Learn French Accents: aigu, grave, circonflexe

Learn French Accents: aigu, grave, circonflexe

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Where do French accents come from? How do they work?

In the Middle Ages, the French language started losing certain sounds, such as its Ss. Then, French writers started to replace the Ss with an accent. However, not all Frenchmen were writing accents with the same consistency. It is only later on and little by little that the accents became popular in France. However, there was no general rule. As a result, written French of today is not consistent in terms of accents.

In the meantime, English has kept an older form of spelling, keeping Ss. As a result, often – not always – when you see an accent on a French word, the English translation often has kept the original S.


  • disgusting --> dégoûtant
  • host --> hôte
  • island --> île
  • master --> maître
  • pasta --> pâte
  • school --> école
  • study --> étude
  • task --> tâche


Fill in the blanks with one of the two words provided.

_______ (La, Là) fête était _______ (a, à) Loguivy-_______(les, lès)-Lannion, _______ (ou, où) les grands-parents avaient la maison familiale. _______ (Les, Lès) fêtes se faisaient toujours _______ (la, là). La _______ (tache, tâche) de France était de mettre la table. Lorsqu’elle _______ (a, à) sorti la nappe _______ (du, dû) buffet, elle s’est aperçue qu’il y avait une _______ (tache, tâche). Elle aurait _______ (du, dû) vérifier avant _______ (ou, où) en choisir une autre.


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