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Lesson Transcript

Hi!
Welcome to Introduction to French.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Candice
In this lesson you'll learn the basics of French writing.
The French Alphabet
French uses the exact same alphabet as English, the Latin alphabet, which consists of 26 letters.
Unlike English, however, French also uses a few accents that can be added to vowels, and one other character known as the cedilla.
é (acute acent)
è à ù(grave accent)
â ê î ô û (circumflex)
ë ï ü (diaeresis).
ç (cedilla)
These characters aren't recognized as distinct letters in French though.
Let's take a look at these accents in a bit more detail.
French accents
Accents are simply markers that appear on top of letters to indicate some “extra” information. What that information represents, depends on the type of accent.
Accents may look intimidating at first, and their function may seem complicated, but in fact it's quite simple. Once you understand them, they actually help you rather than confuse you.
There are a total of five accents in French. Four of these appear over vowels, and one with the letter C.
The acute accent. ´
The grave accent. `
The circumflex. ˆ
The diaeresis. ¨
And the cedilla. ¸
Not all accents can be used with all vowels, so only certain accents will appear over certain letters.
The acute accent, for example, can only appear over the letter E.
é
It looks like a rising diagonal line going from left to right.
You will never see this accent used with any other letter in French.
The acute accent indicates that you must pronounce the E as follows...
é, é
It sounds like the E in “hey”.
So whenever you see this accent, pronounce the E as follows...
appelle “call”
appelé “called”
chante “sing”
chanté “sung”
é /e/
Next, is the grave accent. It looks like a falling diagonal line going from left to right. This accent can only appear over the letters A, E, and U.
This accent helps distinguish between words that would otherwise be spelled the same. For example...
a “has” and à “to”
ou “or” and où “where”
When it appears over the letter E, however, it indicates that you must pronounce it as follows...
è, è
/ɛ/
It sounds like the E in “bet”.
mère “mother”
frère “brother”
Next, is the circumflex accent. It looks like a little rooftop. It's used to indicate a change in pronunciation and to distinguish words that would otherwise be spelled the same. The circumflex appears over all vowels.
An E with a circumflex accent on top is pronounced exactly the same way as the previous grave accented E.
ê, è
Like the E in “bet”.
pêche “peach”
fête “party”
/ɛ/
An A with a circumflex accent on top is pronounced...
â, â
It sounds like the A in “father”.
pâte “dough”
hâte “haste”
château “castle”
An I with a circumflex accent on top does not affect the pronunciation of a word, it exists merely due to historic purposes relating to a word.
naître “to be born”
abîme “abyss”
maître “master”
And like I, a U with a circumflex accent does not influence the pronunciation of a word. However, it is sometimes used to distinguish words that would otherwise be identical.
sûr “sure”, sur “on”
du “of the”, dû “past participle of devoir”
The next accent, is the diaeresis. It looks like two small dots and it can appear over the letters E, I, U, and Y, in French. Whenever this accent appears above a letter, it indicates that you must pronounce this letter separately from the preceding syllable. For example:
naïve “naive”
Noël “Christmas”
maïs “corn”
The Cedilla
The Cedilla is a C with a special “hook” underneath.
The function of the Cedilla is simple, it changes the pronunciation of the letter C from a “k”, to an S “s” sound.
So ordinarily, a French C would be pronounced...
casser “to break”
but a Cedilla would be pronounced...
ça “this”
like an S sound.
Capitalization Rules
Like English, French capitalizes the first letter at the beginning of a sentence.
Je mange du pain. “I eat bread.”
Unlike English, however, there are a number of words which are not capitalized in French.
The personal pronoun for “I” is capitalized in English, but not in French.
Il pense que je suis bête. “He thinks that I am stupid.”
For example, days of the week are capitalized in English, but not in French.
lundi “Monday”
mardi “Tuesday”
mercredi “Wednesday”
Months of the year aren't capitalized either.
janvier “January”
février “February”
mars “March”
Nor are languages.
le français “French”
l'anglais “English”
le russe “Russian”
Consider the following example...
Le 14 juillet, c'est la fête nationale française. “July 14 is French national day.”
Notice how "July" and "French" are not capitalized.
J'apprends l'espagnol “I’m learning spanish”
"I" is capitalized here because it's the first letter at the beginning of a sentence, but "Spanish" isn't.
There are some more capitalization rules, but these are the most common ones you'll encounter.
Well done! Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, you learned that French uses the same Latin alphabet as English, consisting of 26 letters.
Additionally, there's also the acute accent, grave accent, circumflex, diaresis, and cedilla which are used to accentuate certain letters.
You also learned that "I", days, months, and languages aren't capitalized in French.
In the next lesson, you'll be entering French boot camp, where you'll learn beginner phrases to get you speaking French right away!
See you in the next lesson. Bye!
Bye!

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FrenchPod101.comVerified
Friday at 6:30 pm
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Did you like this video? Please leave us a comment!

Harry
Tuesday at 5:29 am
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Do I have to memorize all these words in the videos?

FrenchPod101.com
Monday at 11:07 pm
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Bonjour Dan et merci pour votre message.


C'est une bonne question !

It's the same sound found in the French word "au". It's similar to the english "oh".


Bonne journée !

Marie Alice

Team FrenchPod101.com

Dan
Monday at 4:14 am
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There's no mention in the video of how the circumflex accent affects the pronunciation of the letter O.


How should ô be pronounced?

FrenchPod101.com
Sunday at 11:10 pm
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Hi quang vu,

@Jiesa Mae,


Thank you for studying with us!


Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,

Cristiane

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Jiesa Mae
Tuesday at 5:23 am
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Merci pour votre aide

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quang vu
Friday at 10:49 am
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It's easy to learn. Thanks!

Di
Tuesday at 6:16 am
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I signed up for Fast Track to French Fluency Package, good for one week. I didn't see anything about a free lifetime account. Just getting a look around and it is very confusing. Ads everywhere. I wanted to be in Beginner lever but was put in Absolute Beginner . Based on what I have experience I probably won't continue past my one week. It's overwhelming with all the emails coming and all the confusion on the site.

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Umar Khan
Sunday at 7:29 pm
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Hi Cristiane


I just checked and I have a free lifetime account.


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