French pronunciation: é, e or è?


I've been doing the French tree for almost 15 months straight and one of the things that have been a major annoyance for me is that I still cannot hear a difference in the pronunciation of accented letters (particularly with é, e or è) when spoken in words. When the letters are said on their own, I can detect a very slight difference, but in the practice sentences, all I can do is memorize which one is used and guess at it (which apparently I am bad at...) Lucky for me, Duolingo doesn't count these as wrong when I use the wrong one.

My question is, does anyone know of a good online resource to train my ear to catch these subtleties in hearing the words spoken? For example, clearly pronouncing the full word with each of the letters used in different places, both the wrong and right versions, so I can better catch the differences?

Thanks for any help you can send my way!

August 10, 2019


There's a website called I think where you can type a word and listen to how it's pronounced.

August 10, 2019

The first thing you should know is that some native french speaker also can't hear the difference between é and è, especially in the south, so their pronunciation will differ from someone who speaks "standard french".

Don't worry, people will perfectly understand you even if you have troubles with these two sounds.

I can't really explain you how to pronounce these two letters, but you can check on youtube, some french teacher made some videos about this topic :)

August 10, 2019

Hello i'm french and it's very difficult to hear the difference. Watch this video for hear the pronociation :

August 10, 2019

Dear 'Zugz469', did you try with the DL Stories? There, you can have each statement read by a native speaker (computer?) and 'force' the system to read it a thousand times (and more, if needed) having the same sentence written in front of your eyes and read into your ears [I use a headphone]... Please, note that - after the third reading - the system goes in a very annoying and awful 'slow motion'... My trick? To click on a previous phrase and re-start the play... Hope this helps... Thank you for reading &... Bonne chance!

August 10, 2019

I feel your pain, the differences are quite subtle and hard to hear, especially when people are talking fast. As I understand it, é is more of a long ay sound (like say or hey in english), it's also the same the sound as verbs with -er -ait -ais -ez etc endings. è is a shorter sound with the mouth open slightly wider (like bet or hair in English). Without an accent the pronunciation changes depending on context.

August 10, 2019
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