False friends - faux amis in French

French Window (c) Kristin Espinasse
No, the street light and the window are not false friends, but keep each other quiet company on a lazy midsummer day in the South of France.

les faux amis (lay fowz ah mee)

    : "false friends" or words that look alike... but have different meanings

Audio File & Example sentence:
Listen to my daughter Jackie, her friend Manu, and me... pronounce these French words: Download MP3 file

Les Faux Amis!
Dans la vie, la plupart de nos amis sont des vrais amis, mais c'est les faux amis qui nous déçoivent. In life, most of our friends are true friends, but it's the false friends who deceive us. --Tim Averill

*   *   *

On Wednesday I told you about my very *spéciale* family... and a certain faux amis that was rendering them insane  ... en tout cas* to the French.

I was inspired to write that story after Tim Averill (whom we met in Gary's pétanque post) shared with me a list of faux amis.

Tim is here today ("here" in a very façon de parler*/manner-of-speaking way, for Tim is currently in Massachusetts--but more about Tim in the bio below)... as I was saying, Tim is here (sort of... à peu près*) to share his list of faux amis with you. Enjoy it, share it, and help grow it by adding to Tim's list of "false friends"!

Tim's List of Faux Amis

Faux amis are cognates that are deceptive because they do not have the same meaning in English and in French, even though they have the same or very similar orthography. Have a look at these:

sensible = sensitive (français*) wise and pragmatic (anglais*)

location = rental (fr) place (ang)

affair(e) = business (fr) sexual infidelity (ang)

vase = mud, silt (fr) container (ang)

versatile = fickle (fr) multi talented (ang)

blesser = injure/wound (fr) bless (ang)

chair = flesh (fr) seat (ang)

college = lycée (fr) university (eng)

Tim adds: Dans la vie, la plupart de nos amis sont des vrais amis, mais c'est les faux amis qui nous déçoivent. C'est la même chose entre les langues :-)


Tim Averill is a teacher at "Ecole Bilingue de Beverly," also known as Waring School. He first spent a year in France in 1967-68 at "L'Universite de Bordeaux," and is an avid francophile. Both personally and professionally, he enjoys travels in France. Waring School has an annual exchange with Lycée David D'Angers and Tim and his artist wife Lauren travel to Provence as frequently as possible. The highlight of Tim's most recent trip was a visit to Domaine Rouge-Bleu and the chance to taste the wines of Jean Marc and to meet Kristin.

*   *   *

Please join me in thanking Tim for this faux amis edition by leaving a note in the comments box. You might share a faux amis not listed here, or share a story about a false friend fiasco of your own (for example: how many of us health-conscious Francophiles have made the "préservatif"* language gaffe? ...blabbing on and on to our eyes-wide interlocutors about how we are minding our menus... by eliminating condoms from them? Yikes! I am so glad I got that mistake over with right off le bât.* (For the record, it is "conservateurs" we must watch out for, else we watch, in humble-pie I could just die horror, as the French stare back with smirks on their faces.)

*looks as though Italian might have its share of false friends, too (dog/food/goodbye?) ...never mind my spelling.

~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~
en tout cas
= in any case; façon de parler = so to speak; à peu près = almost, more or less; le français (m) = French; l'anglais (m) = English; le bât (m) = packsaddle


photo (c) Kristin Espinasse
Forget faux amis for a moment and enjoy these true friends from Villedieu.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Loved the man and cats picture!


Merci, Claudette! The man's name is Ulysse and he has asked for a copy of the photo. Thanks for the indirect reminder :-)

John, Paris

The most embarrassing "faux amis" is:

preservative / preservatif

Bill in St. Paul

Here are my faux amis from my many times (and thus many years) studying French:
actuellement: doesn't mean actually, but currently
demander: has a "softer" meaning in French as in to ask for
entreé: the American usage is the opposite from the French meaning appetizer
librairie: a French bookstore versus an English library
gentil: this one always gives me the wrong impression of somebody in French literature, I always think of the person as gentle like a lamb when the French meant nice or kind
raisin: if the French means grape, where did the English come up with raisin as a dried grape?
coin: has nothing to do with money, but is merely a corner
blesser: has nothing to do with blessing, but with wounding or injuring
unique: this shows one of the things I love about French but don't always remember which meaning comes from which placement, before a French noun means "only", after the noun unique (yes, I had to look up which was which) (the French grand is one I can never remember which meaning comes from which placement)
and last, one that got me totally embarrassed in a French class and, you can look up the meaning yourself, was napkin, such an unobvious meaning for a male.

Marianne Rankin

A few faux-amis that come to mind:

une camera - only a movie camera; a "regular" camera is "un appareil de photo"

une batterie - only a car battery; regular batteries are "piles."

Another meaning of "pile" is "tails", as in flipping a coin. Along with it, "face" is not "face," but (in this context), "heads."

La "galerie" can be a luggage rack on a car.

I'll send more if I think of them.

Bruce T. Paddock

Bill -

"Actuellement" (or "actuel/le," meaning current) has a partner.
ancien/ne = former

I still get stuck for a half-second when I hear about l'ancien champion du monde (He doesn't look that old.) or l'actuel ministre du défense (Is there an imposter out there?).

Heclair Pimentel-Filho

Your "eliminating condoms from the menus" comment reminded me of a story I have recently read:

Bill in St. Paul

Thanks, Bruce. Yes, I forgot about ancien/ne and I have that same hesitation when I see ancien before the brain kicks in (or kicks me) and I remember that, as you said, it means former.
I had also forgotten about preservatif but remember now that it was a word I was going to avoid knowing that I'd probably end up using it in the wrong context.
(Who was in charge of bringing these words into English anyway??)

mark slonim

don't forget that word meanings can change when there is a masculine and feminine form: le vase is not a faux ami while la vase (as noted in today's article) is.

Jackie Sand

I enjoyed these, particularly having taught French for 35 years! Others that I was witness to often were:
attendre - meaning "to wait for" in French as opposed to "to attend" in English, which is "assister à in French! And to express the meaning of "assist (help someone), in French the verb "aider" is used. Clear ?!?!?

Then there is the word, 'un avertissement" which is "a warning" in English, not an advertisement, which is "La publicité" often referred to as "la pub" (with the French pronounced "u", not like in the English word "pub"!

My last one for the time being is "le caractère, which is not a character in a book, film, etc. but means your inner being, that kind of character. The French word "personnage" is used to talk about characters in films, books, etc.

For "ancien" where it is placed in its position to the noun it is describing determines the meaning. Un ancien prof, is a former one, "un prof ancien" is a very old one :>)


Explanation, please. In a similar sentence I would have said "... ce sont les faux amis qui nous déçoivent". Is "c'est" + plural noun an idiomatic usage, and would "ce sont" be plain wrong or correct but regarded as stiff or typical of foreigner French? Merci a qui m'explique.

Michael Armstrong

Saul Rosenthal has put together a whole book of Faux Amis that you may want to see at
He does a terrific job of explaining the different meanings with thoughts on how they might have diverged.

Jim Hutton

Don't forget La verge verge/penis. Quite reasonable that the french noun should be female .....

I get confused by 'Solde' on market tickets, thinking it means 'sold', rather than 'special offer (?)'.

John Lee

Shouldn't "decevoir" be translated as "disappoint" rather than "deceive"? (A faux ami of a sort, in itself)


Then there's:
assister - to attend (as in a meeting)

Candy, Minneapolis


I'll have to be sure never to say "Mettez les fleurs dans la vase."!!

Thank you, Tim.


Oops. Now I see that Jackie already addressed assister and was more correct to say "assister à."

Please someone respond to Passante, parce qu'il pose une très bonne question...

Nancy L.

Faux amis is a GREAT subject for us right now as we are currently hosting a young woman (17 yr.s) from France on an exchange program for the next few weeks! It has been a wonderful opportunity to brush up on my French! Delphine is from a town near Marsailles called Martigues. She is quite fluent in English and so our arrangement is that she speaks to me en anglais and I (try to) speak to her en francais. It has made for some amusing conversations, to say the least! We are enjoying her company SO much and I will post some photos to my FB page for you to see when I can. Oh, and PS- with the exception of the nasty sprained thumb, the wounds from my 'bicycle incident' are nearly healed. Thanks for your kind words!
xoNancy L


Thanks for these great additions!

John: I hesitated between "disappoint" and "deceive", (thanks for seeing the faux ami there!) finally choosing the last one to go with the theme of those "words that deceive". "Disappoint" might be the right word, after all. Can anyone help? Merci d'avance!


Hi passante,
"ce sont" is grammatically correct.

In the following case:
-> "Bravo! C'est les vacances! On va bien s'amuser!..."
Here, "les vacances" = "la période" de vacances and "c'est" is fine - but nothing wrong with using "ce sont" if you consider "les vacances" as a collection of individual days, rather than a whole period.

When a plural noun can be considered as 'a whole' / 'a group', rather than 'a collection of individuals', you can use "C'est" but up to you to decide.
-> Ex: "C'est les parents qui payeront" /
-> "Ce sont les parents qui payeront".

-> EX: "Tu préfères les papillons ou les libellules?"
- Moi, c'est les papillons que je préfère /
- Moi, ce sont les papillons que je préfère.

If in the plural noun, you rather see a 'collection of individuals', using "c'est" is fine. If you stick to Grammar only, then, go for "ce sont".

Lisa Bz

Here's how I understand it [as a French teacher who is American]. As a rule, c'est becomes ce sont before a plural noun/pronoun in third person plural, though use of the singular is very common, especially in speech. Just as many if not most Americans would say "It's him." rather than the 'correct' predicate nominative "It is he." For all of the other forms, the singulars as well as the nous and vous plurals, "C'est" is the only correct form. Eg. C'est nous qui avons trouvé le meilleur chemin.
Add to the excellent list of Faux Amis:
remarquer: to notice [fr], to make a comment, observation [an]


Little addition / precision about "vase"

-> "LE vase" (fr, masculine) = vase, container (angl) so here, same meaning in both languages. No "faux-ami"

The French word "vase" -feminine- is the "faux-ami"
-> “LA vase” (fr, fem) = mud, silt (ang)
Faux-amis coming to my mind...

VERBS first:
- to resume (ang) = recommencer(fr)
- résumer (fr) = to sum up (ang)

- to abuse (ang) = insulter (fr)
- abuser (fr) = to take advantage (ang)

- to dispose (ang) = se débarrasser (fr)
- disposer (fr) = to arrange (ang)

- to supply(ang) = fournir (fr)
- supplier (fr) = to implore (ang)

- to cry (ang) = pleurer (fr)
- crier (fr) = to shout (ang)

- to attend (ang) = assister à, aller à (church), suivre (lesson, class)
- attendre (fr) = to wait for

- to rest (ang) = se reposer (fr)
- rester (fr) = to stay (ang)

- to use (ang) = utiliser
- user (fr) = to wear out (ang)

ADVERBS - I can think of two:
- eventually (ang) = finalement (fr)
- éventuellement (fr) = possibly (ang)

- actually (ang) = en fait, vraiment (fr)
- actuellement (fr) = currently, now, at present (ang)

Great fun!
will come back later with Nouns and Qual. Adjectives in a "faux-ami" relationship!

Adrienne Beste

Hi Kristin,

I, too, made the preservative/preservatif gaffe during my first visit to France. Imagine my friend’s surprise when I asked if she planned on putting condoms in the batch of gooseberry jam we were cooking up!


Thank you Newforest and Lisa Bz for your clear explanations.

It's much as English, where you decide whether to use a singular or plural verb with a collective noun by its sense: "the board of directors is meeting" but "the board of directors are putting their signatures to the proposal".


P.A. And the silly thing is that I knew "c'est nous" so I should have made the connection myself!


Oops. That was P.S.


Newforest and Lisa Bz - MERCI! I want to print those explanations. Terrific!

Do you think a French STICKLER would still wince at "Moi, c'est les papillons que je préfère," the way I think an English STICKLER would wince at "It's him."


Hi Lisa ,
To reply to Passante, the ex I gave concerned ---> [C'est + plural NOUNS”]

In the case you mentioned, regarding ---> [C'est + French stressed PRONOUNS]-emphase- let's clarify for everyone:

-> C'est moi qui suis toujours en retard = 'I' am the one who is always late
-> C'est toi qui es toujours en retard = 'You' are the one who is always late.
-> C'est lui qui est toujours en retard = 'He' is ….
-> C'est elle qui est toujours en retard = 'She' is ...

Now, with stressed pronouns in the plural
-> C'est nous qui sommes toujours en retard = 'We' are always late
-> C'est vous qui êtes toujours en retard = 'You” are always late

But, for the 3rd person plural, “ce SONT eux” , “ce SONT elles”
-> Ce sont eux qui sont toujours en retard = 'They' (masc pl) are always late
-> Ce sont elles …..... - 'They' (fem pl) are....

---> with [C'est + French stressed pronouns (emplase) in the plural]:
C'est nous
C'est vous
Ce sont eux / Ce sont elles

Using “C'est eux...” / “C'est elles...” is casual, more familiar (only accepted in spoken language)

Colorado Candy

So fun to read all of these! And then there's the problem of changing a vowel sound and VOILA you have a completely different meaning. ie: raisin/raison, cousine/cuisine, les anges/les sanges (yes, I actually made that mistake as a college student in France!) And now it is true that I am both "un ancien prof" and "un prof ancien"!


Dear Kristin,

Good friday, now must be late friday for you. Love the pictures, and you know I would love the cats. Isn't it superb that all animals speak one language.

Anyhow, my faux amis, so to speak, has to be:

decu = for disappointed and not deceived
desole = for sorry and not being desolate

It sounds like very intense emotional response in French while in English it is not.

and of course 'retrouver' meaning to see you somewhere and not to refind.


ps-of course I may be wrong but this is what I can recall

Jeanne Freeland

I always remember one of my male French profs back in the 70s telling me that when he'd first come to the States, he'd assumed that "douche" was a cognate, and didn't understand the shocked looks on his buddies' faces when he announced he was going to go take one!


Hello Candy,

Re: "papillons? libellules?... Moi, c'est les papillons que je préfère".
idea of 'all the butterflies', compared with 'all the dragonflies'.
"Ce sont" would be ok as well, but "c'est" is a very good choice!

On the other hand:
"CE SONT toujours les mêmes papillons que je trouve dans mon jardin: les paons du jour, les vulcains, les 'petites tortues' et les piérides blanches ou jaunes."
Here, specific varieties of butterflies I always get in my garden. They are seen individually, so, "Ce SONT" is very appropriate and would be my choice.

le paon du jour is a peacock butterfly
le vulcain is a red admiral
la (vanesse) petite tortue is a tortoiseshell
la piéride = pierid


Here are a few "Faux-amis" among Qual. ADJECTIVES
(no time to rake my brain at the moment for a list of Nouns)

- valid (ang) = valable (fr)
- (être) valide = (to be) fit, well (ang)

- rude (ang) = grossier, très impoli (fr)
- rude (fr) = rough, very hard (ang)

- grand (ang) = grandiose (fr)
- grand (fr) = tall, big (ang)

- large (ang) = grand, gros, important... (fr)
- large (fr) = wide, broad, loose-fitting (ang)

- comprehensive (ang) = complet, détaillé (fr)
- compréhensif (fr) = understanding (ang)

- sympathetic (ang) = compatissant (fr)
- sympathique (fr) = nice & friendly (ang)

I'd like to use this very last adjective to describe your strong 'pink & blue' photo:
-> très très "sympathique"!
Merci beaucoup!
PS About butterflies:
No chalk or limestone in my garden... so, no "blue" butterfly, apart from the 'Common Blue' when lost ... or taking a fancy to our blue Ceanothus (a hiding game)...
I must send a post to your previous newsletter about the name of your little jewel.

Tina Leahy

I think my favorite gaffe isn't technically a "faux ami." But when I first came to France I said (like a lot of Americans) "Je suis chaud" to mean "I feel warm." A couple of raised eyebrows later I was told it's "J'ai chaud" (literally "I have heat") because the other means "I'm hot to trot!"


Newforest, you are awesome!


As a student in Nice in the 60's, I remember confusing:
la monnaie (fr) for money (eng),

when the English translation was 'coins' or 'change'.

I think in Canadian French monnaie translates as money.


décevoir = to disappoint
to deceive = tromper, duper

Larry R

These faux amis are lots of fun! I always mess these up:

balancer = to swing or to sway
comedien = actor
le generique = credits (film credits)
avoir bonne mine = to look well (never understood "mine" here, because mine is a vrai ami when it's followed by d'or)


How about the Frenchman's daily PAIN?

Also, I was laughed at by one ancien prof ancien (can you be one of those??) when I had had more than enough to eat. I should have said, "J'ai deja trop mange." But I sais, "Je suis pleine." I was quickly informed that I had said I was pregnant, not full (of food.)

The same peof explained tome that a chair or a bed can be "confortable" nut a person is "a l'aise."


Yikes-- sorry for the 3 typos in my post! I'm not a great typist!


Hi Larry,

In "avoir bonne mine", "la mine" is the expression, the look on your face, and your appearance.
If you have "triste mine", you look sad, gloomy.
If you have "mauvaise mine", you are off-colour.
If you have "la mine resplendissante", you are glowing with health.

It's the end of the week, and my husband is tired. Il a "une mine de papier mâché!" (which is not really true... this was just an example for you!)


"la mine" of a pencil is -> the lead

I agree with you about the figurative meaning of a gold mine
... -> "une mine d'or"!!!

Larry R

Thank you Newforest! You are a real mine d'or of French Information. I appreciate how generous you are with your time to share it with all of us. Oh there's another one:

les informations = the news

Bon Weekend!


Thank you Larry, I must add " information" to my list of nouns (done but not yet posted!)-

--> "les informations" (Fr, fem. plural, s) = the news (Eng, plural)

--> "Information" (Eng) meaning facts, details. No "s", although the meaning is plural = les renseignements (Fr, masc pl) / les informations (Fr, fem plural)

Sooooo, if we only want one single fact, one detail,
- in French, we want UN renseignement / UNE information,
- in English, we want 'a piece of / a bit of' information.

Not midnight yet, so time to post my last list of faux-amis among NOUNS


some "faux-amis" among NOUNS

- cave (ang) = grotte (fr, fem)
- cave (fr, fem) = cellar (ang)

- caution (ang) = prudence (fr, fem)
- caution (fr, fem) = guarantee, deposit, bail (ang)

- affluence (ang) = richesse (fr fem)
- affluence (fr, fem) = rush (ang) -l'heure d'affluence = the rush hour (ang)

- store (ang) = grand magasin (fr, masc)
- store (fr, masc) = blind (ang) -on window-

- coin (ang) = pièce de monnaie (fr, fem)
- coin (fr, masc) = corner (ang)

- phrase (ang) = expression (fr, fem)
- phrase (fr, fem) = sentence (ang)

- habit (ang) = habitude (fr, fem)
- habit (fr, masc) = dress, outfit, clothes (ang)

- refuse (ang) = déchets, ordures (fr, masc pl)
- refus (fr, masc) = refusal (ang)

- petrol (ang GB) = essence (fr, fem)
- pétrole (fr, masc) = oil, petroleum (ang)

- library (ang) = bibliothèque (fr, fem)
- librairie (fr, fem) = bookshop (ang)

- partition (ang) = séparation
- partition (fr, fem) = (musical) score (ang)

- mercy (ang) = miséricorde (fr, fem)
- merci (fr, masc) = thanks (ang)

- expertise (ang) = compétence (fr, fem)
- expertise (fr) = expert's report (ang)

- lecture (ang) = conférence (fr, fem)
- lecture (fr, fem) = reading (ang)

- hazard (ang) = danger (fr, masc)
- hasard (fr, masc) = chance (ang)

- pain (ang) = douleur (fr)
- pain (fr, masc) = bread (ang)

- furniture (ang) = mobilier (fr, masc) / les meubles (fr, masc pl)
- fourniture (fr, fem) = supply, equipment (ang)

- pie (ang) = tarte (fr, fem), pâté en croûte (fr, masc)
- pie (fr, fem) = magpie (ang)

- information (ang) = renseignements (fr, masc, pl)
- (les)informations (fr, fem pl) = (the) news (ang, plural -'s')
About this last set of faux-amis, see post above

PS photo 2 -> Oh! J'aime bien la pose de Monsieur Ulysse!
Looking forward to tomorrow's photos at 'Cinéma vérité'

Good night!


Voilà quelques'uns de mes favoris:

le slip
le fart
le pet
la librairie
les baskets (sneakers)
le roman
la veste
la journée

J'ai eu l'horreur d'essayer acheter "un slip" pour ma soeur quand ce que je voulais commander c'était "a slip" (that which we women used to wear under dresses). Je n'oublierai jamais le regard d'étonnement au visage de la marchande.


In Barron's 1001 Pitfalls in French there are about 16 pages of the most common faux amis many of which are delightfully covered here already.
The authors, James Grew and Daniel Olivier also make a couple of distinctions.

The first is what they call "demi-faux amis".These are "words like defendre which can mean the same as in English, but also have another, different meaning....
L'armée défend la ville.
J'ai défendu à mon fils d'aller trop près du feu.
Then they go on to say that there is a catagory of words which used to be faux amis, but which are no longer.They give réaliser as an example.

I love that they desire "to console the perplexed student and the harassed teacher".

But, there is nothing like the stories of the vocabulary learned "on the scene". This installment of comments proves that there is no better story than these wonderful gaffes. Thank you everyone.


I JUST remembered this British-Canadian/American false friend. It happened probably 30 years ago. I was on a London Underground train with a Canadian friend and became aware that he was almost helpless with laughter. I asked why he was laughing. He pointed at an ad, which was for a seller of very upmarket and expensive door knockers. The picture was of a door knocker in the shape of a dolphin, and the headline was "Have you ever been knocked up by a fish?"

"I don't see what's so funny," I said.

It took the distance to the next station before he was in a fit state to explain. It turned out that, whereas to British me, "to knock up" meant to knock on someone's door in order to let that person know you're outside, to my Canadian friend, it meant to make someone pregnant.

Then there was the American who told me that her brother's name was Randy. I valiantly choked back laughter because in England (back then, anyway), randy meant the same as the American adjective horny.

As George Bernard (that's BERnard in English, not BerNARD in American) Shaw said, "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."


Le “slip” you wanted to buy for your sister (what women used to wear under dresses) was called: “une combinaison”!

About the faux-amis "to deceive" & “décevoir”:

---> TO DECEIVE somebody (ang, meaning to lie to sby, to mislead, to trick sby) = tromper, duper quelqu'un (fr)
- You deceived me = tu m'as trompé
- to be deceived (by somebody) = être trompé (par quelqu'un)

---> DÉCEVOIR quelqu'un (fr) = to disappoint somebody (ang)
- tu m'as déçu = you disappointed me
- être décu = to be disappointed / to feel let down by a thing, a person, an event, a book, a film...
- Comme c'est décevant! / Quelle déception! = How disappointing!

Yes Kristin, “Les faux-amis anglo-français / franco-anglais sont des mots qui nous trompent par leur apparence”. They are misleading. Their appearance (similar spelling in both languages) DECEIVE us!
Studying a language has its little surprises, so, no reason to feel "déçu" (disappointed) by "false linguistic friends"! They may not be what they look like, but, they are truly great fun to learn and to master.

Thank you Tim for your list of 'false friends' shared with Kristin who shared them with all of us. Here are 2 more sets of "faux-amis" to add to the extended list:
- rape (ang) = viol (fr, masc), also, colza (fr, masc)
- râpe (fr, fem) = grater (ang)

- pin (ang) = épingle (fr, fem)
- pin (fr, masc) = pine (tree)


Newforest: now that you have mentionned your hospital stay (over in the "mener à la baguette" comments box), may I point out to anyone reading that you are typing these most-helpful insights into the French language... with only one hand?!

Thank you for the time you take to explain and enlighten us on French grammar and vocabulary -- and nature, too!

I join everyone else in sending remerciements for your educational and thoughtful comments. You have been missed and we are so glad you are back! How do you say "get well soon" in French? Bon rétablissement!


This post has been very funny, very embarrassing and very useful. Thank you to all.

I too have a word, but I caution everyone first, I do not want to offend or embarrass anyone here. And for those with more expertise, maybe you can shed some light on how to say this word or how not to say it and educate others for future embarrassment.

This happened the first time I met my girlfriend's parents and her family. After arriving in Paris, then taking the TVG to their beautiful small town. The place was decorated with ribbons, flowers and small US flags, a Texas flag too. There were small cowboy hats, plus toy farm animals, and other things they could find to represent Texas. It brought a big smile to my face. My future french mom went all out.

I need to shorten the story or I could go on and on.

As we sat to enjoy a wonderful spread of food and drinks. My girlfriend was explaining what each dish was made of. She was asking me if I would like. I said yes to pretty much everything because I wanted to try everything that was new for me. On one offering that she asked me if I wanted... I said sure, just a (little bit) my girlfriend froze and she whispered "what did you say" but she gave me her eyes like I did something wrong. Well her niece heard what I had said too and she had wide eyes in disbelief, but started laughing. I ask ma copine "what did I say?" and maybe it was how I said it, the pronunciation. She told me, do not repeat it, I will tell you later.

I am so glad that when I meet new people, I am always very quite, low key, shy and reserved. But after knowing you for a while I am very outgoing, loud, laughing, fun person. So! It was to my advantage that no one else heard me that day at the dinner table.


Kristin - this has been a truly wonderful topic and I am amazed at the wealth of knowledge among your readers. I'm hitting the "PRINT" button right now.

Newforest - Merci, merci et bon rétabblissment! (thanks for that, Kristin).

Cynthia in the French Alps

I don't know French well enough yet to have any horror stories but when I lived in Italy I definitely had my share. I remember telling my date once that I was pregnant instead of telling him I was full and didn't want anymore food. I knew something was wrong when I saw the look on his face. Once I get some additional French down, I'm sure I'll make similar mistakes. I'm NOT looking forward to it. Cynthia in the French Alps

Libby Brocard

For those who know French, they will know that the French word "vase" (from Tim's list) also means "a container" in which one puts flowers, just like in English. I just wanted to clarify this for those who are learning French and may not know this other, very common, meaning.

I enjoy reading your stories and so do my adult students of French.

Merci encore et bon weekend!

Symptoms of HPV

Thanks! That 'blesser' got me thinking. It's like the exact opposite.

And I love the old man petting the cat. It speaks of a certain softness and homey feeling.


Dear Tim:

This is a good opportunity to say hello to you as I have previously said hello to Gary.

It was also a highlight for us this year to visit Kristin and Jean-Marc and to taste their wine in those beautiful surroundings. Maybe next year again?

I have no faux amis to mention here in English but I have one from my langue maternelle, Danish:

Fromage is, as readers here will know, cheese, but fromage in Danish is a dessert almost like a crème caramel but without the caramel sauce. When Danes from my parents’ generation went to Paris for the very first time back in les années 50, they would often look at the menu card without understanding a word until they noticed the word ’fromage’ close to the bottom. Eventually they would order something, mayby ’boeuf’ (meaning ’steak’ in Danish) and when the waiter said ’dessert’ (same word in Danish), they would order fromage. When they became acquainted with le plateau de fromage, they’d learned a new French Word!


Hi Jens: your story about Danish fromage reminds me of another faux amis, this time English/American. Here, in France, when my English friends talk about biscuits, a salty cracker comes to mind -- or even a favorite American breakfast (biscuits and gravy). The English biscuit seems to mean "cookie".

It looks like the term biscuit comes from the French "bis" "cuit" or "twice cooked" ... which works for both sweet and savory varieties.

Cheers and thanks for your words and stories!

Arrondir a Domicile

Royal ce moment passez en votre compagnie, un enorme compliment et felicitation. Merci beaucoup pour cette bonne lecture.


I thought collège meant "middle school" in (American) English.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)