Author: Maude Vuille

Headlines – Trade talks fall flat

La lecture des grands titres de l’actualité (qu’on lit à la une des journaux, sur les manchettes, dans les revues de presse ou en vedette sur la page d’accueil) est passionnante. Une apprenante cependant fut mystifiée par le titre suivant, Trade talks fall flat. Elle avait bien compris que trade est nom (The ivory trade has been banned) ou un verbe (Let’s trade baseball cards). Il est de même pour talk : We … Continue reading Headlines – Trade talks fall flat »

French bread; French windows, French fries….

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…. »

Are cognates useful? For example attention vs attention vs atención

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 »

Miss vs manquer: I miss you, tu me manques, il me manque…

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… »

L’apprentissage d’une langue étangère

Un article dans le quotidien suisse romand Le Matin concernant l’apprentissage des langues:   Rédigé dans un français plus complexe, l’article suivant provenant d’une revue linguistique porte sur les avantages d’une éducation bilingue se basant sur le Pays Basque.

Il faut + verbe (series on falloir, pouvoir, devoir)

This post focuses on falloir but I suggest you keep this verb as part of the triumvirate “devoir-pouvoir-falloir”. Comparisons will help you capture differences in meaning. For starters: Vous pouvez prendre des vacances mais vous devez demander la permission à votre supérieur. Dans cette entreprise, il faut toujours remplir le formulaire de demande de vacances.   In short…you have permission, you are allowed to take holidays but you must ask your supervisor first. … Continue reading Il faut + verbe (series on falloir, pouvoir, devoir) »

principal (English) and principl-e (French) vs. principal (English) et principe (French)

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) »

différent – différant – un différend

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 – in time – in due time/course

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 »

hands and “needles” – les mains et les aiguilles

English speakers call the pointers of a clock or watch “hands”: the second hand, the minute hand and the hour hand. Note that there is no final “s” to “second, minute, hour”. French speakers call the hands of a watch needles → les aiguilles d’une montre ou d’une horloge. L’aiguille des secondes, des minutes et des heures. The French do not talk about “short hand” … Continue reading hands and “needles” – les mains et les aiguilles »

chez moi – chez le docteur

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 »

close vs. close (pronunciation)

Say it with a /zzzzz/ /kləʊz/ When “close” means the opposite of “open”, as to open and close something, please pronounce the “s” as a “z”. For example, a closed [z] door. Say it with an /ssssss/ /kləʊs/ When “close” refers to a distance, either in the concrete sense (as meters, kilometers…) or in a less easily defined notions of space and time (relationships, position), pronounce … Continue reading close vs. close (pronunciation) »

proposer vs. to propose

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 »