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Free Masterclass – Day #1

Top 30 French Mistakes English Speakers Make Free Masterclass – Day #1

1. Grammar mistake: “Elle est une amie”

This is a tough one. Unlike English which uses the same construction, French uses 2 different constructions to say it/she/he is – they are.
It depends on the grammatical value of the word that follows.

  • C’est + noun, therefore ce n’est pas + noun, ce sont + noun, ce ne sont pas + noun
    C’est un ami, c’est une amie, ce sont des amis, ce ne sont pas des amis.
  • Il est + adjective, therefore elle est + adj, ils sont + adj, elles sont + adj.
    Il est gentil, elle est gentille, ils sont gentils, elles sont gentilles.

It sounds simple enough, but let me warn you: if it’s easy to understand the rule, it’s complicated to apply it. It’s already hard enough for an English speaker to refer to a thing by him or her, yet it is even harder to use c’est + a person. It sounds in English like you are saying it’s + person… very very bad…

Another way to look at it, is to remember that “il est un/une” is impossible, EXCEPT for the traditional beginning of all Classic French Tales: “Il était une fois…” (Once upon a time…)

Correct sentence: c’est une amie

2. Vocabulary mistake: (to someone you don’t know) “Salut Camille!”

There is not one French method that doesn’t include “ha, ha, salut Claude…mais oui…” But beware that “Salut” is not the equivalent of “hi”. It’s VERY informal, and it’s unlikely you’d use it with an adult you don’t know. Avoid faux-pas and stick with “bonjour” :-)

Correct answer: bonjour Camille

3. Pronunciation Mistake: Beware of the glidings with the expression “il y a”

“Il y a” means either there is, there are, or ago.
It’s a very common expression, and we usually say it so fast that it can be quite surprising for students of French.


  • Il y a = ya
  • Il n’y a pas = yapa
  • Il y avait = yavay
  • Il n’y avait pas – yavaypa
  • Il y aura = yora
  • Il n’y aura pas = yorapa

You can hear audio recordings of all these glidings as part of our very popular and unique French Verb Drills series.

Talk to you tomorrow for more top French Mistakes English speakers make…

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