I have read a lot about the accents (these little marks that appear above vowels ) in French. But I can't differentiate between them at all.

So I have two questions, can I ignore them while I am learning French ( at least in the beginning) ?

Can anyone explain it SIMPLY ?

  • They change the pronunciation for most of them. Once you learned how to pronounce them, if by reading a word it with or without it doesn't change the pronunciation, it's either because it's etymologic or because it differentiates two homophones words (which often are related)
    – Larme
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


You can't ignore them since they change the pronunciation (most of the time) and the meaning. They are like real letters.

  • Some words just have letters with an accent so you have to learn and write them like that:

du = some; dû = due (pronunciation doesn't change)

a = has; à = to/in/at/etc. depending on the context (pronunciation doesn't change)

mais = but; maïs = corn (pronunciation changes)

  • The past participle for the first group verbs always ends with a :

manger = to eat

je mange = I eat/I'm eating

j'ai mangé = I have eaten

The pronunciation between mange and mangé is not the same.

  • They seem so important, But French has many different sounds that kinda hard for native Arabic speaker and English. is there an easier way than memorizing the word + its pronunciation ?
    – Shady Atef
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 18:27
  • @ShadyAtef Aren't words and their pronunciation a big part of learning any language?
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 20:22
  • 1
    @ShadyAtef A cool thing in French is that letters have few possible pronunciations, contrary to English. is always pronounced the same way, same with the other letters with an accent, in 90 % of cases.
    – Destal
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 21:15
  • 2
    @ShadyAtef There are basic rules that you should be able to find in any French textbook. These will allow you to pronounce correctly a huge majority of the French words you'll learn, including accents. There are a few exceptions and subtelties, some which you'll learn along the road and some that even native speakers struggle with. Of course, actually listening (and speaking) is the only way to actually learn pronunciation. Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 21:39
  • @Alexandred'Entraigues, your comment was motivating . Thanks
    – Shady Atef
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 10:49

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