What You Really Need to Know About Writing French Letters and Emails

A red envelope sits on top of a blank white, unlined page in a spiral notebook.

When I was learning French in school, writing letters was one of the most intimidating things we covered. There were so many formules de politesse (polite phrases and salutations) and all of them seemed absolutely required to be included in any formal or professional correspondence. Then, I came to France and found that letter (and …

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How to Use (And Not to Use) Au Contraire

Two men sitting on a rooftop lounge look at a laptop computer screen. They seem to be debating something, either having a conversation with a third person via the computer, or maybe arguing about something they're reading or looking at. We see them from mid-face, down.

Au contraire means “On the contrary”. But if you’re an English-speaker, the phrase’s translation isn’t contrary at all; it turns out we use it the same way the French do. Still, it’s not quite so simple. Let’s take a closer look at au contraire. The meaning of au contraire Important: There is only one way …

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Essential French cooking vocabulary

A smiling, happy middle-aged couple looks at what is probably a recipe book. The woman is cutting squash, and there are other vegetables, as well as wine, baguette, and a frying pan on the counter in front of them.

Whether you’re a budding chef, enthusiastic foodie, or just trying to expand your knowledge of the French language and culture, there are two main kinds of French cooking vocabulary you need to know: cooking words commonly used in French recipes, and French cooking words that have been borrowed into English. Let’s look at the most common …

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The 25 Most Beautiful French Words (And How to Pronounce Them)

A pile of fresh-baked, crusty baguettes seem to peek out from behind a brick wall of a French restraurant.

Many people consider French to be one of the most beautiful languages in the world. But what are some of the most beautiful French words? It turns out that while the French have a lot of opinions about many different topics, favorite words doesn’t seem to be among the most popular. Of course, this is …

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Everything You Need to Know About être, the Most Common French Verb

Être doesn’t just mean “to be"

Être (to be) is the most common verb in the French language. But that probably doesn’t surprise you. From the time you start learning French, you see, hear, and learn to use and conjugate it.  Of course, like most frequently-used verbs, être comes with a  lot of exceptional rules and even unexpected  uses. Some of …

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Slt Tlm!: The Essential Guide to French Internet and Texting Slang

Beautiful young woman travelling in a train of Parisian underground and using her mobile phone. Eiffel tower is behind the window

Cc c Alysa, sa va? Don’t worry if you didn’t understand this message. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s not in standard French, but a sub-language: French internet and text messaging slang. Love it or hate it, this particular slang is pretty common online or if you’re communicating with a French person by text message. That …

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