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I have only studied French for a few weeks. I have been looking for the word "about" that fits the context below but I end up with all kind of Words that I do not feel like they fit in. I have finally found "environ" and I am curious if it would be correct to use it as I do in the sentence? Or perhaps there is a better word?

Je voudrais vous raconter environ ma sœur.

  • Tu voudrais nous parler de ta sœur. – Stéphane Sep 25 '16 at 16:11
  • Sometimes, "about" is "à propos de". You could say "Je voudrais vous parler de quelque chose à propos de ma soeur". (I want to tell you something about my sister). – Nikana Reklawyks Sep 25 '16 at 16:31
  • I have run into á propos de also but I am uncertain (and that makes it a little difficult) which word or phrase is most commonly used. – Eva Sep 25 '16 at 16:33
  • Adding to what Stéphane said and is correct. If you're using "about" at the beggining of the sentence "About my sister..." the translation would be "A propos de ma sœur..." or "En parlant de ma soeur.." and "De ma soeur" would be impossible. – Jylo Sep 25 '16 at 16:34
  • Welcome on french.SE btw :) – Nikana Reklawyks Sep 25 '16 at 16:38
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As is often the case, there's no 1 to 1 translation of about in French.

Environ only translates as about when it marks an approximate quantity:

She was about ten = Elle avait dix ans environ // Elle avait environ dix ans

When about is an adverb, it translates as an adverb or an adverbial phrase in French too:

I was about to leave = J'étais sur le point de partir

When about is a preposition marking the topic of a conversation, a speech, a book, or the like, there are three main options:

de: It only has this meaning with a few verbs, but this includes a very important one: parler (also discuter and causer, all essentially meaning speak about). Your sentence could thus translate to:

Je voudrais vous parler de ma sœur - I'd like to speak to you about my sister

sur: This is the general preposition that's used with most other verbs (and it can be used with parler too, although with a different meaning in some dialects)

J'aurais aimé vous dire quelque mots sur ma sœur - I'd have liked to tell you a few words about my sister

à propos (de): unlike the other two (the most and fifth most used prepositions in French), it's unambiguous and can only mean about. It's however quite a bit clunkier, clocking in at four syllables and is mostly thus used for maximum clarity or in verb-less sentence fragments:

J'aurais aimé vous dire quelque mots à propos de ma sœur

Even then it has a meaning that's not shared by English's about:

À propos de ta sœur, elle se l'est enfin payée, sa liseuse Kindle ? - Speaking of your sister, did she finally buy herself a Kindle?

À propos can also mean by the way.

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In this context, "environ" would be an incorrect translation. It only means "about" in the sense of "approximately", "more or less", or "thereabouts".

For the sense of about that's about "relating to", which you're using in this sentence, a better translation would be "à propos de" :

I would like to tell you something about my sister.
Je voudrais vous raconter quelque chose à propos de ma soeur.

Relevant dictionnary entry.

  • Thanks for elaborating and explaining. This is something that is not covered in my book yet since I am still novice. Merci beaucoup. – Eva Sep 25 '16 at 16:44

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