Stress and Accent Marks The French tonic accent is quite different than its English counterpart. In English, each word has one stressed syllable, meaning that one syllable of the word is pronounced more emphatically. In addition, individual words can be stressed in order to show particular emphasis on them.

In French, each syllable of a word and each word is pronounced with the same emphasis, except for the final syllable of each rhythmic group. In order to emphasize a specific word in French, you must use either the accent affectif or the accent tonique.

There are two different ways to use the French accent tonique. The word that might be said louder in English in order to show emphasis is in bold.

  1. Put the word to be emphasized at the beginning or end of the sentence

  2. Carlos, je l'aime bien.
    Je l'aime bien, Carlos.
    I like Carlos a lot.
    Moi, je n'en sais rien.
    Je n'en sais rien, moi.
    I don't know anything about it
    Chantal, elle n'a rien dit.
    Chantal n'a rien dit, elle.
    Chantal didn't say anything
    Je lui ai donné le livre, à elle. I gave the book her

    Note: When emphasizing people, stressed pronouns are used.

  3. Use the construction c'est... que/qui

  4. C'est Carlos que j'aime. I like Carlos a lot.
    C'est moi qui les aime. I like them.
    C'est un collier qui a t vol. A necklace was stolen.
    C'est votre rponse qui n'est pas juste. Your response is not correct.

  5. Use both of these constructions together for very strong emphasis

  6. Carlos, c'est lui qui l'a fait ! It's Carlos, he's the one who did it! / Carlos that did it!

Accent Marks

There are five different kinds of accent marks used in written French. They are:

Accent Letters used

acute accent (accent aigu) only
grave accent (accent grave) , ,
circumflex (accent circonflexe) , , , ,
diaeresis (trma) , , ,
cedilla (cdille) only

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