Same word, different meaning: les faux amis en Français

Through the evolution of the world’s languages, there have been many cross overs, words that have been adopted from one language to another. They can be identical or very similar. In either case, our natural tendency is to aplly the meaning that our own language lends that word. Sometimes, those familiar words are true “amis” (friends) but many times they end up being faux-amis. Here are some examples:

#1 chat: (shah) means cat, nothing to do with talking.
#2 éventuellement: means possible, not eventually.

10 Common Mistakes French Immersion Kids Keep Making.


No one says that French is easy. French Immersion is a great way to learn but some errors are tough to correct. The most common mistakes often stem from literal translation and seem to persist after several years in the program. You can help you child with the phrases below, your involvement will make a big difference.


  1. 1.    “J’ai allé”: ask any Early French Immersion teacher and they will likely tell you that they’ve heard this a thousand times. Literally, it means “I have gone” and is used to say “I went”. The correct phrase is “je SUIS allé” or “je suis allée” when the speaker is female.
  2. 2.    “Je suis fini(e)” is used to say “I’m done” so it’s used many times every day in the French Immersion classroom. “Je suis fini(e)” literally means “I am finished” and that’s also what it really means… Not quite “I’ve completed my task”. The correct phrase is “j’ai fini”.
  3. 3.    “Je suis faim/soif”: literally “I am hunger/thirst”. The correct phrase is “j’ai faim/soif”.
  4. 4.    “Je suis 5”: literally “I am 5” but the French structure would literally translate to “I have 5 years” so the correct phrase is “j’ai 5 ans”.
  5. 5.    “Je aime” (I like) is not a terrible mistake but in French, the “e” is replaced by an apostrophe in “je”, “le”, “me”, “te” and “se” when followed by a vowel or an “h” in some cases. That would make the correct phrase “j’aime”.
  6. 6.    “Ça regarde comme” is literally translated from “it looks like”. However, the correct phrase is “ça ressemble à”.
  7. 7.    “C’est chaud/froid” is literally translated from “it’s hot/cold”. However, in French we say “il fait chaud/froid”.
  8. 8.    “Quelle classe tu es dans?” is literally translated from “what class are you in?” The order of words in a sentence can be a real headache. While in English, the preposition is usually located at the end of the sentence, in French it is typically located at the beginning, just to make it more confusing. That would make the correct sentence become “Dans (in) quelle classe es-tu?”
  9. 9.    “What time is it?” this one generates various erroneous translations. The word “time” is either “temps” or “heure” as in “quelle heure est-il?” for “what time is it?” “Temps” is used when “time” refers to the duration of something, as in “a long time =  beaucoup de temps, or longtemps”.
  10. 10.  “Le” ou “la”. This one isn’t easily fixed. There are some general rules to know whether something is “un/le” or “une/la” but there are of course many exceptions. Practice makes perfect, or at least better.


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Culture confusion: dealing with deeply-rooted ideas in your new country

I spent the first 25 years of my life in France so it’s fair to say that my cultural background is primarily French. No other member of my family moved to Canada and since my arrival, I’ve been completely immersed in the Canadian way of life.  There are some aspecst of that way of life that I embraced immediately, such as caring for the environment in a deeper way, taking to the outdoors whenever possible and enjoying the large urban parks, etc.  I have been living in Canada full time for 14 years now, I’m even a Canadian citizen, thank you very much! But obtaining the Maple Leaf Passport didn’t take all the “French” out of me. 



When people ask me whether I’m more French or Canadian, I can only answer that I am a semi-confused blend of the two. When you travel to a foreign country, you notice that many things are done differently. You might find some things cool or interesting and others annoying or plain weird. Everyone travels with their own bias based on what they’re used to. Well, mine are now all over the place. There are still certain things that my French self can’t get used to in this otherwise fantastic country. Here are a few very meaningless examples: – cheese cake. I know, everyone loves it but it just doesn’t sound right to me. Cheese and cake? Sorry, I’m having a hard time although I’m slowly coming around… – left-lane drivers. Guilty as charged, I’m afraid I still drive like a Frenchman, meaning that I signal when I change lanes and stay on the right unless I pass. Hmm, there doesn’t seem to be any known rules on highway driving here.

Continue reading Culture confusion: dealing with deeply-rooted ideas in your new country