11 Things You Didn’t Know About the French Language

11 things about the French language (and France) that you might not have known before reading this article. Some of them can be quite surprising. Enjoy and comment if you have anything to add. Thank You !

  1. French is the only language, along with English, spoken on all five continents
  2. The influence of the French language is to be found in Harry Potter books: Voldemort ? Vol-de-mort ? Joanne K. Rowling studied French at the University of Exeter and also  studied for a year in Paris.
  3. France is the third most attractive country for foreign students, after United States and the United Kingdom. In this way, France is also the first among non English speaking countries to welcome the biggest numbers of international students.
  4. France is also the world’s number one tourist destination.
  5. French people are really good at mathematics. René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Pierre de Fermat, to only name some of the most famous ones of the past. Nowadays, France is the second after the United States to have the highest number of the recipients of the Fields medal (also known as the “Nobel Prize” in Mathematics, it is also considered the highest honor a mathematician can receive). Mathematics are also highly valued in French education in general and there are many outstanding institutions offering studying maths. Is it because of the French language ?
  6. Did you know that these people speak French fluently ? Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, Queen Elizabeth 2, Nick Clegg, the former UK Vice-Prime Minister, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State. There is also Prince William but his French is a bit rough. And there is the American actor Bradley Cooper who can speak quite well.
  7. French is the language of philosophy: Pascal, Voltaire, Descartes, Sartre and Derrida were all famous French philosophers. It is the only country in Europe (correct me if I’m wrong) where philosophy makes up an integral part of the high-school education system.
  8. Knowing French will also make it possible for you to communicate in half of the African continent. It will certainly make your stays in Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia a lot easier and more interesting. Take a look at this Wikipedia article about African FrenchFrancophone_Africa
  9. It is the third most used language for business after English and Chinese.
  10. The French language is one of the three working languages of the European Commission. The other two are English and German.
  11. The French counting system in France is partially vigesimal, which means the base of 20, that used to be common in the Middle Ages. That’s why in French the term for 70 is soixante-dix (3 times 20 plus 10), for 80 is quatre-vingts (4 times 20) and 90 is quatre-vingts-dix (4 times 20 plus 10).

If you feel like adding to the list, don’t hesitate to give your ideas in the comment section. Thanks !

etre / avoir simple translation exercise

After you have done the être/avoir conjugation exercise, you may try something more difficult. You need to translate some parts of the sentences from the previous exercise back into French. This is one of the best exercises to make you memory really work and stick those sentences well in you memory ! Try as many times as you need to score 100% in one go. Good luck !


Arrestation de suspect clé des attentats de Paris et de Bruxelles

Arrestation de suspect clé des attentats de Paris et de Bruxelles.


Click to unfold


English French
The suspect has been arrested Le suspect a été arrêté
The most wanted man L’homme le plus recherché
The French authorities Les autorités françaises
the man in the hat l’homme au chapeau
The police have arrested four men. La police a arrêté quatre hommes
He might have been in contact with the suicide bomber. Il aurait pu être en en contact avec le kamikaze
Dragnet (A system of coordinated procedures for apprehending criminal suspects or other wanted persons.) Coup de filet
if we are to believe the recent statements … si l’on en croit les dernières déclarations

The sentences are not 100% exactly the same as in the article you have read / watched but they are built around those in order to make them easier for you to understand and remember.

Do the translation exercise until you get 100% of correct answers at one go. Come back regularly to check your knowledge and reinforce those synaptic connections !

Should you have any suggestions please, leave a comment below. Merci !

Panama Papers: David Cameron

A very embarrassing and shameful situation for the British Prime Minister: David Cameron. You can read, watch and listen to the story on the euronews‘ website then come back here and check your vocabulary. Good luck !


Click to unfold


English French
a bit unsettled / disconcerted by un peu déstabilisé par
he has admitted il a avoué
an offshore fund un fonds offshore
He has said / revealed il s’est exprimé
to be tax compliant être en règle avec le fisc
he has sold everything off il a tout soldé
a summit un sommet
a revolt une fronde