Confusing ‘jam’ for ‘condom’ while learning French

From being over-familiar to mixing up your homophones, language tutors share their advice on avoiding common faux pas.

Getting led astray by false friends

“Un préservatif” is a condom. Not jam. Don’t try and buy some to take home for your gran. This word is similar in a lot of Romance languages: preservativo (Spanish), preservativo (Italian), preservativo (Portuguese), prezervativ (Romanian).

Lindsay Dow, Lindsay Does Languages

Reading French like it is English

In French we simply do not write exactly what we hear and we do not say all that is written down. For instance, a typical beginner’s mistake is to apply the same thought process when reading English as French. A famous example is the word “Paris”, which many beginners pronounce with the “s”. The general rule is that in French we do not pronounce the last consonant unless it is followed by a vowel. There will always be an annoying exception but it is only there to confirm the rule.

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