I am not quite sure but I think that the French Academy (Académie française) is the French institution that is the canonical guardian of the French language. (What organization is the official guardian of the French language in France and/or worldwide?). I do know that there was a French Grammar supervised by the French Academy (LA GRAMMAIRE DE L’ACADÉMIE: PAR M. ABEL HERMANT, DÉLÉGUÉ DE L’ACADÉMIE FRANÇAISE, 1930).

Has this grammar ever been considered as the official French Grammar? What was the reactions to this work? Is there something relevant but more recent one? Is Grevisse's Le Bon usage considered as the Definite French Grammar?

3 Answers 3


Official? Definite? What do you mean? [mode_trolling]Grevisse? He's Belgian! How do you want his work to become official?[/mode_trolling] No disrespect meant!

A/ The Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française is truely official in that it is the only french dictionnary to be published by the Journal Officiel de la République Française, which says the law in every matter, language included. Any official document written by the government must be fully in accordance with that dictionnary, period.

This fact and only this fact makes it official... and in France... only!

B/ Grammar is different. Grammar is a matter of aesthetics. And therefore... each to his own. Being well known that grammarians always disagree... (Grammatici certant et adhuc sub judice lis est), best in class grammarians will only observe and report how the language is written in reknown works. Le bon usage is indeed a good reference, because it is an example of that attitude. How things are written by some bons auteurs is as important as whatever so called rule.

Because, in France, you know,... no honest grammarian will tell you that you must not write : Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine et nos amours...

  • 1
    Not everyone agree about coule lack of agreement: salon-litteraire.linternaute.com/fr/guillaume-apollinaire/…
    – jlliagre
    Aug 29, 2018 at 9:00
  • As a matter of fact, the paper you quoted only mentions professeurs de lettres no contemporary grammarian at all. That not everyone agree is a fact (I wrote each to his own) but the same with whatever artwork. Grammarians just take note. And, when surprised, they just don't claim having found some fault. They just wonder. Did I understand correctly ? That's called descriptivism and that's what grammar is nowadays.
    – MC68020
    Aug 29, 2018 at 10:10
  • Indeed. I fully agree with the fact grammar is not an exact science and should not be "prescristivist" only. However, your quote might not be the best choice to show your point. By removing its newlines and truncating verses, you distort Apollinaire's words and show a blatantly non grammatical sentence by common standards while the original work is only possibly ambiguous. By the way, Grevisse was Belgian, not belgium :-)
    – jlliagre
    Aug 29, 2018 at 10:35
  • 1
    @dimitris it refers to internet trolls. Trolling is "being a troll", so basically these false tags surrounding the sentence are there to indicate he's joking/provoking
    – Laurent S.
    Aug 29, 2018 at 14:35
  • 1
    Est-ce possible svp de mettre de côté les tags de langage de programmation. À mon avis ce genre de trucs n'a pas sa place dans les réponses ni en langue française généralement. Merci !
    – user3177
    Aug 29, 2018 at 16:09

The Academie can blather on, but the one that all French people use regularly is the one from http://bescherelle.com/.


To answer to the first part of the question (Grammaire de l'Académie française : réactions) I found this interesting article. One reads, among other things:

Non. Il n’existe pas de grammaire officielle. L’Académie s’est essayée à l’exercice dans les années trente... avec un succès qu’on peut qualifier de « très relatif ». Le débat à ce propos permit de revenir sur la personnalité d’Abel Hermant et la contestation approndie des erreurs académiques par Ferdinand Brunot.


La Grammaire de l’Académie vue par l’Académie

Voici ce que l’on trouve sur le site de l’Académie française (choisir la rubrique Dictionnaire, puis l’avant-propos de la IXe édition).

« On a souvent rappelé que, d’après les statuts d’établissement de 1635, l’Académie devait, en même temps que le Dictionnaire, composer une grammaire. Elle s’y essaya par deux fois, sans trop de réussite. Sa première grammaire, due à la plume de Régnier-Desmarais, et publiée au début du XVIIIe siècle, fut jugée comme une production bien imparfaite. L’Académie attendit deux cents ans pour récidiver ; elle aurait pu attendre plus longtemps encore, car la grammaire qu’elle édita dans les années trente du XXe siècle n’eut guère de succès, fût-ce d’estime. »

One contemporary review from that era can be found here.

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