Frequent Errors

It’s fairly common to make mistakes in French where phrases in English could be seen as acceptable word for word translations. Have a look at the following:

Incorrect: Je suis bien.

Correct: Je vais bien.

  • This is a response to “How are you?” (“Comment vas-tu ?”) which typically gets a response “I am well.” The correct response “Je vais bien” indicates how you feel overall – health, life, etc.

Incorrect: Le lundi prochain.

Correct: Lundi prochain.

  • The article “le” is not needed.

Incorrect: Dans le matin.

Correct: Le matin

  • The English phrase “In the morning” doesn’t translate literally in French, so therefore “dans” is not needed.

Incorrect: Beaucoup des fleurs.

Correct: Beaucoup de fleurs.

  • There’s a rule in French with certain words that precede “de” will always stay singular following the word even if the succeeding noun is plural.  The only acceptable change would be “d’” in front of a vowel.
    • J’ai trop de livres. – I have too many books.
    • Il y a beaucoup de gens. – There are a lot of people.
    • J’ai besoin de vêtements. – I need clothes.
    • J’ai besoin d’une voiture. – I need a car.

Incorrect: Je visite mes amis.

Correct: Je rends visite à mes amis.

  • The French verb “visiter” is a faux amis in this instance. “Visiter” means to take a tour/guided tour. “Rendre” is used in this case to pay someone a visit.

Incorrect: Demander/Faire une question.

Correct: Poser une question.

  • “Demander” is used to ask something, whereas “poser” is always used to ask a question.
    • Il m’a demandé de ma voiture. – He asked me about my car.
    • Il m’a posé une question de ma voiture. – He asked me a question about my car.

Incorrect: Je suis tard.

Correct: Je suis en retard.

  • To say that you, or anyone are/is late, “retarder” is used. “Tard” is an adverb that expresses lateness: Je viendrai plus tard. I will come later. “Retard” is an adjective that expresses being behind schedule or overdue: Tu es en retard. You are late. Paiement en retard. Late/overdue payment.

Remember, we all make mistakes, that’s how we learn. Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !



5 thoughts on “Frequent Errors

  1. I’m thrilled because I could “sense” that the incorrect phrases listed were wrong!!! Perhaps something is going in after all!
    Also THANKS for clarifying the de/ plural word rule, I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of that apparent anomaly for ages.

  2. One little correction:
    Il m’a posé une question de ma voiture. – He asked me a question about my car.
    –> You do not ask ” une question de ” (about) something, you do ask ” une question sur ” something 🙂

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