French Proofreading and Editing Tips

Key problem areas in French homework, essays, and translations

Proofreading at home
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Whether you're checking over French homework, proofreading an essay, or verifying a translation, there are certain key problem areas to watch out for. This is not a definitive list by any means, but it indicates areas of confusion and common mistakes caused by differences between French and English and includes links to more detailed explanations and examples. Before you turn anything in, check the following areas of your work.


Watch out for differences in meaning and/or spelling.

Missing and incorrect accents are spelling mistakes.

Double-check your idiomatic expressions.

False Cognates
Many words are similar in spelling but not in meaning.

Spelling Equivalents
Study these differences between English and French spelling.

True Cognates
These words are identical in spelling and meaning.


An endless topic, but here are some typical areas of difficulty.

Make sure your adjectives, pronouns, and other words agree.

Don't forget — these are more common in French.


  * Conjunctions

Use the right kind of conjunction.

  * Relative Clauses

Be careful with relative pronouns.

  * Si Clauses

Check that these are set up correctly.

Make a real effort to use the correct gender.

Be sure to use the best negative structure.

Are you asking them correctly?


  * Conjugations

Ensure that each conjugation matches its subject.

  * Modal Verbs

These are quite different in French.

  * Prepositions

Be sure to follow each verb with the right preposition.

  * Tense + Mood

Are your tenses consistent? Do you need the subjunctive?

Word Order
Adjectives, adverbs, negation, + pronouns cause positioning problems.


Written conventions can be very different in French and English.

Make sure you write them the French way.

Careful - this is much less common in French.

These are optional in English, but required in French.

Punctuation + Numbers
Follow French spacing rules and use the correct symbols.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "French Proofreading and Editing Tips." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). French Proofreading and Editing Tips. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "French Proofreading and Editing Tips." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).