**e** - a most important vowel

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French has a lot of letter combinations that produce the same sounds, and also some letter combinations that can produce different sounds . In that sense - it is very much like english - and for every rule - there is usually exceptions ;) One of the very important sounds to learn the variations of in order to conquer learning french - is the sounds for ' e '. This is a simplified explanation of these sounds - which I have found instrumental in starting to tame the complexities of french verbs and their spelling. Of all the vowel sounds in french, 'e' is the one that is a very important one to master - and to be able to hear, read and say the three major different ' e ' sounds. But be aware - these are more like guidelines and the exceptions are many - especially when you get into combining e with other vowels and consonants.

  • }< if you click on the characters in this column, it will take you to a sound file.
  • IPA is the symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet. This is the symbol system that professionals and dictionaries use to describe pronunciation.
  • r# is 'romaji' - or a representation of the sound in english- using english letter combinations. (see 1# below) CAUTION - describing another language sound in an equivalent english word is ALSO a challenge - as we all have different accents - us hugely diverse mob of english speakers.

...}<.. IPA ... r# .... letter combinations

1. **e** .... ə .... uh .... le . However also note the e when combined with other vowels and consonants can make other sounds.

2. **é** .... e .... ay .... é, et, final er and ez . ......e.g. l’été the summer ; le café the coffee ; j'écris : I write ; (NB. it needs to be said very short/quickly - it is NOT a long sound)

3. **è** .... ɛ .... eh .... è, ê, ei, ai, et, ais, e, e+two cononants .....e.g. le procès the trial ; la fièvre the fever ; la femme : the woman ; elle est : she is ; - ( note the two consonants after the e )

1. **e** is also the name for 'e' in french. So it is also very useful to learn to hear and speak - so you can verbally spell out words in french. In IPA the symbol used for this sound is a ə, and is called schwa (sometimes spelled shwa). For more info click here

2. **é** is called e accent aigu The " / " is known as an l'accent aigu (m ) The IPA description of this sound can be found here IPA call this a ... close-mid front unrounded vowel. (This is too much for me to get my head around )

3. **è** is called e accent grave The " \ " is called l'accent grave In IPA the symbol used for this sound is a ɛ, and is called an " open e". For more info click here

In my texts and commentaries - I will be choosing to use the way the french typically use the letter ' e ' to describe sounds - i.e. ... ' **e**' ( being the name of e in french )... **é** (being l'accent aigu... **è** ( being l'accent grave ). I have found it useful in my learning to always say the french sound these " e's " make - even if it is silently in my head.

I also have a sort of rhyme -

If " è " is grave its sound is dead ;

If " é " is l'accent aigu, its sounds' like " ay " ;

While " e " alone it says her french name.

1#.The term "romaji" comes from a term commonly used in text for english learners of Japanese, and it represents the pronunciation of words using standardized roman/latin characters.

May 10, 2014

1 Comment

NOTE: Comment under construction - please don't comment on this until I have it beaten into shape.

To return: Verbs ~er group

~e +consonant+ er ...and... +consonant+er

Before we begin on " ~e+consonant+er " verbs it is necessary to understand

*e - a most important vowel

*and about The French spelling war

Since the 1990 reforms, all the verbs whose infinitif and has the pattern ~e+consonant+er , or , ~é+consonant+er, change the e or é ( accent aigu ) before the consonant to è ( accent grave ).

Consonants are the same consonants that are in English, plus: * ch , gn , gl . This is as they are considered a single consonant sound.

for interest sake: 'gh' , 'th' are also considered as single consonant sounds, and have spelling impacts. However they are not used in any of the consonants in the verb pattern '~e+consonant+er'

With the following exceptions:

  • ê is not changed and acts as a standard 'groupe 1 verbe`, see the example (to be inserted)

ê The accent circonflex (^) may be placed on all vowels but does not cause any significant sound change when compared to the standard sound accent aigu it may only make the vowel sound slightly longer. Compare é to ê

Like accent aigu, this accent often replaces an s from Old French, which can give a clue to the meaning of the word.

The single consonant 'x' is equivalent to having a double consonant, and if there is an 'e' or 'é' before an 'x', the verb will be treated as a standard ~er verb, meaning there is no change to the 'e' before an "x".

Except for appeler, jeter (and their associated variant verbs) - which instead double the consonant in relevant tenses.

*appeler ; rappeler

*déjeter ; forjeter ; interjeter ; jeter ; projeter ; rejeter ; surjeter

Apart from appeler and jetter - which were deemed to not be offered 'standardization' in the 1990 reforms,

A fair majority of all the above mentioned verbs can be spelled in a similar way to appeller and jetter, by the doubling of the last consonant before adding the relevant verb ending. These doubling of the last consonant are seen as 'traditional' ways of spelling, and are still accepted as correct. But there are no clear patterns and requires a lot of rote learning. So for the future being simpler and easier, and for the purposes of assisting communications - being for the purpose of being able to communicate instead of being a history lesson - I choose to always use the standardized reformed spelling.

And the last to remember that this does not affect "nous" and "vous" , but all the others are part of the play : je ; le ; la ; on ; il ; elle ; ils ; ils ; elles.

So now you have ALL the theories and rules, lets see some in ACTION ...

May 13, 2014
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