If we check the pronunciation of Merci: [mɛʁ.si] the 'e' sound is the same as 'è' in Mère: [mɛʁ]. But why is there no accent on the 'e' in 'merci'? With no accent, shouldn't the 'e' sounds like: 'le' or 'de'?


1 Answer 1


It depends on the syllable. If it is open (le, me, te, ne, de, re-ve-nir etc) it is pronounced like in the article "le" [ə].

If it is closed or with the accents è; ê (mer-ci, après, mère, les, des, mes, tes etc) it is pronounced [ɛ] like in the word "Merci".

In the word "Merci" there is no accent because the syllabe is closed, we will pronounce it without problem. We need to write the accent when we need to pronounce it like [ɛ] but the syllabe is opened (après, près, forêt etc)

Also there is another sound [e]! télé, cinéma, février; au Passé Composé: dansé, parlé etc.

If you have some questions, write me, I am a french tutor (I conduct french classes online)!

  • 1
    I'm from Switzerland, so maybe my pronunciation is different, but aren't "les, des, mes, tes" prononced like [e] instead of [ɛ] ? Mar 2, 2023 at 11:42

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