Adverbial Nuance – Standard Written & Spoken French (2/2)

Continuing from last week, here is part 2. Also note that any faux ami will be mentioned.

mûrement – more closely / at leisure (thinking over something)

  • J’ai mûrement réfléchi à votre proposition.
  • I’ve thought over your suggestion.

parallèlement – also / at the same time

  • Il travaille à l’hôtel le soir et poursuit parallèlement ses études.
  • He works at the hotel in the evenings, and is carrying on his studies at the same time.

ponctuellement – irregularly / from time to time [faux ami]

  • Cette troupe d’acteurs ne monte des pièces que ponctuellement.
  • This theatre company only stages performances from time to time.

proprement – literally, correctly (concerning definitions)

  • Ce bâtiment, proprement dit “Le Temple d’Adonis”, est plus connu sous le nom de “La Cachette”.
  • This building, whose correct name is “The Temple of Adonis”, is commonly known as “The Hideaway”.

scrupuleusement – thoroughly / precisely (of work done)

  • Elle a vérifié scrupuleusement tous nos comptes.
  • She checked all our accounts thoroughly.

sensiblement – noticeably / appreciably [faux ami]

  • La qualité des repas s’est sensiblement améliorée.
  • The meals have got noticeably better.

strictement – absolutely (usually with a negative)

  • Cette phrase ne veut strictement rien dire.
  • This sentence means absolutely nothing.

sûrement – certainly (with hypotheses, or a negative)

  • Il sera sûrement parti maintenant.
    • He’ll certainly have left by now. / He must have left by now.
  • Tu le feras ? | Will you do it?
    • Sûrement pas ! | Certainly not!

uniquement – only [faux ami]

  • J’ai accepté uniquement pour te faire plaisir.
  • It was only to please you that I accepted.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !



Adverbial Nuance – Standard Written & Spoken French (1/2)

Going off from last week’s lesson, adverb nuances in standard written and spoken French. This will be in two parts. And again, I will indicate any faux ami.

accessoirement – in addition

  • Il existe accessoirement deux piscines en plein air.
  • In addition there are two open-air/outdoor swimming pools.

actuellement – currently [faux ami]

  • Le nombre de chômeurs est actuellement en baisse.
  • The number of people unemployed is currently falling.

alternativement – alternately, by turns

  • Ils se relayaient pour garder les enfants alternativement.
  • They took turns looking after the children.

couramment – fluently, commonly

  • Tu parles le grec couramment ?
    • Do you speak Greek fluently?
  • C’est quelque chose qui se fait couramment en Egypte.
    • It’s something which is common practice/commonly done in Egypt.

définitivement – for good/definitively [faux ami]

  • Vous avez quitté Paris définitivement ?
  • Have you left Paris for good?

éventuellement – possibly [faux ami] (Can also be used to translate “might” or “may”.)

  • Tu auras éventuellement besoin d’argent ?
  • Might you need some money?

forcément – necessarily

  • Je ne viendrai pas forcément moi-même.
  • I shall not necessarily come myself.

globalement – all in all, overall

  • Les résultats ont été globalement positifs.
  • Overall the results have been positive.

inversement – conversely, alternatively

  • Si vous voulez rester ici, j’irai le chercher, ou inversement vous y irez et moi je resterai ici.
  • If you’d like to stay here, I’ll go and fetch him, or conversely you go and I’ll stay here.

Next week will be part 2! Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…


Adverbial Nuances – Formal Notices

Adverbs qualify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. In this lesson, we’re going to look at some common French adverbs which have particular nuances. There are cases in which the adjective from which the adverb is derived does not necessarily give the adverb’s idiomatic meaning. Then, there are a number of adverbs which are close in form to an English adverb, but slightly or notably different in meaning. Where these adverbs derive from an adjective which may be classed as a faux ami, and I will note which are a faux ami in the examples below.

Adverbs used primarily in formal notices

formellement – strictly [faux ami]

  • Il est formellement interdit de donner à manger aux animaux.
  • Feeding the animals is strictly forbidden.

incessamment – immediately

  • Toute personne non ressortissante de la C.E.E. doit se rendre incessamment au bureau de l’immigration.
  • All non-E.E.C. residents should report immediately to the immigration office.

instamment – urgently/expressly (associated with polite orders)

  • Les clients sont instamment priés de ne pas toucher aux objets exposés dans la vitrine.
  • Customers are expressly requested not to touch articles in the window.
  • Please do not touch articles in the window.

ultérieurement – later [faux ami]

  • Veuillez nous rappeler ultérieurement. (Recorded message)
  • Please call back later.

I will continue next week with more adverbial nuances. Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Colorful Adjectives Part 3

Here’s the final installment for this three part series on colorful adjectives.


Pink is worth citing because it is the “happy” color, opposed to grey and black/

  • une crevette rose | prawn
  • un flamant rose | a pink flamingo
  • voir la vie en rose | to have an optimistic view of life


As in English, red is associated with anger.

  • le rouge | red wine
  • un rouge à lèvres | lipstick
  • un compte bancaire en rouge | a bank account in the red
  • devenir rouge comme une crise | to blush/go beet red
  • se fâcher tout rouge | to get furious
  • voir rouge | to see red


The ecological overtones of green exist in French as in English. Otherwise, in French idioms, green suggests health and vigor, and also daring and risqué humour.

  • les Verts | the Greens (ecologists)
  • mettre un cheval au vert | to put a horse out to grass
  • employer le vert et le sec | to leave no stone unturned
  • prendre quelqu’un sans vert | to catch someone off guard
  • en voir des vertes et des pas mûres | to go through a hard time/ see a strange mixture
  • des histoires vertes | racy stories
  • au temps de sa verte jeunesse | in the first bloom of his/her youth
  • le langage vert | slang
  • une verte réponse | a sharp reply
  • une verte vieillesse | robust old age

I hope everyone has a great week!

A bientôt !


Colorful Adjectives Part 2

Part 2 of our colorful adjectives series!


Apart from its association with the brain, grey designates something rather unpleasant.

  • la matière grise | the little grey cells/grey matter
  • un temps gris | overcast weather
  • en voir de grises | to have an unpleasant time of it
  • faire grise mine à quelqu’un | to give someone the cold shoulder


As in English, yellow is associated with cowardice.

  • un jaune | a person or thing that regarded with dislike or disgust
  • le jaune d’un œuf | the yolk of an egg
  • rire jaune | to give a forced laugh/sickly smile


As in English, black is primarily associated with unhappiness or misfortune.

  • noir comme du jais | jet black
  • noir comme dans un four | pitch black
  • une bête noir | a pet aversion
  • le marché noir | the black market
  • une rue noire de monde | a road swarming with people
  • broyer du noir | to be depressed
  • Il fait noir. | It’s dark.
  • mettre noir sur blanc | to be put in black and white/in writing
  • porter le noir | to be dressed in black (mourning)
  • regarder quelqu’un d’un oeil noir | to look at someone with attitude/suspicion/disapproval
  • voir la vie en noir | to take a gloomy view of things

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Colorful Adjectives Part 1

You should be familiar with the main color adjectives in French used in their literal sense. Many of them are also used idiomatically. Even with the word couleur there are idiomatic expressions.

  • jouer dans la couleur | to follow suit (playing cards)
  • L’affaire prend couleur. | Things are taking shape.
  • Il a dit cela sous couleur d’amitié. | He said it under a show of friendship.
  • Il en parlait comme un aveugle des couleurs. | He went on about it without knowing anything,


In French, white has the traditional image of purity, but also the association of a blank, something nonexistent.

  • être blanc comme neige | to be as pur as the driven snow
  • devenir blanc comme un linge | to turn white as a sheet
  • une copie blanche | a blank script
  • un examen blanc | a mock exam
  • la houille blanche | hydroelectric power
  • un mariage blanc | an unconsummated marriage
  • des vers blancs | blank verse
  • de but en blanc | point-blank, without warning
  • dire tantôt blanc, tantôt noir | to say one thing then another
  • donner carte blanche | to give someone absolute freedom
  • faire chou blanc | to be a total flop
  • laisser un blanc | to leave a gap
  • passer une nuit blanche | to stay up all night


Blue in French designates something or someone as raw or fresh (green in English).

  • un bleu | a bruise; a new recruit/novice
  • un bifteck bleu | a rare steak
  • un conte bleu | a cock-and-bull story
  • une peur bleue | a terrible fear
  • le sang bleu | blue blood
  • les bleus de travail | working overalls
  • être bleu de froid | to be blue with cold
  • être bleu de colère | to be livid (with anger)
  • n’y voir que du bleu | not to smell a rat

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…


Colloquialisms & Idioms

à un de ces quatre ! – see you someday!

  • Je dois y aller. À un de ces quatre !
  • I should go that. See you someday!

des fringues – clothes

  • Ève adore acheter des fringues.
  • Ève loves to buy clothes.

faire la grasse matinée – to sleep late/in

  • Demain c’est dimanche, donc on fait la grasse matinée !
  • Tomorrow is Sunday, so we’re sleeping in!

le cerveau en compote – brain turned to mush

  • J’ai trop étudié le français aujourd’hui, j’ai le cerveau en compote !
  • I studied too much French today. My brain turned to mush!

rater le coche – to miss the boat

  • J’ai manqué une belle opportunité, j’ai vraiment raté le coche !
  • I missed a great opportunity. I really missed the boat!

le bide – the belly

  • J’ai mangé trop de chocolat et maintenant j’ai mal au bide !
  • I ate too much chocolate and now my belly hurts!

une friandise – sweets/candy

  • Lucie a offert une boîte de friandises à Robert.
  • Lucie offered Robert a box of sweets/candy.

un costard – a suit

  • Pour cette soirée, il prévoit de mettre son plus beau costard.
  • For this soirée, he plans to wear his best suit.

un rencard – a date

  • Jacques a acheté des roses, il a un rencard ce soir avec Sandrine.
  • Jacques bought roses. He has a date with Sandrine tonight.

avoir la pêche – to feel great

  • J’ai bien dormi, j’ai la pêche !
  • I slept well. I feel great!

Happy new year, everyone!

Merci à vous !