It seems to be considered more correct to use guillemets in French rather than inverted commas as in English, but what if the word you're quoting is an English word contained in a French written conversation, e.g. in a letter, email or messaging? For example, if you're explaining an English word to a French friend. It looks strange to me to put guillemets around a short English word, albeit in a French conversation, but perhaps it is correct nevertheless. All the internet searches I have done have only led to articles using the quotation of French words, particularly in direct speech, but not the quotation of an English word and not in a written conversation.

Est-ce qu'on met un mot anglais entre guillemets dans une conversation écrite en français, par exemple si on veut aider un ami francophone à traduire un mot anglais ? Est-ce que l'on utilise les guillemets français autour du mot anglais que l'on veut traduire, ou est-ce que l'on utilise les guillemets seulement autour d'un mot ou phrase français ?

Just before posting this I quickly checked a translation/dictionary program using the words "inverted commas English word French" without the inverted commas around the words to be translated and it came up with an example which translated to Comment dit-on "pen" en français? However, I notice there is no space before the question mark when there usually is in French, so perhaps the whole translation including the English inverted commas is not accurate?

  • While the correct way is to use guillemets, you'll find the character " a lot on the internet because it's easier to type on a French keyboard. Sep 30, 2022 at 9:48

1 Answer 1


Certains auteurs préfèrent mettre tout mot étranger entre guillemets, mais c’est un procédé beaucoup moins courant que l’italique.

Le mot anglais « crane » se rend en français par « grue ».

  • And no inverted commas, I take it?
    – Luke Sawczak
    Sep 30, 2022 at 3:23
  • @LukeSawczak - no, you use guillemets instead of inverted commas. Sep 30, 2022 at 7:18
  • 1
    @LukeSawczak - would you write the Dutch word „vinden” in English? Sep 30, 2022 at 8:04
  • 4
    To be clear, in text in language A you set off words in language B using the conventions of language A. Sep 30, 2022 at 8:45

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