The 10 new spelling rules for the French language

1. Compound numbers are automatically hyphenated

Old spelling

New spelling

Vingt et un (21)
Deux cent (200)
Un million cent (1.000.0100)
Trent et unième (31ème)

Vingt-et-un
Deux-cent
Un-million-cent
Trente-et-unième

Remarks:

  • In this way it is easier to distinguish 60 + 1/3 (soixante-et-un-tiers) from 61/3 (soixante et un tiers).
  • Thanks to this rule numerous difficulties belong to the past and random applications are eliminated.

 

2. In compound words (with hyphen) like ‘pèse-lettre’ (verb + noun) or ‘sans-abri’ (preposition + noun), the second element always takes the plural form when the word is put in plural.

Old spelling

New spelling

un compte-gouttes,
des compte-gouttes
un après-midi,
des après-midi

un compte-goutte,
des compte-gouttes
un après-midi,
des après-midis

Remarks:

  • Words like ‘prie-Dieu’ (because of the capital letter) and ‘trompe-la-mort’ (because of the article) remain unchanged.
  • This regularization provides a simple and unique rule and avoids incoherence like ‘un cure-dent’ while ‘un cure-ongles’.

 

3. In certain words an ‘accent grave’ is preferred (instead of an ‘accent aigu’) to regulate their spelling and in the conjugation of certain verbs.

Old spelling

New spelling

Evénement
Réglementaire
Je céderai
Ils régleraient

Evènement
règlementaire
Je cèderai
Ils règleraient

Remarks:

  • For an indeterminate syllable we write è, except in the prepositions dé and pré where the é remains, just like in the words ‘médecin’ and ‘médecine’.
  • Herewith, individual cases are brought under one basic rule:  ‘évènement’ is now written in the same way as ‘avènement’ and ‘règlementaire’ in the same way as ‘règlement’.

 

4. The circumflex disappears for the letters i and u.

Old spelling

New spelling

Coût
Entraîner, nous entraînons
Paraître, il parait

Cout
Entrainer, nous entrainons
Paraitre, il parait

Remarks:

  • The circumflex is only kept in words where it is necessary make a distinction like:
  • The male single adjectives such as dû, mûr, sûr, jeûne
  • The forms of ‘croitre’ (grow) to not be confused with the conjugations of ‘croire’ (believe): je crois, tu crois, il croit tegenover je croîs, tu croîs, il croît …
  • Above the letters i and u the circumflex does not have any phonetic significance. This circumflex was one of the most important causes of random mistakes.

 

5. Verbs ending with –eler or –eter are conjugated like the verb ‘peler’ or ‘acheter’.

Old spelling

New spelling

J’amoncelle
Amoncellement
Tu époussetteras

J’amoncèle
Amoncèlement
Tu époussèteras

Remarks:

  • Also derivatives ending with –ment are covered by this rule.
  • Exceptions to this rule: appeler, jeter and their compounds, including interpeler
  • With this new rule, it is not necessary anymore to study endless lists of irregular verbs by heart.

 

6. Loan words form their plural in the same way as the French words and get an accent according to the rules that are applicable for the French words. 

Old spelling

New spelling

Des matches
Des misses
Revolver

Des matchs
Des miss
Révolver

Remarks:

  • The regular plural forms, known by most of the French-speaking, enhance the integration of loan words.
  • The addition of an accent avoids a wrong pronunciation.

 

7. The fusion is obvious in a number of words compounded out of the next parts: contre-, entre-, extra-, infra-, intra-, ultra-, hydro-, socio-…

Old spelling

New spelling

contre-appel
entre-temps
extra-terrestre
tic-tac
week-end
porte-monnaie

Contrappel
Entretemps
Extraterrestre
Tictac
Weekend
Portemonnaie

 

8. Words ending with –olle and verbs ending with –otter are written with a single consonant.

Old spelling

New spelling

Corolle
Frisotter
Frisottis

Corole
Frisoter
Frisotis

Remarks:

  • Exceptions to this rule: colle, molle and folle and words of the same family as the nouns ending with –otte like botter and botte.
  • Here also the objective of this rule is to exclude incoherence: ‘carole’ is now written in the same way as ‘bestiole’.

 

9. The two dots are moved to the pronounced letter u and even added to some words.

Old spelling

New spelling

Aiguë, ambiguë
Ambiguïté
Arguer

Aigüe, ambigüe
Ambigüité
Argüer

 Remarks:

  • Words to which the two dots are added are: argüer (j’argüe, nous argüons, etc.), gageüre, mangeüre, rongeüre, vergeüre.
  • Placing the two dots avoids difficulties in reading and incorrect pronunciation.

 

10. The ‘participe passé’ of the verbs ‘faire’ and ‘laisser’, followed by an infinitive, remain unchanged.

Old spelling

New spelling

Elle s’est laissée maigrir
Je les ai laissés partir

A elle s’est laissé maigrir
Je les ai laissé partir

Stemmen: 

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