Confusing English Words for French People

English and French have a lot in common. They both have latin origins, and for this reason, they have many words that are similar. These words often have the same spelling and their pronunciation is easy to guess once you know a few pronunciation rules or patterns. For the most part, this makes life easier. If you don’t know the word in English, you can guess and substitute a French word with an English pronunciation.

Most of the time this works great and keeps the communication flowing, however, there are a few words that look and sound similar, but have very different meanings

Let’s start with exams. Do you take an exam or pass an exam? The answer is both. You can take an exam and you can pass an exam. In French, they mean the same thing, but they are two very different things in English.
In English, when you take an exam it means that you write an exam or sit your exam. This is similar to ‘passer un examen’ in french. However in English, when you pass an exam, it means that you do not fail your exam. It means that You finish your exam with a successful result. You get more than 50% or whatever you need to succeed. So, remember that in English, taking an exam can be stressful, while passing an exam will result in a celebration

Next, let’s look at currently and actually. A lot of French speakers, when they want to talk about things that are happening now or these days, will say “actually” which sounds like the French word “actuellement”. But those two words have very different meanings. “Actually” in English translates to “en fait” in French, Which shows a contrast, and is often used to when correcting someone. So how do you talk about ‘these days’ or things that are true now? In English, the word is “currently”. Such as: Currently, I’m working on a project. Currently, we’re getting warm weather. You can also use the adjective ‘current’ to talk about the current situation, the current price, etc

When French speakers want to talk about a person that can be hurt easily, they use the word ‘sensible’ which sounds like the French word ‘sensible’ But In English, sensible has a different meaning. Sensible means rational, or logical. A sensible person will follow the rules, make rational, logical decisions. A sensible solution is one that makes sense. In English if you want to talk about someone whose feelings can be hurt easily, use “sensitive”. In English, a sensitive person feels emotions more easily. Sensitive skin can get a sunburn easily. A sensitive game controller can react quickly and strongly.

French speakers often have trouble with FUN and FUNNY. They’re both good English words that have very similar uses. They are both used for good, happy experiences. A person, a movie, an adventure can be fun and it can also be funny. So what’s the difference? FUN is closer to enjoyable. If you are enjoying something it is fun. If a friend likes to try new things, go on adventurous vacations, that’s a fun friend. Disneyland is fun, sports are fun, parties are fun. So what about FUNNY? The most important difference is laughing. If you’re laughing, or feel like laughing, it’s funny. Jokes are funny. Comedians are funny. Comedies are funny. Friends can be funny, but only if they make you laugh. A fun friend might like fun activities, fun vacations, or fun vacations, but they’re not funny unless they make you laugh.

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