The 23 subtle signs you'll never quite master French

The Local France
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The 23 subtle signs you'll never quite master French
Photo: Morgan/Flickr

There are certain repetitive clues that give away the sad likelihood that although you'll speak French pretty well, you'll never quite crack it. Here's a look at those subtle signs in honour of "international Francophonie Day".


1. You're happy enough to do the "ambiguous la/le mumble" rather than find out if a noun is feminine or masculine. 
2. You still always say "Je vais à le parc" because "Je vais au parc" never ever enters your head.
3. And if something is on l'autre côté des montagnes, you probably still say "de les montagnes".
4. You know everything about être and avoir verbs but still say "j'ai tombé".
5. You can never take down someone's phone number without scribbling out digits out and rewriting them.
How did the French end up with their 'crazy' numbers?Photo: Morebyless/Flickr
6. You have no intention of following the words "Il faut que..." with anything other than a normal verb conjugation because the subjunctive leaves you speechless. 
7. You'll happily type words with an acute accent (like in café), but can't be bothered with the backwards one (in words like très). 
8. And you'd never write two dots above an i like this ï (known as a trema) because you wouldn't even know where to find it on a keyboard and besides you think one is enough.
9. In fact, you never heard of the tréma until now and can't think whether you've ever seen one before. (You have, it's in words like naïve, aïoli, maïs).
10. Your French goes to pieces during arguments and you just repeat: 'tu es malade ou quoi?" over and over again.
French language: Are these the most annoying words?
Photo: John.Hallam/Flickr
11. When someone asks "Tu as un chat?" you'd rather say just "oui" than "oui, j’en ai un" because you can't get your head around the pronoun "en". 
12. You also don't get when to use the pronoun "y" so kindly leave it for others to use.
13. When a Frenchman named Gilles spells his name out to you, you think it's written "Jellus", because French pronounciation for the letters j and g and also i and e still stump you.
14. You still prefer to say "c'est bon" rather than "il est bon" when talking about a wine, a bike, or indeed any other inanimate object. 
15. You really want to start saying "meuf" instead of "femme" but never feel confident enough to use France's backward language Verlan.
Verlan: France's backwards language you need to learnPhoto: WikiCommons
16. You totally understand the whole tu and vous thing, but still never say anything other that "s'il vous plait" even with close French friends.
17. Getting your French adjectives to agree with your French nouns is harder than persuading your French friends to agree that Heinz beans have a place at the breakfast table.
18. The phrase "c'est pas terrible" still makes you wonder if something is terrible or not at all terrible.
19. People ask you to repeat yourself when you say the town name of Rouen, Reims, or Caen.  
The Notre Dame de Reims attracts a million visitors a year. Photo: photos-et-voyages/Flickr
20. You're generally fine with reflexive verbs and pronomial pronouns, but you still find the "vous vous" or "nous nous" a bit weird. 
21. You still haven't mastered the difference between plus and plus (spelled the same, but pronounced differently, and mean opposite things).
22. Despite hearing it every time a French person opens their mouth, you just don't have a clue about how to use "du coup".
23. It takes you all morning to compose a simple email in French and then you still need a local to check it and it comes back full of corrections.


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