10 curiosities about the French language


French is a difficult language, there’s no doubt about that. For example, you will have noticed that French words can have several meanings, or be spelled differently. In addition, many of the rules you will have learned from your teachers have exceptions. Others are surprising and there are some common mistakes to avoid.

Here are ten examples of difficulties or curiosities you will encounter in the French language :



  • 1.The French verb "louer" means both “to make an apartment available” and “to rent an apartment”. So, the sentence: “Je loue un appartement” might mean either that you are the tenant or that you are the owner...

  • 2. You’ve no doubt been taught that the majority of French words ending in -ette are feminine? But watch out – there’s one which is masculine! Do you know which it is? It’s squelette (skeleton).

  • 3. Things can also get complicated when it comes to spelling. Why does the word chariot (cart) have one ‘r’ while charrue (plough) has two?

  • 4. Two words can have two accepted spellings. For example, you can write oignon or ognon (onion).

  • 5. You probably think that all verbs ending in -er belong to the first conjugation? But what about aller (to go)? It belongs to the third conjugation...

  • 6. French has some very strange expressions. “Il a voyagé aux quatre coins du monde” (“He travelled to the four corners of the Earth”) is a phrase you’ll have read, or certainly heard. But as you know, the Earth is spherical, slightly flattened at the poles. It’s not a square, so why would we talk about corners?

  • 7. What do the words amour (love), orgue (organ) and délice (delight) have in common? You don’t know? Here’s a clue: it’s to do with their grammatical gender. Still haven’t worked it out? I’ll tell you: these three words are all masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural!

  • 8. What’s special about the word radar (radar)? It can be read in either direction – it’s what’s known as a palindrome.

  • 9. I am the only word which uses the letter ‘u’ with a grave accent. What am I? Answer: the word où (where). Always pay attention to your pronunciation.

  • 10. Is it possible to have a word with three ‘e’s one after another? Yes – the past participle of the verb créer (to create) in the feminine plural.

  • So you see, these curiosities are not created to make learning French any easier! But it’s a great language though!


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