How to pronounce French letters with accents?
How to pronounce French letters with accents is one of most important lesson for beginners! Today, in this podcast episode, you will learn how to pronounce the accents, when to pronounce them, and when to ignore them! é, è, ê, ë, ï, à, î, ô, û – what’s the difference?
#1 How to pronounce French letters with accents: é ‘accent aigu’
É avec accent aigu or acute accent denotes the pronunciation /e/ (as “e” in “cake”; but shorter and crisper. To make the sound ‘é’, you need to stretch your lips, mouth half-open and your tongue is on the bottom, the tip touching the back of your teeth.
Jérémy est désespéré car il a perdu sa précieuse clé, téléphone, élégant.
#2 How to pronounce French letters with accents: ‘è’ accent grave
È avec accent grave denotes the pronunciation /ɛ/ (as “e” in “pet”, the open e). To make the sound è, you need to open your moth wider than the previous, keep the sound short and tense. Listen to the difference é-è
Cet athlète est sincère, succès, mère, nièce, mystère.
#3 How to pronounce French letters with accents: ‘ê’ accent circonflexe
Ê avec accent circonflexe with the circumflex accent marks an “e” after which originally some other letter was written (usually an S), but this letter is no longer present in its modern spelling. Same pronunciation than è accent grave.
Tête, fenêtre, vêtements, forêt.
#4 How to pronounce French letters with accents: ‘ë’ accent tréma
Ë accent tréma (with the two dots) signifies that the underlying “e” is pronounced as /ɛ/ in pet. You have to separate the pronunciation of the two vowels. You will find also accent tréma with the letter ‘i’ in French.
Noël, naïve, égoïste, maïs, faïence.
#5 How to pronounce French letters with accents: à, ù, î, ô, û…
Actually, ignore the signs on these letters! They are used either to distinguishes words that have a similar meanings or they are linked to spellings no longer present in French. The French academy ruled to remove them in 1990 but French love them so much that they keep writing them! They are some nuances in pronunciation depending on French regions, but again, this is less and less the case.
voilà, déjà, pâtes, hôpital, île, coût, flûte.
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