Saturday 17 March 2018

Error checklist for written French


Have you the correct tense?

Le Présent: Je donne = I give and I am giving

Passé Composé: J'ai donné = I have given/I gave

Le Futur Simple: Je donnerai = I will give

L'Imparfait: Je donnais = I used to give/I was giving

Le Conditionel: Je donnerais = I would give

Have you got the correct ending to your verb?

For example, my parents should be followed by the 'they' form of the verb. The government is followed by the 'he' form of the verb, to + any verb (to give) is the infinitive of the verb. It is generally followed by the 'he' form of the verb. Just ask yourself should this verb be in the I, You, He/She, We, You (plural) or They form.

Example: My parents think that. Wrong is: Mes parents pense que. Correct is: Mes parents pensent que


Is your noun masculine or feminine?

Don't forget definite articles. Have you been consistent using le/la/les and du/de la/des

Example: School. Wrong is: école. Correct is: l' école


Watch placement of adjectives.

The majority of adjectives follow this placement rule: English -The green dog; French - The dog green

The sporty boy: Le garçon sportif

There are some exceptions: Beauty, Age, Good/Bad, Size - BAGS

These follow the English rule.

The small girl: La petite fille

Watch agreement of adjectives.

Adjectives change in French depending on what they are describing. They may be describing something or someone that is masculine, feminine and singular or plural.

Girl: Je suis heureuse

Boy: Je suis heureux


Getting an accent wrong is the equivalent to a spelling mistake so check them all.

Relative pronouns

QUI/QUE: Have you written the correct relative pronoun?

To say which or that, use either que or qui. Use que if next word is a subject, eg, le stylo que tu as… Use qui if next word is a verb: Le chat qui est sur la table…

In English we often leave out who/which/that. We say: There's the boy I met at the party Rather than: There's the boy who I met at the party. In French the words qui and que can never be left out.

Also this rule applies for verbs like penser. In English we often say, I think Jane is kind...instead of, I think that Jane is kind. Wrong: Je pense Jane est gentille. Correct: Je pense que Jane est gentille.


Have you used the right preposition? Check if the verb used needs a preposition.

There are several verbs in French which are followed by the infinitive of the next verb, the main ones would be pouvoir (to be able to/can), vouloir (to want to) and devoir (to have to). Students tend to place the second verb in a different format instead of the infinitive

Example: Il veut aller au spectacle mais il ne peut pas sortir parce qu'il doit étudier.

There are other verbs in French which are followed by à plus the infinitive.

Example: J'aide ma mère à passer l'aspirateur - I help my mother to hoover

There are other verbs that take de plus the infinitive.

Example: Il a cessé de fumer - He has stopped smoking.

Finally there is also a more complicated list of verbs which take à before the object and de before the infinitive. These verbs are associated with verbs of 'communication, that is asking, advising, telling, allowing, etc.'

Example: J'ai demandé à ma soeur de m'aider avec mes devoirs - I asked my sister to help me with my homework.

To see a list of these verbs, go to:

REMEMBER: These verbs are essential in French and pop up all the time in written and listening work.


Have you turned the subject and verb around? And used a hyphen?

Avoir Expressions

Know your expressions with avoir. A number of phrases using the verb avoir exist in French.

Avoir faim/soif - To be hungry/thirsty

Avoir chaud/froid - To be hot/cold

Avoir raison/tort - To be right/wrong

Eg; Tu as tort - you are wrong

Avoir peur - To be afraid

Avoir l'air - To seem Eg; Il a l'air triste - He seems sad

En avoir marre de - To be sick of

Avoir du mal à - To have a pain in

Avoir de la chance - To be lucky

Eg: J'ai de la chance - I'm lucky

Avoir le droit de - To have the right to

Eg: On 'n'a pas le droit de fumer…

Object Pronouns

Have you used object pronouns correctly: le/la/les and lui/leur

French object pronouns are placed after the subject and in front of the verb.

Example: She is looking at him. Wrong: Elle regarde à lui. Correct: Elle le regarde

Unless the second verb is an infinitive then it is placed before the infinitive. Example: Je vais la voir - I'm going to see her.


Making sentences negative in French is a bit different than in English, due to the two-part negative adverb and the sometimes difficult issue of placement.

Ne comes after the subject. Example: I, you, he, she etc.

Pas comes after the first verb. Example: I didn't do my homework. Wrong: Je n'ai fait pas mes devoirs. Correct: Je n'ai pas fait mes devoirs.

French dropped E

You need to drop the e when the following words are followed by a vowel: de, je,le, me, ne, que, se, te.

Example I believe that he. Wrong: Je crois que il. Correct: Je crois qu'il

Expressions of quantity

Use 'de' or 'd' not 'des' with most expressions of quantity.

Example: I have a lot of books. Wrong: J'ai beaucoup des livres. Correct: J'ai beaucoup de livres

Possessive adjectives

Son frère - can mean his or her brother.

Example: I like my school. Wrong: J'aime m'école. Correct: J'aime mon école.

Good luck in your Junior Cert.


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