Forum Rocket French Conversation in French Does it sound weird if you don't use the the right tense or gender?

Does it sound weird if you don't use the the right tense or gender?


Do you know when you talk, does it sound weird if you talk with the wrong gender or wrong tense or do we just get away with it?




I don't find it weird.



But I am waiting for Marie to answer.


Many times, the French use such words as the definite and indefinite articles when we English would omit them.  To the French, those words are important, and this one of the  challenges of learning French.  As French learners, we need to be attentive to the little words because our listeners expect to hear them.

Regarding verb tense:  Correct usage tells the hearer what the speaker really means.  For example, if I would say, "J'ai pris une pomme et je la mange."  The listener understands that I took an apple and that now I'm eating it; no other interpretation can be given to the verbs. 

Look at it another way:  Consider people who miss out words and use unclear verb conjugation when speaking English.  To our ears that have been trained to hear good Engish from infancy, those people just don't sound right, maybe even a bit wierd.

That said:  If a person is really trying to use the new language, a few grammatical errors are forgiven, and the listener makes an extra effort to understand.

I hope this helps; I wish you well with your studies.  French is a beautiful language.

toru e

Agree with Diane, the French definitely notice when you use the wrong gender or tense, but because they can also detect your accent (anglophone or otherwise), they may be more forgiving.

That said, I've also been in the situation recently where I was in the airport and I was talking to the representative in French, and when it came time to place my baggage, I asked «À la côté ?» to ask if I should place the luggage on its side and she corrected me a bit sternly, «Sur la côté !». My French accent is pretty good and my level is advanced, so I think she expected me to have a better command of the difference in usage. ☹


Torusan, you made a small French error, but the employee still easily understood you.  However, it sounds like her level of politeness was much worse than was your French.

The thing is, we all make mistakes, even in our native language.  I consider myself to have an excellent command of English, but sometimes an error slips out.  The problem with speaking is that we must think and speak at the same time and often very quickly.  If errors slip into our native language, it's quite reasonable, that the same will happen in the second language.

This brings me to another thing:  Although we can't always use context to cover up poor French, context very often helps the listener to hear what we meant and not what we said.  This is exactly what happeded in Torusan's illustration.  The employee saw the suitcase and knew what Torusan needed/wanted to do.  Even though he incorrectly used one word, the employee translated what he said into the correct meaning.


I wish everybody would make corrections like that all the time. Sure would make learning a language much easier even if it might seem impolite in many situations, what is more embarassing is to leave the errors in place. I tend to think it takes a person of much stonger character to make the correction than it does to ignore it.

Oh but back to the original question... as Diane and Torusan stated: they notice and getting them to correct you is often difficult or impossible. So, how to manage that?  A tutor:absolutely. But I have another idea.

I am finding that works very well for the die/der/das articles in German and I wish it had been available while I was getting started in French. The repetition and correction method may be all you need to get those articles right every time. Try it and see.  You can create your own courses and they make it easy to paste in a list of phrases in a two column format. You can easily copy any word lists from My Vocab right into Memrise and start to study them. 


Merci Diana, jason et torusan.

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