9 common French language errors all English speakers make

French Language Mistakes

Okay we get it; learning to speak French can be tricky. And of course when you have mastered a language you want to be sure you sound like a REAL French person.

We’ve pulled together 9 of our favourite common French language errors that learners often make – so that you never have to make them.

 1.  “C’est d’accord!”

English speakers are usually say things like “it’s okay” or “that’s okay” so it’s logically  that this should exist in French, no?

Sadly not at all.

“D’accord” is often translated as “okay” but it actually ALWAYS has to be linked to a human being.

“Je suis d’accord (avec toi)” =  I agree (with you)

Some close equivalents to “okay/it’s okay” would be;

  • “nickel!”
  • ”c’est bon”
  • ”ca le fait”
  • ”ca marche”

2. “Je suis plein/e”

There are three different ways to say “full” in French;

  • ‘’complet/e’’– L’hotel est complet  = The hotel is full.
  • “rempli/e” – La salle est toujours remplie = The room is always full.
  • “plein/e” – Il est plein de contradictions = He is full of contradictions.

Unfortunately, which one to use is a bit of a lottery, but most can cross-over so it’s not usually an issue.

 3. ‘’Je te manque’’

The French verb “manquer” (to miss) is a tough one for English speakers because the word order is the opposite of what you’d probably expect.

For example: “I miss you” translates not as ‘’je te manque’’ but rather ‘’Tu me manques’’ (You me miss).


4. ‘’Hier soir, je suis restée chez mon amie pour une heure’’

Meaning ‘’Last night, I stayed at my friend FOR an hour!’’

In this instance, ‘’for’’ has to be translated with ‘’Pendant’’ that refers to the entire duration of an action in the past or future.


 5. ‘’J’ai attendu cette conférence l’année dernière’’

‘’Attendre’’ is a false friend and actually means to “wait / to wait” for but not ‘’to attend’’! ‘’Assister à’’ is the right verb to use: ‘’J’ai assisté à cette conference l’année dernière’’ = I attended this conference last year.

 Common French Errors

6.  ‘’Ma amie est arrive à 18 heures’’

Meaning ‘’my friend arrived at 6pm’’. Well, grammatically, the possessive adjective should be ‘’MA’’ but we all know French is all about exceptions and here is one: when a feminine noun begins with a vowel, the masculine possessive adjective is used, therefore we have to say ‘’MON amie’’, even if this friend is a girlfriend!


7.  ‘’Oh oui définitivement!’’

Another false friend here! This is NOT the translation for ‘’Yes! Definitely!’’ but actually means ‘’Yes! For good!’’. ‘’Definitely’’ can be translated by ‘’certainement’’, ‘’sans aucun doute’’, ‘’absolument’’ or ‘’ tout a fait’’. Plenty of options!


8. ‘’Demain, je vais rencontrer mon amie Carole’’

Meaning ‘’tomorrow, I will meet with my friend Carole’’. ‘’Rencontrer’’ is used to refer to meeting someone accidentally or running into someone while ‘’retrouver’’ is the verb to use if you meet someone for an appointment or date. Therefore, we should say ‘’Demain je vais retrouver mon amie Carole’’.


9. ‘’J’ai visité ma mère hier matin’’

Meaning ‘’I visited my mother yesterday morning’’. ‘’Visiter’’ is used when you are visiting a town, museum, or other attraction. Another verb is used to indicate that you are visiting people: ‘’rendre visite à’’.


Whether you are a perfectionist or you just want to polish your French, this top 9 common French mistakes will certainly help you. We could have put another 100 of them but this would be frightening, wouldn’t it? Remember: learning a language takes time and patience. Practice and perseverance will get you there, and we are here to help you!

Over to you

Have you ever made any of these common French Language mistakes? Are there any other phrases that you’re not 100% sure about, comment below and we’ll get back to you tout de suite!

A vous

Avez-vous déjà fait une de ces erreurs de langue? Y a t’il d’autres phrases ou expressions dont vous n’êtes pas certain? Laissez votre commentaire ci-dessous et nous vous repondrons tout de suite!


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Published: Oct 15, 2013

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