Translating French to English is a popular way to improve your skills and study the language. Maybe you’re trying to learn French and you need to translate some of that French homework to English. Maybe you would like to translate a French text in order to make sure you fully understand the meaning. 

Translation is a tool that is useful for improving not only fluency, but comprehension as well. So today, we are going to give you some important tips for translating French to English. These tips will help ensure that you have accurately translated the text. 

Don’t Take Certain Expressions Literally

You will find a lot of French expressions that you shouldn’t take literally when you’re translating them from French to English. When you do so, the literal translation isn’t going to reflect the true meaning of the expression at hand. You will come across an expression that you translate literally, and it isn’t going to mane any sense – surely you have found an idiomatic expression.

Here, we’re going to help you out and introduce you to some popular French idiomatic Expressions:

  • Une bonne Fourchette – A hearty eater ( or, literally speaking, “a good fork,” but this phrase lacks meaning to English speakers).
  • Une bouche d’incendie – Fire Hydrant (“bouche” means “mouth” in English, and “a  mouth of fire” isn’t the right translation, is it?). 
  • Faire le Pont – To make a long weekend (literally translated, to make a bridge, but this is referring to the French habit of going on a four-day break by adding Monday or Friday to the weekend, along with the mid-week day that a holiday has fallen on). 

When translating French to English, in order to improve your skills, you should try to learn as many idiomatic expressions (like the ones above) as you possibly can. If you’re listening to someone speak French and you don’t understand the expression they are using, speak up and get the meaning of it so that you can build that knowledge. Over time, this is going to make translating French to English easier on you.

Don’t be Afraid of Using Online Forums

When you’re translating French to English, there may come a time when you get stuck with certain usages or expressions. If you’re not able to figure out how to translate something, you can turn to forums that have native French speakers and are knowledgeable to help you. You may also use an online dictionary to help you out.

Be Aware of False Cognates

Cognates come in handy when you’re trying to increase your fluence in a language and quickly translate it. Here’s a list of some French-English cognates:

  • Amusant – fun, amusing
  • Immense – Immense
  • La musique – Thee Music
  • La page – The page
  • La candidat – The Candidate
  • L’hopital – The hospital 

You must remember that with cognates, there may also be false cognates. What we’re saying is that there are tricky French words that have similar sounds in English, but do not carry the same meaning. For example, here are some French false cognate you should be aware of:

  • Attendre – To wait (not to attend)
  • Actuellement – Currently (not actually)
  • Bras – Arms (not bra)
  • Un raisin – grape (not raisin)
  • Un librarie – Bookshop (not library)
  • Blesse – Injured (not blessed)
  • Assister – To attend (not to assist)

So there you have it, some cognates you should watch out for – be aware, there are many other cognates, this is just a short list we gave you to use as an example. 


Follow these tips, and in no time at all you will be translating French to English with full confidence. Just remember, the more work you put into it, the faster you will learn