How do you write a letter to a friend in French?

How do you write a letter to a friend in French?

Use proper greetings

You can write your friend’s first name alone* or with the adjective “cher”. If necessary, make sure to show the feminine and the plural!

*definitely that choice for someone you don’t know well or you can write “Madame” / “Monsieur”

Chère Cecilia,

“Tu” instead of “vous”

For a close friend, you will obviously use “tu”! Do not assume that French people know conjugation so do the same as they do: check it*! 

*Lots of free French tools available on line, for example la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com

Also, since it’s someone you are comfortable with, you are allowed to ask about private topics such as health, family’s, etc.

“Tu” is also possible in a professional email/letter if both correspondents agreed beforehand

J’espère que tu vas bien ? 

Past tenses to talk about past events

Imparfait is used to describe something in the past, talk about something usual in the past or different steps about something which occured in the past.

Passé-composé is used to talk about specific actions that are over now.

Both of them have to be used alternately, it depends on the situation and what you want to say.

Ce week-end, il y avait les journées du patrimoine alors ça coûtait seulement 5eur l’aller-retour pour voyager dans la région. Au dernier moment, j’ai décidé d’aller visiter le château de Bussy-Rabutin, situé à 30mn de Dijon. 

Present tense to relate to present actions AND talk about the person’s likes and dislikes

Even if you talk about something in the past, don’t forget the fact that some things will still be conjugated with permanent present.

Toi qui aimes les châteaux, j’ai pensé à toi car celui-ci est vraiment magnifique sans parler de son immense parc de plus de 30 hectares ! 
Son plus célèbre propriétaire était le comte Roger de Bussy-Rabutin, né en 1618 et mort en 1693. Il était général des armées royales de Louis 14e, l’un des plus célèbres rois de France, et pas vraiment fan de liberté d’expression…
En effet, il va exiler Bussy-Rabutin pour avoir ouvertement dit du mal des mœurs et du libertinage de la cour. Le roi décide de l’envoyer chez lui en Bourgogne pour le punir.
Franchement, entre nous qui ne voudrait pas se faire confiner ici ?
Pour s’occuper, Bussy-Rabutin va alors écrire ses mémoires et entretenir une correspondance active avec ses amis et sa famille. Il va aussi faire décorer son château avec plus de 500 portraits des membres de la cour, un peu comme un feed Instagram !

Prepare the end of your email or letter

Adverbs are always interesting, for example to express when something happens.

Aujourd’hui, on peut visiter tout ça car le château appartient à l'État depuis 1929 et c’est lui qui se charge de son entretien et de l’ouvrir aux visiteurs.

Talk about your hopes for the future with first group verb 

espérer (present tense) + que + subject + verb conjugated with future tense

J’espère que cette lettre des temps modernes te plaira et que tu auras pu* imaginer la paix et la beauté de cette magnifique journée.

*be careful “auras pu” is “futur antérieur” of the verbe “pouvoir”! This tense is used to talk about an action in the future but still coming before another future action.

Use proper greetings (2)

If you know the person closely, you can use “à bientôt”, “à plus” (= “à plus tard” meaning “see you later” OR “see you soon” here in this context) or “prends soin de toi* (take care)”, etc.

*definitely not for someone you don’t know or in a professional context!

À bientôt

Check out example below

👇

La Liberté d’expression en France

[Free B2 content] La Liberté d’expression en France

Today: session about freedom of speech in France with Eirini (Greece) and Ronald (Netherlands)!

What is the specific definition of freedom of speech in France?

What is the story behind?

Why is press freedom so important?

When is it important to protect or to put some limits on freedom of speech?

This issue is a good opportunity to publish our unique content as a free ressource for:

  • advanced students
  • Teachers of French looking for fresh ideas

“Ignorance and fear are my enemies but knowledge is my shield”

Go straight to the content

5 French Weird Expressions

5 French Weird Expressions

formal

1) emprunter les wc

= someone asks you permission to use the restroom

Est-ce que je peux vous emprunter vos toilettes, s’il vous plaît ?

borrow = emprunter

Imagine a situation where you make a delivery at a company, they don’t expect you to stay for more than that but you need to go to the restroom. You can definitely use this sentence to ask permission!

PS: the extreme politeness of this request makes it really hard to get you a “no”

colloquial

2) vous appeler quelqu’un 

= call someone for you

Ne bougez pas, je vous appelle mon collègue.

Don’t move, I call you “my coworker”

Imagine someone comes to you and you realize you can’t answer his questions but someone else in your team can so by using this sentence, you ask him to wait and you go call your coworker.


3) mettre quelqu’un bien

= do eveything you can to help someone feel comfortable and enjoy

Fais-moi confiance, je vais te mettre bien !

Imagine a friend is having a bad day so you decide to plan something special for him / her. Using that sentence means that he / she can leave everything to you.


4) remettre le bonjour 

= say hello to someone for someone else 

Vous remettrez le bonjour à votre femme !

Imagine you meet someone you haven’t met in a while (maybe you used to be neighbours for example)…

You talk about family, news, etc. and at the end, you ask him to say hello to his wife for you. It will be considered as small kindness.

PS: remember that if someone uses this sentence, you will probably hear “vous r’mettrez l’bonjour à vot’ femme”


5) être au taquet

= be at the limit of brackets (something that helps holding a door or a shelf)

Il est au taquet, lui ! Ça se voit qu’il veut réussir.

Imagine someone who is really motivated and does whatever it takes to succeed!

People around can say this as a compliment but depending on the context, it can also sound ironic or even mocking as an attempt to hide one’s jealousy…

Are there such weird expressions in your language? Share with us below!

“Sentir” vs “ressentir”: big headache to make the difference

“Sentir” vs “ressentir”: big headache to make the difference

The other day, during a session with Iva, one of my students, we happened to talk about two french verbs with very close meaning: “sentir” and “ressentir”. Iva asked me the difference between them and I was like…

So I told to myself: “why not write an article about it?

Not only these two look alike when you write them but their meaning is very close! As French natives, we just k-n-o-w when to use one rather than the other

Let’s talk first about the writing. As you can see, there is this “re” in “ressentir” which is the only visual difference. Most of the time, this prefix means that we emphasize on something which will be repeated or a return on a first action.

Examples:

commencer (start) ; recommencer (do again)

partir (leave) ; repartir (go back, set off again)


BUT here it is not the case with “ressentir” so be careful…

Sentir

These are the most common meanings of “sentir” nowadays (sources: CNRTL & Littré):

1) Percevoir (perceive)

  • with the sense of smell

example: “ça sent les crêpes !” it smells crepes!

sentir bon = smell good

  • with other senses (taste, touch)

Examples: “je sens le goût du citron dans la salade” I can feel lemon in the salad

“ils sentent le vent dans leurs cheveux”  They can feel the wind in their hair

  • with intuition

Example: “il sentait que sa mort était proche” He knew his death was coming

Extract of a poem by Guy de Maupassant, “Terreur” (Terror)

Ce soir-là j’avais lu fort longtemps quelque auteur.
Il était bien minuit, et tout à coup j’eus peur.
Peur de quoi ? je ne sais, mais une peur horrible.
Je compris, haletant et frissonnant d’effroi,
Qu’il allait se passer une chose terrible…
[Alors il me sembla sentir derrière moi
Quelqu’un qui se tenait debout]*, dont la figure
Riait d’un rire atroce, immobile et nerveux (...)

*Suddenly I felt like there was someone standing behind me

2) Avoir la sensation de (feel)

Se sentir + adjectif

“Je me sens toujours jeune” I still feel young

“Il se sent vraiment fatigué” It feels really tired

3) Faire comprendre (make something more or less clear)

Faire sentir quelque chose

“Tu lui as fait sentir qu’elle n’était plus la bienvenue” You made it clear for her that she was not welcome anymore

➨ here you can replace “sentir” by “ressentir”: “Tu lui as fait ressentir qu’elle n’était plus la bienvenue”

4) Other meanings in frequent idiomatic expressions

  • supporter (tolerate) : “je ne peux plus les sentir” I can’t stand them anymore

⚠ “ne pas / plus sentir quelqu’un” is only used with negative

  • se faire des illusions sur soi-même (delude yourself like to be full of yourself) : “Tout à coup, tu t’es senti pousser des ailes !” Suddenly, you felt ten feet tall!
  • s’attendre à un résultat (see something coming)

“Ça sent…”

“Ça sent le vécu !” It has a ring of truth about it

“Ça sent l’arnaque, cette histoire !” It looks like a scam to me

“Ça ne sent pas bon, ne fais pas ça !” It doesn’t look good, don’t you do it! (= it’s not a good idea)

Ressentir

These are the most common meanings of “ressentir” nowadays (sources: CNRTL & Littré):

1) Sentir ou éprouver un sentiment profond et / ou dont on se sent conscient (feel something deep and / or you are aware of)

“Je ressens de la colère quand j’entends ce qui se passe là-bas” I feel angry when I hear what happens there

“Elles ressentent tout le bien-être de la thalassothérapie” They experience the feeling of well-being of the thalassotherapy

➨ here you can replace “ressentir” by “sentir”: “je sens de la colère quand j’entends ce qui se passe là-bas” ; “elles sentent tout le bien-être de la thalassothérapie”

Le plus grand plaisir qu'un honnête homme puisse ressentir est celui de faire plaisir à ses amis.”  
The greatest pleasure of an honorable man is to please his friends 
 
Voltaire, Les pensées philosophiques (1862)  

2) Aimer (love) ❤

“Dis-lui ce que tu ressens pour elle !” Tell her how you feel about her!

3) Percevoir un sentiment chez une personne (feel something in someone’s talk or in something)

“On ressent le regret dans tes paroles” Anyone can feel the regret when you talk

➨ here you can replace “ressentir” by “sentir”: “on sent le regret dans tes paroles”

“ça se ressent…”

“Ça se ressent dans ta façon d’en parler, que tu es à bout !” (fam.)

➨ here you can replace “ressentir” by “sentir”: “ça se sent dans ta façon de parler, que tu es à bout !” (fam.)

4) Éprouver une impression en raison d’une cause extérieure (feel something from an external cause)

avoir un ressenti sur quelque chose (sense something)

“J’ai eu un très bon ressenti pendant mon entretien avec le DRH” I had a very good feeling during the job interview with the HR Manager

Are there such big headaches in your language? Share with us below!