What are French Accent Marks?


What are French Accent Marks?
Foreign languages
  1. What are French Accent Marks?
  2. Inserting French Accent Marks in Word Processors
  3. French Accent Mark Shortcuts for Mac
  4. Windows International Keyboard Add-ons

French has many special zests that can be a serious obstacle for a beginner. And not only in language learning, but also in spelling letters with special accented signs on the keyboard. To find out how to deal with all this, read on in the text.


What are French Accent Marks?

The main difference between French and English is the presence of accented letters. Because of them, spelling becomes a real challenge. Fortunately, there are only 5 different types of accents in this language: one is used with consonants and four with vowels. Let us consider in more detail what functions each of them performs.


The letter c in French becomes soft with the use of la cédille, which is used in words before vowels “a”, “o”, and “u”, as well as to convey pronunciation in tenses.

The most common sign associated with the vowel “e”. Thanks to the influence of the l’accent aigu it is pronounced as “eh”.

The following type – L’accent Grave – has several applications:

  • to distinguish words with different meanings – a/à, ou/où;
  • to transmit a short and clear sound [ɛ]. It is called acute pronunciation.

Circonflexe is used for three reasons:

  • a reminder about a missing vowel or consonant letter – forêt, hôpital, côte;
  • distinguishing between homonyms – sur/sûr, mur/mûr;
  • and finally, the change of pronunciation: â→ah, ê→eh, ô→oh (like French “au”).

Le Tréma reminds you of the articulation of the second vowel when there are two vowels nearby. For example, aigüe, coöperation, reëvaluate.

Of course, in order to understand all the rules and intricacies of using these accents, you need to thoroughly teach grammar and orthoepy. You can do it yourself, or you can save yourself a lot of effort and use UpskillsTutor to find a teacher. 


Inserting French Accent Marks in Word Processors

It is actually not that hard unless you have a French keyboard layout. You can add missing signs to your keyboard in GoogleDocs or in MicrosoftWord and Mac. Let us figure out how to do this through the use of a menu bar or ribbon.

  1. Select “Insert” on the ribbon. Alternatively, click “Insert” in the menu bar.
  2. In the list that opens or in the tab “Insert”, select “Symbol”.
  3. A more extensive list can be found in the “OtherSymbols” option. In the top taskbar with the name «Subset» hit on the parameter “BasicLatin”. 
  4. Scroll through the proposed list and set the necessary sign, then press the button “Insert”. And afterwards you can only copy this symbol in your text. 
  5. GoogleDocs is still easier in this regard: “Insert”, and further flick through the popup and stop at “SpecialCharacters”.

Another opportunity for printing.

Read more: The Greatest Famous French Quotes for Inspiration


If the previous scheme does not work, try the following combinations with numbers. 


French Accent Mark Shortcuts for Mac

If you resolve to apply the menu bar, here is a diagram of your keystrokes: Edit→SpecialCharacters→Roman→AccentedLatin→The desired mark→Insert.

But that is not the only way. There are simpler and more convenient ones. For instance, if your device has OptionKeyAccents codes, all you have to do is remember the following keyboard shortcuts.



If you use KeyCaps, the question of how to put accents on letters on Mac becomes irrelevant. 


Windows International Keyboard Add-ons

This keyboard has two operating peculiarities:

  1. Some of the buttons are “prefix” or “dead”. These figurative names are reminiscent of the principles of working on old typewriters. Below are French quotation marks.


  1. The variety of other characters can be obtained with the right button Alt. A small con: if you try to enter any character separately from а letter, after entering the required sign push a space. 


But we should not forget that this is a rather difficult language for self-study. Whether you are in the initial stage or developing specific areas of knowledge, a French tutor will help you achieve the goal at least twice as quickly. 

Read more: What is The Meaning of Dry Sense of Humor?

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