Missing accents, misplacing them or putting the wrong one is considered as a spelling mistake in French.
Know that accents on A, O and U will not change the sound of the word. However, on E it will. For those learning French, it is worth understanding the difference, it will help them make sense of accents and therefore it will be easier to use them.
è & ê have a similar sound as ‘ay’ without the diphthong; I call it the ugly ‘ay’ due to the face we need to make to pronounce it. This sound is similar to the one in English words like ‘set’ or ‘let’.
Examples of words with the grave accent and the circumflex accent in French:
Mon père – my father
Ma mère – my mother
La forêt – the forest
être – to be >>>Être – to be
There is no é sound in English but it sounds a bit like a soft and short ‘ee’ sound. When you say it your face makes a smile, so maybe it is the lovely ‘é’!
e without an accent sounds like a French person hesitating and going ‘euh…’ but shorter! If you imagine a person wondering what to say next and making that sound ‘euh…’ it will help you remember the sound.
When writing, get used to adding the appropriate accents in order to avoid altering the look of the word or to avoid making spelling errors. It is also easier to recognise the word and more pleasant for the reader. Unfortunately, this task means extra work as you won’t find them on your keyboard unless you have a French one.
To find them in Word, go to Insert.
Then find Symbol.
Click on More Symbols.
Where you see the word ‘Font’ from the drop down menu, select (normal text). You will be presented with a menu of various symbols including all the French letters with their accents. Click on any desired one, then press Insert and you will have it in your text.
Alternatively, you may find quicker to keep a list of these letters at hand in a document to copy paste in any programme.