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The French “Abécédaire” (Abecedarium) is an object of curiosity for English speakers, especially in the United States of America where cursive letters are on the list of endangered species. French students learn their letters using very specific supporting lines and very few variations are allowed, at least during the early years. The main writing tool . . . → Read More: Abécédaire

Coutumes (Customs)

There is something about browsing old libraries: The opportunity to bring back to light books that no electronic index would refer to you unless you asked specifically for it. The university of St Thomas in St Paul, MN is more than 100 years old, and when entering it you are meant to find some of . . . → Read More: Coutumes (Customs)

Le point-virgule (Semicolon)

Let’s discuss the point-virgule, a punctuation sign that is as confusing in French as it is in English. Its usage in French tends to become rarer, but it remains a potent tool for anyone willing to clarify their style.

Is the point-virgule the addition of a point and a comma? Not really. According to . . . → Read More: Le point-virgule (Semicolon)

“Imparfait” or “Passé Composé ?”

This is a very common question that puzzles a lot of French learners (including native speakers). Here is a simple guide to answer 90% of the cases.

passé composé imparfait Expresses specific actions or events that were started and completed in the past ex: Il a fait ses devoirs (He did his homework) Describes ongoing . . . → Read More: “Imparfait” or “Passé Composé ?”


A recent search raised the question of a good translation for the “&” character, sometimes called ampersand in English. The most common translation is “et commercial” due to its ubiquitous usage in the business world. However, its usage was started a long time ago by scribes always looking for ways to save room on a . . . → Read More: &?

Did you get your “papillottes”

Anyone who got to spend some time around Christmas in the Lyon area is familiar with those treats. They come in a small shiny wrapping, like a little present, which hides a delicious chocolate treat with (soon) to be discovered fillings. Take one, just pull the extremities, and the papillotte unrolls itself to offer first . . . → Read More: Did you get your “papillottes”

Who is the most famous French writer?

According the French post office, Victor Hugo is the most popular writer street name with 1625 streets named after him. After that, it is very difficult to know for sure. Maybe the development of OpenStreetMap will give us more information. Meanwhile, Here are few other names extracted from the Dictionnaire des noms de rues:

Albert . . . → Read More: Who is the most famous French writer?

Eternal French texts: “Le Dormeur du Val”

“C’est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière

Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons

D’argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,

Luit : c’est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.


Un soldat jeune, lèvre bouche ouverte, tête nue,

Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,

Dort ; il . . . → Read More: Eternal French texts: “Le Dormeur du Val”

The Story of French

A book in English talking about the French language?

The authors, Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, both Canadians, one French native speaker, the other English native speaker put together an exhaustive review of why the French language still counts as a major player is today’s world. The book is full of interesting and funny anecdotes. . . . → Read More: The Story of French

Does French lack accuracy?

An easy way to check the precision of a language seems to be to look at the number of words available in dictionaries. According to Wikipedia, Le Littré has about 70,000 words, and a little bit less for the Larousse and the Robert. However the English language article on Wikipedia tells us that the Oxford . . . → Read More: Does French lack accuracy?