Sorry! Search is currently unavailable while the database is being updated, it will be back in 5 mins!

Four More "Faux Amis"

You may recall our previous lesson on three adverbs that were false cognates, or words that look similar in two languages but mean different things. In French, these are called faux amis (literally, “false friends”), and there are too many French-English ones to count. In this lesson, we’ll just focus on four more, all from our most recent videos


We’ve been learning a lot about Galileo lately in the Il était une fois (Once Upon a Time) series, the third installment of which deals with the scientist’s experiments with pendulums, which move in a very specific way:


Vous allez voir que cet instrument va

You'll see that this instrument is going

se balancer de moins en moins fort!

to swing less and less intensely!

Caption 11, Il était une fois: Les découvreurs - 9. Galilée - Part 3

 Play Caption


You may have expected se balancer to mean “to balance,” but it actually means “to swing.” “To balance” is tenir en équilibre (literally, “to hold in equilibrium”).

In part four of the series, we finally get to the revolutionary idea that made Galileo famous and ultimately cost him his life


Vous vous rendez compte, mon cher, qu'ils se trouvent des savants

You realize, my dear friend, that there are scientists

pour prétendre que la Terre n'est pas le centre de l'univers!

claiming that the earth is not the center of the universe!

Captions 22-23, Il était une fois: Les découvreurs - 9. Galilée - Part 4

 Play Caption


Galileo didn’t “pretend” that the earth revolved around the sun—on the contrary, he was pretty sure of it! So sure, in fact, that he boldly “claimed” it. “To pretend” is faire semblant or feindre.

Prétendre is followed by que when you're making a claim ("to claim that..."), but when you're claiming a specific thing for yourself, you use prétendre à

Il peut prétendre à une allocation chômage.

He can claim unemployment benefits. 

On a different note, there’s no pretending that the angora rabbits on the Croix de Pierre Farm aren’t adorable, or that their breeder doesn’t take the utmost care to make sure that they’re warm and cozy:


Le plus galère pour eux c'est quand

The toughest time for them is when

tu les épiles et que le temps n'est pas très au beau

you shear them and that the weather is not very nice

ou qu'il gèle très fort.

or that there is a very hard frost.

Captions 19-20, Ferme de la Croix de Pierre - Les lapins

 Play Caption


Il gèle is an impersonal expression (more on those in this lesson) meaning “it’s freezing” or “there’s a frost,” and it comes from the verb geler. That may look like it might mean “to gel”—and indeed, the noun le gel means both “frost” and “gel”—but “to gel” is more like prendre forme (to take shape).

Finally, we’ll leave the French countryside for Montreal, where Geneviève Morissette has been making waves on the music scene as a singer-songwriter and as the host of the “Rendez-Vous de la Chanson Vivante” (Meetings of the Living Song) festival: 


Ça fait deux ans que je les anime.

I've been hosting them for two years.

Caption 4, Geneviève Morissette - À propos de la musique

 Play Caption


Geneviève certainly animates the festival with her impassioned lyrics and powerful voice (and animer can in fact mean “to animate” or “enliven”), but in this context the verb means “to host” or “present.” We could also say that Geneviève is l’animatrice (“host” or “presenter”) of the festival.


Faux amis can be tricky (not to mention a bit sneaky), so be on the lookout for them when watching Yabla videos. Whenever you spot one you don’t know, you can just click on it to add it to your flashcards list. Then, once you review your flashcards, you’ll have it mastered in no time! Bonne chance (“good luck,” not “good chance”)!


You May Also Like