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I can't type the accents!

I want to learn a language, I use a phone/a computer, but I don't know how to make the accents/the special characters. Help!

First, be aware that for most languages (if not all), the accents are not optional, they are part of the spelling of a word. Skipping an accent is often the same than skipping a "s" in a plural noun in English for instance: everyone will understand you, but your spelling is not correct, and people will see it. (and in some cases, in some languages, people won't understand you)

Role of the accents in accented languages:

-Accents can change the pronunciation of a letter, in some languages.

For instance, the letters é and è in French, are as different as a "o" and a "u", they are different letters with a different pronunciation.
(even if é and è are easier to confuse than a "o" and a "u", the comparison still applies)

  • In some languages, accents can change the place of the tonic accent, so it doesn't change the pronunciation of a letter, but the way you pronunce the whole syllabe or word.

For instance, in Spanish "teléfono" is the right spelling.
And it's a different pronunciation than if the word were spelled "telefono" or "télefono", or any other thing.

-Accents can be mute and used only to make the difference between 2 homonyms.

For instance "ou" and "où" in French are completely different words, they have the same pronunciation, but the meaning is totally different.

Ou = or.
Où = where.

If you write "Ou vas-tu?". We can understand you had a spelling mistake, but you basically wrote: "Or do you go?", in some context, it can be ambiguous, because (Vas-tu à l'école), ou vas-tu à la piscine? (Do you go to school), or do you go to the swimming pool). Here you can have a "or".

Same in Spanish

With él = he,
And el = the.

They are not the same words!

I don't want to go further in theories about the accents, it's only to explain that they are essential when you learn a language, not optional at all.

If you take the bad habit to omit them, it's really difficult to change your habit, and to spell the word with the accent in the future. The wrong spelling is in your brain.
Don't consider that "I already know the accent is there, I don't have the right keyboard, I will consider the accent is here, and it's okay".
No, because the more you write the wrong spelling, the more you make the wrong spelling enter deeply in your brain and your memory.

NOTE: You can stick to using the lowercase version of the letters, as long as you use the proper accent.

So, what is the solution?

Case 1: I use a phone

To show up the accents, you can press longer a key.

(source: https://www.pcworld.com/article/2863538/9-typing-tips-every-android-and-ios-user-should-know.html)

For instance: To type à or â, press and hold a...
To type é, è, ê, or ë, press and hold e.... To type ç, press and hold c....

Depending on your phone, Android or Iphone, you can go on your app store, and download a little help for the lessons.

It's easy, you simply type "Italian keyboard" or whatever in the store search engine.

For instance, a few keyboard apps are here:

Personally, I like Flesky and Minuum a lot. Try several ones, and you'll find the one you like the most aesthetically, and for the features.
Most of the keyboard apps allows your to install additional languages into your keyboard, as different layouts, you can deactivate them, or switch from one to another one.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.syntellia.fleksy.keyboard&hl=fr It supports:
Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (several variants), Estonian, Euskera, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hinglish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

When I study a Spanish lesson, I switch my keyboard to Spanish, if it's a Greek one, it takes a single click to switch to the Greek one, and I'm not bothered with Spanish letters when using the Greek keyboard. It's very easy.

Some apps are dictionaries for keyboards, they offer you the ability to have an autocorrection in the language you study (and you can add your own words), it's very useful!

For instance, if I install a simple keyboard app (without the dictionary feature), it gives me the opportunity to type easily the French "ç", "ë", "à", etc...

If I install a keyboard app with a dictionary, or if I add a dictionary plugin to my keyboard app, I can have the autocorrection of "Lecon" into "Leçon".

Always deactivate your English autocorrection when you study and write in a foreign language. Either have no autocorrection, or the autocorrection in the language you are studying.

The "virtual keyboard method" for iOS:


Case 2: I use a computer

Method for every computer (or almost):

I use Firefox:

I didn't test yet all these extensions, but they have good reviews,
they are only example of what you can find here:

As a bonus, this is one of the extension for the dark mode in Firefox:

A special addon to switch keyboard on Duolingo:

A tool to save letters or snippet, and insert them in a text:

You can install dictionary to have an autocorrection in the text fields:

All the accents:

For Arabic for instance:

I use Chrome:

As a bonus, the dark mode:

Google keyboard:



As for Android and Iphone, there are several cases: Windows, Mac and Linux.

-If you use Linux

It depends which one. For Ubuntu, see here:

for "é", I type [Alt Gr] ['] [e]
for "è", I type [Alt Gr] [] [e]
for "ü", I type [Alt Gr] ["] [u]
for "ô", I type [Alt Gr] [^] [o]
for "ç", I type [Alt Gr] [,] [c]
for "ñ", I type [Alt Gr] [~] [n]
for "å", I type [Alt Gr] [o] [a]
for "æ", I type [Alt Gr] [a] [e]
for "Œ", I type [Alt Gr] [O] [E]
for "ø", I type [Alt Gr] [/] [o]
for "ß", I type [Alt Gr] [s] [s]

See here: https://www.lawlessfrench.com/faq/type-accents/type-accents-in-linux/

-If you use Mac:

Source here: https://www.lawlessfrench.com/faq/type-accents/type-accents-on-a-mac/

The "Special character palette" method:

Keep the special character palette on your desktop, ready to use whenever you need it.

How to open the special character palette

Menubar: click edit
Click Special characters
View pulldown menu: select Roman
Select the Accented Latin character palette
Keep the palette open for use in any application
How to use the special character palette

Position your cursor where you want the accented character
Click it in the palette
Click Insert

"Roman" and "Accented Latin" are from the Latin language, but the palette can be used for Slavic languages, etc...

The "Accent code" method

Activate Extended Keyboard
To use these codes, you need to activate the U.S. Extended keyboard (or ABC Extented in El Capitan) in the System Preferences following the instructions below. Note: Some codes may not work if the software or Web site does not fully support Unicode.

All the codes are her: https://sites.psu.edu/symbolcodes/mac/codemac

For instance:

Acute accent:
Option+` + vowel.

Egs: To input the letter ó, hold down the Option key, then the E key. Release both keys then type lowercase o.

Option+ E + o = ó
Option++ o = ò Option+ + O = Ò

ô Ô Option+I + vowel

Option +N + o = õ
(Only works with: n/N, o/O and a/A)

Option + U + o = ö

¡ (Upside-down exclamation mark, Spanish)

¿ (Upside-down question mark, Spanish)

Ç,ç (Cédille, French)
Shift+Option+C = Ç
Option+C = ç

Œ,œ (Latin, French)
Shift+Option+Q = Œ
Option+Q = œ

æ (Latin, French)
Shift+Option+’ (apostrophe key) = Æ
Option+’ = æ

ß (German)

« » (Spanish/French quotation marks, French chevrons)
Option+ = «
Shift+Option+ = »

Other languages: extended keyboard codes:

I use Windows:

The ALT + code (ASCII code) method:



How to use it:
Pressing the ALT key and using the numberpad at the same time.

For instance:
(Note: the languages given are only examples, I don't plan to indicate all the languages for a given letter)

ALT + 128 = Ç (French)
ALT + 129 = ü (French, German)
ALT + 130 = é (French, Spanish, etc...)
ALT + 131 = â (French)
ALT + 132 = â (French)
ALT + 133 = à (French)
ALT + 134 = å (Nordic: Danish, Swedish, Norwegian...)
ALT + 135 = ç (French)
ALT + 136 = ê (French)
ALT + 137 = ë (French)
ALT + 138 = è (French, Italian...)
ALT + 139 = ï (French)
ALT + 140 = î (French)
ALT + 141 = ì (Spanish, Portuguese....) ALT + 142 = Ä (French)
ALT + 143 = Å (Nordic)
ALT + 144 = É (French)
ALT + 145 = æ (French, Latin)
ALT + 146 = Æ (Latin)
ALT + 147 = ô (French)
ALT + 148 = ö (French)
ALT + 149 = ò (Spanish...)
ALT + 150 = û (French)
ALT + 151 = ù (French, Spanish...)
ALT + 152 = ÿ
ALT + 153 = Ö (French)
ALT + 154 = Ü (French)
ALT + 160 = á (Spanish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic...)
ALT + 161 = í (Czech, Hungarian...) ALT + 162 = ó (Czech...)
ALT + 163 = ú (Spanish, Italian, Czech....)
ALT + 164 = ñ (Spanish)
ALT + 165 = Ñ (Spanish)
ALT + 168 = ¿ (Spanish)
ALT + 168 = ¡ (Spanish)

The "Charmap method":

  1. Win+R, to open the "run" window, and type "charmap" -> OK.

It opens the Charmap program.

  1. In the Font drop box menu, select the font you want to view the characters that are available it. (See screenshot below)

  2. Double click to select a character.

  3. Insert.


November 30, 2019



Looks like a very extensive guide.
Very nice of you!
I'm sure some may need parts of it, but on most computers,
you might also simply use the international English keyboard that is already part of your computer:



Nice touch adding pictures to your post!

In case it wasn't clear,
I simply offered some extra resources in case it helps anyone.
Your post is very thoughtful of the community!
Image: tipping my hat in respect - Chapeau!


PERCE I think this post will go down in Duo history! Amazing!


Feel free to help improving it!


That's very useful, thank you for adding it! Lingoted.

I learn several languages, so I personally prefer lighter methods that installing a keyboard for the OS. I don't want to write in this language everywhere, but only in Spanish when I study Spanish, Russian when I study Russian, etc...

There's also the link I've found in your link:

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Gh0stwheel, Thank you also for mentioning these other links. I also have linked back from those posts to this one.

Thank you PERCE_NEIGE for creating this resource.

Also to check out the resource on Duolingo:


Ευχαριστώ PERCE_NEIGE, quite a comprehensive guide.

An accent can change everything in Greek too:

πότε = when
ποτέ = never

δουλειά = employment, work, job
δουλεία = slavery

θέα = view, sight
θεά = goddess

Αθήνα = Athens
Αθηνά = the goddess Athena, feminine given name

And because questions about how-to-type-accents-in-Greek (or how to type in Greek at all) come up a lot in the Greek forum, I'll add this, in case anyone needs it:
MODERN GREEK RESOURCES How to get the keyboard and much more.


This is a fantastic guide, thank you for posting!

Also, I would really recommend for all you lazy people (I see you, because I'm one of you too) learn the accents from the beginning! It is so easy to fool yourself into thinking "Oh, I'll learn the spelling first and the accents later," no!! It is MUCH easier to pick the accents up as you go - you will learn their actual purpose and they will become second nature to you. You will develop muscle memory for the key- or pen-stroke! And it is so much more satifying to get the word completely right, rather than half right! If you try to learn them later you will have no choice but to spend ages rote memorising a bunch of words you already learned all over again, it's not worth it!


@Amber Oi! We all knows how ta yoose them accents! Just becoz we don't use 'em - duzn't mean we don't knows 'em!


You missed the point. When learning a new language, the easier is to learn them from the beginning. Because the more you spell them the wrong way, the more difficult it's to correct them later. Even if we "know", the muscles of our brain, and fingers take a bad habit, and tend to stick to it forever...


I think WilderBeest here was making a pun, not a point.
So, WeelderBeest did not mean the literal meaning of what they wrote, but the "way" they've miswritten/written it.

Accents can mean both:
1. The diacritic marks added to letters.
2. The manners of pronunciation peculiar to particular individuals, locations, or nations.
3. (The other meanings of the word aren't part of the confusion here.)

OK, now that I've butchered the joke, I can go sit in the corner...


WOW!! This is great!! Thank you for putting this all together for us! Looks like it took a lot of time! Thanks! Here have some sweat!!


Wow, incredible! Something for everybody. Mille grazie!


Thank you for this post! It was very interesting, and it actually made me think of the way I do these rehearsals in Duolingo. I must admit, I’m little bit lazy sometimes and don’t always write the accents. I do write them to my notes though, but after reading this I will write them to Duolingo too. You are right, accents really change the meaning of words, and I would hate to do these errors just because of my laziness.


Very well presented guide! It's going to be very handy for linking to when people ask this. ^^

However, can I suggest one important alteration where it could be improved?

Nearly all the links you've posted take the user to pages written in French. As your guide isn't written in French and you didn't post your guide in a part of the forum in any way related to French, many people reading your guide here might have a lot of difficulty reading the pages you linked to if they don't happen to be fluent in French.

Best solution, which should make the links automatically direct to whichever language the user's web browser is set to:

1. Google

— Remove &hl=fr / ?hl=fr from each address:



2. Mozilla

— Remove fr/ (and ?src=search) from each address:


3. Wikipedia

— This one is a bit awkward, since the page name will differ for each language. I believe it's not possible for non-language specific page links to Wikipedia. Since your guide is written in English, you may wish for the link to go to that page written in English?


4. Ubuntu

— Unlike the others, this one you've put a link that directs specifically to the English page. You could make it automatically go to the language of the user's browser.
Remove .en from the address:


Only suggestions, but I think this would make things a lot easier for people. Great guide nonetheless. ^^


I am pretty sure you can write with or without accents,like on computer and on phone.I think i use Mac computer and iPhone 5.It isn't supposed to be a problem to write with or without accents.Like when I practice Spanish,I didn't have Spanish keyboard on my computer or phone,instead of writing "niño" or "niña" or "teléfono", I just wrote "nino""nina"and "telefono" and it still accepted it. So I am pretty sure you can write some words without accents in Spanish,but if you are talking about other languages,then I am really not sure. I hope it helped a little bit. :) ;) By the way,that was a very serious guide on that too.I took it pretty serious.


He's saying that it's not a matter of Duolingo accepting words without the accents or not, it's a matter of learning the language properly - and without the accents the words are wrong. It's not, really, even a matter of whether or not it's ambiguous; it's still wrong.

However, I think that learning to type with a proper keyboard layout for that country is important. It's part of learning that country's language. It's all very well to be able to type accented characters on an English keyboard layout when you need to, but then when you go to that country and use one of their computers, you're often lost and your typing slows to a crawl until you learn where everything is.

It's much better, whenever you can, to load the keyboard layout for that language and that country, use it and learn it. You can usually switch back to English layout with a couple of clicks when you need to.


Ok.I just,because I don't have Spanish keyboard on my computer,that is what I do.


Shhhhh...don't tell anyone, but I am too lazy to type the accents when I do the lessons! You are right. It accepts the answers anyway!
I think Duo allows this for people who genuinely don't have a keyboard. :)


...or a split keyboard :)


That's exactly right, Vu7! Especially a split one! Good of you to mention it. ;)


I think that might not be great because after seeing the words without the accents you might not remember where they are eventually and sometimes an accent changes the meaning of a word drastically. For example, año without the tilde means something else.


Yes, that's a good point. However when typing the lessons I too get lazy! But I always remember the accents if I'm writing on the forum, etc.


However, I think that learning to type with a proper keyboard layout for that country is important. It's part of learning that country's language.

+1. In the 21st century, it's just as important as learning how to accurately write the letters with a pen!


True. But when you are new and eager to get started it's okay to delve into the lessons!
After a while of course you want to be able to write like a true native - then you start to experiment with keyboards.


You have to spell correctly from the beginning. Or it will be very hard to change your bad habits.


If you are Canadian, and on a computer, you just switch over, in one click, from an English keyboard to a multilingual one - from 'ENG (Canadian) - US' to 'ENG (Canadian) - CMS', if you're an English-speaker learning French. The 'CMS' in the second one means 'Canadian Multilingual Standard', and you can it for both English and French. I only use it for French because I find it awkward for English, and it only takes one second and one click to change keyboards.

For all I know, this switching-over is available everywhere. I've only bought computers here in Canada, so that's all I know about. I don't have a cell, and I don't use my tablet for Duo, so can't comment on if you can switch to CMS on those devices.

Also, aren't all kinds of keyboards, including CMS, available when you set up your computer? Every time I've set up a Windows computer, it's asked me, during the set-up process, which keyboards I want to add. The computers here in Canada only have the French alternatives actually written down on the keys, but I know a woman here from Russian who just chose the Russian keyboard and then bought a plastic sticky overlay for her keyboard, so that they keys show the Russian alternatives.


I never knew those shortcuts were a thing


Usually, I just use typeit or switch to a international keyboard which is really weird to type on which does not worth for all languages, maybe just romance ones, but it is fine. Norwegian keyboard is weird.


Downloaded Hebrew keyboard on phone the other day. Having so much fun! :)


An interesting and informative post. Great work, thank you!


I use online keyboards: Lexilogos and www.branah.com

Mostly I use Lexilogos.

I used to use Google Input tools, but for some languages, I couldn't type some things I needed to type.

For French, when I learned French years ago in school, the first 3 years it was all oral. It was only in high school, that we started learning how to read and write it.

In grade 7 only some of the kids were learning French, which were kids they thought were smart. The other kids who weren't learning French were in a special reading class, because I guess they thought it was better for them to learn how to read in their own language (English) before they started learning a foreign language.

So, yeah, I had all those French accents drilled into me in school many years ago.

Actually, the teacher even made mistakes himself and the students used to correct him. Even my French penpal makes some mistakes with her spelling sometimes, but she's French so I felt kind of stupid correcting her.

My French teacher had a French name but he wasn't French.

He also taught German. In grade 10 I used to memorize all the German sentences and always got 100%. He asked me one time if I had any "background" in German and said I was "doing fantastic". I said no. I didn't really think I was doing fantastic because it was easy for me. Most of the other kids in the class spoke either Dutch or German at home. I was wondering why a girl pronounced "ich" like "ik". Now I know in Dutch they have "ik".

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I'm afraid that your advice for Windows users is a couple of decades out of date - Alt-codes and charmaps are really only useful if you only type accented characters occasionally - if you want to type "Joyeux Noël" in your Christmas greetings, for example. If you are spending 20 minutes a day doing Duolingo, using those methods to enter special characters will get old - fast!

Many Windows users outside the US can already get some accented by using the Alt-Gr key on the right of their space-bar, but depending on the characters you need to access, you might need to add an additional keyboard layout. Nowadays you don't have to dig out your installation disks to install an additional keyboard layout, it's just a few clicks away - Click on Start and type Language, click on Language Settings, click on your default language and then click on Options and then just click on Add a Keyboard. You can switch between keyboard layouts simply by pressing the Windows key and the space bar, or clicking on the Language selector in the System Tray, next to the clock.

Note that that's just adding an additional keyboard layout, not adding an additional language. And if you add the French keyboard if you're learning French, note that it is not a QWERTY layout! You might not want to use it unless you plan on spending time in France, using computers that come with French keyboards! If you have a QWERTY keyboard of any type, adding the US-International or UK-Extended keyboard is probably a better option, depending on which particular QWERTY layout you use.

You can "Try before you buy" at this Microsoft page where you can see what keys will be produced with different layouts.

The best solution will very much depend on the user - which keyboard layout they are currently using, how often they need to type special characters, how different the keyboard layout for the language they are learning is from the keyboard they are already using, whether they are using a laptop or a full desktop keyboard (using alt-codes on a laptop keyboard that doesn't have a numberpad is not fun). There really isn't a one-size fits all solution, but using an alternative keyboard layout will probably be worthwhile for anyone who needs accented characters on a daily basis, as switching between keyboards is trivial.


I don't want to seem chauvinistic but I find the Spanish keyboard particularly convenient, because you have, on the one hand, the accents (the one used in Spanish (´) but also others (´, ^, ~) and on the other hand the vowels, separate, so you can combine them however you want, not just in the combinations that actually exist in Spanish but also in other combinations. Instead, the French keyboard, for example, has only the predetermined combinations that actually exist in French (é, è, à...) as a unit, in one key, but not others like á or í, so you need to resort to tips like the ones that, so kindly, Perce_Neige enumerates. Thanks by the way!


Thank you this is very helpful as I have not been using this in my spelling currently on the app. Downloading a keyboard on my phone will differently help!


I appreciate you for this

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