French Word with same Letters but Different Accents : Côté, Côte, Cote

french word with same letters but different accents côté, côte, cote (1)

Accents in French can have a profound effect on pronunciation and meaning.

Learners and non-natifs find it quite challenging to see and then remember the difference between so similar French words like  côté, cote, and côte. 

As frequenlty used daily words, make sure you learn them properly and demonstrate your French proficiency. 

Confusing French Words : côté, côte, cote 

A little accent mark can make a big difference. Take words côté, cote, and côte. Despite being the same four letters, the meaning and pronunciation can vary based on the accent. Côté is a two-syllable word, while côte and cote are one-syllable words, pronounced differently (although in some French regions there may be no distinction in pronunciation).

côté – essentially means “side”, but also quarter, share

côte – coast, shore, border, sea coast

cote – rating, price

Let’s now examine each of these words in depth.

Different meanings of côté

It may seem strange that “by your side” is à tes côtés (plural) and not à ton côté (singular), but that’s just the way French says it.

The word côté (meaning side), is frequently used to express giving directions. It’s simple as adding words left and right after it. The most common way of getting directions is by saying côté droit (on the right hand side) or du côté gauche (on the left hand side). “Next to” (which, in a way, could be interpreted as “on the side of”) is expressed as à côté:

C’est juste à côté du table. 

It’s right next to the table.

  • refer to a quality, an aspect, or a “side” of something:

Je dirais les prunes vont donner ce côté savoureux  à la volaille.

I would say the plums are going to give that savory side to the poultry.

But the word côté is not only used literally. Also, it appears in the following expressions:

D’un côté… D’un autre côté…

On one hand… On the other hand…

  • showing someone’s perspective, opinion, or view on an issue.

De son côté, le president a annoncé sa volonté d’augmenter les salaires.

For his part, the president announced his willingness to increase salaries.

  • translated as “about” or “on the subject of” or “as for.

Côté grandes lignes, les trains nationaux ont depuis longtemps pensé aux voyageurs handicapés.

On the main lines, national trains have long thought of disabled travelers.

Learn more about Giving Directions in French.

French Expressions with côté

à-côté – can be used as a noun, or as an adverb.

As a Noun

  • extra income (as a noun)

Ses petits à-côtés lui ont permis de s’offrir une piscine.

Extra income have allowed him to afford a swimming pool.

As an Adverb

  • close at hand, nearby

My mother lives nearby.

Ma mère habite à côté.

  • in the next house, next door

I live next door to Charlotte.

J’habite à côté de Charlotte.

The next is decôté, which is used as an adverb.

de côté (adverb) – aside

Veuillez vous mettre de côté.

Please step aside.

Elle met de côté beaucoup d’argent.

She puts aside a lot of money.

laisser de côté – to leave out, to leave aside

Elles laissèrent de côté le deuxième pagne.

They left out the second page.

mettre de côté – to put aside, to set aside, to set apart

Le policier m’a poussé de côté.

The policeman pushed me aside.

Mettons cet argent de côté pour notre voyage estival.

Let’s save that money for our summer trip.

de l’autre côté – on the other side, across the street

Il vit de l’autre côté de la rue.

He lives across the street.

L’herbe paraît toujours plus verte de l’autre côté.

The grass always seems greener on the other side.

côté arrière – rear side

Le côté arrière du serveur robot doit faire face à l’utilisateur et être posé sur la table.

The back side of the robot server should face the user and rest on the table.

If you want to learn more about French prepositions of place, read this article.

Examples with côte

We could say that the main translation of the word côte is coast. Therefore, the coastal vocabulary includes many expressions and idioms that are based on the word côte.  

la côte – coast

Notre hôtel donne sur la côte.

Our hotel faces the coast.

Son cottage est sur la côte.

His cottage is on the coast.

la Côte d’Azur – Riviera

Un voyage sur la Côte d’Azur vous ferait du bien.

A trip to the Riviera should do you good.

côte d’alerte – flood level, highest water level

arrière-côte – sublittoral, back shore

avant-côte – foreshore

pour empêcher l’érosion d’atteindre l’arrière-côte

to prevent erosion from reaching the back shore.

côte a côte – side by side

Les filles étaient assises côte à côte.

The girls were seated side by side.

Ces deux-là se tiennent côte à côte.

These two stand side by side.

Examples with cote

avoir la cote – to be highly estimated, to have a quoted value, to be popular

This expressions means “to be very appreciated by someone”, and marks the idea of benefiting from high popularity. It highlights the level of appreciation that the person enjoys.

Les maisons de campagne ont la cote, les bureaux et magasins de ville se vident.

Country houses are popular, offices and city shops are emptying.

Going Past the Confusion

Today’s lesson has come to an end, and we hope you have gained a better understanding of these similar French words. See if you can find any more confusing French words like this.

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