"To talk about something" in French is parler de quelque chose. Students learn to replace de phrases with ce dont, so "what you're talking about" is ce dont tu parles. It would be logical to assume that the verbs "to read" (lire) and "to write" (écrire) work the same way as "to talk" (parler), but in fact, they don't: you cannot say "lire de quelque chose" or "écrire de quelque chose" in French. Instead, "to read about something" is lire quelque chose sur X. For example, "I
To be sure, the French translation of the English word "normal" is normal -- but the situation is more complicated than it looks. French speakers also use normal to mean "natural" or "the way things should be" or "what you would expect." Consider these examples: C'est normal qu'il soit fâché ! It's not surprising that he's angry. It stands to reason that he's angry. You would expect him to be angry. Il n'est pas rentré. Ce n'est pas normal ! He hasn't come home. Something mus
The first thing to note when you translate a prospectus from French to English is that it is bound to include boilerplate from United States law that has been translated into French. It's your job to translate it back into English correctly. For example: la Règle S de la Loi de 1933 In English this is "Regulation S under the 1933 Act" but if you don't recognize this as a standard phrase in U.S. law, you could make quite a few mistakes: You could mistranslate règle as "rule" w
The general rule in French is that you express "from" or "of" a feminine country using de without the definite article la: revenir de Russie - to come back from Russia importé de Thaïlande - imported from Thailand du fromage de Hollande - cheese from Holland (= Dutch cheese) le gouvernement de Norvège - the government of Norway (= the Norwegian gov't) le plus long pont d'Europe - the longest bridge in Europe la reine d'Angleterre - the Queen of England l'histoire de France -
Here's a logo from Quebec that is bound to confuse a reader from France. Why? Because it shows the wrong animal! The word toutou in France means "puppy dog." For example, the French news magazine L'Express reported on a new "dog wash" (similar to a "car wash") in France: Fini, les poils de chien dans la baignoire. Les toutous ont désormais leur station de lavage en libre-service. This passage would presumably strike a French Canadian as strange, because as the Quebec logo cl
Annoncer is one of those verbs whose meaning is so apparent that teachers expect to you to recognize it when you see it. Obviously it means "to announce"! But when annoncer is reflexive (s'annoncer) it takes some thought to translate it properly into English (something "announces itself" won't work). Consider these examples: La journée s'annonce difficile. It looks like it's going to be a hard day. Le temps s'annonce beau. The weather promises to be nice. La moisson s'annonce
They teach you that ici is "here" and là is "there." Voici means "here is" and voilà is "there is." That is true, as far as it goes. But là and voilà can be used in ways in French where "there" or "there is" won't work in English. Notice how French uses être là. These sentences have to be completely recast in English: Le fait est là. That's the fact of the matter. Les choses en sont là. That's how things stand. Les faits sont là. The facts speak for themselves. Tout le pari
Every first-year French student learns the forms "ne...pas" (not) and "ne...que" (only). But when both structures appear together, English speakers sometimes get confused. Consider these examples: Il ne fait que travailler. All he does is work. Il ne fait pas que travailler. He doesn't just work. Work isn't the only thing he does. Il n'y a que l'argent dans la vie. Money is all there is in life. Il n' y a pas que l'argent dans la vie. Money isn't all there is in life.