If you speak French at an advanced level, congratulations! You may not be fluent yet, but you're definitely on your way. Nonetheless, there are probably a few concepts you can use a bit of help with. Oftentimes these are small details that don't affect your listener's comprehension, but mistakes are mistakes and if you want to be fluent you need to avoid them. Here are the ten most common French mistakes and difficulties for advanced speakers, with links to lessons.
French Mistake 1 - Rhythm
Pronunciation-wise, one of the last things most French students master is the rhythm of French. In many languages, words and sentences have stressed syllables, but French does not. It can be very difficult to get the hang of giving each syllable the same stress when one's own language is so different, especially when trying to stress the importance of a particular word. Understanding French rhythm is the first step to being able to mimic it.
Rhythm | Affective accent | Tonic accent
French Mistake 2 - À vs De
The prepositions à and de cause endless problems for French students because they are used in similar constructions to mean different things. Take the time to read these lessons and you'll be well on your way to using à and de correctly.
Using À | Using De | À vs De
French Mistake 3 - De, du, de la, or des?
Another pitfall for advanced French speakers has to do with the preposition de and the indefinite and partitive articles. I regularly receive questions about whether a given phrase should be followed by de or by du, de la, or des. To answer that question, all I can say is read this lesson.
De vs du, de la, des
French Mistake 4 - Verbs with Prepositions
In English, many verbs require a certain preposition in order for the meaning of the verb to be complete, such as "to look at" and "to listen to." The same is true in French, but the prepositions required for French verbs are often not the same as the ones required by their English counterparts. In addition, some verbs that require a preposition in English don't take one in French, and vice versa. It all boils down to memorizing verbs with their prepositions.
Verbs with Prepositions: listed by preposition | listed by verb
French Mistake 5 - C'est vs Il est
The expressions c'est and il est are often confused. Like à and de, above, c'est and il est have strict rules on usage - they may mean something similar, but their usage is quite distinct. Read through my three-page lesson and it should become a lot clearer.
C'est vs Il est
Advanced French Mistakes 1 - 5 | Advanced French Mistakes 6 - 10
High-Intermediate French Mistakes 1 - 5 | High-Intermediate French Mistakes 6 - 10
Intermediate French Mistakes 1 - 5 | Intermediate French Mistakes 6 - 10
Beginning French Mistakes 1 - 5 | Beginning French Mistakes 6 - 10