French Word of the Day

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Monday, December 31, 2012


to award

Le professeur a attribué le prix à l’étudiant le plus intelligent.
The teacher awarded the prize to the smartest student.

Vocabulary Section: Verbs, Word of the Day
Sunday, December 30, 2012


to wait

J’attends ma mère.
I’m waiting for my mother.

Attendre means to wait. If you want to say you’re attending to somebody or something, you would use the verb assister. So, if you were attending to your mother, rather than waiting for her, you would say: J’assiste à ma mère.

Our example illustrates an especially useful topic. While French and English have many cognates — words that are derived from the same root word and consequently look and sound a lot alike — these words sometimes have similar meanings but other times, as with our example today, do not. When they don’t, they are called false cognates and can provide pitfalls for language learners.

Vocabulary Section: False Cognates, Verbs, Word of the Day
Saturday, December 29, 2012

le défendeur, la défenderesse

the defendant

La défenderesse prétend qu’elle ne connaissait pas la femme.
The defendant claims that she did not know the woman.

Our words are among the vocabulary of the courtroom.

Vocabulary Section: Civics, Word of the Day
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

les maths, math

Pierre et Paul étudient les maths.
Pierre and Paul study math.

Note how the French use the plural les maths instead of a singular form of the word as we do in English. It’s just one of several examples of singular and plural differences between the two languages.

Monday, December 24, 2012

le Réveillon

Christmas Eve feast

Normalement, le Réveillon suit la Messe de Minuit.
Normally, the Christmas Eve feast follows Midnight Mass.

Le Réveillon is an important part of the French Christmas tradition. It is a meal that often begins with turkey and ends with the Yule log, or bûche de Noël. For practical reasons, the meal is held more and more at the beginning of the evening rather than at the end. In the South of France particularly, the meal also includes a tradition known as Treize desserts, thirteen desserts that symbolize Jesus and his 12 apostles.


Vocabulary Section: Holidays, Word of the Day
Sunday, December 23, 2012


to stay

Nous sommes restés chez nous hier soir.
We stayed at home last night.

Rester is a regular -er verb that is also among a group of verbs often classified as verbs of motion. The compound tenses of these verbs are conjugated with être rather than avoir. These verbs typically express a state of coming, going or, in this case, staying.

Click here to see how another verb like rester is conjugated.

Vocabulary Section: Verbs, Word of the Day
Friday, December 21, 2012

une voie

a lane (on a road or highway)

Les policiers ont fermé la voie gauche pendant deux heures.
The police closed the left lane for two hours.

Vocabulary Section: Cars, Word of the Day
Thursday, December 20, 2012

un rôti

a roast

Un rôti de bœuf au romarin a le vrai goût d’hiver.
Roast beef with rosemary has the true taste of winter.

Vocabulary Section: Food and Drink, Word of the Day
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

faire la vaisselle

to do the dishes

Robert déteste faire la vaisselle. Il a de la chance d’avoir une lave-vaisselle.
Robert hates doing the dishes. He’s lucky to have a dishwasher.

Our vocabulary topic is household chores.

You’ll notice many of the expressions for housework use the verb faire. Review a complete conjugation of faire in our Quick Verb Guide.

Vocabulary Section: Around the House, Word of the Day
Tuesday, December 18, 2012


to register

J’ai une réservation. Puis-je m’inscrire?
I have a reservation. Can I register?

Our word is among essential vocabulary for checking into a hotel. If you’re planning a trip to France or another French-speaking country now or just someday in the future, this is a word you’ll want to pack in your suitcase. Bon voyage!

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