Four quick language tips to help you in everyday French

These handy reminders will make navigating conversations easier

There are lots of little tips and tricks that will help you in spoken and written French
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Learning French can be both a rewarding and a tiring experience.

For example, a lot of words are written the same in French and English but pronounced differently and some words seem to have the same meaning or purpose but are in fact used in different contexts. 

Below are four language reminders that will help make your French smoother. 

Words that end in AL 

Lots of words that end in -al in French are the same in English, making it easier to do quick translations when you are looking for one of these words. 

There are always exceptions to the rule but generally speaking, this applies in lots of cases.

Examples include normal, special, animal, festival, oral, loyal and metal. Note that the pronunciation will often be slightly different and that in some cases, the French word also has an accent (metal/métal).

One notable exception to the rule is cheval, which means horse in English. 

How to pronounce plus in French 

Plus is a difficult word for English speakers because the ‘u’ sound in French does not exist in English. 

It is made by sticking your tongue to your bottom teeth and making a small circle with your lips and sounds similar to ‘ou’ (like in ‘you’ but without the ‘y’), but the sound comes from the front of your mouth. 

Depending on the context, plus can be pronounced ‘plou’ (without the s), ‘plous’ (with a normal ‘s’ sound) or ‘plouz’ (with a ‘z’ sound). 

Read more: Could this method help if you lack learning confidence in French? 

When the phrase is negative, you never pronounce the ‘s’ and use plou. For example, il n’y a plus (plou) d’eau (there is no more water). 

In a comparison sentence when the plus is placed before an adjective beginning with a consonant, we use plou (with no ‘s’). For example, ta rue est plus (plou) bruyante que la mienne (your street is noisier than mine). 

However, when the adjective begins with a vowel, you pronounce the ‘s’ like a ‘z’ (plouz). Les enfants sont plus (plouz) autonomes cette année parce qu’ils sont plus (plouz) âgés (the kids are more independent this year because they are older). 

De plus (plouz) en plus (plous)... (More and more) 

In most other cases, we use plus with the ‘s’ sound.

When to use que and dont 

Again, it can be confusing to know when to employ que and when it is replaced by dont

But there is a simple rule to help you remember! 

Que is used when the verb that follows has no preposition, and dont is used when the verb that follows does have a preposition.

Le film que j’ai vu hier est vraiment trop bien (The film I saw yesterday is really very good). 

This is because we say voir quelque chose. 

Le film dont je te parlais hier est vraiment trop bien (The film I told you about yesterday is really very good)

This is because we say parler de quelque chose

Read more: Tricks to get the gender of nouns correct in French

Aussi or autant?

Finally, when do we use aussi and when do we use autant

Both express comparison and intensity, but they are used in different contexts. 

Autant is used before a name or a verb, for example, pourquoi y a-t-il autant de gens dans la rue ce soir? (Why are there so many people in the street tonight?)

Meanwhile, aussi (as…as) is used before adjectives and adverbs. For example, il parle français aussi bien que toi maintenant (he speaks French as well as you now).