embarrassing mistakes in French


Today, it’s Comme une Française TV’s first birthday!

To celebrate this event, I figured you’d want something VERY honest, VERY fresh and VERY useful. :)

Just a warning: this episode contains explicit sexual expressions (in French and in English) so you might want to use earbuds or send the kids to play in their rooms.

You’ll find a surprise below the video.

Click to watch « 5 + 1 BIG embarrassing vocabulary mistakes in France »:

Et toi ?

Have you made any of these mistakes in France?
Do you have any different awkward moments to share?

Remember: IT’S OK to make mistakes. Celebrate them, laugh at them and move on. We’ve ALL made mistakes abroad and it’s totally normal. Breathe and relax. Now you know!

A bientôt !


Subscribe to receive your free bonuses

Or Add yours

  • Emma 14/01/2014, 8:04

    Sometimes, pronunciation can lead to embarrassing mistakes… cul, cou, the letter Q and queue for example!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:42

      Absolument Emma !

      Reply Link
    • Misty 02/12/2015, 4:27

      The first time I ever slept at my in-law’s house, I slept very poorly. The pillow was rock hard and I woke up very early. My father-in-law was the only person awake when I got downstairs. He asked me « Alors, as-tu bien dormi ? » I replied « Oui, à part que j’ai un peu mal au cul. » Not exactly the right thing to say to my future in-laws! Fortunately he has a great sense of humor and we still laugh about it.

      Reply Link
      • Geraldine Lepere 08/12/2015, 12:29

        I LOVE your story Misty. He must have been quite surprised!

        Reply Link
  • Keith 14/01/2014, 8:56

    a friend once told the class that she had an orgasm (jouir) for breakfast (instead of juice (jus))!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:43

      Great anecdote Keith. :)

      Reply Link
  • Gypsy 14/01/2014, 9:02

    When I lived in Paris, my roommate kept asking me to see if I could find shallots in the market stalls in our quartier – I looked up « shallots » int French/English dictionary & learned that in French they’re called « ciboules »… so that afternoon I went up to a vegetable stall & asked the middle-aged man there, « Parfon, m’sieur, est-ce que vous avez des
    ciboules? » He got a twinkle in his eye and said to me,  » Non, moi, je n’en ai que deux! » And I understood the joke! So we both laughed ;-).

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:44

      Génial ! Thanks Gypsy for sharing!

      Reply Link
      • Caroline 22/02/2014, 5:55

        What does it actually mean? I tried looking online and only found shallots.

        Reply Link
    • May 10/12/2014, 2:12

      Answering a one year old post here, but shallot is definitely échalote. Ciboule=green onion

      Reply Link
    • gerard 29/11/2015, 3:16

      ciboules are not shallots. the actual translation for shallots is échalote. Ciboules are spring onions

      Reply Link
  • janine@thegoodlifefrance 14/01/2014, 9:56

    Zut alors! Great lesson – I think I have made all these mistakes at some time! I have been told by a friend that when you dine you should never say « c’est bon » because that also is considered sexual… I don’t know if this is true. I try not to say it just in case! , Janine at The Good LIfe France…. bises!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:48

      Bonjour Janine,

      (Almost) everything in French can have a double meaning so it depends on the context.
      At dinner, I don’t see any reason why not saying « C’est (très) bon » if you wish to compliment the cook. :)
      Bises à toi aussi !

      Reply Link
      • Blaise 02/08/2015, 3:38

        Bonjour tout le monde
        I’m a french learning english so i can help you on this question. Everyone can uses c’est bon during the dinner, but you can also use it when you’re having sex. But the biggest part of french people will not think to the sexual meaning :)

        Reply Link
  • Annika 14/01/2014, 10:34

    When I was a kid and I went on holiday to Bretagne, France ,with my family, my mother asked for « Baisers » in a bakery, since in Germany, « les mérengues » are called « Baisers » (with french pronounciation).
    During those holidays, she also tried to do some small talk with a French family, and wanted to say that she was German (Je suis allemande), but instead, she said « J’aime Allemand », which was very embarrassing.

    Reply Link
  • Kathy 14/01/2014, 11:12

    Here is the story from my 1st 2 months living here. Myself and my husband and 2 friends are in a magasin a Poitiers choosing fabric to make a large curtain. After about 30 mins I need to remove my jacket, commenting to the man serving us, « Je suis chaud »! I knew it was wrong, but I was still stumbling around with Je suis and J’ai.
    ON our way down the stairs to pay for the material, the assistant took my husband aside and told him discreetly what I’d said, which was very sweet and kind.
    About 3 weeks later we went back for another item and as we ascended the stairs my husband said to the same assistant, « Aujourd’hui, elle a chaud! » The assistant was embarrassed and turn to me and ask, « Did he tell you? »

    I have never forgotten that lesson, and my husband never forgets to tell the histoire around the dinner table with friends English and French!

    Thank you Geraldine, it is a great video and many lessons within it.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:52

      Bonjour Kathy,
      It’s wonderful to share this anecdote with your friends. :)
      It reminds us that mistakes are ok as long as you’re ready to make fun of them!

      Reply Link
  • Mahsa 14/01/2014, 11:46

    Hi Géraldine :-)
    Once we went to meet some friends that they just painted the walls of their new house, so I asked them: Wow c’est jolie, c’est vous qui avez fait « La Mur »? 😀 They get kind of shoked and uncomfortable for a second and then I showed the walls and I repeated my question, and they understood me by asking me: Ouiii « Le Mur » ? 😀
    … So embarrassing.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:52

      ahahah! That’s awesome Mahsa.

      Reply Link
    • cymmy 28/07/2014, 3:37

      I tried to translate but don’t get the mistake?

      Reply Link
      • Jo 18/08/2014, 6:07

        Fait ‘la mur’ sounds like ‘fait l’amour’

        Reply Link
  • E Towler 14/01/2014, 1:18

    I once (in a restaurant, with all the old ladies from our Sewing group), introduced my friend Allison’s Mum (Mary) « as in la vierge » or as in  » The Virgin Mary » but didn’t pronounce Vierge correctly and they all set about laughing ….well we three Anglais couldn’t understand why, until one of the ladies who spoke English said I had actually said « Mary, as in the Penis  » !!!

    Verge for one and Vierge for the other …..we all had a really good laugh about it…and it was brought up afterwards more than once !!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:54

      What a great story Elaine.
      :) Yes, only one letter can make a very different meaning.

      Reply Link
  • Clare 14/01/2014, 2:26

    On my first trip to France I made the classic mistake… When asked which cultural differences I liked about France, I answered « J’aime comment les gens se baisent dans la rue » meaning I liked the tradition of giving a bise when meeting a friend. Naturally they all fell about laughing and quickly let me know my mistake!

    Great video, Geraldine, very informative as always. Congratulations on the 1st anniversary!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:55

      Merci Clare !

      Yes, it is a very classic mistakes I’ve seen many times in emails.

      Reply Link
  • Paula 14/01/2014, 3:00

    Excellent episode, but then I find all of your episodes excellent. The sketchnote is very helpful. I love having a pictoral summary of the day’s lesson. Merci!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:55

      Bonjour Paula,
      Thanks for your kind words.
      Glad the sketchnote helps. :)

      Reply Link
  • Joyce 14/01/2014, 3:11

    Felicitations on your anniversary! I love your site and really enjoyed this segment. I remember on my first trip to France, while living with a lovely family for the summer, at the end of the meal I announced « je suis pleine », which I assumed meant I was full, but was told it was argot for I’m pregnant. Donc je suis souvent pleine de surprises, but never just pleine.
    Thanks Geraldine and keep the great content coming! Bises
    Joyce of Travel Beyond Paris

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 2:59

      Bonjour Joyce,
      Merci !
      Yes absolutely: « Je suis pleine » means « pregnant » and on top of that, it normally applies to animals. :)

      Reply Link
      • Sharon 25/11/2014, 2:50

        I made the same mistake when I was an exchange student, living with a French family in Nice! I was very embarassed but I never made that mistake again!

        I just found your channel last night! I love it and can’t wait to show some episodes to my students! Is there a way to know which are approriate for different age groups before viewing them?

        Reply Link
        • Geraldine Lepere 01/12/2014, 7:08

          Bonjour Sharon,

          Thanks for your message!
          The content of Comme une Française is made for adults so I’d recommend you check each video before showing them to children. 😉

          Reply Link
      • Mark Andrews 13/02/2015, 12:31


        J’ai fait le même erreur quand j’étais passer un séjour avec une famille française (qui devenu des beaux amis plus tard). J’ai appris que le bon phrase est «je suis rassasie» ou «j’ai bien mangé».

        Reply Link
  • Karen 14/01/2014, 3:38

    Many congratulations Geraldine, can’t believe it’s a year since I saw your first instalment. I really love your site and have passed it on. Did you come to England for the theatre trip?


    Karen (la comedienne)

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:17

      Bonjour Karen,

      Yes! I’m just back from 2 VERY packed day in London.
      We went to see Richard II and Jeeves & Wooster. It was « extraordinaire ».
      British theater is really my passion and every time I go to see a play (and often more than one), it confirms it.
      At the Barbican, I purchased « Something Written in the State of Denmark » by Keith Osborn: a great book for an outside like me.

      Unfortunately, as we had planned a lot of visits, I didn’t have time to see anyone. :(
      But we’re already planning to go back, probably to Stratford AND London, hopefully this summer.

      I’ll then schedule some time to meet you and who knows a « Comme une Française London meeting » with readers?

      (my friends still can’t believe I have a reader from the RSC)

      Reply Link
  • carolann 14/01/2014, 3:48

    Bonjour Geraldine et merci pour la video d’aujourdhui. En anglais, oui nous disons « my friend introduced me ». Je n’ai pas acune idee que se tradui comme ca. Quelle error et si drole! Merci pour le dessin, un si bonne aide memoire.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:25

      Bonjour Carolann,

      Yes, I saw the direct translation in emails many times. :)
      Glad you like the sketchnote!

      Reply Link
  • Katharine 14/01/2014, 4:33

    Geraldine, your website is my absolute favorite for learning French. Your short and sweet lessons are so relevant, useful and interesting. Just what I need to bring the French I learned so long ago up to date. Thank you so much!!!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:28

      Bonjour Katharine,

      Glad to help! It’s wonderful to hear that your French improves again! Congratulations!

      Reply Link
  • Aldona 14/01/2014, 5:08

    Thank you for turning up the volume! I love your website!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:30

      Thanks! You’re welcome Aldona!
      Yes, as I do everything my self, I’m still on the learning curve. :)
      Finally found out how to turn the sound up.

      Reply Link
  • Ney Collier 14/01/2014, 6:23

    This episode is fabulously comic – especially for a senior citizen.
    Perhaps you could publish an illustrated book. Your embarrassing mistakes
    cartoon is worthy of The New Yorker Magazine.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:30

      Bonjour Ney,
      Thank you for the kind words. :)

      Reply Link
  • Debbie 14/01/2014, 8:37

    Salut et Joyeux anniversaire! My husband once mistook ‘decide’ for ‘decedee’. He was of course told that someone was deceased and mistook it for her having ‘decided not to’…it was compounded by him Mis-hearing the next part of the conversation and laughing!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:31

      Bonjour Debbie,
      😀 Love the anecdote!

      Reply Link
  • Nan Jorgensen 14/01/2014, 10:09

    Oh Noooo! I think I’ve done all of them! Went to live in France about 16 years ago, and lived there for 5 years. I can distinctly remember many episodes of funny looks and surprise … This makes me laugh now! Thank you. Merci mille fois!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:33

      Bonjour Nan,
      No worries, it happens to all of us!

      Reply Link
  • Judi Suttles 14/01/2014, 11:45

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. I t has helped me alot. Of course, I have made mistakes.
    One time in college French Lab talking to the very handsome student leader that I had lost the hairbow from my ponytail-but the word I used for tail meant something much more graphic in French. He
    quickly told me that word meant something else in French and was not to be used. I was so humiliated!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:36

      Bonjour Judi,
      We all made mistakes abroad. :)

      Reply Link
  • Nancy 15/01/2014, 12:37

    So enjoyable – share most of these with my students! I made the mistake a quite a number of years ago while in Canada in asking for what I thought was the exchange rate ‘la rate d’echange’. Well, what I discovered was that ‘la rate’ is ‘spleen’ so in effect I was asking for the ‘spleen exchange’ (LOL). Eveyone in the bank heard my request and all laughed out loud – just slightly embarrassing. During the same visit in Canada, I was visiting a ‘school’ to conduct an interview for a project while at a summer immersion program at Laval University. I approached a rather large ‘garderie d’enfants’ and knowing that ‘garder’ meant ‘to hold’ or ‘to keep’, I thought it was the Canadian French term for a grammar school – where they kept students. Upon seeing bars on some of the windows, I thought to myself, ‘Isn’t this nice, they really care about protecting their students from the outside.’ Then upon seeing all of the employees keys on the wall, I thought ‘Well, they don’t allow any employees to go AWOL while at work – that’s efficient and keeps them honest!’ When speaking with the receptionist, I then learned that it was not a grammar school at all, but a youth detention center! I did discover that une garde d’enfants is the expression for nursery school in Canada, but just this one slight difference was quite a difference in reality – very funny!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:37

      Bonjour Nancy,
      This is a big great anecdote. :)
      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply Link
  • Tran 15/01/2014, 7:19

    Bonne année Geraldine et bonne anniversaire à votre site.
    Merci beaucoup pour la leçon pratique; bien sûr, j’ai fait ces erreurs. Ils sont drôles et font beaucoup rires. Une fois, je me suis trompé le mot luxurieux (lustful) au lieu du mot luxueux (luxury) quand j’ai donné un compliment à une personne! C’était une catastrophe!

    Au revoir,

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:41

      Bonne année à toi Tran,

      Thanks for sharing this story with us!

      Reply Link
  • Christiane 15/01/2014, 2:58

    I was going on and on about how much food in America was so full of preservatives…fortunately my friends stopped me and explained the difference. We laughed hysterically.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:44

      Bonjour Christiane,

      It must have been a really good laugh. :)

      Reply Link
  • Phoebe 15/01/2014, 7:37

    My mother leaned back in her chair after a lovely meal and said to her hosts, « Je suis pleine, » which they told us, meant not that she was full (she’d said also how good the food had been), but rather that she was pregnant.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:46

      Hi Phoebe,

      Yes absolutely. :)

      Reply Link
  • Sharon 16/01/2014, 12:08

    When making a purchase in a store in Paris with my then 10 year old daughter, I wanted to let the salesperson know that I was using an American credit card without a chip. When I handed him my card, I told him « Je n’ai pas une PIN « (PIN, Personal Identification Number, which I thought was the code that is typed by the card holder into the little machine…) Yes, PIN with the « i » pronounced the French way, so « peen ». As I walked out of the store, I realized that I told him « I don’t have a penis! » To his credit, he didn’t laugh in my face…

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:53

      Bonjour Sharon,
      Ahah, yes. We say « Code confidentiel » (or just « code »). :)

      Reply Link
      • Annika 21/01/2014, 10:33

        aargh, je dis toujours « PIN ».. je savais pas du tout que cela signifie autre chose. Quel horreur 😀

        Reply Link
        • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:18

          ahahah. 😀

          Reply Link
          • Jeff Purcell 08/07/2015, 2:25

            My ‘best’ one was an english lady friend visiting our village fete. They asked »C’est p.q. que les anglais aiment les pains français? » Elle a répandu « p.c.q en Angleterre, les boulangères, ils utilisent les préservatifs ».

          • Geraldine Lepere 13/07/2015, 11:40

            Awesome !

  • Virginia Fosen 16/01/2014, 12:28

    At long last I understand about the Vaseline! Many times I have searched for it on supermarket shelves without success. Eventually got it at at the chemist … accompanied with some giggles and smiles from amused sales assistants, obviously surprised to be selling it to an elderly lady!!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:55

      Bonjour Virginia,
      It’s great you found out! :)

      Reply Link
  • Julie-Ann 16/01/2014, 5:19

    Once, on entering a public toilet I exclaimed « Ah il y a un queue! » But of course pronounced it as we say the word « queue » in English.
    Well, yes, there probably were quite a few….

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/01/2014, 3:55

      Bonjour Julie-Ann,
      Et oui… 😀

      Reply Link
    • Molly 13/05/2015, 12:06

      Mais je crois que « le queue » n’est pas un gros mot ?

      Reply Link
      • Teresa 14/06/2015, 1:40

        La « queue » n’est pas un gros mot, mais quand on le prononce en l’anglais, ce sonne comment « cul » :) (pardon pour les erreurs!)

        Reply Link
        • Geraldine Lepere 15/06/2015, 10:54

          Hihihi. Oui, Teresa !

          Reply Link
  • Carole 17/01/2014, 10:23

    Bonjour Géraldine,

    Je suis Française, je suis arrivée sur ta page grâce à un article du Monde.fr. Je voulais juste te dire que je trouve tes vidéos super et vraiment justes donc pour tous les anglophones, vous pouvez écouter les conseils de Géraldine les yeux fermés! J’habite en Grande-Bretagne et j’aimerais vraiment trouver l’équivalent ici pour apprendre tous les trucs des Britanniques!
    Bravo pour ce site :)

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:36

      Bonjour Carole,
      Je te remercie du fond du coeur pour cette recommandation. :)
      Oui, moi aussi j’aimerais beaucoup suivre « Comme une Anglaise »!

      Reply Link
  • Ellen 18/01/2014, 10:24

    Bonjour Geraldine,
    I’m new to your site but already love it. I know I’m going to learn a lot, so in exchange, I want to share a little English: although we usually pronounce the letter « H » in a way the French do not (hot, hat, hit), we don’t always pronounce it; the word « honest » is one of those examples.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:35

      Thanks Ellen.

      Reply Link
  • lagatta à montréal 18/01/2014, 10:56

    Bonjour de Montréal!

    An old friend, from Nova Scotia (La Nouvelle-Écosse en français), taught an economics course at L’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) shortly after arriving here. His French was decent, but he sometimes made pronunciation errors, including speaking about « la tendance à la BAISE du taux de profit ». The students couldn’t stop laughing, and when one provided the explanation after class, that it meant the profit rate tended to F*CK, he smartly added, « Oh, it does that too ».

    There are even a few pitfalls between the French (and the English) spoken in different francophone or anglophone countries. In Québec, the term « gosses » also means les couilles (though people here are certainly aware of the standard French meaning), so a dad saying « J’aime jouer avec mes gosses » can induce hilarity.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:34

      Great. Great. Great. :)

      Reply Link
  • Fabien 19/01/2014, 7:20

    Tu utilises souvent le mot « familiar » pour évoquer le caractère familier de certaines expressions, cependant le terme correct pour cette acceptation est « colloquial », ou « informal ». « Familiar » est plutôt utilisé pour parler de quelque chose ou quelqu’un de déjà connu par l’interlocuteur, ou bien un lieu, un comportement habituel, par exemple.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:28

      Merci Fabien, je vais tâcher de me corriger.

      Reply Link
  • Kate Stedman 19/01/2014, 10:06

    I have a blog on my French experiences and in this one I list some of the ludicrous errors I have made over the years. Most of them were sexual of course!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:28


      Reply Link
  • Kate Stedman 19/01/2014, 10:13

    I have just found your site and it is a delight.
    Tit for tat or what you French would say: a Bon chat Bon rat: a common error I notice heaps when les francais parlent anglais is they say « I came in Australia three weeks ago. »
    Apart from being grammatically incorrect it actually translates as I had an orgasm in Australia 3 weeks ago.
    You must always say I arrived in Australia 3 weeks ago or I came TO Australia 3 weeks ago.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:27

      Bonjour Kate,
      Yes!!! It’s so funny to hear French people make mistakes in English too. :)
      Thanks for sharing this example. Very few French people are aware of the double meaning of « to come ».

      Reply Link
      • Kirsten 08/09/2016, 5:52

        I thought ‘to come’ has a double meaning in French also. Am I wrong? I could’ve sworn it was in movies in the sexual connotation.

        Reply Link
  • Kim 20/01/2014, 2:11

    I used to teach yoga in Paris. While I was still learning how to teach in French, I once asked a group of women to « prennez les pieds » which, I was told, is a way of describing a sublime orgasm!

    Love your site! I’m also a B-School sister! congrats on your success!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:25

      Bonjour fellow B-Schooler!

      Absolutely: « Prendre son pied » has a slightly different meaning. :)
      Thanks for the kind words.

      Reply Link
  • Katie 20/01/2014, 4:31

    Salut Geraldine,

    Joyeux anniversaire pour ton site, et merci mille fois pour cet excellent video!

    About 5 years ago I was travelling in France and doing some volunteer permaculture work to learn about living self-sufficiently, and learning French at the same time :) One of the jobs was to learn some eco-building techniques, and I had a great day building a wall using mud, sand and straw. At the end of the day, I enthusiastically asked the middle aged man who I was working with if tomorrow we would continue doing the wall. But I mis-pronounced the word wall. Instead of saying « demain, on va faire le mur » I asked « demain, on va faire L’AMOUR?! »

    Finally I understood why he gave me a very strange look and practically ran away from me to his wife!

    I’m going to share this video with all my students who are learning French.

    Keep up the great work,

    Katie. XXX

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:21

      Coucou Katie !
      Awesome story. 😀
      Thanks for sharing and for the kind words.

      Reply Link
  • Merve 21/01/2014, 8:16

    Oops, I always say  » je suis excitée! Goooosh!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/01/2014, 9:16


      Reply Link
  • Dina 22/01/2014, 8:58

    Oh wow thank you for this video and website! It’s truly amazing! I definitely made a lot of mistakes like these when I first came here to Paris (and still continue making them, lol).
    At the beginning when someone asked me « Ça va? » I always answered with « Bien. Et toi? » and they gave me a weird look and I just had no idea why. Also another awkward thing that happened a lot was the « Je suis chaud. » until I finally found this website, so no more weird looks and laughters at me from now on 😀

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 28/01/2014, 2:09

      Bonjour Dina,
      Thanks for sharing! :)

      Reply Link
    • Jennifer 01/12/2014, 4:07

      Why not answer « bien » to Ca va?

      Reply Link
      • Geraldine Lepere 01/12/2014, 7:23

        Bonjour Jennifer,

        « Bien » is ok but it’s just not something we answer to « Ça va ? »…
        Sorry, it’s hard to explain.

        Reply Link
        • Ray 08/12/2015, 9:58

          This happens all the time in classes. It makes sense with a literally translation. ça va is just whether or not life is going, you’re surviving. Where as comment ça va is how life is going.

          Reply Link
  • Bruce 27/01/2014, 2:33

    OK. But what about the noun « le baiser »? It’s a kiss, right? It comes up in classical music literature all the time. What are appropriate ways to use this word? WordReference gives this example »La maman a déposé un baiser sur le front de son enfant. »

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 28/01/2014, 1:54

      Bonjour Bruce,

      Le baiser = the kiss. You are right.
      It is mostly in literature.

      Reply Link
  • Manon 27/01/2014, 6:58

    Tu pouvais également parler du « Tu es bonne » qui n’est absolument pas la traduction « You’re good ». Celle-ci m’a souvent fait rire 😉
    Super vidéo btw !

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 28/01/2014, 1:48

      Salut Manon !

      Oui ! C’est une super suggestion. 😉
      Merci de ton gentil message.

      Reply Link
  • Pam Scheaffer 30/01/2014, 1:51

    Bonjour Geraldine,

    Your video reminded me of many years ago, when I was a student in Grenoble. I was having dinner with my friend’s family. His parents spoke no English. We were drinking cider and I was trying to have a conversation but my French at the time was very poor. I told them that French cidre was much better than American cidre probably because ours is full of « preservatives ». My hostess nearly gagged on her food and I had no idea what I had done wrong. My friend explained to me about « les préservatifs » and I certainly remembered after that! Another time, I thanked her for the nice piece of liver she had sent over to me via her son, but it was a week later. She gave me a quizzical look and asked if I had seen her in church or something, she honestly had no idea that I thought I said liver – because I said « la » instead of « le »!

    Reply Link
  • Carole 09/02/2014, 12:19

    Salut Geraldine

    Love your videos. We were once with some French friends discussing our dislike of smoking (one of our party was a chain smoker). I then announced that my father-in-law had died of « le cancer du pneus ». The silence was followed by roars of laughter and they pointed out I should have said, « le cancer du poumon ». I will never make that mistake again.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 10/02/2014, 7:47

      Salut Carole,

      Thanks! That’s both funny and sad. :)

      Reply Link
  • Caro 12/02/2014, 3:47

    mdr! now i know why « mon ami » Gugi was always laughing about me, i was always telling him « Je suis Chaud!!!  » because of the calefactor , in my country we do not have heating

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 12/02/2014, 11:45

      Hi Caro,
      Yes, this helps to understand why!

      Reply Link
  • Aubry 06/03/2014, 9:10

    Hi Geraldine. I’m a young french professor teaching french in south korea (and french native). A lot of my students are korean-english natives, so I was looking for cool/relaxed content, and I your site just came up.
    I apologize in advance, my english is far from being perfect.

    Your video and the little sheet paper behind are great, i really enjoyed them. I think I’ll re-use it (if you allow me, of course 😉 ).

    I just came here to say that, in my opinion, there’s a mistake on the paper you wrote.
    (I didn’t read all the comments, so maybe it has already been said)

    => »Une amie m’a introduit …  » =>I actually used this expression a lot in a networking context. Like « Mon ami m’a introduit au patron de l’entreprise », ou « Il a été introduit par ses parents ». That’s true though I’ve never used it between friends. Only in a job seeking context.

    And about « Je suis chaud », I would say your translation (« I’m horny ») is true, but only when it’s tuned into a feminine sentence.
    « Je suis chaudE ». Like this, yes, I’m totally positive, it’s a sexual innuendo.
    But when it’s masculine – « Je suis chaud » – it would rather means « I’m ready and exited to do it »
    As in, for example :
    « ça te dit d’aller à la piscine demain ? / would you like going to the swiming pool tmrw ?
    « -Ouais, je suis chaud. / yeah, sounds great

    Even girls use « je suis chaud » (even if it has grammaticaly no sense at all), refering to the second meaning.
    I heard it a lot in the street, even in question mode : « T’es chaud ou pas ? » (You’ll do it or not ? »)

    I can’t refer to any official grammar, it’s really about spoken language. But if a man says « je suis chaud » to me, I’m 100% sure I would understand « I’m ready/excited to do it » instead of thinking about any sexual mood.

    ANYWAY the idea and the whole concept of the video is great ^^


    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 10/03/2014, 3:37

      Merci Aubry.

      Reply Link
  • Kayley 17/03/2014, 4:10

    introduire est mal?

    I think in Québec it’s alright to say, that’s the only one I’ve never heard of anyone having trouble with, but perhaps I’ve just never heard it used! Do you know?

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 17/03/2014, 2:46

      Bonjour Kayley,

      There’s no word that’s « good » or « bad ». :)
      It’s just important to know that some may have a double meaning.

      Also, there are lots of words that are used differently in Québec.

      Reply Link
  • Annabelle 18/03/2014, 10:14

    Merci beaucoup! Je sais maintenant pourqoi mes profs ont ri à moi! Tu m’aides beaucoup! Je ne les commettrai jamais plus!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 18/03/2014, 3:15

      Super !

      Reply Link
  • pat 21/03/2014, 11:42

    I have never forgotten about the anecdote from my first French teacher, many years ago. She told us that when she studied in France during her third year of college, she made the mistake of telling her host family, after a very nice meal, that she was pleine. How I wish I could have seen the looks on her host family’s faces!


    Reply Link
  • Flet 31/03/2014, 4:16

    Back in the days I lived with an American girl. And she came up with the « preservative » expression that you mention, once, during a (rather formal) dinner at my parents’ :-( … Who were in no way fluent in English – hence they were just not able to understand what the heck she was speaking about (actually it was organic salad, ie salad without ‘preservatives’)

    …In another context I practiced snow slide with my girlfriend’s sibbling – and tried to explained that I was used to ‘wax’ my skis – using the French word ‘farter’, which came out as ‘I fart my skis’ … and I was so embarrassed when I realized, an hour later, why everybody was like… uhh.. uhhh…sure.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 01/04/2014, 10:45

      génial. 😀

      Reply Link
  • Andi 07/04/2014, 9:52

    How funny that today I accidentally told my French teacher that Americans have a lot of « préservatifs » in their food! Ugh. My nice French professor didn’t tell me my mistake but looked baffled and slightly amused.

    Reply Link
  • Penny 09/04/2014, 10:57

    Quand nous cherchions notre maison francaise, j’ai dit a l’agent d’immobilier que je voulions une maison de character aux volailles (volets). Elle etait bien perplexee!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 14/04/2014, 3:13

      Thanks for sharing, Penny!

      Reply Link
  • anne 29/04/2014, 12:27

    i once told my french friend « les home coupe les verges »
    i meant the men cut the grass verges at the side of the road !

    Reply Link
  • Rebecca 14/05/2014, 12:05

    Great video, love your site. I began learning French about 7 years ago to enable me to teach Congolese nursing students anesthesia on short term trips to Congo. Imagine the stunned silence in the operating theatre of a very strict Christian hospital when I announced in French that  » je suis excitée  » to show them the brand new anesthesia machine I had brought . I was quietly taken aside and explained the grave error I had made in French. It was all handled very graciously, but I assure you I have never forgotten that moment ! I am always happy to learn any subtle or not so subtle nuance in French language or culture. I love your website and travel frequently in France and French Africa. Merci bcp

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 14/05/2014, 2:18

      Happy to read that, Rebecca!

      Reply Link
  • Liana 23/05/2014, 9:33

    Hi, what about using « gelée de pétrole blanche » instead of vaseline which is what it essentially is?

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 23/05/2014, 11:00

      Bonjour Liana,

      C’est une bonne idée mais je pense que personne ne comprendra.
      Si tu cherches de la vaseline précisément, le mieux est de demander « de la vaseline », si tu en as absolument besoin.

      Reply Link
  • Alice Ann 27/05/2014, 11:06

    I was in Quebec one summer, and while out having drinks with my cousins I wanted to pay for everyone at the table, so I asked the waiter to please be sure to bring me the « facture » (bill) — which is the term commonly used in Quebec instead of « l’addition ». However, I pronounced it like the word « facteur » which means « postman ». Everyone had a good laugh about me asking the waiter to be sure to bring me the postman. :-)

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 28/05/2014, 4:26

      Great story Alice Ann!
      In France, when you ask for « une facture » it’s (usually) a bill that will be used for professional purposes (for bookkeeping for example).
      You’re right, we ask for « l’addition ». :)

      Reply Link
  • Chris 03/06/2014, 12:24

    Hi Geraldine – I have done many car rallies in France and classic cars always bring out the french people to wave and clap as we go past. We often ate in restaurants where we got special service and attention – I remember one in particular in a small town near the Alps where after the meal the proprietor insisted we have a small glass of brandy as we left and the waitress  » fait la bise » – she got very excited because I actually kissed her cheek rather than the « air kiss » and jumped around saying  » I got a kiss. I got a kiss!! »

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 03/06/2014, 2:42


      Reply Link
      • Chris 03/06/2014, 3:19

        Yes – nice, but is it right / wrong / doesn’t matter to actually kiss rather than brush cheeks when « fait la bise »? Is it too intimate??

        Reply Link
        • Geraldine Lepere 09/06/2014, 3:07

          Hi Chris,
          When we do « la bise », mainly only the cheeks touch. There’s no actual kiss.

          Reply Link
  • Chris 05/07/2014, 10:31

    Great info. Tank’s especially for exposing to me that I have not actually been telling people I am warm or hot.

    Once in french class while listening to a conversation on CD, my teacher asked me what I heard and I replied: « les tétons sont… ». She said no you didn’t. She explained to me that I was talking about a specific part of a woman’s anatomy. What I should have heard was « pietons » or walkers. Boy, there is not a big difference in that one letter to the American ear sometimes.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 08/07/2014, 5:09


      Reply Link
  • Marta A Bilingual Baby blog 15/07/2014, 8:56

    What a fun + useful video, Géraldine! I’m sharing it on twitter! Thanks for all your tips!

    Reply Link
  • PauletteL 30/07/2014, 2:17

    Once, while traveling with colleagues in a francophone country, the driver stopped suddenly. I said to him, « Tu n’aimes pas (and then, remembering only that « brakes » had an « ein » sound) appuyer (push on) les seins, eh? » Seins = breasts; freins = brakes!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 04/08/2014, 5:13

      hihihihi. Great mistake.

      Reply Link
  • Helen 03/08/2014, 2:07

    Wonderful post! I have often used the same cautionary tales in my own classroom about the correct usage of certain words and expressions. Given the young age of my middle school students, I must keep it G-rated bien sûr!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 04/08/2014, 5:27

      Ahahah. All French teachers reshape my content for younger audiences. 😉 You did well!

      Reply Link
  • Becky 29/08/2014, 3:41

    After a lovely meal at Ma Cuisine in Beaune we offered that we were five happy pigs – Nous sommes cinq joyeux cochons and got a raised eyebrow from the restauranteur. I don’t think the meaning of five satisfied but overfilled guests translated quite right! 😉

    Reply Link
  • Léa 09/09/2014, 3:36

    Mine is so embarrassing that I am even scared to put it on here! One time in France when catching a bus from Paris to Beauvais, I had a particularly heavy suitcase. So I asked one of the bus guys if he would help me with it. *But* instead of saying, ‘Vous s’il vous plaît m’aider avec ma valise?’ (‘Vaslise’ being the word for suitcase) I asked him to help me with my ‘visage’ – my face!!!! I realised as soon as I had said it and could have died a thousand deaths. Ok, I know you are laughing.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 10/09/2014, 3:13

      I am laughing. 😀

      Reply Link
  • Susan 13/09/2014, 1:11

    Bonjour, Geraldine!
    Je suis une nouvelle membre de votre cours. J’apprends beaucoup. J’adore les videos; elles sont très utiles!


    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 16/09/2014, 11:27

      Merci Susan. 😉

      Reply Link
  • mark 03/10/2014, 5:06

    « je suis chaud », also can mean I am drunk (too much wine, beer) oops trop de vin et de bierre. LOL BTW I would laugh for each of those as you said them.

    Reply Link
  • Nathan 10/10/2014, 3:47

    Merci beaucoup, Geraldine! À la classe de Français, j’écoute beaucoup mes camarades en classe disent « je suis excitée de [faire quelque chose] », et je ris chaque fois.

    Mais, bien sûr, j’ai fait la même faute aussi en classe.
    Une autre erreur que j’écoute est quand quelqu’un dit « Je viens ». C’est probablement plus correct de dire « J’arrive ».

    Encore, merci pour m’enseigner les fautes de Français, j’éspere que je ne les dis pas quand j’aller en France.

    Vos vidéos sont très utile! Merci beaucoup.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 16/10/2014, 2:42

      Bonjour Nathan,

      Oui tout à fait !
      Attention : si tu veux dire « A mistake I hear », utilise le verbe « entendre » : Une faute que j’entends souvent…
      « Ecouter » montre une écoute active. Par exemple : « Ecoute-moi ! ». Et ici, ce verbe n’est pas approprié. :)

      Et voila, tu as appris une nouvelle chose !

      Reply Link
  • Julia 24/11/2014, 5:42

    J’y vais en France pour la première fois en mars. Je dois arrêter de dire « mon ami m’a introduit » avant que je m’embarrasse ahaha

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 01/12/2014, 6:56


      Reply Link
  • Richard 06/12/2014, 1:40

    I once said to my French tutor « j’ai envie de toi » instead of « Je t’envie. » I also said « nous avonc un rapport » instead of « nous avons un bon rapport ». Very embarrassing

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 08/12/2014, 4:58


      Reply Link
  • tereza 09/12/2014, 10:35

    Je suis allée a une soirée entre les amis en France. A cette occasion, j´ai pris aussi mon sac a main en forme d´une tete de chat. En entrant je me suis exclamée :  » Me voila avec ma petite chatte ! « Tous mes amis masculins ont été morts de rire et hélas, aucun d´eux ne m´as pas signalé ma faute embarrassante… Pourant, j´étais si sure que cette division lexicale entre chat et chatte existe, et que c´est bien courant… Mais enfin bref :)

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 18/12/2014, 4:55

      GREAT story, Tereza. I love it. 😀

      Reply Link
  • Joseph 26/12/2014, 5:14

    Je trouve que « con » en espagnol et « con » en français veux dire deux chose differents.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 07/01/2015, 5:12

      Oh oui Joseph! 😉

      Reply Link
  • Damien 28/12/2014, 12:56

    OMG is right!
    I guess I need to stop telling people in French that « I’m excited to introduce them to someone »–Wow,
    that explains the looks they give me.
    Super embarrassing!

    Tangent: Curious to know if « Oh mon dieu » has the same connotations as « OMG » in English?…or what would be the equivalent?

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 07/01/2015, 5:13

      Hi Damien,
      Yes, « Oh mon Dieu » has the same connotation. Can be used for something good or bad. :)

      Reply Link
  • David 13/01/2015, 7:49


    J’ai dit le deuxieme, quatrieme et le cinqiueme aussi :(. J’ai dit le quatrieme et le cinqiueme quand j’etait en train de parler avec ma belle mere!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 19/01/2015, 7:13


      Reply Link
  • Kate 13/01/2015, 8:16

    I learned the phrase « il faut appeller un chat un chat » and tried to pass it on to a friend who believe chatte was the proper way to translate cat. It became a very loud discussion in a Paris cafe, and very embarrassing. Also months do not have an article and saying « le juin » sounds like « le joint »

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 19/01/2015, 7:14

      ahaha, thanks for sharing, Kate!

      Reply Link
  • Simone 25/01/2015, 4:49

    I was staying in a house with my boyfriend’s parents and their friends. There were two (female) cats. I could not stop saying no matter how hard I tried. It could not stay in my brain…. It was terrible.

    Reply Link
  • Don Nitkin 02/02/2015, 2:09

    Erreurs de débutant
    Il y a longtemps je suis allé en France avec l’armée américaine. À l’école j’ai appris la grammaire et le vocabulaire français, mais presque pas de conversation en français.
    Apres le vol a Paris, je suis arrivé à la gare de train. À ce moment-là je fumais (pas encore). J’avais des cigarettes mais pas d’allumettes. J’ai vu un homme qui fumait. Je me suis approche de lui. J’ai dit « pardon monsieur, est-ce que vous avez des ALLUMINETTES ? ». Il m’a regardé étrangement et il a répondu « Est-ce que vous allez construire quelque chose ? ». J’ai dit, « Non, je cherche du feu ». Il a dit « Ah, vous désirez des allumettes, les voici ».
    Dans un restaurant, le serveur a approché ma table pour prendre notre command. J’ai demandé
    « Quel sort de POISON avez-vous ? » Il s’est fâché. « Monsieur, ce restaurant ne prépare que les bons plats, jamais de poison ! » Je voulais dire quel sort de POISSON avez-vous. Quelle gaffe !

    Une soirée j’étais un invité chez des français. L’hôtesse a préparé des plats délicieux. Elle m’a demandé si je voulais une autre portion. J’ai répondu «Non merci, je suis pleine. Tout le monde rirait. Plus tard quelqu’un m’a expliqué que je suis pleine veut dire que je suis enceinte comme un animal !
    J’étais dentiste dans le service de santé. Un jour j’avais une patiente française (la femme d’un soldat américain). Elle ne parlait pas bien anglais. Pour commencer le traitement j’ai dit « Ouvrez la grande BOCHE s’il vous plaît ». Elle était confuse. Elle a dit « Je ne vois aucun d’allemand ici ». J’ai réalisé que j’ai fait un erreur. J’ai dit « Je suis désole. Je voulais dire ouvrez la bouche svp ».
    J’ai étudié. J’ai pratique et après quelques mois j’ai commencé à parler plus couramment. Apres un an j’étais interprète pour les autre soldats américains. Chez le mécanicien, aux magasins, et même au commissariat de police.
    À Nice je suis monté dans un bus. Le conducteur m’a regardé sans dire un mot. J’attendais pour savoir le tarif. Enfin il a dit qu’il est poli de dire bonjour. J’ai dit « bonjour monsieur ». Il était satisfait et j’ai payé le tarif. J’ai appris qu’on doit dire bonjour à n’importe qui, n’importe quand.
    Apprendre le français, ça me plait beaucoup. Maintenant j’ai de la chance. Ma fille à deux amies françaises. Les enfants de ses amies parle couramment anglais et français. A cause de cela, je peux pratiquer. J’ai adore l’argot français et j’ai quelques livres à ce sujet. Même aujourd’hui je fais des erreurs, mais tant pis. Aucune erreur ne apprentissage.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 05/02/2015, 3:26


      Reply Link
  • Alistair 05/02/2015, 4:13

    I was once in the bar of the TGV travelling with a (black) Gabonese colleague to Paris. As we whizzed past trees filled with mistletoe (gui) I told him, a bit too loudly, about an English Christmas custom: « A noël, en angleterre, on baise tous les femmes sous le gui. »

    The whole bar fell silent and I swear I could see my Afican colleague blushing.

    Reply Link
    • Don 06/02/2015, 2:28

      « A noël, en Angleterre, on baise tous les femmes sous le gui. »

      Il faut fait attention. Cela ne se dit jamais. C’est très vulgaire.
      On dit : à Noël, en Angleterre, nous nous embrassons toutes les femmes sous le gui

      Reply Link
  • Deb 14/02/2015, 7:20

    Bonjour! The first time I visited France, my lovely hostess was showing me my room. My strategy (then and now) when I didn’t know a French word was to use the English word but with a French accent, hoping that I’d scrape by (LOL). I was pleasantly surprised to see an air-conditioner/heater on the wall (in Australia, not all homes have heating/cooling, and we usually abbreviate this to « air con »). So, not knowing at the time that the correct French word was « l’acclimatation », I gratefully said to the family « oh, j’ai l’air con. Merci! » Apparently I’d just pronounced that I looked stupid. D’oh!

    Reply Link
  • Ingridfrance 17/02/2015, 10:57

    I had a wonderfully embarrassing funny moment when I first learnt French .
    We were on the train from Paris to Vichy and I bought a coke in a can. I remembered the word for straw was close to the pipe… So instead of asking the poor male adolescent server for une paille… I asked for une pip… (For those who don’t know this means … Errrr how do I say this politely, okay I am not going to be – a B***J*b). When he looked shocked I said it a bit louder with and up and down hand gesture, thinking he did not understand … My French Boyfriend explained later what I asked for!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 09/03/2015, 1:09

      AHAHAH. Great story Ingrid! 😀 Poor guy, he’ll remember that for the rest of his life…

      Reply Link
  • Terry Mosher 17/02/2015, 2:31

    My first and last most embarrassing mistake in French……. I was young, I had studied French for many years and during a visit to my favorite cheese shop in Paris, I asked for Fromage de Cheval. I quickly learned that I was looking for Chèvre! Oh my, I never made that mistake again!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 09/03/2015, 1:07

      Great mistake Terry! I’m sure the fromager wondered if it existed. :)

      Reply Link
  • Jonathan Goldberg 09/03/2015, 5:28

    Very clear explanations, professionally presented.
    Jonathan Goldberg
    Los Angeles

    Reply Link
  • Justin 10/03/2015, 1:31

    Quelle super idée d’avoir créer votre propre site-web pour la langue française! Cela a du prit beaucoup de travail. J’ai regardé votre vidéo, qui était bien fait et qui était un plaisir de regardé, merci. Je voulais dire justement que à Paris, pour les anglophones, les erreurs sont souvent mal vu. C’est vrai, personne ne nous regarde pas comme si on fait des fautes inacceptables–des crimes(!) très graves(!) mais le problème est plutôt qu’ils commencent parler en anglais avec un niveau souvent faux débutant ou par exemple élémentaire, comme si c’était nécessaire ou, par exemple, pour pratiquer leur niveau en anglais, ce qui est très dur à supporter tout le temps mais ce que les parisiennes ne comprennent souvent pas, dans mes expériences. Après on reçoit la question, « mais… pourquoi tu parles pas bien en français…? »
    C’est vrai, en revanche, que par fois on aime bien pratiquer notre savoir en quelque choses, et par fois c’est juste notre façon d’être polit(e), mais comme cela se passe quasiment tous les jours aux restaurants et aux magasins etc, on comprends que Paris n’est vraiment pas la meilleure endroit pour apprendre la française, sauf si on est pas anglophone ou est à la faq. Alors, si vous êtes Parisien, ou si vous êtes étudiant(e) et cherchez apprendre la langue avec cette professeur ou ailleurs, dans une école ou sur internet, je peux vous conseillé de bien faire. Quand on apprends par nous même une langue, il faut énormément de patience et surtout un entourage de copain(e)s gentil(le)s et respectueux(euse).

    Merci pour avoir créer votre site, cela aide tellement les gens ::)

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 13/03/2015, 4:37

      Ravie que ça te plaise, Justin. :)
      Et merci pour ton gentil message, je suis touchée.

      Reply Link
  • Joy 24/03/2015, 8:29

    Many years ago on a trip to France a very nice lady who owned the inn where we were staying offered my husband a ‘petite tarte salee’. My French not being that good, thought she was offering him a ‘dirty little tart’!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 02/04/2015, 11:21


      Reply Link
  • Patsy Odams 06/05/2015, 4:03

    I asked someone if their new dog was une chiotte ou un chiot, she laughed and told me the meaning of chiotte was a rude word!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 09/05/2015, 9:41

      AWESOME! 😀

      Reply Link
  • Molly 13/05/2015, 12:26

    Ma prof d’anglais a fait une erreur très mal! Elle est allée au Canada (Montréal, je crois) et elle est allée au restaurant. Elle a commandé « putain » en lieu de « poutine » … Elle avait 19 ans ! Les serveurs ont éclaté de rire, mais ils ne s’ont pas expliqué.

    Pardon mes erreurs, svp.

    Reply Link
  • pamela o,neil 14/05/2015, 6:19

    In my early days in France I once told a receptionist that le plombage in our room was not working

    Reply Link
  • Beth 28/05/2015, 7:30

    Thank you for a terrific video Geraldine. I have been trying to teach myself French since hosting a French foreign exchange student in 2012-2013. I would often email his mother (in horrible French) about how he was doing. Once when he had a cold; I emailed his mother to say that I was « nursing » him back to health; but I used the verb (to breastfeed) rather than a more appropriate verb such as soigner or guerir. That was definitely awkward!

    Reply Link
    • Beth 28/05/2015, 7:31

      Oops. The verb did not show up in this response. I used the verb allaiter when emailing the young man’s mother about his cold.

      Reply Link
  • Jana 14/07/2015, 10:36

    At a formal dinner with my French family in Bordeaux, when asked if I wanted more to eat, I answered, « Non, merci je suis pleine »–which told them that I was pregnant! After they recovered, my French sister asked me if I meant that I had « assez mangé ». I thanked her for the correction and never repeated that mistake (in word or in act!).

    Reply Link
  • Laura 31/07/2015, 1:10

    Thank you for this video! Interesting!

    Reply Link
  • Susan 04/08/2015, 1:00

    I took my husband to the doctor here in France as he doesn’t speak French. Before prescribing some medication, the doctor asked him in English if he was allergic to anything. Yes, he said, preservatives! Well, she said, you won’t need to put the cream on that! When I stopped laughing, I tried to explain that he meant food preservatives, not condoms. Haha!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 06/08/2015, 5:16

      I love this story, Susan! Thanks for sharing. You won’t forget that!

      Reply Link
  • jon 15/08/2015, 7:18

    Many years ago I left a meeting in France to go to the loo. The corridor was full of people smoking. When I returned to the office I tried to tell my French hosts that the corridor was full of smokers, but instead of « fumeurs », I used « fumier ».

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 03/09/2015, 11:01

      Nice, Jon! :)

      Reply Link
  • Pete 28/08/2015, 8:18

    Beaucoup et beau cul

    Reply Link
  • Michael Heitz 02/09/2015, 6:12

    I spent two summers in Montpellier working at des stages. I was told that, if you confuse savoir and connaître it was a big problem. If you say «je te sais» you are saying you know that person bibically, or sexually. Is that correct?

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 03/09/2015, 12:05

      Hi Michael,
      For some people (very few), « connaître quelqu’un » in the biblical sense, means indeed, in the sexual way. But I would never understand it this way in everyday life. :)

      Reply Link
  • Loïs 10/09/2015, 8:12

    Une amie et moi, nous restions dans un hôtel à Tours. Le matin après notre arrivée, le concierge nous a posé une question. «Mesdemoiselles, comment est-ce que vous trovez la chambre?» Mon amie a répondu que pour elle le matelot n’était pas confortable, que c’était trop mou. Bien sûr qu’elle aurait du dire «le matelas» ou bien «le lit», et pas «le matelot»!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 29/09/2015, 9:47

      Awesome mistake Loïs ! I love it!

      Reply Link
  • marie 21/09/2015, 10:39

    I studied abroad in France. I could speak fairly well in French; however, I did have problems with French idioms. My mother is Canadian French speaking, and I learned most of my French from her. When we were no longer, we would usually say:  » je suis pleine », meaning I’m full, I’m no longer hungry. My host mother laughed at me and I asked her what was so funny. She said that in her part of France (Avignon), that expression coming from a young girl meant that « I was pregnant ». I was kind of embarassed, but I learned real quick.

    Reply Link
  • Caro Childs 22/09/2015, 2:11

    Après deux ans d’ecrivant mails aux mes amies francaises, j’ai decouvri que si je mis xx au fin de ma mail, personne comprend bisous, mais ils pensent de les choses comme x film

    Reply Link
  • Amy 23/09/2015, 12:28

    J’étais en train de parler du parfum de confiture que je préférais et en anglais on dit « preservatives » donc j’ai dit que j’aime les préservatifs de framboise. Ma famille d’accueil m’a corrigé tout de suite! (préservatifs = condom!)

    Reply Link
  • Briana 09/10/2015, 5:06

    Today my host brother drove me to school, and when I arrived I said, « merci de me prends » he told me that was not appropriate, and I asked my professor who laughed at me before explaining. If you want to say thanks for taking me, say « merci de m’avoir amenée » my first attempt was considered sexual

    Reply Link
  • Lisa 07/11/2015, 7:09

    Very helpful!! Thank you!

    Reply Link
  • rahel 21/11/2015, 10:39

    thank you so much! i was about to write my host family that i am ‘ très excité’ . i think that would have been a bad first impression.

    Reply Link
  • Zimbolaktus 23/11/2015, 12:03

    Bravo ton site est super, tes commentaires futés et pertinents. Mais bien je sois sur que tu entretiens ton accent français à dessein, je ne peux t’en tenir rigueur; c’est à la fois : charmant, désarmant et très futé, de plus cela se marie à merveille avec ta beauté.

    Reply Link
  • Beth 27/11/2015, 5:56

    Many years ago in my college French class I was asked to translate « she kisses him so he kisses her » into French. I know the Kate Bush song Un Baiser D’Enfant is The Infant Kiss, so I used « baiser » in the sentence. Ooops.

    Reply Link
  • Isaac 05/12/2015, 10:58

    Thoroughly enjoyed this video; thanks Geraldine. I think I learned more today than any other day :)

    Reply Link
    • Isaac 05/12/2015, 11:19

      The best way to learn French is to immerse oneself in its culture. Will one day visit Paris, soon.

      Reply Link
  • Sophie 09/12/2015, 8:06

    I have made many mistakes in French and get quite embarrassed about it, especially when people laugh at me but I don’t know what they are laughing at me for. I find French very difficult to learn but I really enjoy it.

    Reply Link
  • Marcia 04/01/2016, 11:36

    While in France we visited the church of some missionaries that we had been supporting for years. They happened to not be in church that Sunday of our visit. So in talking to a gentleman about them I said: « Nous les avons supporté depuis plusieurs années » He was very kind in correcting my usage of the verb supporter… It does not have the same meaning in French! And then we were able to laugh together. (supporter in French means to put up with someone, not to support them financially)

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 07/01/2016, 6:07


      Reply Link
  • Jack 01/02/2016, 2:42

    Whilst I was in France, I tried to state that i was currently climbing a tree: « Je monte l’arbre. » Little did I know that, without an ‘à’, I was mounting one!

    Reply Link
  • S 09/02/2016, 10:28

    The first time we met our future (French) daughter-in-law I asked her (in my very limited French) whether she had been to England before. She had – I told her that we had spent holidays in the South of France when my son was a child and that there were many stray cats around where we stayed – and that my son loved Chat – apparently I used the incorrect pronunciation and told here that my son loved pussy – in the English meaning !! Fortunately my daughter-in-law has a great sense of humour

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 10/02/2016, 5:10

      Awesome story, Sue. 😀 This kind of anecdote will give you the image of a great mother in law. :)

      Reply Link
  • Andrea 14/02/2016, 8:23

    I don’t know if this is seen as embarrassing, but it’s definitely bizarre: we often have dinner with friends from Savoie, and she once asked if it was just me, or if all Americans made noise when they eat! While I can’t speak for all Americans, I do know that many of us make a humming « mmmm » sound when we first taste a food to indicate that we like it. Apparently, the French do not make noises when they eat!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 22/02/2016, 6:40

      Hi Andrea,
      I can’t give you a definite answer on this question… Sorry. :)

      Reply Link
  • Delia 27/02/2016, 4:21

    When I was 13 I visited Le Touquet with my parents and we went to a restaurant. My mother & I wanted to use the ‘ladies’ So I asked the waiter in my best french (as I thought)
    Je voudrai laver mes mains et ma mere aussi. He told me that I had just asked him to wash my mother all over! So I learnt that I should have used se laver – I always remember this verb now!

    Reply Link
  • MARTA 10/03/2016, 11:35

    for spanish speakers it is very tricky to learn the different pronunciation between « vite » and « bite ». Usually we try to say « vite » but we pronounce « bite ». Terrible mistake

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 21/03/2016, 12:18


      Reply Link
  • Maria 19/03/2016, 2:11

    Super post! Qu’est-ce que j’ai ri en lisant les commentaires!!! Je vais ajouter encore une histoire: En 2001 j’ai fait mon Erasmus à Paris. J’ai été hébergée à la Cité U. A un moment donné, ma cousine est venue me rendre visite de Grèce. Je lui ai présenté certains des autres résidents et elle, elle essayait de parler en français avec eux. Un jour donc, on entre dans la cuisine et là, on voit une résidente française, qui s’appelait Régine, en train de manger (en plus, elle était un peu grosse…). Alors ma cousine, toute joyeuse, lui dit: « Bonjour Régime! » J’avais envie de disparaître…

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 21/03/2016, 12:34


      Reply Link
  • Colette 19/03/2016, 11:54

    Not a personal experience but it happened to a friend. She was taken out on a date by a French boy and invited him in for coffee. He got amorous and wanted to go much further than she did. She kept telling him to get off and couldn’t understand why he didn’t stop his advances. She finally realised she was not shouting « va-t-en! va-t-en! » but « vas-y! vas-y! »

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 21/03/2016, 12:35

      OH! indeed, not that clear. 😀

      Reply Link
  • Erika 30/03/2016, 5:25

    I was spending time with a family in Normandy, and was very interested in the distinctive rural architecture. I was particularly struck by some especially elegant pigsties. I reported at dinner that « J’etais enchantée aujourd’hui d’observer beaucoups des cochonneries distinctivemente Normande … » Probably lots of grammatical errors embedded in that little sentence, but one *major* gaffe!

    Reply Link
  • Collette 24/05/2016, 4:50

    I am going to Paris next week and am so nervous about speaking French. I forget everything when I’m under pressure. However, I do love the humor of miscommunications. I read through all of these comments and was laughing so hard, I cried. I’ll try to remember that mistakes are humorous and hopefully I can relax a little.

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 07/06/2016, 7:27

      Have a fantastic time in Paris, Collette!

      Reply Link
  • Hamid 25/05/2016, 6:50

    Vraiment Super! Bonne continuation et bon courage.

    Reply Link
  • Ryan 14/07/2016, 9:05

    C’est une bonne lecon. C’est tres drole et tres interesse. Merci beaucoupet bisous!

    Reply Link
  • Camille 30/07/2016, 9:52

    I hope people know that vaseline should NEVER be used with condoms! It breaks them! 😮 the connotation is slowly changing in the USA (from what I see) because it’s so often used as an example of what NOT to use it for.

    Reply Link
  • marianne 12/08/2016, 5:53

    what does ca va means in a relationship if it says by a woman? Thanks!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 16/08/2016, 12:18

      Bonjour Marianne,

      Could you please tell me more? I’m afraid I don’t understand.

      Reply Link
  • Gretchen 03/09/2016, 2:00

    I worked as an au pair years ago. I asked the 8 year old daughter in front of her 9 year old brother where the frying pan was in the kitchen so I could start cooking dinner. I think I used the correct word, but the wrong article and they ran out of the kitchen laughing and screaming for their mama. A French friend told me the word I used meant « pubic hair. »

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 26/09/2016, 4:55


      Reply Link
  • Kirsten 07/09/2016, 8:57

    Embarrassing mistake #7 – I have a (female) cat. You can ‘do the math’ as it were. Today I speak of GiGi – mon chat 😀

    Reply Link
  • Brandon Allen 14/09/2016, 9:31

    Il fait beaucoup d’annees au passe quand je vivais en argentine. J’avais avec moi un copain de l’eglise. Nous allions chez une nouvelle soeur qui se reunit a l’eglise. Nous allions la visiter pour arriver etre des amis et trouver comment elle va. Elle, sa fille, moi, et mon copain etions assis dans son salon a manger. Commencames une discussion. Nous parlions en espanol. Je le parle tres bien. Pendant la discussion j’avais oublie un mot important. lol. En lieu de dire s’il vous plait, je ne veux pas que vous tombiez au plancher, car ses motions me donnaient l’idee qu’elle allait se tomber de se chaise. Je me suis leve de ma chaise et par accident je luis dit san penser de ca: s’il vous plait, ne vous emmerdez pas vous. Tous les gens dans la salle se riias avec beaucoup de force! Tellement! Elle m’appella une tete merdeuse! J »etais si embarrasse! Enfin elle meme avait compris et s’est devenue mon amie! Je n’oublierai jamais cet evenement! J’espere que vous pardonnez mes expressions au dessus! C’etait un vrai experience! Lol!

    Reply Link
  • KHANDOKER ZIAUDDIN AHMED 30/10/2016, 4:04

    Erreurs,,, pas encore…. cet épisode était vraiment intéressant 😀 Je vous remercie….

    Reply Link
  • Aisha 02/11/2016, 3:12

    I accidentally said ‘Hier soir, j’ai couché avec mon chat’ in a French speaking exam… Oops!

    Reply Link
  • Sofia 05/11/2016, 1:54

    « je suis constipée » au lieu de  » je suis enrhumée »! Un dangereux lusitanisme…

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 07/11/2016, 6:02

      Ohhhh que oui, Sofia. :)
      Il fait beaucoup rire les élèves en cours d’espagnol.

      Reply Link
  • Lester 13/11/2016, 10:41

    Is it true that after a good meal you should not say  » Umm! I am full » as you would in English? I was laughed at once with other dinner guests saying « je suis plein » means I am pregnant! Lester

    Reply Link
  • Azeb 24/11/2016, 12:20

    You are the best G !

    Reply Link
  • Hannah 06/12/2016, 3:10

    I knew I would see the excitée thing in the video… Before I did my homestay in Béziers, I had to write a letter to my host family. Of course I sent them a letter finished with « je suis excitée de vous voir » — I’m sure they realized it was a mistake since I was only 15 at the time, but it was still a little embarrassing when I found out!

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 09/12/2016, 6:57


      Reply Link
  • Rob 28/12/2016, 2:59

    I made the mistake of mispronouncing asking a bunch of colleagues if the were interested in « descendre au pub pour un boisson », using the standard French « U » sound. Eyebrows were raised, a few giggles ensued. Lesson learned — pronounce it « puhb », or short and curlies will come to everyone’s mind (except your own).

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 04/01/2017, 3:07

      Ahahah, Rob, en effet, ça doit surprendre !
      Tu peux dire aussi « Aller au pub pour boire un verre ». C’est la traduction de « get a drink ». 😉

      Reply Link
  • Bruna 17/01/2017, 7:00

    Hi Geraldine,

    I am brazilian living in Paris and I work in a shop. So at one moment we were distributing some « calissons » as gifts for our clients and I think I spent about 10 days offering the clients out loud « caleçons » until someone explained to me. :/
    Thanks for the lessons! Merci

    Reply Link
    • Geraldine Lepere 18/01/2017, 6:22

      Caleçons can be a nice gift too! 😀

      Reply Link
  • BonnieHélène 19/01/2017, 6:48

    My first year teaching French I was very motivated to speak only French from the very beginning of the year. Two weeks into the class, a student came in late and very disruptive so I said « Tu es en retard! » (pointing to the classroom clock) Well crying ensued as she thought I called her a retard. Lesson learned to speak very slowly and methodically. Needless to say, that student never liked me very much because she didn’t believe I wasn’t calling her dumb. She was just late to class. MDR

    Reply Link

suscribe to receive exclusive content and improve your french conversation now!