Common errors in professional English writing from native French speakers

I soon learned as a native English speaker, I’m the default chief editor of my team, regardless of my actual role. My feeling of what was good grammar, mixed with confidence, helped early on my career. Then over time, and as I learned French and Spanish, I learned more about English and how it all fits together.

I have a running document in my Drive that I add to whenever I see common mistakes in English from native French speakers. This is cathartic for me, in a way, to write a short-list of common mistakes. I assembled it for my own satisfaction and eventually shared it with trusted clients (read: repeat offenders).

And now here it is for all to see, for whatever it’s worth!

French-English common errors

  • thanks to (used in French but not common in EN, mostly sarcastic when used, e.g. “thanks to trump, the virus is terrible” best not to use in formal professional writing.)
  • “via” (usually is “through” in EN)
  • as well as (used instead of “and” and too wordy most times)
  • indeed (in spoken language more than formal professional writing)
  • all in all (repetitive)
  • on one hand…on the other (appeared 27 times in 84 pages I edited it, this is excessive)
  • in terms of (too wordy)
  • however and moreover can be used incorrectly – however expresses contradiction, moreover, something additional
  • “technics” instead of “techniques” (these are different words)
  • “in order to” can just be “to”
  • semi-colons ; we basically never use in English
  • advice is not advise, wrong word used many times (and advice is always singular in EN, we don’t have advices)
  • “at stake” is used incorrectly, “topic at stake”, just use “topic”
  • “at stake” usually means lives at stake, something very grave or serious, instead they should skip using it

Grammar – more impactful

  • “is + -ing verb” is used incorrectly, instead of just the infinitive
  • for example “Name is integrating” should be simply “Name integrates” another “is willing to” simply, does.
  • “is aiming at” -> “aims to”
  • “is offering” -> “offers”
  • using “have + past tense” when actually it is still present/ongoing (this is passé composee in FR, but in EN we use the present)
  • for example “have strived” -> “strives”

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