French is full of silent letters, and the pronunciation of French words can often be hard. A single letter can make so many different sounds, depending on the context!
To make matters worse, some words share the same spelling but sound different. And then, some words share the same sound but are spelled differently.
In the most ambiguous case of French pronunciation, we have 5 different spellings for 6 different words, each with one syllable – and they all sound the same!
Today we’re looking at the French words that sound like [“Verr”].
Learning goals: This is what you’ll be able to do after watching this lesson
- Beginner: Know and use 5 new French words by only learning one new pronunciation
- Intermediate: Learn new expressions
- Advanced: Learn new French structures (in the examples)
Bonjour c’est Géraldine.
Bienvenue sur Comme une Française. C’est parti !
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1) Un verre
Un verre is a glass, such as un verre d’eau (= “a glass of water.”)
Le verre is “this glass”, or “glass” as a material.
The French expression se noyer dans un verre d’eau (= “to drown in a glass of water,” literally) means “to be confounded by the simplest problem”, which is close to the English expression “to make a mountain out of a molehill.”
En exagérant toujours ses problèmes, Laurent se noie souvent dans un verre d’eau.
By always exaggerating his problems, Laurent often panics and gets blocked by the simplest hurdles.
In French, the English word “glass” sounds like “Glace”. Which is also a word with many meanings!
La glace is “the ice”. It also became une glace as “an ice cream”, and the verb glacer (= “to freeze”). And, maybe in a nod to the English language, une glace also means “a mirror”.
Le vert means “the color green”.
Vert is the adjective “green.” It becomes verte in the feminine form.
The French expression Se mettre au vert (= “bring yourself to the green”, literally) means “going to the countryside, to relax and enjoy the tranquility.”
J’ai acheté une maison de campagne pour me mettre au vert tous les week-ends.
I bought a country house, to go and enjoy the countryside every week-end.
Avoir la main verte = “have a green hand” (literally) = “have a green thumb”, being good at gardening
Je suis vert = “I’m green” (literally) = I’m outraged, I feel angry and frustrated.
3) Un ver
Un ver is “a worm”. We also say “un ver de terre” = “an earthworm.”
A funny-sounding French expression:
Nu comme un ver = “naked like a worm” (literally) = “stark naked”
Robert est sorti de la salle de bain nu comme un ver, pile au moment où on a ouvert la porte.
Robert got out of the bathroom, stark naked, right as we opened the door.
Dany apprécie son copain nu comme un ver.
Dany likes her boyfriend stark naked.
Vers is a common French adverb, meaning “towards” – it’s an idea of direction, a goal to reach.
Ce train va vers Bordeaux.
This train goes to Bordeaux / This train is going in the direction of Bordeaux.
By similarity, Vers also means “around”, especially for time.
Je vais déjeuner vers 13 heures.
I’ll have lunch around 1 pm.
5) Un vers
“Vers” is interesting, because in addition to being an adverb, or a plural for “un ver / des vers” (= a worm / worms), it can also mean: Un vers = a verse.
The plural is les vers = verses.
Le poète égyptien a écrit un vers de douze syllabes : c’est un alexandrin.
The Egyptian poet wrote a verse in twelve syllables: that’s called “un alexandrin” in French.
Jeanne a décidé d’écrire son mémoire de thèse en vers.
Jeanne decided to write her thesis dissertation in verses.
En vers means “in verses.”
It’s not the same as l’envers = the reverse, the other side, the hidden side.
A common expression is l’envers du décor = “the hidden side of the theater set” = “Behind the scenes.”
6) Le vair
In old French, vair used to be an eye color, between green / grey / blue. The word isn’t used anymore, but it gave us the adjective for :
Des yeux vairons = “different-colored eyes.”
Le vair is also the fur of a certain squirrel. This word isn’t really used in common French either, except for one specific situation.
The only time French people use vair is when talking about a semi-famous debate about Cinderella : her glass slipper is “une pantoufle de verre”, but since the XIXth century some people will try to say it actually was “une pantoufle de vair” (= a squirrel fur slipper).
It’s a contrarian position that makes people look more knowledgeable. However, it’s incorrect: the evidence pretty clearly points to it being une pantoufle de verre.
Your turn now. What word sounds like “verr” and means:
1. A worm?
3. A glass?
(Answers : Un ver. Vert / Verte. Un verre.)
Et toi ?
Write a sentence in French in the comments with one of today’s words.
You can write down your answer in the comments below. In French if you dare!
For example, you can write: “Dans mon jardin, les vers de terre sortent de la pelouse après la pluie.” (“In my garden, earthworms come out of the lawn after the rain”.)
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Allez, salut 🙂