Lesson Transcript

Hey, everyone! Its Pierre from France and welcome back for more videos on French. Today's video will be about 10 common mistakes that French learners made often in French. So I'm going to explain 10 different points and let's get started without further ado. The three first points are really easy like a simple explanation will be enough to make you understand the mistake and I hope with this, you will not make this mistake anymore.
So first of all, rendre visite à. This is a translation for the verb in English “to visit”. There are two ways to translate “to visit” in French.
First, when you visit a place like “I visit friends”, you use the verb visiter, je visite la France, the verb visiter, je visite la France “I visit friends”. So this is kind of easy, same verb like it's not a false friend.
But when you visit someone's place, this is more complicated, but not really complicated because we just use this expression, rends visite à. So instead of using the verb visite, you use rends visite à. “I visit my grandmother.” Je rends visite à ma grand-mère. So it's exactly the same sentence except that you have to use rends visite à. So here I conjugate it so rendre - je rends, je rends visite à. So kind of easy, you just need to remember that visit is different when you visit someone’s place, je rends visite à ma grand-mère. So this one is kind of easy.
Let's move on to another one which is kind of confusing, but really easy to solve it - tu me manques. It means “I miss you”. So here you can see that I is a subject in English, but in French, it's tu which is “you”. But here, you have to use me to translate the “I”. So here, there is a kind of inversion. The subject is the object and the object is a pronoun. So here, “I miss you” tu me manques. So this is the case for all the situations so if you want to say, “We miss then.”, you have to say - Ils nous manquent. So here as you can see, the subject is ils “them”. It becomes the subject. So be careful not to confuse and to use nous as the subject and ils as the pronoun. This is kind of confusing, but if you know the rule, you will be able to do no mistakes with this.
So the next one is something that you learn quite early when you learn French, but it's an easy rule to forget. It concerns capital letters. In French, we don't use capital letters with nationality, weekdays and months. So you just remember this with the nationality, with days and months. So here for example, when you want to say French people in French, French people, you have to use les in French. So les français is “French people”, but here, you don't use any capital letter. In French, the noun for “capital letter” is majuscule. So here, no majuscule, no capital letter.
Then for weekdays, it's the same like “Monday” le lundi, you don't put any capital letter, no majuscule, just the simple letter.
Same for months. Here like May, le mois de mai “the month of May”, here you as you can see, no capital letter.
So this is kind of easy, not a big mistake if you do it, but just remember that. It would make you sound or maybe when you write, you will look more native because this is not like something that you say, but something that you write, okay.
Let's move on to the next one, the fourth one. So here, it concerns contractions. Although I think it's something that you learn quite early in French, this is something that is often forgotten by French learners. So I’m going to explain this once again.
First, this one, de le. In French, we don't say de le. We do a kind of contraction which is kind of weird. So here, you take the D and yet you add a U so du. So de le, you never say de le, you say, du. So this is for the masculine form, but the feminine form of de le is de la. So here, if you want to say some jam, “jam” in French, confiture, it's a feminine noun. So here, if you want to say “I want some jam / I want jam”, Je veux de la confiture, de la confiture, feminine so de la. But if the word is masculine like bread for example, it’s a masculine word, you have to use de le, but no, it’s forbidden. You have to know the contractions. This is forbidden. You do the contraction so you say du pain. So this one is kind of weird, why you’re going to use a U, we don’t know, but you have to remember that. You never say de le, but du, okay.
Next one is kind of easy. It's just like when you use le, de or que and then there is a vowel. Since it's quite hard to say this E with the vowel that is next to this word, you do a contraction. So you get rid of the E and you add this to a shorter new word. So here like “elephant” so in French éléphant, start with a vowel, an “E”, so this is a noun and this is a masculine noun so le, but here, you get rid of the E because there is this vowel. Same with de here - il vient d'arrêter like vient de, it’s a common expression in French. You say, oh I just stopped. So here, il vient d'arrêter, it means “I just stopped”. So here, there is de, il vient de then you add a verb, the expression is like that. You always add a verb after de, but here since the verb starts with a vowel “A”, you have to do the contraction so here - il vient d'arrêter. If you want to use a verb that is not starting with a vowel, il vient de commencer “he just started” il vient de commencer, you hear de, but here, il vient d'arrêter, there is the contraction because there is a vowel.
This one is often forgotten. I think this is the most problematic one because here, it's not often that you do the contractions because it's not common that there is que and then a vowel, but this is still occurring when you do sentences that start with il dit que “he said that” or stuff like that. Here, if the subject is il or elle, you have to do the contraction. So “he said that he is here”, il dit qu'il est là, you don’t say il dit que il est là. You have to say - Il dit qu'il est là. “He said that he is here.” Il dit qu'il est là. Same with elle, Il dit qu'elle est là “He’s saying that she is here.” Here in French, you have to do the contractions so don't forget this. This is kind of important.
So let's sum it up, contractions le, de, que, you get rid of the E when there is a vowel like it’s always with the E so it’s quite easy with the vowel and you just get rid of the E and you add this instead. Remember this one, que is really important, don't forget. Also this one, de le, you don't say it never, you always say du. So here, you know all the rules. Maybe you knew it before, but I’m just refreshing your mind so yeah, remember this.
Next one is kind of tricky - ma, you know ma is like a translation for “my”. My, you can translate it into two different words in French, ma and mon. Here, it's a feminine form and here, it's the masculine form. Nouns in French have genders and depending on the gender of the thing, you have to translate my in one of the these two cases, but there is one case where you don't do the common rule, you don't check the the gender of the noun. It's when there is a vowel and when the word is feminine. So when it's feminine and when you start with a vowel so you can say that whenever a noun starts with a vowel, you have to use mon. This is kind of confusing so when you say mon ami “my friend”, in French, you can say my friend if he is a boy or she is a girl. So here, it's a boy so mon ami, but if she is a girl, you add the E here and you could think, okay I have to use ma, but that's not the case because as I said, here, there is vowel so you have to say mon amie and don’t forget to do the liaison, mon amie because there is this vowel and here also you do the liaison of course. So here, mon amie so you cannot make the distinction like when you just speak. This is the same pronunciation either if it's a boy or a girl, but when you write it, there is this E that helps you to make the disambiguation, but here, it's the same word.
So let's get further with another example. When you say une affiche “a poster”, this means poster and this is a feminine noun, affiche, feminine, so you say une affiche. But you can also say my poster or your poster or his poster because in French, this really is not only for ma, but it’s also for ta and sa so my, your and his/her. So here if you want to say one of these with affiche, you have to say mon, ton, son, mon affiche, son affiche, ton affiche. So here even though affiche is a feminine word, you have to use the masculine word here; mon, ton, son. So this is just because there is a vowel. So just remember that. Ma or ta or even sa, when there is a vowel after, you don't think of the gender, you just use mon or ton or son. So this is kind of easy, vowel always the same and you do the liaison, always do the liaison.
But it’s not only for noun. It’s also working with adjectives. So here, here is an interesting example, sa découverte, découverte like it means “discovery”. Sa découverte, it means “his/her discovery”. Here, découverte, it’s a feminine word in French. Discovery is feminine, no reason for that. So here, sa découverte, you use sa. Why? Easy because there is a consonant and this is a feminine word so no reason to use something else, sa. But if you want to add an adjective like “incredible” incroyable, you want to add this adjective here between sa and découverte. But now, if you do this, you’ve got a vowel so you have to do again son. You have to use son instead of sa even though découverte is feminine, son incroyable découverte. So again, it's not only with noun, it's also with adjectives. It's like for any kind of thing that you can have. So if you have ma ta or sa and a vowel even though if it's a noun or an adjective, you just turn it into a mon, son or ton and you don't forget to do the liaison. So this is kind of confusing especially since in English you have the distinction between his and her, but in French we don't do this because we don't care of the owner of the object. We just care about the gender of the object. So here, don't forget to think of the gender of the object and just check if there is a vowel. So the gender of the object and if there is a vowel.
Next one, pronominal verbs and possessive pronouns. This one, I hear this a lot. Even though French learners are really good at French, this mistake is quite a big one. It's not that problematic but if you hear it, it sounds a bit weird and I think it's something that you don't learn at school. So when you want to use a verb like “I'm washing my hands”, when you do actions with your body in French, usually, you use a verb that is a pronominal verb - je me lave mains. So here je me lave “I wash my hand / I’m washing my my hands”. Here in English, you say, “I wash my hands”, my because it’s my hands, but here in French since you have me already, you have to use les and not my. If you say, je me lave me mains, it sounds weird because there is me and me so you say it twice like you're referring twice at yourself and just once is enough - je me lave les mains. So usually I hear a lot of French learners saying - je me lave me mains, but you say - je me lave les mains. It’s the same for any other pronominal verbs. If you say il s'est cassé “he broke his leg / she broke her leg” il s'est cassé les jambe or la jambe so here. So in here, if you want to say “he broke his leg / she broke her leg”, you have to say - Il s'est cassé la jambe. You don't say - il s'est cassé sa jambe. You have to say il s'est cassé la jambe because here, there is already this that is referring to his leg. So here - il s'est cassé la jambe so be careful with that.
There are many verbs and usually it's verbs that are referring to your body like when you brush your teeth, in French say - se brosser les dents. So this is the infinitive form so if you want to use it with je, je me brosser les dents “I’m brushing my teeth”. So here again, les, same with - se coiffer les cheveux, je me coiffer les cheveux. Here, I’m not saying me cheveux, I’m saying les cheveux, I’m brushing my hair. So here - se coiffer les cheveux. So be careful with that. It's usually verbs with a body, but it's always the case with pronominal verbs so be careful.
Let’s now move on to the next one. This one is also something really common and a kind of weird in French. It's like when you want to introduce someone, you don't use elle, but you introduce the person with c'est because usually, you translate “he” with il, “she” with elle or it with ça or c' with this contraction. But if you want to introduce someone like my friend, because in English you can say, he is my friend or it is my friend, but in French, there is only one way to translate the two sentences, he is my friend or it is my friend, just one way to translate it, c'est, you have to say - c'est mon ami. You cannot translate he is my friend with il here. When you introduce someone, you always have to use c'est. It’s the same if you want to introduce, I don't know, your French teacher like “he is my French teacher / it is my French teacher”, in French just one way to translate it, c'est le professeur de français or its c'est mon professeur de français. C'est le professeur de français means “He is the French teacher / It is the French teacher”, but in French, only one way to translate it, c'est. To introduce someone, c'est, always c'est. Just remember that.
Let's move on to the next one with this letter that isn't a word in French, y, to replace a place because, you know, you can replace a noun sometimes by using “it” in English, like I'm using a tool, I'm using it. It’s the same in French, but you can also do that for places. So if you want to say - je suis en france, but you don't want to repeat the word en france because it’s a location, in English, you can avoid the repetition by using I am there, but in French, you have to use this word - y. So here, you say - j'y suis. Please note that here, when you see je suis en france like the place is after the verb like when you do the substitution, the y is before the verb, j'y suis, and since y is a vowel, you have to do the contraction like here, je becomes j'y because there is a vowel so j'y suis. I think this is kind of confusing when you hear this because you're wondering like why do they say j'y, but it means like he’s referring to a place.
So same, here is another example like “she is walking her dog in a park” or something like that - elle promène son chien au parc. So here, you have to say, if you want not to repeat au parc which is the location like park, it is same in French, parc, elle promène son chien. So here again, this is after the verb at the end of the sentence, but here when you avoid the repetition, you have to use y before the verb, elle promène son chien au parc, elle y promène son chien. So here, be careful, before the verb.
So this is how you replace a place in French, but you can also replace a thing and sometimes, in French, it's not enough to use just ça because in English, as I said, you can say “I'm using a tool. I'm using it.” J'utilise un outil. Je l'utilise. In French here, it's like kind of similar. Instead of saying l'outil which is the tool, I'm saying - le j'utilise.
But this is not the case when you want to replace a thing that is introduced with this, à / au / aux or de / d' / des. Here, if it's à / au / aux, you have to use instead of le / la / les if it’s plural, you have to use again y. So y is to replace a place or to replace a thing introduced by à / au / aux. So if you want to say, je pense à mon avenir “I’m thinking about my future”, if you want to replace à mon avenir like you don't want to repeat it, you have to say j'y pense. Again here, after the verb. Here, before the verb. It's always like that in French. It’s the same when you say that “I'm using a tool. I'm using it.” J'utilise un outil. Je l'utilise. So here again, when you replace a noun, you always do the inversion. You put it before the verb.
So here, there is à so you don’t use le because mon avenir is a masculine word. But here since there is à, you don't care if it's masculine or feminine because you don't have to use le. You have to use y so j'y pense.
This is different when there is de / d' / des, you have to use en. So if you want to say, je veux du pain like when you say je veux du pain, it means “I want bread / I want some bread”. Je veux du pain, je....veux... du pain, j'en veux. Here again, before the verb, you use this en. Since there is a vowel, you do the contraction only with j'en, but if it’s tu, you don’t do it, tu en veux. Je veux du pain - j'en veux. So here, you don't say - Je veux du pain, je le veux. You don’t say this because here there is de or du like I forgot, but here it's not only with de / d' / des, it’s also with du, je veux du pain, j'en veux. You don’t say je le veux, you say j'en veux because it's du pain.
Here, you have to be careful because it's only concerning things. So if you want to use the same verb, je pense à mon avenir, but you're thinking about someone, here, you want to say, je pense à Pierre like Pierre, it’s a noun. It’s a name. It’s my name. Je pense à Pierre. je pense à lui. Here, since Pierre is a name, a person, you cannot replace it with… so à with y. You have just to replace it like with the corresponding word. So here, since Pierre is a boy, you have to say lui and je parle de Marie. So here again, it's an example with de, je parle de Marie. You don't use à since Marie is a name, a person, so you say je parle d'elle. So here, you do the contraction because elle is feminine. So be careful because it's not concerning people. It’s only with things.
So let's just wrap it up for this. Y, you can use it to replace a place or a thing, but only a thing introduced by à / au / aux and when you do the replacement, you put it before the verb.
With an en, it’s used to replace a thing again, but only when it's introduced by de / d' / des and when you want to replace something that is not introduced by à or de like one of these or one of these, you just use le / la / les which is the classic one, but be careful with persons, you don't use those rules.
Now let's move on to the last one. The last one is kind of tricky one and I think not a lot of people are aware of that and again, it's like for the capital letters, it's not something that you say, but it’s something that you write especially when you write emails. In French, there are two symbols here like the exclamation mark and the question mark. Here in English, when you put a word here, you don't put any space between the word and the mark like “Hi!” or “What?”, but in French when you write it, you have to use a space. You have to put a space here. Hey ! If you say Hein ? like “What?” Hein ?. In French, there is a space here so just be careful with that. If you write an email or if you write French especially when you're using a computer because it's not something that you can write like here, I put this big space but it's not something that you can distinguish easily so be careful with that. It's kind of a bonus because usually it's not really bad if you do this mistake, but it's good to know it like you will maybe understand if some French people send you emails and they're putting spaces everywhere after their marks. It's because in French, you do that.
Okay, so now we've seen ten common mistakes. Here are some easy ones like two common expressions. This rule about capital letters; nationality, weekdays and months. Then some classic contractions, really important, but often forgotten. Here, this tricky rule with ma / ta / sa + vowel that turns into mon / ton / son. Then pronominal verbs and possessive pronouns when you’re using pronominal verbs, se lever, especially when you're dealing with your body, you have to avoid referring twice at your own body, at yourself, like twice at the person you're talking to, you don't refer it twice. Here, just the pronoun / verbs is taking the form of the subject. Then this is c'est. When you introduce someone, don’t use elle or il, even though if it’s a girl or a boy, you just use c'est always. “He is my friend”, always c'est mon ami. You don't think of anything else. This is only what you have to remember. Then there is, to replace a place or replace a thing, y / en depending on the situation so be careful with that. Then this little trick with the space when you use marks. So I know that there are a lot of common mistakes. Usually, you also have the liaison like the false friends, but since I did some videos on that before, I'm not mentioning that again.
So I guess that's all for today. See you next time!

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Bonjour Gary !


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Gary
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Very helpful!👍