French Expressions – Nine Of The Strangest You’ll Come Across
Chatting with French people, you might suddenly find an expression rather weird, especially when translating word for word. Mistake! Idiomatic expressions are expressions of a given language that is peculiar to itself and cannot be understood when translated literally. Getting lost in “Frenchlation” can often result in hilarious consequences for both the English and French speaker. Preventing you possibly looking as confused as this guy, here is a list of our most “bizarre” French expressions.Read More
French Immersion in Paris: foodie related vocabulary and the top 4 food markets
Paris is a city that has a food market for everybody. Experience quintessential French food, as well as fragrant spices of a diverse cultural blend of countries. Paris counts more than 90 Food Markets. In this week’s blog, we share with you some useful expressions relating to all things food. We’ll share what we believe are the top 4 food markets to visit, and how much fun an immersive two-hour tour can be with a dedicated and experienced private French tutor in Paris.Read More
Are you a chocolate and pastry fanatic? If not, after visiting Paris, you are pretty much guaranteed to join the Pastry and Chocolate fan club! If you are soon travelling to France are you planning to enjoy delicious chocolates and pastries? Why not try out some French with our handy pastry and chocolate vocabulary.Read More
Paris 5 best bakeries and bread related French vocabulary .
In Paris where the official “pain” is definitely the Baguette, this iconic bread is part of most Parisians’ daily routine. Have you sampled some cheap baguettes in Paris yet? When it comes to delicious, freshly baked bread, there is a wide range of other types of baguettes including slow-rise, gluten free. Not to mention the plethora of different types of Baguettes! You may be used to just asking in French for “une baguette” simply because it is the only one sort of bread that that you know in France. In today’s blog, I will share with you in useful French vocabulary and expressions related to the boulangerie (bakery). Also, at the same time I’ll share with you the 5 best boulangeries in Paris. Read more and enjoy!Read More
French Vocabulary and Politics : Some Background On The Presidential Election and phrases to know.
The first round of the 2017 French presidential elections will soon be held in less than a week now. Suspense! If you are an expat in France, no doubt that you will certainly discussing the election with French friends. In this post, French à La Carte shares with you a bit of background relating to the presidential election and also some French election vocabulary to help you to follow the news. Better yet, to give your opinion while debating fervently about politics.Read More
French Vocabulary Related To Celebrities who are Icons of Parisian Style.
France is renowned for influencing style. From fashion designers, stylists, actresses, models, each have unique style signatures. At French a la Carte -Paris, we have curated a tour dedicated to all things French Fashion. In this post, we will also share with you expressions and vocabulary to describe celebrity and success, taking some examples of the most influential celebs otherwise known as “French Style Icons”.Read More
5 Confusing Expressions For English Speakers in the French language
French language and the five most confusing expressions for English speakers.
You are charmed by the French language, you find it sophisticated and melodic, and would like to be fluent. Or maybe you are an expat in France and you have to master French to adjust to your new life.
Whether it be homophones or synonyms, English speakers usually tend to make recurrent mistakes. After many years teaching hundreds of students, I have listed 5 most common and confusing expressions or verbs for English speakers. I hope this will help you in your French Language journey!Read More
Learning French, as learning any other language, requires effort and motivation. Even if nearly 30% of all English words come directly or indirectly from French, English speakers learning French often fear that the language is difficult and tricky to master. If you have decided to learn French, I have listed 5 difficulties of the French language.
1 – False friends
The English and French languages were strongly influenced by the introduction of French at the time of the Norman invasion of Britain in the 11th century.
English and French contain many cognates. False friends, also called false cognates, can be challenging to master ; indeed, people learning French have sometimes seen them written and assume that they have the same meaning in English, which is wrong.
Sometimes the sound is close but not exactly the same : « actually » in English is not phonetically far from « actuellement »in French which means « currently ».
There are 1,700 cognates (words identical in the French & English). Some have the same meaning in English while others do not. Here is a short selection of some common false friends used in French :
Finalement vs Finally
Finalement means « eventually » or « in the end », while finally is « enfin »
Envie vs Envy
Avoir envie de means to want or to feel like something: « Je n’ai pas envie de travailler » – « I don’t want to work « / « I don’t feel like working. » The verb envier, however, does mean to envy. Envy means to be jealous or desirous of something belonging to another. The French verb is envier: «I envy John’s courage »- « J’envie le courage de Jean »
Librairie vs Library
Une librairie refers to a bookstore, while library in French is une bibliothèque.
Assister vs Assist
Assister à nearly always means to attend something: « J’ai assisté à la conférence »- «I attended (went to) the conference »
To assist means to help or aid someone or something: « she assisted her brother with his homework »- « Elle a aidé son frère à faire ses devoirs »
Éventuellement vs Eventually
Éventuellement means possibly, if need be, or even: « Vous pouvez éventuellement prendre ma voiture » – « You could possibly take my car » / « You can take my car if need be ».
Monnaie vs Money
La monnaie can refer to currency, coin(age), or change, and money is the general term for argent.
2 – Gender
Another difficulty of the French language is the choice of the correct gender.
Feminine or masculine, that is the question you often ask yourself as a French learner. After hours trying to figure out why “cheveux” (hair) is masculine and “chaise” (chair) feminine, you come to the inevitable conclusion that the gender of French nouns was randomly chosen by linguists.
There are a few tricks for memorizing the gender, so try a few to find out what works best for you. If you tend to be a list learner, a handy trick is to memorize the patterns of endings that typically fall in the masculine or feminine category.
For example, the nouns with these endings are typically feminine:
- a vowel then a consonant then “e,” like: -ine, -ise, -alle, -elle, -esse, -ette, -euse, -ance and -ence;
- -tion, -sion, -son;
- -ure, -ude, -ade;
- -ée, -té, -ière.
And the nouns with the following endings are generally masculine:
- -ste and -tre;
- -u, -ou, -oir;
- -me, -ment, -isme;
- -ble and -cle;
- -eau and -eur;
- -age and -ege;
Many of my students who learn French find that pronunciation is the hardest part of the language. The new sounds, the silent letters, the liaisons… all contribute to making learning and speaking French tricky. It is important to distinguish between “spelling” and “sound”. Like English, French is not necessarily written at is is spoken. Let’s quickly list the main pronounciation difficulties :
The French R :
Try to avoid the temptation to roll your r like Italian speakers do. It’s a guttural sound produced at the back of the throat which can be difficult to make when the letter R is placed next to certain letters.The French U : The French U is another tricky sound, at least for English speakers, for two reasons: it’s hard to say and it’s sometimes difficult for untrained ears to distinguish it from the French Ou.
Nasal vowels :
Nasal vowel sounds are created by pushing air through the nose and mouth, rather than just the mouth like you do for regular vowels.
Silent letters : Many French letters are silent, and a lot of them are found at the end of words. If you pronounce the word Loup, the final P will be silent. However, not all final letters are silent and once more, you only have to memorize them. Regarding the silent E, most of E at the end of the words are silent.
Liaisons and linking :
They are two important points in French pronounciation. English speakers often stuggle to know when to link the words together. Liaisons and linking (enchaînement) help smooth out French words and distinguish different words.It involves taking the final consonant of one word and adding it to the first syllable of the second word when : the first word ends in a final consonant (pronounced orally) and the following word starts with a vowel.
seize heures –> /se zœ ʀ/
onze oiseaux –> /õ zwa zo/
Another area of difficulty when learning French is verb conjugation. The most common French verbs are irregular. As an example, for the verb aller (to go), you have je vais, tu vas, il/elle va, nous allons, vous allez and ils/elles vont for I go, you go, he/she goes, we go, you go, and they go. With English, you only have ‘go’ and ‘goes’.
Also, to form others tenses such as the future or the subjunctive, you must master the present tense first.
A few tips such as repeating the verbs out loud, writing them down, practising with various tenses, using flashcards or downloading specific apps dedicated to French conjugaison might help you.
Learning where to use Tu and where to use Vous is sometimes difficult for most French learners. If you still hesitate, have a look at my post on that topic.
When it comes to learning the subjunctive, most of my students start to worry. Some French learners who already have a good intermediate level try to avoid using it by remplacing it with other grammatical structures with an equivalent meaning. About 60% of my students (mainly English speakers) will never use it outside the classroom when interacting with natives. One of the main reasons is that the subjunctive doesn’t exist in English.
Above all, you must clearly understand in which context one needs to use the subjunctive.The subjunctive is is used to express wish, hope, fear, uncertainty, and other attitudes or feelings toward a fact or an idea.
To memorize it, start to concentrate on the most common verbs : aller, être, avoir, venir, prendre.
The subjunctive is used with very common grammatical structures such as « Il faut que » ( it is necessary ), « je veux que » ( I want that ). You also use it anytime you give your own opinion on a topic such as « c’est intéressant que » ( it is interesting that ), « c’est dommage que » ( it’s a pity that ), « c’est étrange que » ( it’s strange that ).
Some common French verbs such as « vouloir » + que (to hope that ), « demander » + que ( to ask that ), « avoir peur » + que ( to fear that ) are also followed by the subjunctive.
If you have any questions related to difficulties regarding the main diffculties of the French language, don’t hesitate to share this with me, and I will try to guide you in a helpful way.
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French for beginners includes learning the different variants of “oui” but if if you wish to sound a little bit less than a tourist, there are some secrets to be revealed about this simple French word. If you wish to increase your linguistic skills in French and be able to say : yes, absolutely, yes,indeed or simply yeah, read this lesson. Learn how to say « yes » in French and sound more like a native.
1 – “Ouais”: the informal French yes
When hearing French people speak, you might hear “Ouais”
-Tu habites en Espagne ? Ouais, j’habite à Madrid
– You live in Spain ? Yep, I live in Madrid
2 – The emphatic “Mais oui” !
Mais oui ! is quite emphatic. It literary means but yes ! of course, it’s obvious isn’t it? It’s often used when you’re slightly annoyed.
-Tu lui as téléphoné ? – Mais oui ! tu me l’as déjà demandé
-Have you phoned him/ her ? – Yes, of course ! you have already asked me
3-The obvious answer yes : “Bien-sûr”- “Evidemment”
If a person asks you something to which the answer seems obvious, you could answer: “Bien-sûr” (of course) or “évidemment” (obviously)
-Tu aimes le chocolat ? – Bien-sûr/évidemment
-Do you like chocolate ? – Of course, I do
4 –Exactement -“Tout à fait”- “Absolument “: The formal “Yes” to confirm an information
When you wish to confirm an information that someone has just said, you can use one of these French words: « Exactement » (exactly), « Tout à fait » (that’s right), « En effet » (indeed)
-Vous êtes bien Clara Bernard ? – Oui, tout à fait
– You are Clara Bernard, aren’t – Yes, that’s right
-Vous êtes certain d’avoir pris la décision de vendre votre appartement ? – Oui, absolument
– Are you sure to have made the decision to sell your apartment ? – Yes, absolutely
5-” Si ” : the contradiction ” yes “
“Si” is used to contradict negative questions and statements
-Tu n’as pas aimé le film ? – Si, j’ai adoré
-You didn’t like the movie ? – Yes, I loved it
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If you have any hesitation about how to say “Yes” in French, please feel free to share this with me, and I will try to guide you in a helpful way. If you wish to learn French with personalized French courses in Paris French à La Carte offer customized private lessons to match your needs, learning abilities, schedule and location in Paris.