English into French Difficulties

English into French Difficulties

In this section, we are going to see some difficulties from English to French.

1. How to translate “the news is bad ” in French (bad = mauvais)?

The difficulty comes from the singular ‘is’ after a plural word ‘news’, in French the verb is also plural:
Les nouvelles sont mauvaises (we don’t say “les nouvelles est mauvaise”).

For English learners: the news are bad is not correct English even if many say it.

2. How to translate “my hair is shiny” in French (shiny = brillant)?

‘Hair’ is an uncountable noun with singular verb, in French “cheveux” is plural so:
Mes cheveux sont brillants!

3. How to translate “the police are blocking the street” in French (to block = bloquer)?

Police is plural in English but not in French: ‘la police bloque la rue (singular)’!

4. How to translate “I bought a book at a bookshop” in French?

A bookshop is une librairie and a library is une bibliothèque, so the translation is: J’ai acheté un livre dans une librairie (we say ‘in a bookshop’)!

5. How to translate “I am going to sit my exam tomorrow” in French?

To sit an exam is passer un examen in French, as you can see, we use “passer” (a false friend: to pass): Je vais passer mon examen demain.

6. Are “actuellement, je lis un livre” and “actually, I am reading a book” perfect translations?

No, because “actuellement” means currently, and ‘actually’ is “en fait’ in French.

7. How to translate “Wait for her to finish working before calling her” in French?

After to wait and to want, when the subjects are not the same, we don’t use the infinitive in French:
“Attends qu’elle ait fini de travailler avant de l’appeller” but the subjunctive.
I want you to come: Je veux que tu viennes.
However with the same subject: I want to go with you: je veux aller avec toi.

8. How to translate “my trousers need washing” in French?

We say: mon pantalon a besoin d’un lavage or a besoin d’être lavé. Don’t forget that “pantalon” is singular. We don’t say ‘need washing’ but ‘need to be washed’ in French.

9. How to translate “this is the word that he explained to me” in French?

1- C’est le mot qu’il a expliqué à moi.
2- C’est le mot qu’il a expliqué moi.
3. C’est le mot qu’il m’a expliqué.
The correct answer is 3, actually, grammatically the number 1 is correct too, because the verb in French is “expliquer à”, but with pronouns we don’t say “à moi” (we could say “à Pierre” instead), we use the pronoun “me” which is m’ before a vowel.

10. How to translate “please, don’t bother” in French?

1- S’il vous plaît, ne vous dérangez pas
2- S’il vous plaît, ne m’ennuyez pas
3- S’il vous plaît, ça m’est égal

The correct answer is 1, the number two is don’t bother me and the 3 it does not bother me.

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