30 HILARIOUS French Language Mistakes

Here are 30 hilarious French language mistakes. Some of these are super embarrassing.  This is a compilation of real-life mistakes foreign missionaries made while serving in France, or in other countries with French speakers.

30+ Funny French Language Mistakes

  1. Well… once instead of saying “I am full” (je suis rassasié) I said “I am resurrected” (je suis ressuscité). (Marcell, France Lyon Mission)
  2. When I didn’t understand the language very well, an investigator asked if I had many wives. I thought he asked if I had a family. I told him I would like to one day. (Bowen, France Lyon Mission)
  3. In French, missionaries will struggle with the word “saints” (spelled the same in English and French) when they say the full name of The Church. Instead of saying it as it should be, they say it more like “sang” … which means blood in French. So they will tell people they are from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Blood of Latter-days … and that freaks people out sometimes. (Carson, France Lyon Mission)
  4. We say “I’m full” in English when we have eaten our fill of food. Directly translated to French, a missionary thinks to say, “je suis pleine.” DON’T SAY THAT! Ha ha when you say that in French it means you’re pregnant. 😉 (Erica, France Lyon Mission)
  5. I once called peanut butter “poo butter” while dining in a members home. The words for peanut and dung start with the same sound, and I left the ending off of the word for peanut. (Michael, France Lyon Mission)
  6. The most common mistake people made was mixing up hair and horse. They are very similar. I would always teach my companions to start with a compliment when talking to someone because it gets the conversation going and then you can work in the gospel. But I can’t tell you how many times I heard missionaries say to women, “what beautiful horse you have!” rather than what beautiful hair you have! (Lauren, France Lyon Mission)
  7. One time one of my Sister Training Leaders came back from getting some sandwiches, and she said she ordered a ‘worthy’ sandwich instead of a ‘turkey’ sandwich. (Digne vs Dinde) (Aubrey, France Lyon Mission)
  8. I once called an investigator’s wife his ‘marie” because I couldn’t remember how to say wife and I thought maybe just adding an extra “e” to husband would make it feminine. Wrongo. We laughed it off. (Ben, France Marseille Mission)
  9. I had a missionary convince me to go ask for a “soutian gorge” at a pharmacy when I had a sore throat. He said that translated it meant “throat support” so I thought it made sense. Instead I asked for a bra. (Matt, France Paris Mission)
  10. I mistakenly told a member in the hospital that I was glad that she smelled better, rather than feeling better. It about caused her to pull a stitch. (Michael, France Paris Mission)
  11. There are a lot of cognates in French. But they don’t always mean the same thing in English. We had an Elder from England who had not done language training. He told us (in French) that he was excited to be there, but “exciter” in French means to be sexually aroused. It was pretty funny. (Anna, France Paris Mission)
  12. Careful with “message” vs “massage.” (Tiffany, France Bordeaux Mission)
  13. I mispronounced “l’amour” and the contact heard “la mort”. (Chris, France Bordeaux Mission)
  14. Trying to teach one of my companions to ride a bike. She tried really hard, but she could not get the brakes mastered, so we ended up walking EVERYWHERE because I got car sick on the bus lots of times 10-12 miles per day. (Suzie, France Bordeaux Mission)
  15. J’aime vous! hahahaha (Alexis, France Lyon Mission)
  16. “Fils” means son in French, so if you want to bear your testimony about Christ being your eldest brother don’t say “Il est mon fils”. haha, Just a general FYI: most of our expressions don’t translate directly in French or any other language I presume. “give me some skin” (meaning give me a high five) “I’m finished” “I’m full thanks” etc. (Laura, France Lyon Mission)
  17. I think my companion accidentally said that the prophet committed suicide instead of that he was succeeded by another prophet. Our investigator wasn’t really paying attention and didn’t notice what she had said. (Jennifer, France Lyon Mission)
  18. I thought the word burp (roter) had a “g” in front of it (grotter) until someone finally corrected me my last transfer. (Melanie, France Lyon Mission)
  19. For me because I was a French speaker, I always tried to speak in French with an American accent so people would laugh and be more open. It wasn’t funny for most of the Americans but it was funny for French speakers and I contacted lots of people like that and it worked. (Vai, France Lyon Mission)
  20. Bleu companion bought his first baguette from a young girl at the bakery. He told her that he had a baguette, she handed him one, he bought it, and walked out the door. Really awkward. (Andrew, France Lyon Mission)
  21. One time I said that I believe and love my “Pere Noel” Not “Pere Celeste” Which is awkward. (Greta, France Lyon Mission)
  22. Most new missionaries testify of Jesus being the daughter of God. Keep those IL and Elle ‘s separated. (Hailey, France Lyon Mission)
  23. When knocking on doors the first time, I commented after about three doors to my trainer “Man, there sure are a lot of people called ‘sonnerie’ here!” Most of the doorbells said ‘sonnerie’ on them. My trainer replied “Hey, Elder…’sonnerie’ means doorbell.” (Zakarias, France Paris Mission)
  24. Baiser-careful!! We were encouraging our amie to stop smoking and thought we were saying it would be more pleasant for her husband kissing her if she stopped. She nearly fell off the couch laughing. (Kara, France Paris Mission)
  25. In Meaux, a Sunday School instructor asked me to get a tableau. In my head, I translated tableau as table and went to get one. After getting the huge table through the doors, the instructor repeated “tableau” so I could make the connection that I got the wrong item. A few of the members had a chuckle. (Stuart, France Paris Mission)
  26. Well I had a French companion and I was joking and said “your mom” to him in French but in French that means a super bad word haha, so be careful with your translations, haha. (Bryan, France Paris Mission)
  27. Calling a Madame a Monsieur. Bad idea. (UK, France Paris Mission)
  28. A missionary asked if she could “peter” the dog, but peter means flatulate. Caresser is to pet. (Alex, France Paris Mission)
  29. I made a slight mistake on words and told people we created God, not created by God. (Jacob, France Paris Mission)
  30. I called women, men sometimes haha. Sometimes I would directly translate English to French and confuse people too, haha. Like when someone disses someone and you say “Burn!” well I said Brulé (burn) and found out that doesn’t work too well. (Drew, France Paris Mission)
  31. There are so many in French: La mort (death) rather than l’amour (love), etc. I once called a guy “réunionnaise” (the feminine form for a person from Reunion). I didn’t realize until I was driving away and looked into my mirror and saw his furious expression. Whoops! (Ben, Madagascar Antananarivo Mission)

Read more interesting stories and information about serving in France:

*Feel free to contribute your funny/embarrassing language mistakes in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “30 HILARIOUS French Language Mistakes

  • A couple I ran across on my mission: Blesser vs. benir. “Blesser” does not mean “to bless”. Also, the short “e” sound as in “set” vs. the “ah” sound should be easy to distinguish. It’s an important difference when speaking about the First Vision and correctly pronouncing “face à face” instead of “fesse à fesse”!

  • The first time I ever took a turn teaching the First Vision to an investigator, I told him Joseph Smith went into a nightclub to pray, instead of the woods (boîte vs bois) … Both he and my companion were in stitches for like 5 minutes before they could tell me what was wrong. Needless to say it broke the Spirit of the moment and we had to start again. 🙂

  • I had a companion who was a great missionary but had a really hard time speaking French. One thing he struggled with was pronouncing “Les Etats Unis”. It always sounded more like “Tanzanie”. I sometimes worry about the number of people in France who now believe the LDS Church originated in Tanzania. :o)
    (Belgium Brussels Mission)

  • When my companion and I were checking out at the grocery store with an senior missionary couple the senior Elder told the lady at the check out “Merci, beaux-cul” and smiled big… Pronounciation is everything.
    (La Mission Belge de Bruxelles)

  • As a new missionary who could speak French relatively well but with limited confidence and a few holes in my vocab, I listened to my trainer speak at the door with an incredulous college-aged girl. After a few minutes, she asked what I thought was a ridiculous question–Do you use “préservatifs”? I jumped into the conversation, saying “in our food, of course we use preservatives.” Except that “préservatifs” means “condoms.” We all had a very hearty laugh at that one…and still laugh to this day thinking or reminiscing about it.

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