Now, although I have been learning French for almost ten years and have been to France several times already, I am far from being fluent in the language. My listening and speaking skills aren’t perfect, and because of that, I have ran into a few, erm, awkward situations that leave them Frenchies blushing, “oh là là.” 😛

Yes, what I am talking about are the mistakes, or what I like to call “French faux-pas,” that I have made when speaking French or doing something against French conventions (by accident, of course) while in the lovely country.

With all of my clumsiness and awkwardness, I think it’s appropriate to start hashtagging these moments as being #Frenchproblems.

I have compiled a petite list of happenings that would sure to make a French person judgmental. Without further ado, let’s get to them! 🙂

  • Using “tu” (informal “you”) instead of “vous” (formal “you”) when addressing your banker. Not very professional! #Frenchproblems
  • Saying “balayer” (to sweep) instead of “se balader” (to stroll) when describing your promenade on the Champs-Élysées. At least the streets are clean! 😉 #Frenchproblems
  • Rather than “j’ai chaud” (“I am hot”), you directly translate it to “je suis chaud” (which suggests something more…sexual, like being “in heat,” or mating season). Not good! 😦 #Frenchproblems
  • …on the topic of sexual connotations, saying that you are “excité” about something implies sexual arousal, rather than just being generally excited for, say, visiting Paris. :/ #Frenchproblems
  • Don’t ever say to a French person, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” Just…don’t. #Frenchproblems
  • Pronouncing the “m” in “j’ai faim” (“I’m hungry”). ‘Cause if you do, people are going to think that you’re the ladies’ man: “j’ai (des) femmes,” or “I have (many) women.” #Frenchproblems
  • Saying that there are no “préservatifs” in the organic steak that you’re consuming. Turns out that you are eating “condoms.” Ew! #Frenchproblems
  • Spluttering your French onion soup when you overhear government officials talk about “tampons.” Don’t worry, kiddo; they’re just talking about “stamps” for passports. #Frenchproblems

That’s about it for me! I hope that you had some fun with the French language and its sheer craziness. If you have stories to add about your faux-pas experiences abroad, feel free to Comment! Otherwise, have a nice day. 😀

— The Finicky Cynic

Check me out on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/thefinickycynic


14 thoughts on “#FrenchProblems

  1. Hi there, I’m French and I moved to the UK about 2 years ago. I have to say, this post is absolute gold. The number of times this has happened to me in the opposite direction… Anyhow, thanks for the laugh, you’re amazing.

  2. Yup, I definitely asked a waiter once if there were “preservatifs” in the bread. (The word for preservatives is CONSERVATIFS. I will never, ever forget that.)

    Oh, and a friend once told me that “Je m’en fou” means “I don’t care”. So when my bank teller person asked what color checkbook I wanted, I responded, “Je m’en fou.” What my friend neglected to tell me was that “Je m’en fou” is the RUDE version of “I don’t care.” So basically I told my bank teller lady that I didn’t give a f*** what color my checkbook was. Luckily, she just laughed 🙂

    1. Haha, wow! Yes, the French language can be quite tricky. Love your anecdotes; I think for the latter, you could’ve said something like, “Ça m’est égal” (“It doesn’t matter”) instead. But in any case, now you know! 🙂

    1. I know, right? It’s definitely hard to pronounce “beach” and “bitch” differently, especially when English is not your native tongue. Same goes for English speakers trying to learn French, with the uvular “r’s;” even I have a difficult time doing so!

      1. I understand! I have a friend who couldn’t pronounce “écureuil” and he told me it was the worst word in French. I tried to say “squirrel” and honestly, I badly failed too haha. This animal should have another name in both languages!

      2. Haha, I agree! Granted, I think I can pronounce “écureuil” correctly, but for the life of me, I cannot pronounce words that end in “-re,” with “prendre” being the worst. Double “r’s!” 😛

  3. Great post – I found you through Jason’s review on Harsh Reality.

    Made me giggle as I remember one of my first (school) trips to France when we were encouraged to practise. I thought my pronunciation was immaculate, yet the question I asked was answered with an a disappointed, ‘You’re English aren’t you? What do you want?’ Enough to send this timid teenager running off across the square!

    Oh and then there was the time I mixed up the Spanish word for ‘best’ with another, less positive swear word in my end of year exams. Not good…

    1. I feel you; it’s discouraging when we want to practice French, but either get smack for our accent or a response in English (or both!).

      …and yes! Messing up terms in the practicing language can be mortifying! Let’s hope that the damage done wasn’t too big… 😛

      Thanks for finding me through Jason. I will go take a look at your blog, too!

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