French Accents

There are 5 French accents:

  1. the cédille Ç,
  2. the accent aigu é,
  3. the accent circonflexe â, ê, î, ô, û,
  4. the accent grave à, è, ù
  5. and the accent tréma ë, ï, ü.

Listen to the audio of the French accents and practice your pronunciation with our voice recognition tool, as well as going through other French lessons.

An important thing to know about pronouncing French words is that the French accent marks can completely change the pronunciation of a word. Luckily, most accent marks don't actually do very much!

Resources for further reading:

The 5 French accents;

  • 1 for a consonant
  • 4 for vowels

1. The cédille (cedilla) Ç

The cédille is only used on the letter C. It changes a hard "c" sound (like "k") into a soft "c" sound (like "s"). Ç is never used before the vowels e or i, as these 2 vowels always produce a soft "s" sound (glace, ici).

Practice Your Pronunciation With Rocket Record

Rocket Record lets you perfect your French pronunciation. Just listen to the native speaker audio and then use the microphone icon to record yourself. Once you’re done, you’ll get a score out of 100 on your pronunciation and can listen to your own audio playback. (Use a headset mic for best results.) Problems? Click here!

Le caleçon

The underwear

Les garçons

The boys

Le jeu du garçon

The boy's game



Ça dure...

It lasts... / It takes...

2. The accent aigu (acute accent) é

The accent aigu is only used on the letter e.

Le canapé

The sofa

Le café

The coffee



3. The accent circonflexe (circumflex) â, ê, î, ô, û

The accent circonflex indicates that (historically) an "s" used to follow that vowel e.g. écouter and escouter

Le vieux château

The old castle

Une fête

A party/gathering/feast

Le dîner

Evening meal


The hotel

Bien sûr

Of course

4. The accent grave (grave accent) à, è, ù

With a and u, the accent grave is used to differentiate some words; - à "to" versus a "has"

  • "where" versus ou "or"


Voilà !

There you go!

5. The accent tréma (dieresis/umlaut) ë, ï, ü

The accent tréma indicates that the vowel is to be pronounced separately from the one immediately before it.




The ancestor


  • Sometimes the French accents are left off capital letters!
  • If the correct French accent isn't used then it would be regarded as a spelling mistake!

More on é and è

Some French accents do change the pronunciation and need to be learned and practiced. The é and the è are the two most common. Look at the pronunciation guide below and listen and practice.


(pronunciation = ay)




(pronunciation = eh)



The French Riviera, Nice

That's probably enough pronunciation practice for now! Remember the more you listen, the more you'll be able to recognize words as they're spoken.

I would strongly recommend that you check out this lesson on the French alphabet next!

À bientôt !

Marie-Claire Rivière and the Rocket French Team

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Reinforce your learning from this lesson with the Rocket Reinforcement activities! These activities are scientifically designed to improve your knowledge and retention of French.