I have my phone language set to French, to help me learn. I opened up my work app, which was previously set to English, and a prompt popped up asking if I’d like to change the app’s language to French. But instead of “changer en français,” it said “changer pour français.”

This seems to have the nuance of “exchange for” as in “switch,” rather than “change to.” Am I at all correct? If not, why the preposition “pour” and not “en”?

See attached:

enter image description here

[ Votre langue préférée est réglée à English. Voudriez-vous la changer pour Français (France)? ]

2 Answers 2


It would be correct to say "Voulez-vous la changer pour le français ?".

One says correctly (and even formally) "il a changé sa vieille voiture diesel pour une voiture électrique toute neuve".

"Changer X pour Y " = substituting Y for X

"Changer X en Y" = transforming X into Y.

Here the action does not really consist in transforming the English language into the French one, but rather in sustituting French for English.

So, "changer pour" is better.

But the verb that would be used the most spontaneously by French speakers would be "passer de l'anglais au français". Quite incorrectly, people tend to say "passer en mode anglais".

What is incorrect in the message is "réglée à".

One would rather say "votre paramètre "langue" est réglé sur "Anglais" ", or "votre option "langue" est l'anglais..."

  • Thank you for the clarification! I wonder why setting my phone to French creates these errors... I thought it would help me learn and internalize, but now I’m concerned that there are many more errors I haven’t picked up on. May 30, 2019 at 18:40
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    @tssmith2425. The reason is apparently that the machine "translates" word for word, as if " settled to" could be translated to " réglé à". A french phone one would want to settle to English would probably ask " your language option is settled on French". In fact machines do the same thing as people that try to translate their idiom directly in another one. In French, we sometimes say " fingers in the nose" ( while joking) as if the french expression " les doigts dans le nez" ( meaning: very easily) could be translated word for word.
    – user20839
    May 30, 2019 at 19:00
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    @tssmith2425. But maybe " translating word for word" ( " traduire mot pour mot") correct in English...
    – user20839
    May 30, 2019 at 19:01
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    It’s not typically correct to translate word for word in English. I struggled when I first began learning French because I would translate each word individually, no matter how small. I quickly realized that this makes it impossible to learn effectively, because certain “clusters” of words are to be translated as a whole, since they’re complete phrases, for more accurate translation. May 30, 2019 at 19:26

Changer pour français is ungrammatical while changer en français (for changer la langue en français) is not ideal.

More idiomatic phrases could have been:

Passer en français.

Basculer en français.

However, the simplest and best choice would be to simply label the interface with:


The whole dialog is bogus.

That should be Paramètres, not Paremètres.


Votre langue préférée est : anglais.
Voulez-vous la modifier en : français (France) ?

Annuler / Mise à jour

Note that unlike in English, français and anglais do not take an uppercase initial in French when they represent the languages or are used as adjectives.

  • I’ve made an edition and attached a photo of the screen I’m referring to May 29, 2019 at 19:46
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    On voit que leur « réglée à » c'est set to, c'est du mot à mot... Peut-être que c'est plus cohérent avec le verbe mettre à jour vu qu'on a annuler comme autre choix, bof, détail.
    – user19187
    May 30, 2019 at 9:24
  • I didn’t even notice all the other glaring issues with the translation. Maybe I should switch back to English so as not to confuse myself... May 30, 2019 at 18:46

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