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27 votes
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Ça vs. ca in French

ca is not a word in French. It can only be used as an abbreviation: - of centiare - of circa and these two abbreviations are rarely used. Only ça exists as a word in French. What you might have ...
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23 votes

How do you say "to hell with everything" in French?

I'd say something along the lines of "Oh et puis merde !" That's the first thing that would occur to me. To me, it's the most idiomatic way of saying "To hell with everything". Truth is, I never ...
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21 votes
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Le terme « confusant » est-il correct ?

En français standard on dit : Ce que tu dis prête à confusion. L'origine de *confusant est probablement le terme anglais confusing. Ce mot essaie de reproduire la structure du terme anglais alors ...
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20 votes
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Is there a difference between "J'ai faim" et "Je suis faim"

Yes, there is a big difference between the two: "je suis faim" makes no sense in French. What you were taught in high school most likely didn't suggest that the proper way to say "I'm hungry" is "j'...
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20 votes

How to say "I am taking an exam" in French?

If you want to use a present simple as in English, you use "passer", like "Je passe un examen", "tu passes un examen",... But if you want to use a present Be+ing, you should use "être en train de", ...
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18 votes
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La différence entre "Je peux t'en prêter 5$" et "Je peux te prêter 5$"

"Je peux t'en prêter 5$" n'est pas correct, mais "je peux t'en prêter 5" l'est, et implique que l'unité a été évoquée avant. Par exemple : "Peux-tu me prêter 10$ ? — Non, mais je peux t'en prêter 5." ...
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17 votes

Usages of “fermé”: locked vs closed door

To complete Flows's answer, which I don't entirely agree with. (Sorry I can't comment) Fermé(e) -> Closed Fermé(e) à clef -> Locked, with a key. Can be used for anything that can be opened with ...
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17 votes
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When to say "Bonne nuit" vs "Bonne soirée"

As you guessed, bonne nuit ! is only used when you know the person is going to his/her bedroom. It is then common in a family, or when you leave people going back to their rooms in a hotel. Otherwise, ...
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16 votes
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Why is "Nous sommes" used for days of the week?

Nous sommes lundi is a slightly formal/written way to tell which day of the week it is. One can also say Nous sommes [le] lundi premier septembre. This French idiom can only be used in the first ...
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16 votes
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Utilisation de « mec/meuf »

Mec est un mot qui est dans la langue française depuis le 19e siècle avec le sens de « souteneur ». De nos jours il est aussi utilisé pour désigner de façon populaire, mais pas vulgaire, un individu ...
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16 votes
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How to say "I am taking an exam" in French?

"Je passe un examen" is a correct form. "je suis passer..." is wrong. You can say "je vais passer un examen" to mean "I'm going to take an exam" or "j'ai passé un examen" to mean "I have taken an ...
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  • 2,288
16 votes

How to say "I am taking an exam" in French?

Be+ing present is often translated with "en train de + verbe" structure, however it is a more heavy construction than it is in English, so it is not used when not necessary. For example: Que fais-...
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16 votes
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Usage of "aïeul" vs "grand-parent"?

Historiquement et de manière conforme à son étymologie, aïeul désigne effectivement d'abord et seulement le grand-père. (Et son féminin aïeule, la grand-mère) Il s'est très rapidement (début XIIIe) ...
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15 votes

Est-ce une hérésie de dire « Madame LA ministre » ?

Ce n'est plus une hérésie, les journalistes le font depuis très longtemps et tous les gouvernements francophones l'autorisent ou l'imposent depuis plus ou moins de temps. C'est même la forme la plus ...
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15 votes
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"However" in French: Cependant, pourtant, toutefois, néanmoins, en revanche, par contre

Ah the subtle nuances of language! I believe that to understand how and when to use expressions or compound words such as these, one must delve into the basic meaning of the words that make up the ...
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15 votes

How do you say "to hell with everything" in French?

The phrase au diable is idiomatic if it is followed by a mention of who/what you wish send to hell: Au diable Trump ! Au diable les examens ! Au diable les journalistes ! Au diable le Brexit ! Au ...
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15 votes
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Usage of the Dr title

Légalement, en France, tu as le droit de dire que tu es « Dimitris Dupont, Docteur en mécanique », si tu as le diplôme de doctorat du troisième cycle (équivalent du Ph.D. anglo-saxon) dans la ...
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14 votes
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Regarding usage and history of special character/symbols/diacritics in French?

Your question is very interesting, but quite complex too. First, it is interesting to notice that accents, in French, didn't exist until the end of the 16th century. The reason why they have been ...
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14 votes
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Emploi du mot « kudos »

Non, pas que je sache. Je ne l'ai jamais rencontré en français.
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14 votes
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Why use "finir par" instead of "finir de" before an infinitive?

The meanings are different: Finir par means this is the last action you will take in a process of multiple actions you had to follow, or from multiple options that you had to choose from. J'ai fini ...
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14 votes
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Elsewhere in the beginning of a sentence

"Ailleurs" (ou plutôt Par ailleurs proposé par @aCOSwt dans un commentaire) me parait trop vague pour un document scientifique. En général, selon le contexte, on utilise plutôt : Dans un autre ...
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13 votes
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What is the appropriate response when tasting a wine when it’s presented to you in a restaurant?

A simple slow nod of the head is usually enough to indicate the wine is good/accepted. If there’s a desire to add something vocally, not a bad idea by any mean, a simple “oui” or “c’est bien/c’est bon”...
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13 votes
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How to interpret "faire" + activities

The context usually tells what elle fait du judo means, e.g.: – Elle est où ? Elle fait quoi, en ce moment ? – Elle fait du judo. (she's doing it right now) – Elle fait quoi le samedi ? – Elle fait ...
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12 votes

Is there a difference between "J'ai faim" et "Je suis faim"

Faim is more like hunger (although I have hunger doesn't look idiomatic) so only J'ai faim is valid, je suis faim is impossible. I'm very hungry would be J'ai très faim. You might also say Je suis ...
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12 votes
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Why is avoir used when referring to age?

Just to get a feeling for why such a meaning is possible, you can take it as meaning I have 16 years (of age under my belt). or think of it as similar to the past perfect tense in English (have+...
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12 votes

Difference between "soudain" and "soudainement"?

Soudain peut être soit adjectif soit adverbe : Un phénomène soudain ... Soudain, il se leva ... D'autres emplois (quasiment inusités aujourd'hui) existent: tout soudain (aussitôt) attesté en ...
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12 votes
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Couldn't we use "du coup" in written French?

Du coup is widely used in written French, but you will find that some people follow the recommandation of the Académie Française of not using it as a synonym of donc and only use it in the sense of ...
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12 votes

Does the tu/vous distinction more accurately express politeness, or social distance?

Yes, I agree that tu or vous are not marks of politeness but marks of social distance / deference. That's the reason why French people, regardless of whether they are polite or not, usually do not ...
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12 votes
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Can I say "jalousie" instead of "store"?

Store is the most common and general term. Jalousie is used to refer to a specific type of store. A more common synonym would be persienne. But as you seem to guess, the word jalousie also means "...
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12 votes
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When to use “lorsque” and “quand”

Quand and lorsque are interchangeable when they introduce a subordinate clause. The meaning is the same, but lorsque is a bit more formal than quand, and quand is more frequent in spoken French. ...
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