of the word : NO accent
Example : fier (proud), sec (dry), assez (enough), pied (foot).
Except when the last consonant is “s” : accès (access), abcès (abscess)….
- “e” before an “x”: NO accent
Example : exercice (exercise), flexible, silex (flint)
- « e » before 2 or more consonants (which are linked liked double consonants like “ll” / “ff” or more than 2 consonants like “thn” / “sch” / “rsp”: NO accent
Example : effort, letter (letter), appellation (name/title), belle (beautiful), perspicace (perceptive), ethnologue (ethnologist), quetsche (damson plum)
- BUT there is an accent when the 2 consonants following “e” are making 1 sound like “ch” / “gn” / “th” / “ph” as if it was only 1 consonant.
Example: flèche (arrow), régner (to reign), éléphant
- BUT there is an accent when the 2nd consonant is “l” or “r”
Example : négliger (to neglect/overlook), zèbre (zebra), trèfle (clover)
- “é” : acute accent when the “e” is the first letter of the word or the last letter of the word
Example : éléphant, élever (to raise children), électricité (electricity), blé (wheat), oublié (forgotten), clé (key)
- « é » : acute accent when the following syllable has no silent “e”
Example: sécurité (security), régal (delight)
- “é”: acute accent when the “e” is part of the syllable: dé-, mé-, pré-
Example : déveloper (to develop), se méfier (to mistrust), prévenir (to prevent)
- “è” : grave accent when the next syllable has a mute “e”
Example : solfège (solfeggio), règlement (regulation, rules, payement), fièrement (proudly), il achète (he buys)
- « è » : grave accent when the last consonant of the word is an “s” (not a plural)
Example : après (after), succès (success)
If you read several times these tips, you will always know if the “e” required an accent or not because French is a complex language but with lots of logical rules!
Let’s practice your “e, é, è” !