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French Proofreading and Editing Tips

Key problem areas in French homework, essays, and translations


Whether you're checking over French homework, proofreading an essay, or verifying a translation, there are certain key problem areas to watch out for. This is not a definitive list by any means, but it indicates areas of confusion and common mistakes caused by differences between French and English and includes links to more detailed explanations and examples. Before you turn anything in, check the following areas of your work.

Watch out for differences in meaning and/or spelling.
Accents Missing and incorrect accents are spelling mistakes.
Expressions Double-check your idiomatic expressions.
False Cognates Many words are similar in spelling but not in meaning.
Spelling Equivalents Study these differences between English and French spelling.
True Cognates These words are identical in spelling and meaning.
An endless topic, but here are some typical areas of difficulty.
Agreement Make sure your adjectives, pronouns, and other words agree.
Articles Don't forget - these are more common in French.
  * Conjunctions Use the right kind of conjunction.
  * Relative Clauses Be careful with relative pronouns.
  * Si Clauses Check that these are set up correctly.
Gender Make a real effort to use the correct gender.
Negation Be sure to use the best negative structure.
Questions Are you asking them correctly?
  * Conjugations Ensure that each conjugation matches its subject.
  * Modal Verbs These are quite different in French.
  * Prepositions Be sure to follow each verb with the right preposition.
  * Tense + Mood Are your tenses consistent? Do you need the subjunctive?
Word Order Adjectives, adverbs, negation, + pronouns cause positioning problems.
Written conventions can be very different in French and English.
Acronyms/Abbreviations Make sure you write them the French way.
Capitalization Careful - this is much less common in French.
Contractions These are optional in English, but required in French.
Punctuation + Numbers Follow French spacing rules and use the correct symbols.

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