De nombreuses expressions anglaises utilisent le mot “French”, qui peut sous-entendre “français”, ou “à la française”. Parfois, le lien est indirect, et fait référence à la culture ou une recette. Par exemple: French beans: des haricots verts, que l’on trouve dans la salade niçoise, de Nice, une ville emblématique de la French Riviera. French bread: la baguette par excellence; aussi connue sous le nom de French stick, French loaf. French doors, French windows: l’anglais demeure … Continue reading French bread; French windows, French fries….
Sharing the same origin or etymology, cognates are words that are easily recognized across languages with common roots. Studying cognates is a great way to improve vocabulary and fluency. It’s a lot of fun too, albeit with pitfalls and advantages: some sound the same but have different meanings (those famous false friends or faux amis such as library and librairie); some sound completely foreign until you see the written … Continue reading Are cognates useful? For example attention vs attention vs atención
La machine à café est en panne. Elle ne fonctionne pas, mais elle n’est pas cassée à mon avis. L’ascenseur est en panne. Il est bloqué à l’étage. Je suis en panne d’idées. Peux-tu m’aider? The coffee machine is out-of-order. It doesn’t work but isn’t broken in my opinion (as far as I can tell). The elevator is out-of-order / is down / is broken. … Continue reading en panne
Get ready for some brain juggling on the verb “to miss”. The French verb “manquer” expresses lack and insufficiency, that is, something/someone lacking from someone/something, in easier terms, “not (being/having) enough”, while the English “to miss” refers to absence, or lack of presence in general. Sentence construction is different, direct in English, and indirect in French. Short version: I miss you becomes Tu me manques, … Continue reading Miss vs manquer: I miss you, tu me manques, il me manque…
Q: Il vous faut combien de litres? How many liters do you need? A: Il me faut 50 litres. I need 50 liters. Slip in a “me, te, lui, nous, vous, or leur” in front of il faut to indicates who (indirect object) needs X: “to me, to you, to him/her/it, to us, to you, or to them”. This is a roundaboutor way of saying I need, isn’t it? … Continue reading Il vous faut combien?
The English words principal and principle are homophones – they sound alike but have different meanings. In English, principal is an adjective meaning first in order, in importance and can be replaced by main: principal cities are main cities of a country. As a noun, the principal is a person such as the Deputy principal or the school principal. As an adjective, principal is similar to its French counterpart … Continue reading principal (English) and principl-e (French) vs. principal (English) et principe (French)
One letter does make a difference… Différent is the adjective meaning “different” as in “another” or different as in “unusual, not common”. un pantalon différent –> a different pair of trousers, another pair; un robe différente –> a different dress, another dress; des fleures de couleurs différentes –> flowers of different colors; des arbres différents –> different (kinds of) trees; NOTE: Be careful not to overuse … Continue reading différent – différant – un différend
On time refers to an event taking place at the exact time it was supposed to take place: the meeting started on time. Expect Swiss trains to run more or less on time. In time refers to something happening before a crucial deadline/event: We finished the proposal in time for the meeting. (Nous avons terminé à temps…) The police arrived just in time to see the … Continue reading on time – in time – in due time/course
Chez, as in chez moi, or chez le docteur is one of my favorite expressions because of its link to another way of life – villages booming with small businesses where everyone knew everyone’s name. Use chez moi, chez toi, chez lui, chez elle, chez nous, chez vous, chez eux to talk about someone’s home, someone’s place. Chez moi → at my place, at my … Continue reading chez moi – chez le docteur
The academic meanings of the French and English words “proposer” and “to propose” are quite similar. For example: To put forward a plan or proposal: The committee proposed a new agreement. → Le comité a proposé un nouvel accord. We proposed Ms Smith as Chair / Chairperson / Chairwoman. → Nous avons proposé Mme Smith en tant que Présidente. However, note the difference in non-academic … Continue reading proposer vs. to propose