Looks like you’re headed to the land of berets, baguettes, and the Eiffel Tower! France is a beautiful country, and your journey is sure to be filled with countless adventures, but in order to get there, you might want to brush up on your French conversational skills.
There is nothing more embarrassing than saying the completely wrong thing in a foreign language, creating an awkward situation and revealing your "foreignness". Lucky for you, you will have been forewarned about some of the tricky words foreigners tend to stumble upon.
Wait a second, you say. You’d consider yourself a pretty decent looking guy, and you’ve been dancing with this girl at the club for half the night. It’s been a nice time, and you finally get up the courage to ask if you can kiss her—you don’t want to be rude or pushy—and instead of the smile you had been expecting when you ask "est-ce que je peux te baiser?", her eyebrows crease as she dishes you an angry "excusez-moi" and slaps you before she storms away. If she didn’t want to kiss you, she could have just said no, right?
Well, you’re on the right track. Un baiser, a noun, is a kiss. Unfortunately for you, baiser the verb translates to the oh-so courteous "to f***".
Try the verb "embrasser" for better results.
You are totally pumped to meet your French BFF’s long-term boyfriend, so to express your enthusiasm you blurt out "je suis très excité de lui rencontrer!"
Your friend stares at you, obviously a little uncomfortable but you’re not sure why. Was it something you said?
The translation for what you said happens to be something along the lines of "I am very sexually aroused to meet him". Yikes.
Next time use words like "heureux" or "enthousiaste", and save a friendship.
You’ve just met a new friend and she’s invited you over to her place for movie night. Earlier she had mentioned that she had a super lovable female cat, and you’re looking forward to seeing her, so you say "je suis heureux voir ta chatte".
Suddenly, you find that you have been uninvited to movie night.
Perhaps your new friend thought that you had been referring to her genitalia. That’s right, the ever-so-classy term "pu***" exists in French as well.
To avoid this awkward moment, just use the male term "un chat".
A bunch of you are going out for the night, but your friend’s sister said she’s too tired. You’re a bit disappointed, but it isn’t that big of a deal. You jokingly say that "elle suce"—she sucks.
If everyone is looking at you in shock, and if your friend whose sister you were reffering to looks pretty upset, that would be because English slang doesn’t translate. You essentially just said that she sucks d***.
Try "ça craint" to say "it sucks" instead.
You’re on the raw diet and are trying to avoid those nasty preservatives that are in a lot of foods. You begin to raid your host’s kitchen, stumbling upon some bread. You ask your host "est-ce qu’il y a les preservatifs dans le pain?" To which your host responds by spitting out the water they were in the middle of drinking.
That would be because you just asked if "there are any condoms in the bread". The word you’re looking for is "conservateur", honey.
If you’re looking for a way to remember not to say these tricky words, check out What Not to Say in French’s tumblr, which features adorable animal memes to illustrate these offenses.
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn
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