So what should you keep in mind when writing French? We’ve listed eight particularities of the language for you.
? ! : ; spaces before punctuation marks
It may feel counterintuitive to hesitate when you’re shouting something from the rooftops, but an exclamation mark needs to be preceded by a space in French. And not just exclamation marks: the same applies to question marks, colons and semicolons. No space is needed before a comma or period, however.
Another feature of written French is that it uses « double guillemets », with a space after the first set of chevrons and a space before the second set.
Avez-vous 10 euros pour moi ?
When talking about money in Dutch, even when it’s about a significant amount, euro isn’t pluralised: “Do you have 10 euro for me” not “10 euros”. In French, euros can be pluralised the same way pounds or dollars can be in English. When French speakers use the euro symbol, they first write the actual number followed by a space, then the symbol: 10 €.
Numeric format: a thousand spaces
The French use spaces to separate thousands. For example: 1 000 000 or 35 000 €.
Months and days of the week: no capitals
Unlike in English, months and days of the week are not capitalised in French. So: dimanche and juillet.
Languages: no capitals
Again, contrary to English speakers, the French don’t use uppercase letters for languages: they speak français.
Time notation: 9 h 30 – 17 h – 23 h 10
The French use a lowercase ‘h’ (from heure) to separate hours from minutes when writing the time. Both in written and spoken French, they use the 24-hour format.
Anglicisation? Non merci !
The French are rather proud of their language – and staunch defenders of it. Which is why you’ll spot a lot less English in French than in many other languages.
To vouvoyer or tutoyer, telle est la question !
In terms of manners and formality, the French can rival the English. When addressing someone who ‘outranks’ you (oh dear) or an adult you haven’t met before in French, always opt for ‘vous’, the courteous way of saying ‘you’.
Where did W go wrong?
Lastly, another fun fact guaranteed to score you points in pub quizzes: in French, the letter ‘w’ (pronounced doo-bluh-vay) is only used in words adopted from other languages. Comme c’est spécial !
Want to be 100% sure your French copy is written parfaitement? We’d be happy to assist you with your French translation!