I'm learning French...or rather relearning French after many years and having forgotten most of it. I keep coming across usage problems, like how is "mettre" different from "placer" and "poser"; or "habiter" from "vivre" and "demeurer". Or "quitter" from "sortir" and "partir" and "laisser"...the list goes on and on.

In English, there are some resources such as usage dictionaries in the library, and online there are sites like Merriam-Webster (though for select words). For instance, it tells you that "reprove implies an often kindly intent to correct a fault" while "rebuke suggests a sharp or stern reproof." These are the kinds of things I hope to find for French language, but obviously for simpler words too. Appreciate any help or suggestion.

3 Answers 3


The TLFi has extensive usage examples.

  • great, merci beaucoup
    – Jose F
    Sep 10, 2016 at 20:32

The website Le Point du FLE, has a page with links* to various dictionaries that are suggested to learners of French as a second language, they are classified according to their specific usage (mono- or bilingual, synonyms, etc.) but some of them can be too difficult to use for beginner or intermediate students of French.
And they have forgotten one which is often recommended to learners at beginner and intermediate levels, and which I personally find find very good at this level: the Le dictionnaire multifonctions of TV5Monde. The définition tab lists the various possible meanings of a word, and each word in the definition is linked to the definition of that word. Specific particularities are given, homonyms when existing, the synonym tab allows to go to the usage of the various synonyms. There's also a "style" tab that, when existing, gives set phrases in which the words are used. There's also a bilingual (French-English and English-French) dictionary tab. What's lacking is pronunciation, but you can always have that in the French wiktionary which on the other hand is not the ideal usage dictionary for a beginner or intermediate learner of French.

A tip when you find the indications in a dictionary do not return what you expect is to search on the internet. You can type habiter vs vivre or quitter vs sortir and you will find that there are plenty of people out there who have written on have written extensively on the subject. To Leave, to Exit... Quitter, Sortir, Partir, Laisser, S'en Aller Vivre et habiter You will find that French Language Stack Exchange is a great place for that type of questions and when you don't find your answer it's the place to ask you question.

*Some of the links are not updated, e.g. the GDT which is a great ressource.


You can find specific explanation even for simple words with these dictionaries:


or online


  • Concerning Larousse, a nice feature is their difficultés section in some of their entries (for instance) which provides many usage tips etc...
    – user3177
    Sep 11, 2016 at 19:04

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