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Penalties for missing an accent mark?

When a word is spelled right but missing an accent mark, we get an alert about it but don't lose a heart. Most of the time I'm definitely thankful for that, but sometimes I'm afraid I'm not going to learn where they go--accents have always been one of the hardest things about French spelling for me. I think this could be fixed one of two ways:

  1. Have accent mark penalties as an optional feature that we can turn on and off, like the microphone questions. That way, each person can decide for themselves which they prefer. Or:

  2. Have accent mark penalties in the Vocabulary section, but nowhere else. The Vocab section is the place to really focus on correct spelling, anyway, and people who have trouble with this aspect of language will still be able to get through the lessons.

Do you guys think this would be helpful? And which one?

July 25, 2012



I think both of these are really good suggestions and I think it could be implemented to give you the option of both. Something like - Turn on penalties for missing diacritics: ☐ in vocab review only; ☐ everywhere. (I've used the word diacritics because that is their formal name across all languages e.g. umlauts in German, slashes through vowels in Danish/Norwegian, swung dash over n in Spanish etc.)

  • 105

Good suggestion, although I think just highlighting words in the Vocabulary section where you commonly mix up the accents is sufficient.


I think the current system is good. It will keep reminding you that you are wrong. If you had to correctly remember the accents on words you had only seen once or twice before it might be very hard to complete the lessons. As per your suggestion, having an option to enforce it might be good if you wanted to be strict with yourself. If it's non-optional, then having it on the vocabulary and possibly also on the refresh/practice tasks seems good to me.


If it were possible, it would be good to take account of the context of an error. In a lesson on adjectives, for example, then enforce strictly on the adjective but be more forgiving on other elements.


there are also addons for firefox that will help you with accents. I've got https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/abctajpu/ for german, and it's really great.

If I press "alt+F2" after a vowel, it adds umlauts to it.


@OskaLingo Thanks! I really like your suggestion--if they implemented it that way it would really give me something to work towards. (Like, I'd start out by switching it on in vocab only with a goal of being able to switch it on everywhere and still pass the lessons.)


+1 Just wanted to throw my support behind this idea - I noticed that I became a bit lazy when I realized I could just leave out the accents when writing the French, but more recently I've been trying to get them down (in fact, I still sometimes write it out first without any accents, just to transcribe quickly and then go through and add them in where necessary.) I think I'd probably use this feature if it were available!


I agree with OskaLingo. It is a good idea, however we need to be able to turn it on and off. One of the things I like about Duolingo is how we don't always need to be 100% accurate. I guess I see it as being forgiving while trying to learn. One of the things I didn't like about Rosetta Stone was the amount of accuracy we needed. It turned something fun into a chore. I enjoy coming to this site everyday and while I am not perfect I still get some sort of carrot.



For me, I tend to be a bit lazy so most of the time I don't end up using the accents, but I do wish there were shortcuts to the accents (ie. use numbers 1-0), I feel it would help overcome laziness.


anomalocaris's link is broken, but I figured out where it's supposed to go http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=393f08a32278cfb016a3b58212d9b027=5286817#post5286817 It refers to using alt + codes to get characters with accents, for example, holding alt and typing 0209 then releasing alt will give you Ñ.
Here's a summary of the number shortcuts found in the character map. While holding alt: Á - 0193, á - 0225, É - 0201, é - 0233, Í - 0205, í - 0237, Ó - 0211,ó - 0243, Ú - 0218, ú - 0250, Ü - 0220, ü - 0252, Ñ - 0209, ñ - 0241, Something you may want to write down on a sticky note I guess. However as Esom states, it still breaks the flow of the writing, but I guess this is a small solution until something better is integrated.


I agree with darrenoon, having keyboard shortcuts would help with the diacritics. Switching between mouse and keyboard completely destroys the flow of writing. I might consider switching to the Spanish keyboard layout, but I certainly won't do this for French as it's completely different.


@darrenoon & esom There are shortcuts you can use! :) They're a little confusing at first, but you get used to them. I didn't know about them either until Mizotte tipped me off, so merci beaucoup to her. http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?s=393f08a32278cfb016a3b58212d9b027=5286817#post5286817


@darrenoon Huh...I was trying to link to a thread with a whole list of shortcuts for the different OSs. Not sure what happened. Here's a better one, hopefully. http://french.about.com/od/writing/ss/typeaccents.htm Memorizing all those codes doesn't really seem worth it, but the shortcuts for Mac aren't as bad...


If you have a keyboard with an Alt Gr key, to the right of the spacebar. you can add an acute accent to any vowel by holding it down. The only ones it is useful for in French is é and É but é is by far the most common accented letter.

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