Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is: What are the main differences between written and spoken French?
Written French and spoken French can seem completely different. A lot of grammar is relaxed in spoken French, so sometimes, you might have trouble recognizing a phrase even if you already know it.
For instance, abbreviations are extremely common in spoken French. It goes beyond dropping the "e" of je in front of vowels such as j'ai, which is "I have" or l'année, which is "the year."
Among the most common spoken abbreviations is t'es for tu es which means "you are." So instead of tu es jolie, for "you’re cute," you'll hear t'es jolie. Similarly, tu as, “you have,” is often shortened to t’as.
Another common omission is the ne in negative sentences. In writing, the correct way to say, “I have no money” is Je n’ai pas d’argent. In casual, spoken French, you can just say, J’ai pas d’argent.
Here’s another example. Ce n’est pas grave means, “No problem,” or “It’s not a big deal.” Spoken, we usually say, C’est pas grave. When people talk quickly, it can even sound like c pas grave so you might not even hear the c’est.
One more example is, “je ne peux pas” meaning “I can’t” can become Je peux pas, but we can make it shorter and more casual by dropping the “e:” J’peux pas.
Some grammatical structures are more common in spoken French, too. For instance, questions are usually shorter and more direct.
Instead of saying the full Qu’est-ce que tu as fait? for “What did you do?” You’ll probably hear, T’as fait quoi? which literally translates to “You did what?”
Another common spoken sentence structure is adding a pronoun at the beginning for emphasis.
For example, if you want to emphasize your personal opinion, you could say, Moi, je pense... Literally, that means "Me, I think..." In English, it's something like, "As for me..."
Here's another example. If you're talking about your family's plans for the weekend, you can add nous for emphasis. Nous, nous allons à la plage. "Us," or "As for us, we're going to the beach.”
In another lesson, we'll go over le verlan, which is a form of French spoken slang.
If you have other questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them!
A bientôt, see you soon!