French Proofreading and Editing Tips

Key problem areas in French homework, essays, and translations

Proofreading at home
pixelfit/E+/Getty Images

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.

Vocabulary

Watch out for differences in meaning and/or spelling.

Accents
Missing and incorrect accents are spelling mistakes.

Expressions
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.

Grammar

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

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

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

Clauses

Use the right kind of conjunction.

Be careful with relative pronouns.

  * Si Clauses

Check that these are set up correctly.

Gender
Make a real effort to use the correct gender.

Negation
Be sure to use the best negative structure.

Questions
Are you asking them correctly?

Verbs

Ensure that each conjugation matches its subject.

These are quite different in French.

Be sure to follow each verb with the right preposition.

Are your tenses consistent? Do you need the subjunctive?

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

Mechanics

Written conventions can be very different in French and English.

Acronyms/Abbreviations
Make sure you write them the French way.

Capitalization
Careful - this is much less common in French.

Contractions
These are optional in English, but required in French.

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