Learn French: The Most Common Mistakes! #3 Grammar (Again!)

My background as a French teacher made me realize a lot of things. Everyone learning a language despite of their nationality has his or her difficulties. As majority of my students are native English speakers, they face the same problems. We all know that more than 30% of English language has a French origin. Even non-native English speakers tend to use the same sentence structure as English. That is a very clever strategy, but this technique is not perfect. I am here to give you more.

You will find here what you need to be careful with, the most common mistakes of French language learners, so you can avoid them!

Today we will see the second part of the most common mistakes about Grammar and Structures!


Depuis, Pendant or Pour?

Depuis means “since” or “for.” It is used with a French verb in present tense to talk about an action that happened in the past and continues in the present.

  • J’habite en France depuis 3 ans.

Pendant means “for” and refers to the entire duration of an action. It can be used with all tenses.

  • J’ai attendu pendant une heure.
  • Je vais habiter en France pendant 1 an.

The preposition Pour is used in a variety of contexts. However, when expressing the duration of an event it can only be used for future action.

  • Nous allons chez moi pour deux semaines.

Vite or Rapide?

Vite is an adverb (quickly) and rapide is an adjective (quick). You can translate them both to fast, since fast can be either an adjective (He’s a fast runner) or an adverb (He runs fast).

  • Une voiture rapide, un rythme rapide
  • Le train va vite, Ils ont vite mangé, Viens vite

Connaître or Savoir?

Connaître is to know that something exists, and to know what it is about.

It is also used to talk about people or places.

Connaître is never followed by a verb nor subordinate clause starting with: que/ qui/ où/ quand/ pourquoi/ comment/ si..

  • Je connais le Louvre
  • Je connais mes voisins

Savoir is used for facts, things we know deeply, abilities, and information we are aware of.

  • Je sais écrire
  • Je sais skier
  • Je sais que t’aimes parler français

Beaucoup de

Like other adverbs of quantity, beaucoup is always followed by de, with no article:

  • J’ai beaucoup de temps
  • Tu as beaucoup d’amis


This word can be confusing, because it is not enough to just translate « to miss » as “manquer” For example, if you translate “I miss you”, you get “Je te manque” . Which means exactly the opposite.

The right sentence should be “Tu me manques” = “You are being missed by me”.

Gens (people) is plural, tout le monde (everybody) is singular

  • Beaucoup de gens sont bilingues.
  • Tout le monde est étonné. 

Bear in mind to use infinitive when it comes to modal verbs

  • Je vais + inf
  • Je veux + inf
  • Je peux + inf
  • Je dois + inf

Watch out when using a negative word like Personne, Plus, Aucun, Jamais.

As they replace the PAS  , no need to use both

Say: “Personne ne pouvait y arriver” and not “personne ne pouvait pas y arriver”

  • j’ai plus faim.
  • j’ai aucun problème.
  • j’ai jamais été en France.
  • Je connais personne.

Pleuvoir/ Pleurer

“J’aime quand la pluie commence à tomber car on ne voit plus tes larmes” Booba

This is a tough one. It is absolutely normal to mix both; many non-English native speakers make this mistake too.

Our first clue here is the R at the end of the verb PLEURER (to cry), keep in mind to stress on the R. The second one is that the verb PLEUVOIR (to rain), is only conjugated at the 3rd person of singular masculine. You can only pronounce or listen “IL” before.

  • il pleut / il pleure
  • il a plu/ j’ai pleuré

Sur (on) for dans

Here is a funny one. When someone says  ” j’étais sur le train ” (I was on the top of the train), it looks like he’s James Bond. We say ” j’étais dans le train ” (“in” the train).

Je suis 17 ans for quand j’avais 17 ans

Since it has a different verb, remember that in French, you ” have ” 17 years.

Pour exemple for par exemple

Demander une question (ask a question) for poser une question

 Poser  is the verb you will use when asking a question. Poser and Question, are good friends, and actually married!

Je peux vous poser une question? 

Don't get fooled again!

"The most COMMON MISTAKES of French Learners!"

1 thought on “Learn French: The Most Common Mistakes! #3 Grammar (Again!)”

  1. Pingback: Learn French: The Most Common Mistakes! #1 Vocabulary – It's French Juice!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *