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The grave accent ( ` ) ( or ) is a mark in many written languages, including , , Corsican, , Emilian-Romagnol, , West Frisian, (until 1982; see ), , , , , Portuguese, Ligurian, Scottish Gaelic, Vietnamese, , , and .


The grave accent first appeared in the of to mark a lower than the high pitch of the acute accent. In modern practice, it replaces an acute accent in the last syllable of a word when that word is followed immediately by another word. The grave and circumflex have been replaced with an in the modern monotonic orthography.

The accent mark was called , the feminine form of the adjective (), meaning "heavy" or "low in pitch". This was (loan-translated) into as , which then became the English word grave.

The grave accent marks the stressed vowels of words in , , and .

A general rule in is that words that end with stressed -a must be marked with a grave accent. Words that end with stressed -e or -o may bear either an or a grave accent, depending on whether the final e or o sound is or , respectively. Some examples of words with a final grave accent are città ("city"), Mosè ("Moses"), and portò ("he/she/it brought/carried"). A typist who uses a keyboard without accented characters and is unfamiliar with for typing accented letters sometimes use a separate grave accent or even an instead of the proper accent. This is nonstandard but is especially common when typing capital letters: * E` or * E’ instead of È ("he/she/it is"). Other mistakes arise from the misunderstanding of and words: the phrase un po’ ("a little"), which is the truncated version of un poco, may be mistakenly spelled as * un pò. Italian has word pairs where one has an accent marked and the other not, with different pronunciation and meaning—such as pero ("pear tree") and però ("but"), and Papa ("Pope") and papà ("dad"); the last example is also valid for .

In Bulgarian, the grave accent sometimes appears on the vowels а, о, у, е, и, and ъ to mark stress. It most commonly appears in books for children or foreigners, and dictionaries—or to distinguish between near-: па̀ра ( pàra, "steam/vapour") and пара̀ ( parà, "cent/penny, money"), въ̀лна ( bằlna, "wool") and вълна̀ ( bǎlnà, "wave"). In a few cases (mostly on the vowels е and и), the stress mark is orthographically required to distinguish (see Disambiguation). Then, it forces the stress on the accented word-syllable instead of having a different syllable in the stress group getting accented. In turn, it changes the pronunciation and the whole meaning of the group.

Ukrainian, , Belarusian, and used a similar system until the first half of the 20th century. Now the main stress is preferably marked with an acute, and the role of the grave is limited to marking secondary stress in compound words (in dictionaries and linguistic literature).

In and in , the stressed syllable can be short or long and have a rising or falling tone. They use (in dictionaries, orthography, and grammar books, for example) four different stress marks (grave, acute, double grave, and inverted breve). The system is identical both in Latin and Cyrillic scripts.

In modern Church Slavonic, there are three stress marks (acute, grave, and circumflex), which formerly represented different types of pitch accent. There is no longer any phonetic distinction between them, only an orthographical one. The grave is typically used when the stressed vowel is the last letter of a multiletter word.

In Ligurian, the grave accent marks the accented short vowel of a word in à (sound ), è (sound ), ì (sound ) and ù (sound ). For ò, it indicates the short sound of , but may not be the stressed vowel of the word.

The grave accent marks the of the vowels e and o, indicating that they are pronounced : è (as opposed to é ); ò (as opposed to ó ), in several Romance languages:
  • uses the accent on three letters ( a, e, and o).
  • orthography uses the accent on three letters ( a, e, and u).
    • The ù is used in only one word, où]], to distinguish it from its homophone ou]].
    • The à is used in only a small of words, including à]], là]], and çà]] (homophones of a]], la]], and ça]] respectively), and déjà]].
    • The è is used more broadly to represent the vowel , in positions where a plain e would be pronounced as (). Many verb conjugations contain regular alternations between è and e; for example, the accent mark in the present tense verb l ève distinguishes the vowel's pronunciation from the in the infinitive, l ever .
  • Ligurian also uses the grave accent to distinguish the sound , written ò, from the sound , written ó.

In several languages, the grave accent distinguishes both and words that otherwise would be :
  • In Bulgarian and Macedonian, it distinguishes the conjunction и ("and") from the short-form feminine possessive pronoun ѝ.
  • In , it distinguishes, for example, ma ("my") from ("hand").
  • . The grave accent on the letters a and u has no effect on pronunciation and just distinguishes homonyms otherwise spelled the same. It distinguishes the preposition à ("to/belonging to/towards") from the verb a (the third-person singular present tense of avoir) as well as the adverb ("there") and the feminine la; it is also used in the words déjà ("already"), deçà (preceded by en or au, and meaning "closer than" or "inferior to (a given value)"), the phrase çà et là ("hither and thither"; without the accents, it would literally mean "it and the") and its functional synonym deçà, delà. It is used on the letter u only to distinguish ("where") and ou ("or"). È is rarely used to distinguish homonyms except in dès/ des ("since/some"), ès/ es ("in/(thou) art"), and lès/ les ("near/the").
  • In , it distinguishes, for example, the conjunction e ("and") from the verb è ("he/she/it is"), the feminine article la from the adverb ("there"), or the conjunction se ("if") from the reflexive pronoun ("itself"). The first two examples involve two homographs, and the last involves two homophones.
  • In Norwegian (both Bokmål and ), the grave accent separates words that would otherwise be identical: og (and) and òg (too). Popular usage, possibly because Norwegian rarely uses diacritics, often leads to a grave accent in place of an .
  • In , it distinguishes (in the Rumantsch Grischun standard) e ("and") from the verb form è ("he/she/it is") and en ("in") from èn ("they are"). It also marks distinctions of stress ( gia "already" vs. gìa "violin") and of vowel quality ( letg "bed" vs. lètg "marriage").

In , the accent denotes a sound in a word that would otherwise be pronounced with a long vowel sound: mẁg "mug" versus mwg "smoke".

In , it denotes a long vowel, such as cùis ("subject"), compared with cuir ("put"). The use of acute accents to denote the rarer close long vowels, leaving the grave accents for the open long ones, is seen in older texts, but it is no longer allowed according to the new orthographical conventions.

In some such as Vietnamese, and (when it is written in or ), the grave accent indicates a falling tone. The alternative to the grave accent in Mandarin is the numeral 4 after the syllable: pà = pa4.

In African languages, the grave accent often indicates a low tone: jàkkàr ("fish-hook"), àgbọ̀n ("chin"), màcè ("woman").

The grave accent represents the low tone in or Mohawk.

Other uses
In Emilian-Romagnol, a grave accent placed over e o denotes both length and openness. In è ò represent ɛː,, while in they represent ɛ,.

In Portuguese, the grave accent indicates the contraction of two consecutive vowels in adjacent words (). For example, instead of a aquela hora ("at that hour"), one says and writes àquela hora.

In Hawaiian, the grave accent is not placed over another character but is sometimes encountered as a typographically easier substitute for the ʻokina: Hawai`i instead of Hawaiʻi.

The grave accent, though rare in words, sometimes appears in poetry and song lyrics to indicate that a usually-silent vowel is pronounced to fit the rhythm or meter. Most often, it is applied to a word that ends with -ed. For instance, the word looked is usually pronounced as a single syllable, with the e silent; when written as lookèd, the e is pronounced: look-ed). In this capacity, it can also distinguish certain pairs of identically spelled words like the of learn, learned , from the learnèd (for example, "a very learnèd man").

Accents, sometimes combined with , are often applied to foreign terms not commonly used in or that are not fully assimilated into English: for example, , pièce de résistance and crème brûlée.

As surrogate of apostrophe or (opening) single quote
The layout of some European PC keyboards combined with problematic keyboard driver semantics causes many users to use a grave accent or an acute accent instead of an when typing in English (e.g. typing John`s or John´s instead of John's).

Additionally ASCII grave accent character () was often used as surrogate of opening single quote, together with ASCII typewriter apostrophe () used as closing single quote; double quotes were sometimes substituted by two consecutive grave accents and two consecutive typewriter apostrophes (``…''). Although Unicode now provides separate characters for single and double quotes, such style is sometimes used even nowadays; examples are: output generated by some of UNIX console programs, rendering of within some environments, technical documentation written long ago or written in old-school manner. However, as time goes on, such style is used less and less; and even institutions that traditionally were using that style are now abandoning it.

Technical notes






The standard makes dozens of letters with a grave accent available as a combining character. The older ISO-8859-1 character encoding only includes the letters à, è, ì, ò, ù, and their respective forms. In the much older, limited 7-bit character set, the grave accent is encoded as character 96 ( 60). Outside the US, character 96 is often replaced by accented letters. In the French ISO 646 standard, the character at this position is . Many older UK computers, such as the and , have the symbol as character 96, though the British ISO 646 variant ultimately placed this symbol at position 35 instead.

On many computer keyboards, the grave accent is a key by itself—meant to combine with vowels as a multi-key combination or as a to modify the following letter. On a US and UK QWERTY keyboard, the key is placed in the top left corner to the left of the key. On a Czech QWERTZ keyboard, the equivalent keystroke is usually mapped to .

On a Mac, to get a character such as à, the user can type and then the vowel. For example, to make à, the user can type and then , and to make À, the user can type and then . In and most Android keyboards, combined characters with the grave accent are accessed by holding a finger on the vowel, which opens a menu for accents. For example, to make à, the user can tap and hold and then tap or slide to . Mac versions of OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) or newer share similar functionality to iOS; by pressing and holding a vowel key to open an accent menu, the user may click on the grave accented character or type the corresponding number key displayed.

On a system running the X Window System, to get a character such as à, the user should press followed by , then the vowel. The on modern keyboards is usually mapped to a key or .

In many PC-based computer games in the US and UK, the key (on U.S. English and U.K. keyboards) is used to open the console so the user can execute script commands via its CLI. This is true for games such as Battlefield 3, Half-Life, , Quake, Half-Life 2, , Unreal, , , , , , , Fallout 3, Fallout 4, , and others based on the or Source engine.

It is sometimes used in games to represent water or .

Use in programming
Programmers use the grave accent symbol as a separate character (i.e., not combined with any letter) for a number of tasks. In this role, it is known as a backquote or backtick.

When using to typeset text, the backtick character represents curly opening quotes. For example, ` is rendered as single opening curly quote () and `` is a double curly opening quote (). It also supplies the numeric ASCII value of an ASCII character wherever a number is expected.

Many of the and the programming languages , , and Ruby use pairs of this character to indicate command substitution, that is, substitution of the from one command into a line of text defining another command. For example, the code line:

echo It is now `date`

might result, after command substitution, in the command:

echo It is now 

which then, on execution, produces the output:

It is now 

It is sometimes used in source code comments to indicate code, e.g.,

/* Use the `printf()` function. */

This is also the format the formatter uses to indicate code. Some variations of Markdown support "fenced code blocks" that span multiple lines of code, starting (and ending) with three backticks in a row (```).

Various programming and scripting languages use the backquote character:

Bash shell and
The `…` syntax replaces a command with the output of that command.

The backquote character is valid at the beginning of or within a variable, structure, procedure or function name.

D and Go
The backquote surrounds a raw string literal.

Surrounding an identifier with double backquotes allows the use of identifiers that would not otherwise be allowed, such as keywords, or identifiers containing punctuation or spaces.

Surrounding a function name by backquotes makes it an .

Lisp macro systems
The backquote character (called quasiquote in Scheme) introduces a quoted expression in which comma-substitution may occur. It is identical to the plain quote, except that symbols prefixed with a comma are replaced with those symbols' values as variables. This is roughly analogous to the Bourne shell's variable interpolation with $ inside double quotes.

A backquote together with an apostrophe quotes strings (to suppress or defer macro expansion).

A backquote in queries is a delimiter for column, table, and database identifiers.

The backquote indicates polymorphic variants.

The backquote indicates comments in the programming language.

Prior to version 3.0, backticks were a synonym for the repr() function, which converts its argument to a string suitable for a programmer to view. However, this feature was removed in Python 3.0. Backticks also appear extensively in the plain text markup language (implemented in the Python package).

Windows PowerShell
Uses the backquote as the escape character. For example, a newline character is denoted `n. Most common programming languages use a backslash as the escape character (e.g., \n), but because Windows allows the backslash as a path separator, it is impractical for PowerShell to use backslash for a different purpose. Two backticks produce the ` character itself. For example, the boolean of .NET is specified in PowerShell as [Nullable``1[System.Boolean]].

The backquote creates a new term or to calls an existing term.

An identifier may also be formed by an arbitrary string between backquotes. The identifier then is composed of all characters excluding the backquotes themselves.

The backquote character denotes function application.

The backquote denotes the start and end of a template string. The applications of a template string include (but aren't limited to)

The backquote is used at the beginning of compiler's directives.

See also

External links

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