Common mistake made when writing in French

Many people make the mistake of thinking that writing in French is difficult. This, however, is not always the case. Not always… 😒😆

With a bit of practice and attention to detail, you can write in French properly and without any difficulty. The basic rule to remember when writing in French is to conjugate the verb correctly to its subject.

In other words, if you want your French writing to be correct, you need to make sure that the verb is conjugated according to who or what is performing the action.

This can seem tricky at first, but with a bit of practice, you should be well on your way to writing French properly.

PDF Bonus

We have prepared a free PDF to help you with 3 TIPS for A SUCCESSFUL WRITTEN EXAM in French.
👉 Download it for free

At the end, you will have exercises to practice with the correction. 👍

To conjugate the verb correctly to its subject

For more than 10 years that I have been teaching French to foreigners, I have noticed that students too often forget to grant the verb with the subject!

Yet, this is the basis for writing a correct sentence.

  1. Find the verb
  2. Find the subject
  3. Conjugate properly the verb with the subject, in the right tense

And in this procedure, you have to pay attention to 3 things:

1. Multiple subjects in the singular = plural verb in French!

Example: The salt and pepper are on the table.

→ What is the subject of the verb “to be”? Salt and pepper.

2 subjects in the singular… But still 2!!! So the verb is plural.

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2. The position of the subject in the French sentence!

In general, the subject is before the verb, but not always! The subject can be after the verb.

Example: “Allez les Bleus ! Allez les Bleus !” chantaient les supporters. (shouted the fans.)

→ What is the subject of the verb “to shout”? The fans !

And you see that the subject is after the verb.

3. In a French sentence, the subject may be far from the verb.

Example: Les joueurs, pressés d’entrer sur le terrain pour la finale, étaient en train de s’échauffer.

(The players, in a hurry to get on the field for the final, were warming up.)

→ What is the subject of the verb “to be”? The players.

It is at the very beginning of the sentence. But of course, you must conjugate the verb according to the gender and number of the subject. It doesn’t matter where the subject is in the sentence!

How to practice these three points to avoid this common mistake made when writing in French?

That’s why, in the video you can see at the beginning of this article, I suggest you do a dictation. 

I know, a dictation is never fun 😂

But in this dictation, you will be able to practice the three points we have just seen and which too often cause difficulties to students when they write in French.

  • And to check if you made mistakes in your dictation,
  • to remind you of the rules we have just seen
  • and to have all the explanations on all the complicated words,

👉👉 you can download the free PDF Bonus.

Punctuation in French

Before letting you start with the dictation, here is a little reminder of the punctuation in French.

During the dictation, when I say : “virgule” (comma), you should not write the word “virgule”… but the symbol : [ , ] 😆😆

Reminder of the punctuation words:

, virgule

. point

; point-virgule 

( ouvrir la parenthèse

) fermer la parenthèse

: deux points

ouvrir les guillemets

fermer les guillemets

points de suspension

! point d’exclamation

? point d’interrogation 

“à la ligne” → you start the new sentence below.

So, the next time you are writing in French and you find yourself struggling, remember these common mistakes and avoid them!

With a little practice and some guidance from this post, your writing skills will improve in no time.

Bonne chance et écrivez bien !

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