How to Use the French Pronoun en

How to Use the French Pronoun "en"

If you want your French to sound more advanced, one of the best ways is to understand how to use the French pronoun “en.”

Sure, you can construct proper sentences without these tiny words, but you’ll be doomed to forever sound like a beginner. And who wants that? Not us – our goal is to get you speaking fluidly as fast as possible.

So this week, we’re going to focus on how to use “en.”

EN replaces de + noun

1. In relation to QUANTITY or NUMBERS or ADJECTIVES

When discussing quantities of something, “de + noun” phrases are almost inevitable. In this context, “de” represents the preposition “of”, which indicates that a quantity, number or adjective is being discussed.

The adjective, adverb or quantity is always repeated at the end, even if that amount is none. To illustrate:

Combien de tomates voulez-vous? J’en voudrais six.”
(How many tomatoes do you want I would like six [of them])

Combien paires de chaussures as-tu? J’en ai beaucoup.
(How many pairs of shoes do you have?I have a lot [of them])

Est-ce que Marie a des frères? Oui, elle en a deux
(Does Marie have brothers? Yes, she has two [of them].)

J’ai acheté trois jolies robes, j’en ai acheté trois.
(I bought three nice dresses, I bought three nice ones)

Est-ce que tu as un Euro? Oui, j’en ai un.
(Do you have a Euro? Yes, I have one.)

Est-ce que vous avez une voiture? Non, nous n’en avons pas
(Do you (all) have a car?  No, we don’t have one.)

NOTE: It is NOT correct to say: “J’ai un” or “Non, nous n’avons pas une”. You must use “en” to indicate the quantity.

2. In relation to a THING, a LOCATION, or VERBS PRECEDED by DE

Je me souviens de ta première voiture…je m’en souviens
I remember your first car… I remember it

J’ai peur de la mort…j’en ai peur
I am afraid of death… I am afraid of it

Je reviens du Brésil…j’en reviens
I am coming back from Brasil… I am coming back from there

Est-ce tu as besoin d’aide? Oui, j’en ai besoin
Do you need some help? Yes, I need some

Ils s’occupent du projet? Non, ils n’en s’occupent pas. Jean s’en occupe
Are they handling the project? No, they’re not handling it. Jean is handling it.

Paul parle-t-il de son travail?
Does Paul talk about his job?

Oui, il en parle tout le temps!
Yes, he talks about it all the time!

Careful

When it comes to replacing a noun of person, you keep ‘DE’ and use the tonic form of the pronoun:

J’ai peur de ce professeur…J’ai peur de lui
I am afraid of this teacher…I am afraid of him

Elle est jalouse de sa soeur…elle est jalouse d’elle
She is jealous of her sister…she is jealous of her.

3. With PARTITIVE ARTICLES

A partitive article in French (du, de la, des) is an unknown quantity of something. In English, this translates to “some” or “any.” “En” replaces the partitive article and the noun. For example:

Avez-vous de la confiture?  Oui, j’en ai.
(Do you have any jam? Yes, I have some).

Boit-il du vin?  Non, il n’en boit pas.
(Does he drink [any] wine? No, he doesn’t drink any.)

Est-que tu as acheté du pain?  Non, j’en ai oublié d’acheter. J’en peux acheter plus tarde.
(Did you buy some bread? No, I forgot to buy some. I can buy some later.)

Do you have any questions about how to use the French pronoun “en”?  If so, feel free to write them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you! Or, of course, you can always contact us to discuss French lessons.

 


Opening a French Bank Account: Key Vocabulary & Information

It’s September. A time for fresh start. A different season. And new people.

 Every year at this time, Paris is hit with a huge wave of new expats. We know that right now there are thousands of you out there – students, families, professionals and a lucky few just hanging out – trying to get settled into your new life here.

 Of the many items on the new expat to-do list, opening a French bank account is one of the most important…and one of the most puzzling if you don’t understand the relevant vocabulary.

 Let’s rectify that, shall we?

 

 Must-Know French Bank Account Vocabulary

Un justificatif de domicile = a proof of address

You’ll need this critical piece for most administrative procedures. They can be: electricity bill (facture d’électricité), a receipt of the payment of your rent (quittance de loyer), income tax receipt (avis d’imposition sur le revenu), tenant insurance receipt (certificat d’assurance locative). Usually, the bill must be less than three months old. Note: phone bill are in general not accepted.

Un compte bancaire = a bank account.  

 This general term covers a variety of accounts, including checking/current accounts (compte à vue/ compte courante), savings accounts (compte d’épargne), and fixed term saving accounts (compte d’ terme).    

 

Un compte joint = a joint bank account.

 With this type of account, a couple may have equal access to the bank account. But when signing up, pay particular attention to whether the account is for X “ou” Y, or X “et” Y.   With an “ou” account, either partner may sign legally check. If it’s an “et” account, both partners must sign each check for it to be valid.

 

Un compte sur livret = a government-regulated savings account.

Unlike other savings accounts, livret accounts usually have a deposit maximum, but the interest rates may be slightly higher. Most livret accounts are tax-free.

 

Une carte bancaire = A bank card.   Upon opening your account, you will receive your carte bancaire. This card is used to withdraw money from the bank from a distributeur automatique (ATM). It also serves as a debit card, with payments either being withdrawn from your account immediately, or in a lump sum at specific date.

 

Les frais bancaires = Bank Charges/Fees.

 When signing up for your account, be careful. Most French banks will hit you with a dazzling array of frais bancaires. This may include account administration fees, direct deposit fees, and foreign currency transfer fees. At most banks there’s even a charge for having a carte bancaire! Be sure to about fees and charges associated with your account in advance. Fees pile up if you accept a bank’s “package” even if the basic checking account is free.

 

Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (RIB) = Bank account details. This is a handy slip of paper that contains your – surprise, surprise – relevant bank account details, such as your bank number, branch code and account number. RIBs are used for prélèvements (direct debits) from your account or virements (transfers) to your account. You’ll be asked for a RIB to set up automatic bill payment deductions for gas, electric, telephone, etc., or if your employer wants to make direct deposits into your account. RIBs are usually found at the back of your checkbook, but some banks allow you to print them at ATM machines or print them online.

Key Phrases to Know When Opening A French Bank Account

 

I would like to open a checking account

Je voudrais ouvrir un compte.

• What are the charges and fees for this account?

Quels sont les frais et charges pour ce compte ?

 • How much must I deposit to open an account?

Combien dois-je déposer pour ouvrir un compte?

 • How long will it take to receive my checkbook ?

Combien de temps faut-il pour recevoir mon chéquier (carnet de chèques)?

 

 

French Phrases You May Hear When Opening Your Bank Account

• Puis-je avoir une pièce d’identité ?

 May I have your identity card /proof of identity ?

• J’ai besoin d’une facture d’EDF ou gaz….

 I need (to see) an electricity or gas bill…

• Vous devez remplir ces formulaires.

 You must fill out these forms.

• Combien voulez-vous déposer pour commencer ?

 How much do you want to deposit to start ?

 

If you need help with French bank account vocabulary or speaking with your banker, contact us! We can help you practice the specific conversations you need to know to settle into your life in France!  

 


10 Ways to Say Goodbye in French

Sometimes it’s the simple things that trip you up when speaking French. Saying goodbye, for example, might seem like an easy enough thing to do. But there are numerous phrases for it and, believe it or not, it is possible to use the wrong one!

Here are 10 ways to say goodbye (or otherwise end a conversation) in French:

  1. Au revoir. (Oh reh-vwah) This is the most common ways of saying goodbye in French, and it’s acceptable for the vast majority of situations, formal and informal. It literally means “until we each see each other again.

 

  1. Bonne journée / Bonne soirée. (Bun zhoor nay / Bun swah ray) These phrases mean: “Have a good day/ Have a good evening,” respectively, and they are typical ways of ending a conversation.  You are acceptable in formal and informal settings. For example, it’s common to use it when ending a conversation with a client, or leaving a store or restaurant.
  1. À tout à l’heure. (Ah too tah leuhr). This means “see you later.” This phrase is used if you will see the person later in the day. It’s acceptable in both formal and informal situations.

 

  1. À plus tard (Ah plue tahr). This phrase also means “see you later” but is only used in more informal circumstances. You may also hear it said as “à plus” (ah plue-ss), which is just an abbreviation. In informal emails, you may see it written as A+.

 

  1. À bientôt (Ah bee yen toe). This is general ways of saying “see you soon.” You’d use it formally or casually, when you know you’ll be seeing the person soon. If you’re seeing the person within a matter of hours, you could say: À très bientôt. (See you very soon).

 

  1. À tout de suite (Ah too deh sweet). Here’s yet another way of saying “see you very soon.” The key distinction is that you’d only say it when you’re seeing the person immediately following your conversation. For example, if you were having a conversation with a friend about where to meet, and you were planning to meet right afterwards, you could end the conversation with “à tout de suite.”

 

  1. À la prochaine (Ah la prosh-enne). This phrase means “until next time” or “see you next time.”   Unsurprisingly, it’s used when you’re unsure of when you’re going to see the other person again.

 

  1. À demain (A deh-mahn). This phrase means “until tomorrow” or “see you tomorrow.” Naturally, it’s for use when you’re certain of seeing the person you’re speaking to tomorrow.

 

  1. Salut (Sah-lou). This is a very casual way of saying goodbye (or rather, ‘bye!) in French. Note that it also means “hi!”

 

  1. Adieu (Ah d’yew) Use this rather somber goodbye word only when you know you will never see the person again. Literally, it means “until God,” which gives you a strong clue as to the sense of finality it imparts.

 

Have any questions about how to say goodbye in French? Ask us below!


Verb Spotlight: Amener, Apporter, Emmener, Emporter

In this month’s verb spotlight, we’re going to focus on the French “bring / take” verbs. It’s no surprise that these verbs – amener, emmener, apporter and emporter – can prove troublesome for Anglophones as there are very subtle distinctions between them and none has a direct translation into English.

In French, the correct use of a “take/bring” verb depends on two or three factors:

  • the nature of object being brought or taken
  • how the object will be brought or taken, and (sometimes)
  • whether the speaker will leave or stay with the object at the destination.

Let’s take a closer look at each verb:

AMENER

Definition: To bring.

What? A person, animal or any object capable of movement on its own.

How? The person or object is driven, guided or led, not carried.

What next? The person or object is left at the destination without the speaker.

The verb amener is based on the verb “mener” which means to lead. So when you use this verb, imagine leading a person, animal or mobile object to a certain destination and then leaving them there.

Examples:

J’amène mon fils à l’école = I bring my son to school.

Amènes ta petite amie chez nous = Bring your girlfriend to our place (Drop off your girlfriend at our place).

• Si Marie avait les temps, elle aurait amené sa voiture au garage avant de partir. =

If Marie had the time, she would have brought her car to the garage before leaving.

BUT: Naturally, this being the French language, there’s an exception to the ‘leaving the object at the destination’ rule. Amener is also appropriate to use in circumstances when you’re bringing someone along. So:

• Est-ce que tu l’ameneras à dîner demain? Are you bringing her to dinner tomorrow?

EMMENER

Definition: To take

What: a person, animal or any object capable of movement on its own.

How: The person or object is driven, guided or led, not carried.

What next: The speaker stays with the object at the destination.

 Emmener is also rooted in the verb “mener.” So this verb is appropriate if you’ve led, driven or physically guided someone/something to a destination. But this one is only appropriate if you plan on staying with the person upon arrival.

Examples:

  • Aimerais-tu que je t’emmène dîner? = Would you like me to take you out for dinner?
  • Emmène-moi avec toi! = Take me with you!
  • Il emmène son chien au parc chaque samedi matin. He takes his dog to the park every Saturday morning.

 

APPORTER

Definition: To bring, to take

What: An object that’s incapable of going anywhere on its own

How: By carrying it.

Apporter is rooted in the verb “porter,” which means to carry. The prefix “a-“ signifies that something is being physically carried to another place. For example:

  • Qu’est que vous apportez au pique-nique? = What are you bringing to the picnic?
  • Peux-tu m’apporter une tasse de thé? = Can you bring a cup of tea?
  • Ils apportaient leurs livres à l’école chaque jour. = They brought their books to school every day.

BUT: In a few circumstances, it’s acceptable to use amener although apporter is the technically correct verb. For example when invited to a dinner, it wouldn’t be unusual to ask:

Qu’est-ce que je devrais amener? or Qu’est-ce que j’amène? (What should I bring?) instead of “Qu’est-ce que je devrais apporter?”

EMPORTER

Definition: To take away (with you)

What: An object incapable of going anywhere on its own

How: By carrying it.

 Again, we’ve got the base verb “porter” which indicates that something is being carried. In this case, however, the emphasis is on the fact that the object is going away with you, as opposed to that you’re taking it to somewhere else.

You may find it helpful to remember that “emporter” is the French equivalent of the term “take out” or “take-away,” with respect to meals taken from a restaurant.

Examples:

• J’ai emporté mon parapluie ce matin mais il n’a pas plu. I took my umbrella (with me) this morning but it didn’t rain.

• Emporte ces papiers. Take away those papers.

• Tu emportes toujours un livre. = You always take along a book.

• Repas à emporter . = Take-away food.

Note that the reflexive form of the verb is an expression: 

S’emporter: Marie s’est emportée = Marie lost her temper.

If you’re still confused or have further questions, drop us a line below or contact us! We’re ready to help you learn the French that you really need.


French Swear Words: Better You Know!

Yes, you must even learn these when you are in France. Nothing’s more embarrassing than repeating something that you’ve often heard in French, thinking it’s no more than a harmless interjection…. only to learn (regretfully late) that you’re actually turning the air blue with vulgarities.

I once knew an American lawyer who said that she repeatedly used “je m’en fous” in client meetings for years, thinking she was saying: “I don’t care.” Somehow no one told her until much later that she was actually saying: “I don’t give a f***.”

Oops.

French swear words are called “gros mots” – big words – and they’re sometimes a tricky thing to master. Sometimes these words are perfectly acceptable. But when said in a certain way or context, they are extremely harsh, disrespectful and rude.

Before throwing out any gros mots, foreigners should be sure of what they’re saying and how it’ll come across. When swearing in another language, it can be difficult to judge the intensity of your words or how they’ll be taken. So use with caution, if at all.  

 Exclamations

 These are the ones that are said in times of frustration or anger. Definitely not for use in any kind of professional or formal setting.

 Putain! Literally this means whore but it’s the equivalent of “fuck!”

 Merde! Translates as “shit!” It’s probably the most commonly used curse word in French.

 Mince! Roughly the equivalent of “damn!” It’s milder than the two exclamations above, but still be cautious using it in polite company.

 Zut! Means “darn!” or “heck!” – This is not a gros mot and is acceptable in general society.

 Punaise! This means “bed bug.” It’s an acceptable way to avoid saying “putain.”

 

Insulting Words

 Con/conne/connard! This word can have a variety of meanings and intent, depending on context. It’s generally a very vulgar word meaning ‘”asshole” or a part of the female anatomy, but can also mean “jerk” or “idiot.” However, if you say: “C’est con…” It means: “It’s dumb” and it’s generally acceptable. When in doubt, however, avoid using the word “con” as you might seem ill-mannered.  

 Salope! This translates as “bitch” with the same vulgarity level.

Trou de cul.  This means hole of the ass, which, of course, means asshole.

 Fils de puteTranslates  as son of whore!” As you might suspect, this has no neutral or polite interpretation.

 Vulgar Phrases

 Je m’en fousThis is the equivalent of “I don’t give a fuck!” A less crude way of saying this would be “Je m’en fiche.” (I don’t care) or “Ça m’est egal” (It’s all the same to me).

 Ça me fait chierA polite interpretation is “that annoys me.” A more common interpretation is “that pisses me off!” If you want to be on the safe side, better to say: “Ça m’énerve.” Or “Tu m’énerve” (That gets on my nerves).

 Casse-toi – It’s generally understood to mean “Fuck off!” or “Piss off!”   It’s even worse if you combine it with another insult. You may remember that a number years ago, former President Sarkozy got into hot water by saying “Casse-toi pauvre con” to a constituent who had refused to shake his hand.

 Ta gueule – A very rude way of saying shut up. It’s like saying: “Shut your trap/hole!”

 C’est chiant – “That’s shitty.” It’s sometimes interpreted as “that’s annoying” but in a formal setting, assume that your listener will hear it as shitty. To be on the safe side, say: “c’est enervant” or “c’est irritant.”

 Have you had any situations where you used a “gros mot” without realizing it?  Share below in the comments! 

 

 


7 Verbs that Have No Direct Translation in French

When you imagine a word that has no direct translation into another language, it’s easy to imagine the existence of some exotic, complex word.

For example, take the French verb “entarter.” This means, “to hit someone in the face with a pie”. Somehow that seems like exactly the kind of word that would have no direct translation into English (or possibly any other language).  

But how about the verb “to kick?” “To hug”?

Seemingly basic English verbs such as these have no direct counterpart in French. The concept exists in French, of course, but there is no single French verb that covers the meaning in the same way as in English.

Because there’s no single word equivalent of these verbs, their French meanings sometimes don’t appear on standard vocabulary lists. In fact, you might not realize you can’t express these concepts until you’re halted mid-tracks in your conversation, racking your brains for a word that you feel must exist, but doesn’t.

To save you the trouble, here are 7 commonly used English verbs that have no direct equivalent in French – and the French phrases you need to express them properly.

 

  1. To kick = “donner un coup de pied.” (to make a blow with the foot).

Example: Je n’aime pas Marc. Il donne des coups de pied à son chien.

 I don’t like Marc. He kicks his dog.

 

  1. To drop (something) = “laisser tomber.” (to let something fall)

Example: Ne laissez pas tomber cette vase! Elle est très chère!

Don’t drop that vase! It’s very expensive.

 Note: A drop in value translates to “baisser” (lower) “diminuer” (diminish) or “chuter” (plunge).

 

  1. To hug = “prendre quelqu’un dans ses bras” or “serrer dans ses bras

 Example: Après son retour de l’étranger, il a serré sa petite amie dans ses bras étroitement.

After returning from abroad, he hugged his girlfriend tightly.

 Note: Many people think that “calîner” (calîn, noun) is the equivalent of to hug, but it’s actually “to cuddle.” Embrasser is also often mistakenly believed to be the translation of “to hug” but it means “to kiss.”

 While there’s no single word for the verb “to hug,” as a noun, “a hug” is translated as “accolade.” (e.g. Après son retour de l’etranger, il a donné une accolade à sa petite amie = after his return from abroad, he gave his girlfriend a hug.)

 As hugging is not the cultural norm in France, “hug” as a verb or noun isn’t frequently employed.

 

  1. To hurt = “faire mal” (to make bad)

 Faire mal is used to indicate when someone has hurt you emotionally or physically.

 Example 1: Il me fait mal quand je déplace mon bras comme ça.

 It hurts when I move my arm like this.

 Example 2: Ça m’a fait mal quand elle a cessé de me parler.

It hurt me when she stopped speaking to me.

 Note: If you want to say that someone caused you a physical wound or injury then use the verbs “blesser” or “injurer.”

 

  1. To trust = faire confiance / avoir confiance (to make/ have confidence)

 Faire confiance and avoir confiance are used to express your confidence in a person.

Faire confiance usually requires use of the preposition “à”, while avoir confiance requires use of the preposition “en”.

Example 1:     Je fais confiance à mon copain

                         I trust my friend.

Example 2:    Je te fais confiance

                         I trust you.

Example 3:    Ils ont confiance en toi

                        They trust you. / They have confidence in you.

 Note: When you want to express trust of something that’s not a person, you’d use the verb phrase: “pouvoir compter sur” (“to be able to count on”)

 Paul peut compter sur sa voiture même si elle est très vieille.

Paul can trust his car even though it’s very old.

 

  1. To retire = prendre sa retraite (to take one’s retirement)

 

Example:        Elle n’a que 50 ans mais elle a déjà pris sa retraite.

                         She’s only 50 but she’s already retired.

 

  1. To care = various French verbs, depending on your intended meaning.

 There’s no single word in French that covers all the various meaning that “to care” does in English. You have to learn the right verb or verb phrase in the right context to express yourself properly.

To care about someone = avoir de l’affection (pour quelqu’un)

 Example:        Elle n’est pas amoureuse de lui mais elle a de l’affection pour lui.

                           She isn’t in love with him but she cares for him.

To take care of someone = prendre soin de qulequ’un

Example:        Quand Marie était dans l’hôpital Paul a pris soin de ses enfants.

                         When Marie was in the hospital Paul took care of her children.

 To care about a cause = se sentir concerné

Example: Si vous vous sentez concerné par les baleines, vous ferez un don à la cause.

                   If you care about whales, you will donate to the cause.

 

Can you think of any other verbs that have no direct translation? Share them below!

 

 

 


7 Polite French Phrases to Learn before Visiting Paris

 

The French – Parisians, in particular – have a reputation for being rude. But the behavior that foreigners perceive as rudeness is often the result of a cultural misunderstanding. France has its own standards of politeness and these may differ from those of your home country. In fact, when a Parisian seems rude, he or she might actually be reacting to a perceived rudeness on your part, even though in your eyes you’ve acted perfectly normally.

To avoid any such misunderstandings – and experience the best side of Parisians – learn the following 7 French phrases before visiting Paris. These phrases will show that you’re polite, respectful and have some understanding of French culture. In return, we think you’ll come to see that Parisians are much more friendly than they’re reputed to be!

  1. Bonjour – Good morning/hello

       Pronunciation: Bohn-joohr

Seems obvious, right? But many people don’t realize that “bonjour” is probably the most important phrase in the French language. In France, you should say bonjour to whenever you enter a store, restaurant, elevator, or bus (to the driver; whenever you start a conversation with a stranger (i.e., asking for direction, asking for help at a store), or when you encounter a neighbor or hotel staff. For extra points, you can say: Bonjour Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle.

 

  1. Excusez-moi de vous déranger = Excuse me for bothering you…

         Pronunciation: Ex-kue-zay / mwa /duh /voo /dey-rahn-zhay

If you’re asking a question or making a request of a stranger, preface your request with this phrase. Use especially if the person is engaged in another activity at the time of your request, such as talking to someone, reading, etc. You would not use this phrase with waitstaff or a salesperson at a store. In those cases you would simply say: “Excusez-moi…”

 

  1. C’est très gentil, merci = That’s very nice (of you), thank you.

Pronunciation: Say /trehay / zhawn-tee / mare-si

Use this phrase when someone does something especially nice for you. This may include giving you directions on the street, helping you (or offering to help) in some way, or giving you a compliment.

 

  1. Parlez-vous anglais? = Do you speak English?

       Pronunciation: Pahr-lay /voo / anhn-glay?

Want to get on a Parisian’s bad side? Start yammering away in English before asking whether or not he or she speaks the language. You’re in France. The national language is French. It’s what’s taught in schools. It’s what spoken at home. Many Parisians do speak English, but not everyone does. And of those that do speak English, not everyone speaks it very well. So, even if you feel in your bones that the person speaks English, just be polite and ask first. If you show this courtesy, you’re likely to get a warmer, more thoughtful response to your query.

 

  1. Desolé(e), je ne parle pas français (très bien) = I’m sorry, I don’t speak French (very well).

  Pronunciation: Deh-zo-ley / zhe /nuh /pahrl /pa/ frahn-say /(treh bee-ahn).

Another way of getting into a Parisian’s good graces is by apologizing for not being able to speak French very well. The French do not expect the entire world to speak the language. Still, it’s nice to hear someone making the effort to speak it and apologizing for not being able to do more.

 

  1. Excusez-moi, pouvez-vous me dire où est… ? = Excuse me, can you tell me where ______ is?

    Pronunciation: Poo-vey /voo /muh /dear /oo /ay…

If you need help in a store or on the street, this phrase will certainly come in handy. Of course, you’ll need to fill in the blank with the name of the place or street you’re looking for. And it’s almost always a good idea to preface the phrase with “Excusez-moi…”.

 

  1. C’était très bon = It was really good.

      Pronunciation: Say /et-tay /treh /bohn.

Get that Parisian waiter to smile by complimenting the fine meal you’ve had (if it’s deserving, of course!). Often after you’ve eaten, your server might say: “Ça a été?” meaning “How was it?” If you liked it, deliver your compliments in French and with a smile. Remember that “bon” is always used for food, never “bien”.

Is there a French phrase you’d like to use during your trip to France, but don’t know how to express it? Ask us in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!

 

 

 


Surviving the French Job Interview: Cultural & Language Tips

Looking for a job in France? If so, it’s never too early to start preparing for the job interview.

In France, as in most countries, the job interview (entretien d’embauche) is a critical opportunity to showcase your strengths and it is often the deciding factor as to whether you will win the position.

Creating a Good Impression in a French Job Interview

When it comes to making a good impression, certain things are universal. In France, just as elsewhere, it is of utmost importance that you arrive on time, that you are well-groomed and appropriately dressed, and that you’re are adequately prepared to discuss your qualifications.

That said, certain cultural issues and sensitivities  can arise in the French interview context that non-French job seekers may not be aware of. Anyone applying for a job in France should get familiar with these cultural quirks before the interview or risk sending a career-killing message to potential employer.

 

  1. Address your interviewer as Madame or Monsieur. In Anglophone countries, it’s not uncommon to use someone’s first name in a professional context, even if you’ve just met. In France, you must simply say Madame or Monsieur unless invited otherwise.

 

  1. Always use the formal “vous” never “tu In the same vein, you should always speak formally, even with people younger than you, unless the interviewer invites you to “tutoyer.” (Look here for more on “tu” and “vous” rules).

 

  1. No kisses in greeting. There’s lots of kissing in France, but not at an interview. In France, greet a potential employer with a firm handshake, not “la bise.”

 

  1. Be prepared to answer personal questions. It may come as a surprise to some non-French job applicants, particularly Americans, that it is acceptable for an employer to ask about your état civil (marital status) or whether you have children. If you’ve mentioned certain pastimes and interests (loisirs et centres d’intérêt) that you enjoy on your CV, you may expect a potential employer to ask about these.

 

  1. Cut the chit-chat. Other cultures may consider a bit of small talk acceptable at a job interview. In France, however, discussing anything other than topics relevant to the job is considered unprofessional and may even suggests that you’re not serious.

 

French Job Interview Language

No matter your industry, there are several phrases that you can reasonably anticipate hearing in a French job interview. Get familiar with these 12 phrases and prepare your responses accordingly.

• Parlez-moi de vous.

(Tell me about yourself).

 

• Quelle est votre motivation pour ce post?

(Why are you interested in this position?)

 

• Pourquoi voulez-vous travailler dans notre entreprise?

(Why do you want to work for our company?)

 

• Que savez-vous de notre société?

(What do you know of our company?)

 

•  Quelle est votre parcours professionelle?

(What is your work history?)

 

• Quelle expérience avez-vous dans ce domaine?

(What is your experience in this field?)

 

• Pourquoi pensez-vous que nous devrions vous embaucher?

(Why do you think we should we hire you?)

 

• Quelles langues parlez-vous?

(What languages do you speak?)

 

• Quel est votre niveau d’aisance en anglais ou allemand?

(What is your fluency level in English or German?)

 

•  Quels sont vos objectifs de carrière?

(What are your career objectives?)

 

•  A combien s’élevait votre ancien salaire?

(What was your former salary?)

 

• Quelles sont vos prétentions salariales?

(What do you expect your new salary to be?)

 

• Quand êtes-vous disponsible pour commencer?

(When are you available to start?)

 

Would you like to have a private French lesson in Paris to help you prepare for a French job interview? Contact us! We will design a special course tailored to your needs and industry.

 

 


Café Talk: 12 French Phrases for Hanging Out in a Parisian Café

Ah, il fait si beau! This spring, Paris is flirting with all of us by offering days and days of golden sun, bright blue skies and breezes soft as a caress.

When the weather is this lovely, it makes you want to do nothing more than settle on a café terrace with a glass of rosé and a pair of lunettes de soleil (sunglasses), and people-watch and daydream for as long as you please.

And in Paris, so many people do just that.

Here, les serveurs (the waiters) will never rush you out of a café. You may sit for hours with your laptop, a magazine or just un café (a cup of coffee). You can meet with a variety of friends over the hours or even have a French lessonAnd no one’s going to be angry or annoyed. In fact, once the staff has become familiar with you, you’ll likely be greeted with a smile and warm handshake and waved over to your favorite spot.

If you’re going to indulge in this classically Parisian pastime – and you should! –  you might as well “talk the talk.” Here are 12 key phrases of great use when hanging out in a Paris café:

 “Bonjour!” (Good morning/hello!) Whenever you enter a café, always start with this essential.

Pour manger?” (Are you here to eat?) – Approach a café around lunch or dinnertime, you’re likely to hear this question. If you’re eating, you can probably sit anywhere appropriate to the number in your party. If you just want a coffee or drink, you’ll be directed to a table that’s not been set for dining.

Juste un verre/juste un café” (Just a drink/just a cup of coffee) – If you’re not eating and would just like a drink or a cup of coffee, this is the response you’d give to the question “pour manger?”

Puis-je avoir la carte?” (May have the menu?) – Whether you’re eating or drinking, if you would like to see the café’s menu, this is the appropriate phrase. Note that “la carte” is the French word a listing of individual food and drink offerings, NOT “le menu.Le menu refers to fixed-price 2 or 3-course meals that cafés and bistros and restaurants offer daily.

“Je voudrais un café/verre de vin blanc  s’il vous plaît” (I would like a coffe/glass of white wine, etc. please.) Other common café drinks include:

  • un café (an espresso)
  • un café crème (coffee with milk/a white coffee)
  • une noisette (an espresso with a dash of milk. Although noisette means hazelnut in French, une noisette does not mean hazelnut-flavored coffee)
  • café américan (a cup of filtered coffee)
  • un déca (a decaffeinated espresso. You can also ask for a “déca crème” – a decaffeinated cafe crème)
  • jus d’orange pressé (freshly-squeezed orange juice)
  • un verre du vin rouge/blanc (a glass of red/white wine)
  • un chocolat chaud (a hot chocolate)
  • un thé glacée (an ice tea)
  • une citronnade (a lemonade – note that if you ask for a “limonade” in French,   you’ll get a Sprite or other lemon-flavored sparkling drink).
  • une bière (a beer)
  • une bière à la pression (a draft beer)
  • un demi (a quarter-liter/half-pint of beer)

“Est-ce que vous avez un accès Wifi?” (Do you have wifi?”) These days, many cafés in Paris offer free Wifi (pronounce wee-fee), but you’ll often need the password. In that case you’d ask:

Quel est le code d’accès wifi ?” (What is the password for the wifi?)

Puis-je avoir une carafe d’eau?”   This is what you’d say if you would like a bottle of tap water to accompany whatever else you’ve ordered. Note that if you ask for “une bouteillle d’eau” the waiter will think you want commercially bottled water and may ask: plat ou pétillant? (Flat or sparkling?)

Est-ce que vous avez des glaçons?” (Do you have ice cubes?) Americans are accustomed to being served water with ice, but in France this is not at all the custom. Some places may have ice cubes, but don’t be surprised if most don’t.

Excuse-moi monsieur…mademoiselle…madame…” (Excuse me sir, miss, ma’m). This is how you get your server’s attention. Or you may simply say: “S’il vous plait?” I think ­– I hope – that no one continues to have the idea that you call a waiter “garcon.” This means “boy” and it is not at all appropriate!

Pouvez-vous régler maintenant?” (Can you settle the bill now). Sometimes when there’s a shift change, a server may ask you to settle your bill before he or she leaves, particularly if you’ve only ordered a drink. This does NOT mean that the server is trying to hurry you out, as it likely would in the U.S., so don’t interpret it as such!

•“Excusez-moi, puis-je régler?” or “L’addition, s’il vous plaît” (Excuse me, can I settle the bill” or “the check, please.”) If you haven’t already received your check, this is how you ask for it. But sometimes you’ll get it the moment you receive your order. If you’re sitting at a café terrace, look for the slip of paper peeking out from beneath an ashtray.

Have any questions about cultural customs in French cafés ? Ask us below!


Verb Spotlight: "Faire" – Usages and Expressions

The verb “faire” is one of the handiest verbs in the French language, but it can be one of the most confusing for beginners. Not only is faire an irregular verb, but it has multiple uses and appears in numerous French expressions and idioms. Even trickier, faire sometimes isn’t used where you think it should be.

Let’s take the mystery out of this useful verb!

Basic Uses of the Verb Faire

Faire is defined as “to do” or “to make.” Most of the time, you’re on safe ground translating the verb directly from English. For example:

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Franck fait ses devoirs =

Frank does his homework / Frank is doing his homework

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Je déteste faire la vaisselle =

I hate doing the dishes.

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Aurélie a fait une promesse =

Aurélie made a promise.

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Qu’est-ce que je fais? Je fais un sandwich! =

What am I doing? I’m making a sandwich!

[/quote]

Mais fait attention! (But pay attention!) There are a few instances where “faireisn’t the appropriate translation for “to make,” especially with regard to making a reservation or appointment. In these instances, prendre is the correct verb. So:[quote align=”center” color=”#424141″] 

Je voudrais prendre un reservation pour six personnes, s’il vous plaît =

I would like to make a reservation for six [people], please.

[/quote]

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Si tu es malade, prends un rendez-vous avec un medecin! =

If you are sick, make an appointment with a doctor!

  [/quote]

Broader Uses of Faire

Faire is also used in many ways that don’t allow for direct translation. It’s often employed in a range of phrases where Anglophones would use a different verb, such “to be” “to have” or “to play” and much more. Look for “faire” in these contexts:

Weather:

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Il fait beau aujourd’hui = it’s beautiful (out) today

Il faisait si froid jeudi soir! = It was so cold (out) on Thursday evening!

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Sports or activities:

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Franck fait du ski = Franck is skiing / Frank skis.

Ils font du golf = They are golfing / They play golf.

[/quote]

(Note: for games, use “jouer”/to play. Ex: jouer au football, aux cartes…)

Measurement/Weight:

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La pièce fait 5 mètres par 5 = The room measures 5 by 5 meters.

Elle fait 60 kilos = She weighs 60 kilos.

[/quote]

 

To Play / To Act

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Georges, ne fait pas l’idiot! = George, don’t play the fool (with me)!

Marie a reçu le rôle principal; elle fait Lady Macbeth =

Marie got the leading role; she’s playing Lady Macbeth.

[/quote]

To Feel Something

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Aie! Cela fait mal! = Ow! That hurts! (That makes me hurt)

 

L’enfant est tombé et il se fait mal son bras =

The child fell and hurt his arm.

 

Non, je n’ai pas aimé ce film. Il m’a fait peur. =

No, I didn’t like the film. It scared me. (Made me feel scared)

 

Ça me fait plaisir de vous voir =

I’m happy to see you. (It makes me happy to see you.)

[/quote]

Popular Expressions with Faire

When it comes to idiomatic expressions, the verb faire is ubiquitous. Here are 10 common French expressions that use faire.

1. Faire attention – To pay attention or watch out.

 

2. Faire la queue – To stand in the queue/ to stand in line.

 

3. Faire des économies – To save money

 

4. Faire la sourde oreille – To turn a deaf ear

 

5. Faire la grasse matinée – To sleep in

 

6. Faire la fête – To party

 

7. Faire un tabac – To be a hit (as at a party)

 

8. Faire la tête – To sulk/ To be in a bad mood

 

9. Faire des cauchemars – To have nightmares

 

10.  Faire la manche – To beg

 

HOMEWORK: Write a sentence using one of these “faire” expressions in the comments section below. We’ll correct you!