Mistakes French Speakers Make in English

I have written previously about the mistakes that Russians consistently make on my Russian blog. Because I was Skyping with Russians quite a bit, all of whom made the same mistakes, it was easier for me to simply link them to that post. A simple recognition of a dozen or so language habits, caused by native language grammar, could eliminate 90% of their errors, so I am going to attempt a post for French speakers.

Third Person Singular (Present Tense)

I have, She has, He has, They have, We have, You have…yes “has” is strange, and likewise: I am, She is, He is, They are, We are, You are…also strange but it’s something you have to memorize.

Almost all verbs have the pattern of an “s” at the end with the third person singular, so that’s an easy rule to help French speakers get it right.

Noun-Preposition-Noun

Because of the ability to place an apostrophe “s” after a noun, English speakers can form “noun-noun” compounds very easily. In fact, even without the possession, sandwiching two nouns together is easy in English. French natives default to their “noun-preposition-noun”:

a wine glass (a glass for wine) = un verre à vin
a gold bracelet = un bracelet en or
a leather bag = un sac de cuir / un sac en cuir

Noun-Preposition-Infinitive Verb

Another pattern that the French are comfortable using is the “noun-preposition-infinitive verb” pattern, instead of the English “noun-noun” pattern.

an ironing board = une planche à repasser
a washing machine = une machine à laver
a sewing machine = une machine à coudre

Past Tense vs. Present Perfect vs. Present

I get corrected constantly when I use the past tense, present perfect, and present tense. Likewise, the time frame of verbs that French speakers choose when they write in English, baffles me as well. I’ve even time-lined both French and English to compare their perception of time and action, to English, but I have yet to figure it out completely.

french-verb-tense-timeline2

english-verb-tenses

I believe it has something to do with the way they approach story telling, and use the present tense in something known as “historic past”, but I’m still taking notes on this.

As vs. Since

I believe “as” is used more by UK English speakers, and “since” by US English speakers. Both of these words are used as conjunctions, prepositions and adverbs.

The word ‘since’ is used to express time as adverb and preposition, as below:

I had seen him previously, but hadn’t seen him since. (adverb)

I have known her since last year. (preposition)

The word ‘as’ is used to express extent/degree as an adverb and as a preposition:

You’re heavier than I am, and not as tall. (adv)

You are not as tall as I am. (prep)

However, as a conjunction they are usually used to introduce reasons or with verbs of the senses (feel, hear, read…), and to express emotion (admire, hate, love, like…). In the following sentences, they are interchangeable:

As it’s too late, I quit or Since it’s too late, I quit

As/Since we read, we learn.

Since/As we were in the computer lab, our English has improved.

In certain situations ‘as’ can only be used:

As I came in, she flew. (used like the word, when)

He sleeps as the rain falls. (used like the word, while)

I believe “as” is used more by UK English speakers, and “since” by US English speakers. Both of these words are used as conjuctions, prepositions and adverbs.

The word ‘since’ is used to express time as adverb and preposition, as below:

I had seen him previously, but hadn’t seen him since. (adverb)

I have known her since last year. (preposition)

The word ‘as’ is used to express extent/degree as an adverb and as a preposition:

 

It as Indirect Object

En français, on utilise “y” et “en” si souvent. En anglais ce n’est pas nécessaire.

French: When I was at school, I was trying hard to learn English, but I was unable to do it.

Native: When I was at school, I tried hard to learn English, but I was unable to.

More vs. Better

Better refers to quality, whereas more refers to quantity.
I like him better now than I used to. (quality)
I like him more than he likes me. (quantity)

It’s the same situation with Best vs. Most.
“I like him best” refers to the quality of my affections: I like him best when he is smiling.
“I like him most” refers to the quantity of my affections: Of all my cousins, I like him most.

Now here’s a sentence that could go two different ways:
I like him more than Don.
Which of the following is meant?
I like him more than I like Don.
I like him more than Don likes him.

To remove any doubt, pick one of those two longer sentences and use that instead.

Here’s another tough dilemma:
I like him better/more than she.
I like him better/more than her.

Which is correct? Well, that depends on what you really mean. Again, use a longer sentence to clear up the fog.
I like him better than she does. The quality of my liking is higher than hers.
I like him more than I like her. The quantity of my liking him is greater.

How shall we remember this?
Good Better Best (adjectives, quality)
Some More Most (adverbs, quantity)

Who vs. That

Who refers to people. That may refer to people, animals, groups, or things, but who is preferred when referring to people. The French have qui and que, but they are not a one-to-one comparison to who and that.

Qui and que are the most often confused relative pronouns for English speakers because it is taught incorrectly from the start. French students learn that qui means “who” and que means “that” or “what.”

Que replaces the direct object (person or thing) in the dependent clause.

J’ai acheté le livre. Ma sœur l’a écrit. > J’ai acheté le livre que ma sœur a écrit. (I bought the book (that) my sister wrote)

Qui replaces the subject (person or thing) or indirect object in the dependent clause.

Je cherche l’artiste. Il étudie à Paris. > Je cherche l’artiste qui étudie à Paris. (I’m looking for the artist (who is) studying in Paris.)

Likewise, the French often make the reverse mistake.

Misplaced Apostrophes

Apostrophes indicate possession, when something belongs to something or someone else. To indicate something belongs to one person, the apostrophe goes before the ‘s’. For instance, “The girl’s horse.” To indicate something belongs to more than one person, put the apostrophe after the ‘s’. For example, “The ladies’ room.” Apostrophes are also used to indicate a contracted word. For example, “don’t” uses an apostrophe to indicate that the word is missing the “o” from “do not”.

Granted, even native speakers of English put an incorrect apostrophe in words like, “the 1980’s”, which should be 1980s. The confusion with apostrophes also helps contribute to the swapping of “they’re” with “there” or “their”, and “it’s” with “its”. If you remember the apostrophe takes the place of a letter, or shows possession, the problem should quickly go away.

Fewer vs. Less

“Fewer” refers to items you can count individually while “Less” refers to a commodity that you cannot count individually, like water. In a similar way, the words “amount” and “number” can be misapplied. “Amount” refers to a commodity which can’t be counted (like the previous “water” example), while “Number” refers to individual things that can be counted.

Then vs. Than

They sound alike, which is probably the source of the confusion. “Than” is used in comparisons, while “Then” is used to indicate something follows something else, in time.

I am taller than she is. There won’t be a problem then if I ask you to reach that on the top shelf.

Gerunds vs. Infinitive Verb Forms

This error is common and hard for French speakers to accept. In French, an infinitive is used, to replace a noun, the way English speakers use a gerund (-ing form). Here are a few examples. Choose one of the two choices in parentheses:

I’m thinking about (to go, going) to work later.
They are interested in (to go, going) to the movies Thursday.
They are interested in (to learn, learning) more about the subject.

French choose the first choice, and English choose the second choice. Knowing this has helped me with the choice when writing in French, or should I say “To know this has helped me with the choice when to write in French”.

Savoir cela m’a aidé à choisir quand écrire en français.

Modals Followed by Infinitives

Similar to the previous example, when a modal verb is used before an infinitive in English, we drop the word “to”. The French do not. Examples:

I will (to finish, finish) my homework tonight.
I must (to go, go) on holiday soon.
We can’t (to leave, leave) anyone behind.

French choose the first choice, and English choose the second choice. As an English speaker I would think of the sentence, “I must learn how to construct sentences like this, and I will improve my French”….as, “I must to learn how to construct sentences like this and I will to improve my French.”

Je dois apprendre à construire des phrases comme celle-ci et je vais améliorer mon français.

Word Order

In French, the adverb often comes between the verb and its object. This is one of the easiest ways to identify a non-English native speaker. In English, the adverb is between the verb and subject, or at the end of the sentence.

Incorrect: I talk always like that.
Correct: I always talk like that.
Incorrect: I speak very well the English.
Correct: I speak English very well.

In French, there are many adjectives that follow the noun they are modifying. In English, adjectives almost always precede the nouns they modify.

une table ronde – round table
un livre noir – black book
du thé sucré – sweet tea
une femme américaine – American woman
une église catholique – Catholic church
une famille bourgeoise – middle-class family

This mistake isn’t as common as it is for English writing French, however, and that’s probably because words associated with beauty, age, good/bad, and size (acronym, BAGS) follow the English rule.

une jolie fille – pretty girl
un jeune homme – young man
une nouvelle maison – new house
un bon enfant – good child
un petit problème – small problem

Punctuation

As often as I have been instructed to have a space on either side of my question marks, exclamation points, colons, semi-colons and quotation marks, the reverse is also true. No space before these punctuation marks in English. Many times a colon is also used instead of a comma. Let’s take a look at an example:

Lesquelles préférez-vous : les pommes ou les oranges ? -Les pommes !

Which do you prefer, apples or oranges? Apples!

When writing numerals, the period and comma are opposites in the two languages: 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)  2.5 (two point five)

In French, the comma is used as a decimal point: 2.5 (English) = 2,5 (French)

The French don’t use serial commas (you know the one before “and” in a sentence like, “We went here, there, and everywhere.” They would write, “J’ai acheté un livre, deux stylos et du papier.” not “J‘ai acheté un livre, deux stylos, et du papier.”  This results in my adding the occasional comma to their English texts.

Age

The French say that someone “has” a certain number of years. English speakers use the verb “to be”, examples: I am 19 years old. They are both 12 years old. My coat is five years old. Most of the time, English speakers simply say, “I am 43” because the time unit is understood.

Date

We say, it is February…while they say…we are February (nous sommes février).

Make vs. Do

In English, we use do and make with noun phrases. The difference is that do focuses on the process of acting or performing something, while make emphasizes the product or outcome of an action. Here is a perfect example. The first part is the action, and the second part of the sentence is the outcome:

When I was doing the calculations, I made two mistakes.

This leads me to point out, that like the French word “faire”, there a lot of expressions that use the words do and make.

do good, do harm, do well, do badly, do a favor, do business

make an attempt, make a bed, make a change/changes, make a complaint, make a decision (prendre une decision, ‘take a decision’), make a demand, make an effort, make an exception, make an excuse, make love, make a mistake, make money, make a noise, make an offer, make peace, make a phone call, make a profit, make a suggestion, make war

French speakers do not use the auxiliary verb “do”, so they often have problems posing native sounding questions. They also avoid saying “don’t have” or “do have”, preferring to negate the verb. Example: I have no water (I don’t have water) = je n’ai pas d’eau.

Forming Questions

Related to problems with “do” is the tendency for French speakers to revert to their style of forming questions, where they lift their voice at the end of a statement:

He is rich? (instead of “Is he rich?”)

or inverting the subject and verb:

How often see  you her? (instead of “How often do  you see her?”), notice the missing “do” as well.

Pluralization of Words

Some English words do not take a plural by simply placing an “s” at the end, while others are completely abnormal in their pluralization. A list can be found here.

Articles

Article use in French is similar but not identical to that in English. French pronouns are based on the gender of the noun they are associated with; and the possessive adjectives agree with the nouns they qualify. Interference in these areas will lead to mistakes such as:

He is doctor.
This is the John’s car.
What stupid thing to do!
The German is easier than the English.
Do you like my umbrella. He was very cheap.
I met John and her wife for dinner.

Slang and Idioms

A French speaker would do well to avoid most slang words, since context and timing is everything. Until you hear the way the phrase or word is used, several times, in various situations, your risk vs. reward is simply too high.

False Friends

There are a great many words that French and English share, and many more that appear to be shared. Over the years, however, those words have changed in their application or meaning in each of the languages, even though the spelling stayed the same. This is where “false friends” or “faux amis” lead the language learner astray. Example:

In French, the word actuellement means “at this moment or right now.” But in English, actually means “really, truly, in reality.”

  Français English Français   English
Mot français avec lequel il peut y avoir confusion Mot anglais faux ami Traduction du faux ami anglais Traduction en anglais du mot français objet de la confusion
Absurde; Raisonnement par l’absurde Absurd Aberrant Nonsense, absurd
Abuser Abuse Insulter, injurier Go too far, overstep
Accommoder; Accommoder (vue) Accommodate Loger, contenir Prepare; Focus
Achever Achieve Réaliser, atteindre (une performance) Finish, complete
Achèvement Achievement Réalisation, exploit, réussite Finish
Avancer Advance Faire progresser Move forward
Avocat Advocate Préconiser Lawyer, barrister
Actuel Actual Réel Current
Actuellement Actually En fait, en réalité (tic de langage US) Currently, presently, at the present time
Adresse Address Discours, allocution Address
Adresse Address Aborder Address
Adéquate Adequate Suffisant Proper
Avertissement Advertisement Publicité Warning
Affaire / Affaires Affair Liaison (amoureuse) Business
Affluence, Heure d’affluence Affluence Opulence, richesse Crowds, Peak hour
Agence Agency Organisme, agence Office, branch
Agenda Agenda Ordre du jour Diary, appointment book
Agonie Agony; Douleur atroce; Death Throes
Agréer Agree Être d’accord Accept, to welcome
Agréable Agreeable Favorable, d’accord Pleasant, nice
Agrément Agreement Accord Pleasantness, amenity
Aide AIDS SIDA Help, support
Aliéné Alien Étranger, Extraterrestre Insane
Alléger Alleged Prétendu, allégué Lighten, make lighter
Allée Alley Ruelle Path, trail
Alternative Alternative Solution de rechange Two solutions
Aménité Amenities Ressources, équipements; Friendliness, affability
Annonceur Announcer Présentateur, speaker Advertiser
Anticiper Anticipate Envisager Anticipate
Inquiet Anxious to Désireux de Worried, anxious
Apologie (faire l’) Apologize Présenter ses excuses Praise, justify, vindicate
Apologie Apology Excuses Praise, vindication
Application Application Candidature, demande Application, Implementation
Appointements Appointment Rendez-vous Salary, wage
Apprécier Appreciate Prendre de la valeur (finance) Appreciate, estimate, begrateful
Apprécier Appreciate Reconnaître, comprendre Appreciate, estimate, begrateful
Approcher Approach Aborder Approach
Arguer Argue Se disputer Allege, put forward as a pretext
Argument Argument Dispute Argument
Arme Arm Bras Weapon
Arriver (se produire) Arrive Arriver à destination Happen
Articuler Articulate Qui s’exprime clairement, clair, précis Articulate
Aspersion Aspersion Calomnie, médisance Spraying, sprinkling
Assister Assist Aider, assurer le support Attend, take part in
Asset Assets Atouts, biens; actif Titres asset backed
Assistance (concert); Assistance Aide, secours Audience;
Assumer Assume Supposer Take responsibility for; to assume, to take on
Assomption Assumption Hypothèse, supposition Assumption
Attendre Attend Assister Wait for
Attention Attention Garde à vous Look out, watch out, take care
Audience Audience Assistance, public Audience, attendance
Auditeur Auditor Commissaire aux comptes, responsable d’un audit Listener, member of the audience
Axe Axe Hache Axis, axle
Bachelier Bachelor Célibataire Graduated
Bail Bail Caution contre libération Lease
Balance Balance Équilibre Scale, a pair of scales
Balancer Balance (to) Équilibrer, tenir en – Swing, rock
Ballot, paquet Ballot Scrutin, bulletin de vote Bundle,
Bande Band Orchestre, bande Band, Gang / Strip / Tape
Baraque Barracks Caserne Hut, shed, stall, stand, shack, shanty
Basique Basic Fondamental, essentiel Basic (item)
Bénéfice Benefit Allocation, avantage Profit
Biais (en); Bias Tendance / Biais (math) At an angle;
Billion (1012) Billion (109) Milliard (109) Trillion (1012)
Bizarre Bizarre Insolite Strange, odd, weird
Blâmer Blame Attribuer un tort Reprimand, censure
Blême Blemish Défaut, imperfection, tare Pale, palish, pallid
Blesser Bless Bénir Hurt, injure, wound
Bond Bond Lien, engagement Jump, leap, bound
Bonnet Bonnet Capot (voiture) Cap
Bras Bra Soutien-gorge (du français: brassière) Arm
Branche Branch Succursale, division Branch, stick
Bribes Bribe Pot-de-vin Bits; snatches of conversation
Bride Bride Jeune mariée Bridle
Brushing Brushing Brossage Blow dry
Buffet Buffet Coup violent, secouer Sideboard
Buffet (réception) Buffeted (by the storms) Buffet Buffet
Bulbe Bulb Ampoule; bulbe Bulb
Boulette Bullet Balle (arme) (Small) ball
Cabinet Cabinet Armoire Closet, toilet / Cabinet (minister)
Cagoule Cagoule Anorak, K-way Hood, cowl, balaclava
Calcul Calculus Analyse, calcul infinitésimal Calculation, computation, reckoning
Calibration Calibration Étalonnage Tested accuracy
Candide Candid Franc, sincère Innocent, pure
Candide Candid; Franc, sincère; Ingenuous, naïve
Capital Capital Majuscule Capital
Carte électronique Card Carte électronique (rare) Electronic board, module
Carte géographique Card Cartes de jeux Map
Carnation Carnation Œillet Complexion
Casuel Casualties Victimes, pertes Fortuitous
Catch Catch Entourloupe, attrape/ prise, loquet Professional wrestling
Catholique Catholic Éclectique, universel Catholic
Caution Caution Prudence, attention Bail, guarantee, deposit, backing
Cave Cave Grotte, caverne Cellar
Chance Chance Risque, hasard, occasion Luck
Change (argent) Change Petite monnaie Exchange
Caractère Character Personnage; caractère Character, characteristic
Charade Charade Mascarade, parodie, comédie; charade Riddle, charade
Charge Charge; Prix; accusation; Load, burden; charge
Chaste Chaste Chaste, pure; simple, sobre Chaste
Chat Chat Causerie Cat
Chimiste Chemist Pharmacien Chemist
Corde; Chord Accord (musical) Rope;
Circonstanciel Circumstantial Fondé sur des présomptions Incidental
Clerc de notaire Clerk Employé, vendeur Lawyer’s clerk
Climat Climax Apogée, paroxysme, Climate, weather
Coine Coin Pièce de monnaie Corner
Collège College Faculté (enseignement supérieur) Secondary school
Colonne Column Rubrique (journal) Column
Conforter Comfort Réconforter Reinforce, consolidate,confirm
Commander (système) Command Contrôler (peu utilisé) / commander à qqu’un Control, manage, handle
Commettre Commit S’engager Perform, commit
Commodité Commodity Marchandise, matière première Convenience, amenities
Compagnie Company Société, entreprise, compagnie Company, gathering
Compas Compass Boussole compasses, pair of compasses, calliper
Compétition (sport) Competition Concurrence, rivalité Racing, competition
Complainte Complaint Plainte, maladie Lament
Complément (en) Complement Effectif, équipage Addition (in)
Compléter, remplir Complete Achever, parachever Fill up, out
Complémentaire Complimentary Gratuit, de faveur Complementary
Compréhensible Comprehensive Complet, exhaustif Understandable
Concevoir Conceive Imaginer, concevoir (idée) Design, devise, plan
concerner Concern Souci, inquiétude concern
Concurrent Concurrent Simultané, concordant Competitor
Conducteur Conductor Chef d’orchestre, receveur Driver
Confection Confection; Bonbon, sucrerie; confiserie, pâtisserie Garment making
Confesse Confess Avouer, faire une confidence Confess
Confidence Confidence Confiance Confidence
Connexion Connection Parent, relation Connection
Consistant Consistent with Compatible, logique avec, cohérent Sound, substantial
Contempler Contemplate Envisager Contemplate
Contondant Contender Concurrent Contunding, blunt
Content Content Satisfait, d’accord Happy, glad, pleased
Contrôler Control Diriger, commander, faire fonctionner Inspect,  check, monitor , supervise, command (rare)
Inconvénient Conveniences Commodités, W.C. Drawback
Copie Copy Exemplaire Copy
Corporation Corporate Direction centrale Trade guild
Corporation Corporation Organisme public Trade guild
Crps Corpse Cadavre Body
Course Course Route d’un bateau Race
Crash Crash Collision / En urgence Crash landing
Cravate Cravat Cache-nez Tie
Cru Crude Brut, non raffiné Raw / Harsh
Cure Cure Remède Treatment, diet
Curer, draguer Cure Guérir Clean out, dredge
Couramment Currently Actuellement Commonly / Fluently(langue)
CV Curriculum Programme scolaire Curriculum vitae, résumé
Coutume Custom Douane Custom
Cynique Cynic Sceptique, caustique Cynical
Date Date (a) Rendez-vous de flirt / petit(e) ami(e) Date
Décade Decade Décennie Ten days (no specific word)
Dédié Dedicated; Dévoué, endurci; Dedicated
Défiance Defiance Insoumission Mistrust, wariness
Définitif Definitely Sans aucun doute Definitively
Degré Degree Licence, diplôme Degree
Délai Delay Retard Deadline, time limit, cut-off date, closing date
Délivrer Deliver Livrer Free, release, issue
Demander Demand Exiger Ask
Demander Demanding Exigeant, difficile Ask
Démonstration Demonstration Manifestation (publique) Demonstration
Député Deputy Adjoint, suppléant Representative, delegate
Desservir Deserve Mériter To clear the table
Désigner Design Concevoir, dessiner les plans Point out, name, refer
Déterrer Deterrent Dissuasion (de) Dig up
Deviser Devise Imaginer, concevoir Converse
Dévolution Devolution Autonomie; décentralisation Devolvement
Régime Diet Régime alimentaire Starvation diet
Digitale Digital Numérique Foxglove, digitalis
Directement Directory Annuaire Straight, directly
Désagrément Disagreement Désaccord Annoyance, trouble, unpleasantness
Dispute Dispute Désaccord, litige, controverse Argument, quarrel
Distraction Distraction; Ce qui détourne l’attention, divertissement; Entertainment, leisure
Dramatique Dramatic Spectaculaire, extraordinaire Dramatic, tragic
Éditer Edit Préparer pour la publication, corriger Publish, issue
Effectif Effective Efficace Real, actual
Élévation Elevation Angle de site Elevation
Émergence Emergency Urgence Emergence
Emphase Emphasise Mettre l’accent sur Bombast, pomposity
Engagé Engaged Fiancé, occupé Committed
Engin Engine Moteur Machine, instrument, vehicle, gear
Entretenir Entertain Amuser, distraire, recevoir Maintain
Appeler Entitle Avoir le droit / Intituler Name, label
Estimation Estimation; Devis; Valuation, assessment, ball park figures
Évader (s’-) Evade Éluder, échapper à Escape
Éventuellement Eventually Certainement à la longue, en fin de compte Possibly, maybe, if need be
Évidence Evidence Preuve Obviousness
Excitant Exciting Passionnant Stimulating, thrilling;
Exécuter Execute Signer pour entrer en vigueur Perform, carry out
Exécuter Executive Cadre (entreprise) To carry out, to implement, to perform
Expertise Expertise Savoir-faire Expert’ opinion
Exposer Expose Démasquer Display, exhibit
Facile Facile Simpliste Easy
Facilités Facilities Installations, équipements Easiness
Fantaisie Fantasy Imagination Imagination, imaginative
Fastidieux Fastidious Maniaque, méticuleux, délicat, difficile à contenter Boring, tedious, tiresome,
Faute Fault Défaut, anomalie Mistake
Figure Figure Chiffre / Silhouette Diagram, chart, illustration, art work;
File File Fichier, dossier Line, queue
Ferme Firm Compagnie Firm, hard
Fixer à Fix Réparer Fasten to
Flexible; Flexible; Souple, polyvalent; Supple, flexible;
Tuyau flexible I’m quite flexible Je peux m’arranger Flexible hose;
Formellement Formerly Autrefois Formally
Fortuné Fortunate Heureux, chanceux Wealthy, well-off
Function (poste) Function Cérémonie, réception Post, position
Fournies Furnished Meublé Included
Fournitures; Furniture Mobilier Supplies;
Gazole Gas-oil N’existe pas Diesel fuel
Global Global Mondial, universel Total, overall, comprehensive
Grave Grave Tombe Serious
Grief Grief Peine, douleur, deuil Grievance
Hall Hall Château, salle, vestibule; couloir Concourse;
Hasard Hazard Risque, danger Chance, fate / Random
Ignorer Ignore Ignorer délibérément, méconnaître Not to know, pay no attention
Empêcher Impeach Accuser Prevent
Impliquer Imply Sous-entendre, insinuer, vouloir dire Involve
Important Important Qui importe, essentiel Considerable, sizeable
Impropre Improper Malséant Unfit, inappropriate
Inconsistant Inconsistent Incohérent Flimsy, lacking of character
Inconvénient Inconvenient Incommode, inadapté Drawback
Informel Informal Officieux, sans cérémonie Informal
Information Information Renseignement piece of information, news
Inhabité Inhabited Habité Uninhabited
Initier Initiate Instaurer, engager Initiate
Insolation Insulation Isolation Sunstroke
Intelligence Intelligence Renseignement Intelligence, understanding
Intéressant Interesting Qui mérite attention Attractive, advantageous, beneficial, worthwhile
Introduire Introduce Présenter quelqu’un Insert (object) / Launch (product)
Sans valeur Invaluable De grande valeur, sans prix Of no value
Issue Issue Édition / Exit, way out, outlet
Journée Journey Voyage Day
Labeur Labour Main d’œuvre Hard work;
Large Large Vaste, grand Wide, broad
Lecture Lecture Conférence, cours magistral Reading matter
Libéral Liberal Tendance gauche Tolerant
Librairie Library Bibliothèque Bookshop
Licence Licence Permis de conduire Licence
Listing Listing Mise en liste Computer print out
Litière Litter Détritus (Cat) litter
Living Living Revenu suffisant pour vivre Living room
Manufacture Manufacture Fabrication Factory
Match Match Allumette Match
Matière Matter Question, sujet Matter, material
Médecine Medicine Médicament Medicine
Mémoire Memory Souvenir Memory, storage
Merci Mercy Pitié, miséricorde Thank you
Messe Mess Pagaille, désordre; Mass
Minute (heure) Minute Minuscule; Minute
Misère Miser, miserly Avare Poverty, destitution
Misérable Miserable Malheureux Pitiful, poor, broke, wretched
Misère Misery Tristesse Poverty, destitution
Mitiger; mitigé Mitigate Atténuer, alléger, (trouver un compromis) Mitigate; mixed, lukewarm
Nerveux Nervous Anxieux, interrogateur Nervous
Notice Notice Pancarte, écriteau annonce; Leaflet, booklet, note
Nombre, chiffre Number Numéro, nombre (quantité) Figure
Nurserie Nursery Pépinière Nursery
Oblitérer Obliterate Anéantir Cancel (stamps)
Occasion Occasion Événement Opportunity
Offense Offence Délit, infraction Misdeed, insult, trespass
Officieux Officious Autoritaire Unofficial, informal
Opérer, réaliser Operate Fonctionner Carry out, implement
Opportunité Opportunity Occasion Timeliness
Pain Pain Douleur Bread
Parents (autres) Parent Père, mère Relatives
Partition (maths) Partition Cloison, partage Partition;
Il (Elle) est parti(e) Party Réception, soirée, fête He’s (she’s) gone
Parti (tirer) Party of three Groupe de 3 (restaurant aux US) Take advantage
Patente Patent Brevet; Trading licence
Patience Patience réussite (cartes) Patience;
Penalty Penalty Amende (infraction) Penalty kick
Performance Performance Exécution d’un travail Exploit, feat, achievement
Performance (données) Performance Caractéristiques, résultats; Performance characteristic
Permettre Permit, authorise Autoriser Allow, enable, make possible, provide
Pétrole brut Petrol, gasoline (US) Essence Crude oil , petroleum
Physicien Physician Médecin Physicist
Planning Planning Plan prévisionnel (organisation) Timetable, Schedule
Plot (électrique) Plot Complot; terrain Contact, pin
Point Point / Pointless Sujet / Inutile, vain Point
Police Policy Politique Police
Pondération Ponderation N’existe pas Weighting
Porc Pork Viande de porc Pig (GB), hog (EU)
Portemanteau Portmanteau; Valise; Hanger
Pratiquement Practically En fait, quasiment In practice, practically
Préciser Precise (to) Peu usité Clarify, be more specific
Précision Precision Minutie, exactitude Accuracy
Prémisse Premises Locaux Premise, beginning
Présent Present Actuel Current
Présenter une image Present Présenter, offrir Display a picture
Prétendre Pretend (to) Faire semblant Claim
Prévenir Prevent Empêcher Warn, inform
Procéder Proceed Avancer, se mettre à, continuer Carry out
Procès Process Procédé, processus Trial;
Procureur Procurer, pimp Proxénète Prosecutor
Produire Produce Prolonger (géométrie) Produce, make, generate
Proéminent Prominent Éminent, important Prominent, bulbous
Prouver Prove S’averer Prove
Provision (réserve) Provision Clause Stock, supply
Prune Prune Élaguer / Réduire, simplifier Plum
Qualifié; Qualified Mitigé Qualified;
Questionner Question (to) Remettre en question, en doute Interrogate
Qui pro quo Qui pro quo Contrepartie “Mistake”
Ranger Range Gamme To tidy up, to put away, to arrange
Rang Rank Grade Row; rank
Rare Rare Saignant (viande) Rare, scarce; Seldom
Réel Real Réel (existe) Actual
Réaliser Realise Réaliser une ambition; se rendre compte Implement a plan, Execute, perform
Récipient Recipient Bénéficiaire, destinataire Container, bowl, receptacle
Reconnaître Reckon Calculer, compter / estimer Recognise, acknowledge, admit
Réconcilier Reconcile Concilier Reconcile
Record Record Disque, enregistrement Record, highest score
Regard Regard Estime, respect: Look, stare, glance
Relier Reliable Fiable To link up
Relief, orographie Relief Soulagement; secours; relief Landscape, relief, orographic
Rente Rent Loyer Pension, annuity, allowance
Replacement Replacement Remplaçant, remplacement Reinvestment
report Report Compte rendu, rapport; signaler; détonation Postponement
Ressort Resort Station balnéaire; Spring
Respect Respect Égard Respect
Réponse Response Réaction Answer
Reste; Rest Repos Rest, remainder;
Résumer Resume Reprendre Summarise
Résumé Résumé CV (Curriculum Vitae) Summary
Revers Reverse Marche arrière Back, reverse side
Route Route Itinéraire Road
Royauté Royalty Droits d’auteur; Famille royale Monarchy, kingship
Rude Rude Impoli, grossier; indécent Rough, hard, tough, severe, rugged
Sauver Save Économiser, épargner Save
Schéma Scheme Projet, cadre / Projet, intrique, combine Plan, sketch
Score Score Vingtaine Score, result
Séculaire Secular Qui n’a pas trait à la religion, séculier, profane Age-old, ancient
Sécuriser Secure Attacher, fixer (avec des vis…) Give security
Sensible Sensible Sensé, raisonnable Sensitive, delicate
Sentence (peine) Sentence Phrase Judgment, sentence
Sévère Severe Grave, rigoureux Strict, harsh
Sobre (boisson) Sober À jeun, non ivre, dessoûlé, abstinent abstemious, teetotal
Sobriété Sobriety Abstinence, modération; sérieux Sobriety
Solide Solid Dense, massif, plein, compact Solide
Sort Sort Trier Fate
Souvenir Souvenir Objet souvenir Memory
Spécifique Specific Précis Specific, particular,peculiar
Esprit Spirit; Courage, ardeur; Esprit
Spirituel Spiritual Croyant, qui a la foi witty
Standard Standard Norme Common, standard
Stationnaire Stationary Papeterie Still, standing, static
Stock Stock Valeur boursière; Stock
Étranger Stranger Inconnu Foreigner
Sujet Subject Objet Topic
Subsidiaire; Subsidiary Filiale Supplementary, accessory, subsidiary; tiebreaker
Souffrir Suffer Subir Suffer
Supplier Supply Fourniture To beg, supplicate, plead
Supporter Support Soutien, service, servitude Stand, endure, tolerate
Surfacique Surfacic N’existe pas Bidimensional [bai-]
Surnom Surname Nom de famille Nickname
Surveiller Survey Enquête, étude, tour d’horizon sur un sujet To watch over, to supervise
Sympathique Sympathetic Compatissant, compréhensif Charming, congenial
Sympathiser Sympathise Partager la peine Get on well
Sympathique Sympathy Compassion Pleasant, nice, friendly, lovable
Tank (char) Tank; Réservoir, citerne; Tank
Targette Target Cible Latch, daps-fastening, catch
Télémétrie Telemetry Télémesure Ranging
Tentative Tentative Provisoire, expérimental; timide, hésitant Attempt
Terme Term Trimestre Term
Terminer Terminate Mettre fin à, résilier Finish, end
Terrible, formidable Terrible Épouvantable Terrific, wonderful
Grâce à, du fait de Thanks to Grâce à (…Dieu) Due to
Trainée Trainee Stagiaire Streak, trail
Traitre Treat Régal, petit plaisir Betrayer, treacherous,traitor
Trépasser Trespass Entrer sans autorisation Die, Pass away
Tri Trial Procès Sorting
Trouble Trouble Ennuis; Agitation, embarrassment
Unique Unique Unique en son genre, exceptionnel Only, single
Vacance Vacancy Logement vacant, poste vacant Holiday(s)
Vanne (écluse) Van Camionnette Gate
Vengeance Vengeance (with a-) Avec grande ardeur Vengeance, revenge
Venir Venue Lieu de réunion To come
Verge (bâton) Verge Accotement Stick, cane
Verge (sexe) On the verge to Sur le point de Penis
Versatile Versatile Polyvalent Fickle, changeable, capricious, moody, fickle, erratic
Voyage Voyage Voyage par mer, traversée Trip, travel, journey
Warning auto Warning Avertissement Emergency flasher

Below is a list of 93 mistakes, put together as a PDF by another blog. I offer them to you in column format, so that you can copy and paste them into a document, and individually access the cause for the mistake in a third column, eliminating the error. Likewise, an English speaker may wish to recognize the reverse truth, and adopt the error to improve their French thinking.On the error list below, you can see a great many of theses “faux amis” errors. For more, go here and here.

Mistakes  Corrections
1. She is a very sympathetic gal 1. She is a very nice gal
2. We passed our vacation in Holland 2. We spent our vacation in Holland
3. I have not the possibility to go on vacation now 3. I can’t go…or – It is not possible for me to go…
4. Tom is the President of our society 4. ……………….of our company
5. He proposed to me to visit next week 5. He suggested that I… (proposed to is French form)
6. The car of which the tire is missing is theirs 6. The car whose tire is missing is theirs
7. We are the 3rd of September 7. It is September 3rd (third)
8. What time is it? It’s three and quarter 8. …It is quarter past three
9. For why did he do it 9. Why did he do it
10. She borrowed it to him 10. She borrowed it from him
11. I knew him in Italy last spring 11. I met him in Italy last spring
12. And the Italians and the French have trouble with English 12. The Italians and the French have trouble with English
13. They had a very big success in Florida 13. They were successful…(not: to have success)
14. I rested in Paris 2 weeks 14. I stayed (remained)… (rested = se reposer)
15. She has only a few ones 15. …a few (never is followed by one-ones)
16. She went a for buying a hat 16. She went to buy a hat or for a hat
17. We telephoned to him yesterday 17. …telephoned him (not: to him)
18. Her hairs are black 18. Her hair is black or she is black-haired
19. We will go to the snack for lunch 19. …to a snack bar (coffee shop) for lunch
20. I’m agreeing with you 20. I agree with you
21. I know a nice dancing nearby 21. …a nice dancing place, a nice place to dance
22. When the snow will stop, we will leave 22. When the snow stops… (when +present)
23. What do you want I do? 23. What do you want me to do?
24. Please excuse me, I’m very confused about the whole thing 24. I’m really very sorry; I’m confused or mixed- up with ……
25. I heard it at the T.V where they’re showing it every night 25. I heard it on T.V where they show it every night
26. I’m learning you English 26. I’m teaching you English
27. Remember me about that tomorrow 27. Remind me ….
28. She thinks not about it often 28. She doesn’t think about it often
29. Here are the reason for why I didn’t come 29. Here are the reason why I didn’t come
30. She made the same fault 30. She made the same mistake (error) (fault=défaut)
31. We succeeded to do it 31. We succeeded in doing it
32. Whose is this book? 32. Whose book is this?
33. He made her too much unhappy 33. He made her very unhappy
34. I entered in the room 34. I entered the room
35. The whole people in France like cheese 35. All the people in France like cheese
36. We had too days with snow 36. It snowed for two days
37. He wanted that we eat with them 37. He wanted us to eat with them
38. I like very much that film 38. I like that film very much
39. Will you make my excuses to them 39. Will you give them my excuses
40. Before to go to Italy, I want to call him 40. Before going to Italy, I want to call him
41. I eat there this night 41. I will eat there this evening
42. She assisted to the conference 42. She attended the conference
43. I have the intention to do it tomorrow 43. I intend to do it tomorrow
44. I’m obliged to go 44. I have to go or I must go
45. What means this word, please? 45. What does this word mean please?
46. She has many relations with Americans 46. … a lot of business with: contact with
47. My brother is a very high man 47. … a very tall man
48. The boss talks on the phone now 48. The boss is talking on the phone now
49. It is the greatest building in France 49. It’s the highest building in France
50. The doctors performed the experience 50. ….the experiment
51. I have read that book last week 51. I read that book last week
52. Dear Miss 52. Dear Miss Smith (never Miss alone)
53. I met many difficulties in trying to write that letter 53. I had lot of trouble in trying….
54. Yesterday we watched T.V because there was something on this evening 54. Yesterday we watched T.V because there was something on (it refers to “ce soir”)
55. Or his wife will tell you, or he will 55. Either his wife will tell you, or he will
56. I think to be able to go 56. I think I’ll be able to go
57. Every people should wash daily 57. Every one should wash daily
58. They are ancient pupils of his 58. They are ex pupils (ancient=antique)
59. This is the reason for which she called 59. This is the reason why she called
60. Jane is very strong in English 60. She is very good in English
61. We had a difficulty to find a parking 61. It was difficult finding a parking spot
62. I don’t see them for three month 62. I haven’t seen them for three month
63. I am watching T.V every night 63. I watch T.V
64. She is learning English for three years 64. She has been learning English for three years
65. I’m used to get up early 65. I ‘m used to getting up early
66. I’m hoping to read you soon 66. I’m hoping to hear from you soon
67. When we saw her at night out with the boss we understood that there was something between them 67. When we saw her at night out with the boss we realized that there was something between them
68. From what says Joe, his wife is pretty sick 68. From what Joe says, his wife is pretty sick
69. You should never say that word before a cop 69. …..in front of a cop
70. The price of perfume in France is very interesting 70. ….is very reasonable
71. My boss didn’t answer to me and I’m very angry against him 71. My boss didn’t answer me and I’m very angry with him or at him
72. She is a friend of me 72. She is a friend of mine
73. She has a rendezvous with him at six 73. …an appointment (date)
74. We were deceived by the play last week 74. We were let down…(to be deceived=to be betrayed)
75. The result depends of the effort 75. ….depends on the effort
76. They have nice souvenirs of their travel to London 76. They have nice memories of their travel to London
77. Sue I present you Larry 77. Sue I’d like you to meet…or Sue may I introduce you Larry
78. Write me in case you would need help 78. Write in case you need help
79. She stayed six years without to see his parents 79. He went six years without seeing his parents
80. She went to live in California for two years but now she regrets her family 80. She went to live in California for two years but now she misses her family
81. They are actually selling those in Paris 81. They are presently……
82. She doesn’t never smoke 82. She never smokes
83. He showed to me a book 83. He showed me a book
84. That crash arrived because of the storm 84. The crash happened…..
85. She is such young a girl to marry now 85. She is such a young girl…..
86. Sue, as well than her sister, will come 86. Sue will come as well as her sister
87. He wasn’t alone to think that way 87. He wasn’t the only one to think that way
88. She doesn’t like him and I either 88. She doesn’t like him and don’t either (or neither do I)
89. His sister is a bachelor 89. His sister’s single
90. She is waiting for a baby 90. She is expecting a baby
91. I’m born in NYC 91. I was born in NYC
92. I had satisfaction with the whole project 92. I’m satisfied with the whole project
93. I won’t go nowhere 93. I will go nowhere
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s