Tag Archives: french words

Je suis malade

I feel sick. Maybe talking about it in French will make me feel better.

J’ai un mal à la tête. I have a headache.
Je suis fatigué. I’m tired.
J’ai froid. I’m cold.*

Elle a un rhume. She has a cold.
Elle a un nez qui coule. She has a runny nose.
Elle a le vertige. She is dizzy.

Il a la grippe. He has the flu.
Il a de la fièvre. He has a fever.
Il a chaud. He is hot.*

Tu te sens bien? Do you feel well?

*In English, we say I AM or he/she IS – forms of the verb “to be.” In French, the verb is avoir – “to have” – literally translated “I have (a feeling of) cold” or “He has hot.”


Trés á la mode

I’ve skipped all the way to page 258 in my French textbook to become au fait with some words for clothing, and it’s got my knickers in a knot.

Some, thankfully, are cognates. Dieu merci! Remember their gender and we’re golden:

un pantalon = pants
un jean
= jeans
des sandales
= sandals
des bottes
= boots
des tennis
= tennis shoes (sneakers)
un polo
= a polo shirt
une veste
= a vest
un sweat
= a sweatshirt
un tee shirt
un short

Others make very good sense, so they, too, are easy to learn:

un pull = a pullover (sweater/jumper)
un manteau
= a coat, i.e., old English “mantle”
une robe
= a dress
une ceinture = a belt (who doesn’t want a cinched in waist?)
une cravate = a tie (we English speakers think of a specific kind of tie as a cravat)
un maillot de bain = a swimsuit (we use maillot to refer to one-piece ladies’ swimsuits; the french term is more general and includes men’s trunks)


Some words are just plain cute:

des chaussettes = socks
des chaussures
= shoes
des lunettes
= glasses (little moons?)
des lunettes de soleil
= sunglasses (little moons that block the sun)

And some are crazy mixed up:

une chemise (feminine) = a men’s shirt
un chemisier (masculine)
= a ladies’ blouse
un blouson
= a jacket for either men or women

Paris Fashion Week


Paris Fashion Week starts today!

Some of my favorite looks come from French designers— Dior, Hermés, Chanel. Paris is a global fashion capital, second only to New York for ready to wear (prêt à porter) and holding the top spot for high fashion (haute couture).

In addition to stunning and sometimes crazy fashions, French women are also known around the world as having a knack for putting together amazing looks, seemingly effortlessly, with very few articles of clothing. I’ve heard that later in life, Coco Chanel had only three outfits. Trois!


This concept is elusive to most American fashionistas. It is referred to with almost reverential awe as a “capsule wardrobe,” “five piece wardrobe” or “ten item closet.” The idea being that a handful of quality, tailored basics can combine in myriad ways to serve as a backdrop for striking one-of-a-kind accessoires to make dressing easy and classy.

This basic wardrobe has long been my style, even before I knew its affiliation with French women. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong country.

A few must-haves I’m on the lookout for this week:

le sac à main parfait… the perfect handbag

un foulard de soie… a silk scarf

une nouvelle robe noire… a new black dress

un collier bleu… a blue necklace

Need more fashion? Check out Mode á Paris‘s listings of upcoming ready-to-wear shows by your favorite designers.

J’aime la mode!

Words with feline friends

L’Académie française is one of five academies of L’Institut français. It’s 40 members, known as Les Immortels (The Immortals!), act as “official guardians of the french language,” deciding which words stay, which words go, and which foreign words should be blacklisted and replaced by french equivalents.

It’s pretty impressive they go to all this trouble to protect their heritage and language, and I for one am glad, because how disappointing would it be to finally get to France, only to hear everyone speaking English?

But apparently a majority of french people pay little or no attention to the recommendations. It was kind of a joke when they tried to replace the twitter “hashtag” with “mot-dièse.

I wonder if anybody checks their courriel instead of email.

Hashtag French

My cat makes me happy. You, not so much. Mort de rire!

A sad exemple de mots supprimés (example of deleted words) from Le Dictionnaire de L’Académie Française:

minon. m. Nom d’amitié que les enfants donnent aux chats.

“Name of the friendship that children give to cats.”

Pourquoi dans le monde
would they get rid of such a lovely mot?
I know not.

French app: Memrise

Memrise is an app designed to help learn all sorts of things. Languages, art, math, even standardized tests.

I’ve been checking out the French section, and it’s not bad.

Memrise uses mnemonics (memory aids) to help you remember words and phrases.

“Je voudrais du café, s’il vous plaît.”

is one of the first sentences you’ll encounter. Very helpful for coffee drinkers like myself, and I love the politeness of “I would like, please” as opposed to “I want.” However, this is for purchasing a quantity of coffee. If I’d like a cuppa, I’d be better off saying “Je voudrais un café.”

The mnemonic is “voodoo ray” for voudrais. While it helped stick the word in my mind, it is not even close to an accurate pronunciation. So that’s a downside. Pronunciation is not my strong suit, so I don’t need any help when it comes to Americanizing the sounds.

I might check out Memrise’s other courses. 20th century Modern Art looks promising.

A question for French friends
Memrise translates “Je parle français” as “I can speak French.” Is it correct? Or is there a better way to say “I can” (I thought this would be translated simply as “I speak french”)?

Essential French

If I woke up this morning fluent in one foreign language, it would be French.

But then that would take away all the fun of learning, and I love the process of acquiring the language as much as the idea of being fluent someday. There is beauty in the becoming as much as in the achieving, just as there is beauty in the rosebud before it fully blooms.

Instant proficiency would also take away a lot of fun for my fluent friends when I use the wrong word. And I wouldn’t trade giving them that experience for anything. Like the time I wanted to say I felt embarrassed in Spanish and accidentally announced I was pregnant. (Then I really needed the word for embarrassed!)


Here’s today’s lundi livre.

Usborne books have long been favorites at our house, ever since I got my first copy of First Thousand Words in Spanish. Right now I’m loving the French Dictionary. It’s tiny, but packs a lot of usefulness into a small space. (Fits in my bag and even some pockets.)

It’s got helpful guides to basics like counting and a few must-have phrases (Les toilettes, s’il vous plaît?); sections for looking up English words to find the French equivalent and vice versa; and a handy little two page spread called “Getting By in French” that is worth the price of admission all on its own. (It covers the bottom line on verb conjugation; how to ask questions; when/how to shorten je, de, and ne; and tips on pronunciation.)

It’s in the children’s section of our local shop. They don’t currently carry First Thousand Words in French, but I’ll be on the lookout.

Usborne Essential French Dictionary, 64 pages, £5.99.

Very excited about today’s Daily Prompt: Take That, Rosetta. I hope to find other Francophiles to follow!

French at the Olympics

The French have long loved the Olympic Games. French is even the official language of the Olympics. Be sure to listen during the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night (7:30 EST). You’ll get to hear many country names as they are pronounced en français!

The very first Jeux Olympiques d’hiver (Winter Olympic Games) were held in France— in Chamonix, in 1924. France has hosted a total of five Olympic Games (second only to aux Etats-Unis, the United States, which has hosted eight times): 1900 Summer Olympics, in Paris; 1924 Olympics, d’hiver (winter) in Chamonix and été (summer) in Paris (just another reason why Paris was the place to be in the 20s!); 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble; and 1992 Winter Games in Albertville.

I’d say France is due to host again soon, wouldn’t you? Rumor has it they’re planning a bid for either Paris or Nice for the 2024 Summer Games. If they win, I am so there.

Here are some sporty things to say in French:

Je vais au le stade olympique.
I am going to the Olympic stadium.

Je vais pour l’équipe française.
I am going for (rooting for) the French team.

Mon sport préféré est le ski.
My favorite sport is skiing.

Son sport préféré est le patinage artistique.
His/her favorite sport is figure skating.

J’aime jouer au hockey sur glace.
I like to play ice hockey.

Il est sur les podiums.
He is a medal winner. (He is “on the podiums.” Je t’aime!)

Elle a remporté une médaille d’or.
She won a gold medal.

Il a remporté une médaille d’argent.
He won a silver medal.


Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet of France, bronze medallists in pairs figure skating in Chamonix, 1924

Ils ont remporté une médaille de bronze.
They won a bronze medal.

Que le meilleur gagne.
May the best win.