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Learn French and know what not to say to the French

When planing a visit to France, you would usually be considering what to pack, what to do and where to go. Well today’s blog will prepare you one step further, with a few essential tips on what not to say to the French. You know how particular they are so you must be that way inclined too, especially in certain things you may need to communicate. It all relates to the code of expected politeness (la politesse).

French lessons will teach you how to pronounce Bonjour just like the French?

Do you know that you must absolutely NOT just launch into any conversation without first saying, Bonjour Monsieur/Madame. It is doubtful that you would be acknowledged and for definite, you would not be respected or welcomed.

There are accents and there are accents! French lessons will teach you to be culturally appropriate.

Languages all lend themselves to a huge diversity of accents when spoken by foreigners. Some accents are difficult to understand and may or may not be appealing to the ears of a mother-tongue speaker in particular. I personally battle with English spoken by the Welsh, Irish and Scottish. English spoken by the French is however quite a different story. It’s appealing and it’s interesting. Here however is a huge DO NOT say situation. Do NOT say to a French person that you love his/her accent this will not be well received. Of course it is easily detectable, but please find a more polite way if you must make a comment at all. A suggestion may be to say, Vous parlez très bien anglais (You speak English very well).

What a few French lessons could do for you around the dinner table.

Do we really have to tell everyone that we have eaten too much and that we are full. This is not a polite expression no matter where we find ourselves. In French this would be, je suis tellement plein(e)! (literally: I am so full). For the French however, this carries the meaning of “I am so pregnant”. Do you really want to be announcing this, I don’t think so. A little suggestion to use instead would be to say, j‘ai bien mangé, merci (I’ve eaten well thank you).

Learn French, please learn French. Do not EVER say, I don’t speak French, do you speak English?  

Let’s be honest, we often may think, why can’t they speak English? After all, It’s the global language of business, I can visit France or any other country and manage on English only. Do not be so foolish. There is a whole lot more to this than just the knowledge of words and sentences. We need to show respect and acknowledge the importance language plays in cultural and personal identity. Let’s wise up and be sure to know some basic everyday vocabulary and some necessary phrases and sentences. This will indeed show  a more considerate and mature attitude. You would get a lot more English out of French people, by showing them your willingness to learn a few survivor French phrases. Parlez-vous français?

The question of “I am” or “I have”. French lessons will teach you the difference! 

There are numerous things in English which use “I am” where the French use “I have”. An everyday example is j’ai faim (I have hunger literally, but meaning I am hungry). So, to say I am finished in French, we must use the verb to have. J‘ai fini (I have finished meaning I am finished with whatever) is correct usage.  If we say je suis fini (literally I am finished) we are actually saying “I am dead”. And on this final note, may we thank you for reading this blog as part of our learn French endeavour.

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