Top 10 Advanced French Mistakes

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If you speak French at an advanced level, congratulations! You may not be fluent yet, but you're definitely on your way. Nonetheless, there are probably a few concepts you can use a bit of help with. Oftentimes these are small details that don't affect your listener's comprehension, but mistakes are mistakes and if you want to be fluent you need to avoid them. Here are the ten most common French mistakes and difficulties for advanced speakers, with links to lessons.


Pronunciation-wise, one of the last things most French students master is the rhythm of French. In many languages, words and sentences have stressed syllables, but French does not. It can be very difficult to get the hang of giving each syllable the same stress when one's own language is so different, especially when trying to stress the importance of a particular word. Understanding French rhythm is the first step to being able to mimic it.

À vs. De

The prepositions à and de cause endless problems for French students because they are used in similar constructions to mean different things.

De, du, de la, or des?

Another pitfall for advanced French speakers has to do with the preposition de and the indefinite and partitive articles. French teachers commonly receive questions about whether a given phrase should be followed by de or by du, de la, or des.

Verbs with Prepositions

In English, many verbs require a certain preposition in order for the meaning of the verb to be complete, such as "to look at" and "to listen to." The same is true in French, but the prepositions required for French verbs are often not the same as the ones required by their English counterparts. In addition, some verbs that require a preposition in English don't take one in French, and vice versa. It all boils down to memorizing verbs with their prepositions.

C'est vs. Il est

The expressions c'est and il est are often confused. Like à and de, above, c'est and il est have strict rules on usage—they may mean something similar, but their usage is quite distinct.

Le facultatif

As an advanced French speaker, you should be very familiar with le as a definite article and direct object pronoun. What you may not know is that there are two optional uses of le. The neuter object pronoun le is an optional, formal construction found most commonly in written French, and l' is sometimes used in front of on to increase euphony in French.

Indefinite French

I find that one of the hardest things to translate into another language is indefiniteness, such as anyone, something, everywhere, all the time. This index includes links to lessons on every kind of indefiniteness, from indefinite adjectives to the indefinite subject pronoun on.​

Impersonal French

Grammatically speaking, impersonal refers to words or structures which are invariable; that is, they do not specify a grammatical person. This is, like indefiniteness, a fairly difficult concept for many students of French.

Reflexive vs. Object Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used with pronominal verbs, while object pronouns are used with transitive verbs, and they have very different purposes. Yet they cause problems for many students due to the issue of agreement with pronouns that precede a compound verb. Before you worry about agreement, though, you need to be sure you understand the difference between reflexive and direct object pronouns—how to use them, separately and together.


I can almost guarantee that you have trouble with some aspect of agreement, because even native speakers have trouble with it sometimes! There are numerous types of agreement, but the most difficult tend to be agreement with direct objects that precede compound verbs and with pronominal verbs.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Top 10 Advanced French Mistakes." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Top 10 Advanced French Mistakes. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Top 10 Advanced French Mistakes." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).