I wanted to send a text message with the phrase "my dear handsome friend", so I typed mon cher bel ami. But then I double-checked this on Google Translate and it gave me mon cher beau ami. This seems to defy my textbook which says that the second masculine form, bel, is used before a vowel sound.

Which would you use, bel or beau, and why?

  • 5
    The comment must be repeated on every question of this kind: Google Translate is no authority. Don't modify what you've learned to conform to GT output. Always do the reverse. The 1 in 20 times it knows better than you isn't a gamble worth making, and the odds get even worse the more you learn.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Sep 21, 2017 at 16:35
  • Anyway, "mon cher bel ami" seems really odd to me. I think several adjectives must often be linked with "et". Consider using "mon cher et bel ami."
    – Distic
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:29

1 Answer 1


The correct translation for "my dear handsome friend", when talking about a male friend, is "mon cher bel ami". You need to use "bel" when the following word begins with a vowel, like your textbook says. Note that in all cases, you would use "belle" for a female friend. This is because the pronunciation of "beau ami" is not fluid and requires a break between both words while "bel ami" can be pronunced as a single word.

If you look at Google Translate with only "handsome friend", it will give you the correct translation. It looks as though the longer "my dear hansome friend" throws off Google Translate.

  • I upvoted you but disagree with using Google Translate.
    – Lambie
    Sep 21, 2017 at 20:12
  • I was not suggesting Google Translate, but only pointing out its limitations ;) Sep 22, 2017 at 13:09
  • 1
    Google Translate has its uses, helping you with grammar details is not one of them. Sep 22, 2017 at 13:30

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