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.
AccentsMissing and incorrect accents are spelling mistakes.
ExpressionsDouble-check your idiomatic expressions.
False CognatesMany words are similar in spelling but not in meaning.
Spelling EquivalentsStudy these differences between English and French spelling.
True CognatesThese words are identical in spelling and meaning.
An endless topic, but here are some typical areas of difficulty.
AgreementMake sure your adjectives, pronouns, and other words agree.

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

  * ConjunctionsUse the right kind of conjunction.
  * Relative ClausesBe careful with relative pronouns.
  * Si ClausesCheck that these are set up correctly.
GenderMake a real effort to use the correct gender.
NegationBe sure to use the best negative structure.
QuestionsAre you asking them correctly?

  * ConjugationsEnsure that each conjugation matches its subject.
  * Modal VerbsThese are quite different in French.
  * PrepositionsBe sure to follow each verb with the right preposition.
  * Tense + MoodAre your tenses consistent? Do you need the subjunctive?
Word OrderAdjectives, adverbs, negation, + pronouns cause positioning problems.
Written conventions can be very different in French and English.
Acronyms/AbbreviationsMake sure you write them the French way.
CapitalizationCareful - this is much less common in French.
ContractionsThese are optional in English, but required in French.
Punctuation + NumbersFollow French spacing rules and use the correct symbols.