Mistakes made by francophones to avoid
Don’t always imitate native speakers when learning French!
Native speakers aren’t always the right role models for learning a language.
Why? Because although they may have a good (native-like) pronunciation, language competency varies enormously among individuals.
👉 Using wrong grammar in a foreign language should be avoided, even if some native speakers do it.
The reason is that you don’t know how common a mistake is, and how it comes across.
If it makes a native speaker appear uneducated, it will have the same effect on you.
Always be an ambassador for speaking good French, and people will respect you more for it.
That being said, I’m not saying you should speak like a book. But, you should avoid mistakes that are considered by the majority of the French speaking world to be mistakes to avoid. This includes many anglicisms.
Here are some common mistakes made by native speakers that you should avoid. Again, I’m only including mistakes that are generally seen by most French speakers as mistakes, not the ones that have become so common and pervasive that it’s just a matter of time before they become accepted or tolerated.
Supporter quelqu’un is an anglicism. Say instead soutenir quelqu’un.
J’ai besoin de ton soutien
I need your support
I support local farmers:
Je soutiens les agriculteurs d’ici
J’encourage les agriculteurs d’ici
Here, j’encourage has more the meaning of “support by voting with your dollar.”
To cancel is annuler in French, not canceler.
I need to cancel our meeting.
Il faut que j’annule notre rencontre.
(Se) focuser sur
To say, “to focus on something,” you should say : se concentrer sur quelque chose. Not focuser sur quelque chose, which is a direct translation from English.
I need to focus on my work
Je dois me concentrer sur mon travail
I can’t focus anymore
Je n’arrive plus à me concentrer
You can also use the verb axer when the meaning in “centered on.”
It’s less focused on work.
C’est moins axé sur le travail.
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« Ça fait du sens »
This common and bastardized expression is giving a lot of headaches to defenders of the French language. It’s an obvious literal translation of the English it makes sense.
In French, you can say:
Ça a du sens
C’est une bonne idée
In the negative, for it doesn’t make any sense, you can say :
Ça n’a aucun sens
To me, the worst native speakers make are literal translations of English idioms and expressions.
Why? Because when translated literally, these expressions don't make sense in French, unless someone knows English. By using these expressions, you deny the beauty of the French language and its unique expressions. In addition, you ensure that many francophones, who don’t speak English, won’t understand you.
The most horrendous kinds that I’ve heard, especially on the TVA network in Québec, which doesn’t have the greatest reputation for its
Here’s a list of a few of these expressions, how they’re badly translated word for word, and what you should say instead.
In my book
Dans mon livre à moi
D’après moi, selon moi
At the end of the day
À la fin de la journée
Au final, en fin de compte
To make a long story short
Pour faire une histoire courte.
It’s not going to be a walk in the park
Ça ne va pas être une marche dans le bois
Ça ne sera pas facile
Take a raincheck
Prendre un raincheck
It’s not my teacup
C’est pas ma tasse de thé
C’est pas mon truc
To think outside the box
Penser à l’extérieur de la boîte
Penser autrement, sortir des sentiers battus, faire preuve d’originalité