Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5

After learning French for a while, whether in a class or on your own, you've

probably found that there are some things you just can't figure out how to say,
or that people are always correcting you on. These may be issues that you
haven't been taught yet or concepts that you've studied but just don't get. As an
intermediate French speaker, there is still plenty of time to fix these mistakes
before they fossilize in your mind.

Here are ten of the most common intermediate-level French mistakes with
links to lessons.

FRENCH MISTAKE 1 - Y AND EN

Y and en are known as adverbial pronouns - they replace the


preposition à or de plus a noun, respectively. They consistently cause problems
for intermediate French speakers, though I'm not sure whether this is because
they are not adequately taught in French classes, or simply because they are
difficult to master. Regardless of the reason for the difficulties, the fact is that
both y and en are extremely important in French, so be sure to study this
lesson.
Y and En | French prepositions

FRENCH MISTAKE 2 - MANQUER

The French verb manquer (to miss) is a tough one because the word order is
the opposite of what you probably expect. For example, "I miss you" translates
not as je te manque but rather tu me manques (literally, "you are missing to
me.") Once you understand the proper French word order, you'll never miss
this one again.

Manquer | Regular -ER verbs

FRENCH MISTAKE 3 - LE PASSÉ

French past tenses are definitely tricky. The passé composé vs imparfait issue
is a constant struggle until students truly understand each of these tenses and
the differences between them. There's also the matter of the passé simple,
which needs to be understood but not used.

Get past this confusion with these lessons.


Imparfait | Passé composé | Passé composé vs Imparfait | Passé simple

FRENCH MISTAKE 4 - AGREEMENT

Agreement of adjectives and être verbs may seem pointless and aggravating,
but it's part of the French language and needs to be learned. There are several
kinds of agreement; the ones intermediate students really need to watch out
for are agreement of adjectives with the nouns they modify, and agreement of
the past participle of êtreverbs with their subjects in the passé composé and
other compound tenses.

Adjective agreement | Être verbs | Compound tenses

FRENCH MISTAKE 5 - FAUX AMIS

There are thousands of French words that look a lot like English words, and
while many of them are true cognates (i.e., mean the same thing in both
languages), a lot of them are false cognates. If you look at the
word actuellement and think "Aha! That's the French translation of actually,"
you're going to make a mistake, because it actually means
"currently." Actuellement and hundreds of other faux amis are explained on
my site, so take the time to learn the most common ones and thus avoid
common pitfalls.
Vrais amis | Faux amis

FRENCH MISTAKE 6 - RELATIVE PRONOUNS

The French relative pronouns are qui, que, lequel, dont, and où, and depending
on context can mean who, whom, that, which, whose, where, or when.

They are difficult for various reasons, including not having standard English
equivalents and being required in French but often optional in English.
The pronoun dont in particular causes major problems for French students, so
be sure to learn about French relative pronouns.

Relative pronouns

FRENCH MISTAKE 7 - TEMPORAL PREPOSITIONS

Temporal prepositions introduce an amount of time, and the French ones are
often confused. There is a correct time to use each of the
prepositions à, en, dans, depuis, pendant, and pour, so take the time to learn
the difference.

Temporal prepositions

FRENCH MISTAKE 8 - DEPUIS AND IL Y A

Depuis and il y a are both used to describe time in the past, but depuis means
"since" or "for" while il y a means "ago." If you had studied this lesson one year
ago (il y a un an), you would have already known how to use these expressions
correctly for a year (depuis un an).

It's not too late - allez-y !


Depuis vs Il y a
FRENCH MISTAKE 9 - "CE HOMME"

French adjectives usually have to agree with the nouns they modify in gender
and number, but there are several that have a special form used when they
precede a word that begins with a vowel or mute H. For example, to say "this
man," you might be tempted to say ce homme because ce is the masculine
demonstrative article. But because French likes to maintain
euphony, ce changes to cet in front of a vowel or mute H: cet homme.
Adjectives with special forms | Euphony | Demonstrative adjectives | Mute H

FRENCH MISTAKE 10 - PRONOMINAL VERBS AND REFLEXIVE


PRONOUNS

Pronominal verbs (including reflexive verbs) cause lots of problems, especially


when they are used in the infinitive. You probably know that "I'm getting up"
is je me lève, but what about "I have to get up" or "I'm going to get up"? Should
you say je dois/vais me lever or je dois/vais se lever? Look at this lesson for
the answer to that question as well as all kinds of other good info about
pronominal verbs.
Pronominal verbs | Infinitives

HIGH-INTERMEDIATE MISTAKES

High-intermediate means your French is pretty good - you excel in everyday


situations, and can even hold your own in long discussions, but there are still
some issues that you can't seem to get the hang of, or that you simply don't
remember five minutes after looking them up. I've found that reading several
explanations of the same issue can help cement understanding of these sticky
issues, so here are ten of the most common high-intermediate French mistakes
with links to my lessons - maybe this time it will finally make sense.

FRENCH MISTAKE 1 - SE AND SOI

Se and soi are two of the most commonly misused French pronouns. Se is a
reflexive pronoun while soi is a stressed pronoun, but they are very often
mixed up with le and lui, respectively. These lessons will help you understand
the difference in order to avoid any confusion.
Se | Soi

FRENCH MISTAKE 2 - ENCORE VS TOUJOURS

Because encore and toujours can both mean "yet" and "still" (though they both
have several other meanings as well), they are very often confused with one
another.

Check out this lesson to learn how and when to use each of them.
Encore vs Toujours
FRENCH MISTAKE 3 - WHAT

Trying to figure out how to say "what" in French can be tricky - should it
be que or quoi, or what about quel? All of these terms have specific uses in
French, so the only way to know which one to use when is to understand
exactly what each one means.
"What" in French

FRENCH MISTAKE 4 - CE QUE, CE QUI, CE DONT, CE À QUOI

Indefinite relative pronouns link relative clauses to a main clause when there is
no specific antecedent... huh? In other words, when you have a sentence like
"this is what I want" or "that's what he told me," the "what" that links the two
clauses has an unknown (indefinite) meaning. French indefinite relative
pronouns often - though not always - translate as "what," so take a look at this
lesson for detailed explanations and examples.
Indefinite relative pronouns

FRENCH MISTAKE 5 - SI CLAUSES

Si clauses, also known as conditionals or conditional sentences, have an "if"


clause and a "then" (result) clause, such as "If I have time, (then) I will help
you." There are three types of si clauses, and each requires a certain sequence
of verb tenses in French, which can cause confusion. The rules, however, are
quite simple once you take the time to learn them.
Si clauses

FRENCH MISTAKE 6 - FINAL LETTERS

French pronunciation is tricky when it comes to final letters. Many words end
in silent consonants, but some of those normally silent consonants are
pronounced when followed by a word that begins with a vowel or mute H. This
is often difficult for French learners, but with study and practice you really can
master it, and these lessons are the place to start.
Silent letters | Liaisons

FRENCH MISTAKE 7 - SUBJUNCTIVE

A high-intermediate French speaker is certainly aware of the subjunctive and


knows to use it after things like il faut que and je veux que, but there are
probably still some expressions or verbs that you're not sure about. Do you use
the subjunctive after espérer, and what about il est possible/probable? Take a
look at these pages for help with all of your subjunctive questions.
Using the subjunctive | Subjunctivator!

FRENCH MISTAKE 8 - NEGATION


Obviously a high-intermediate speaker knows how to use ne... pas and many
other negative forms, but there might be a few issues you still find tricky,
like ne pas in front of an infinitive, ne without pas, and pas without ne.
Whatever your question about negation, you'll find answers in these lessons.

French negation

FRENCH MISTAKE 9 - TWO OR MORE VERBS

There are several different types of French verb constructions with two or
more verbs: compound moods/tenses (e.g., j'ai mangé), dual verbs
(je veux manger), modals (je dois manger), passive voice (il est mangé), and
the causative construction (je fais manger). Many of these do not translate
literally from English and thus can be difficult for French students. Your best
bet is to review the lesson on each structure to make sure you understand, and
then practice whenever you can to remember it.
Compound verbs | Dual-verbs | Modals | Passive voice | Causative

FRENCH MISTAKE 10 - WORD ORDER

Last but not least, word order can be a problem, especially when dealing with
negation, various pronouns, and more than one verb all in the same sentence.
This is another area where practice makes perfect - review the lessons and then
put them to work.
Position of object pronouns | Position of adverbs

Beginning French Mistakes 1 - 5 | Beginning French Mistakes 6 - 10


Advanced French Mistakes 1 - 5 | Advanced French Mistakes 6 - 10