Linguee is the first major parallel concordancing search engine on the web. Processing over a million search requests each day, it draws on an ever-increasing stockpile of over 100 million segments per language. It’s an efficient way to hone in on an elusive expression and search for terms in context. But it also offers an interesting window into the words and phrases that trip us up.
Here’s a screenshot of the top 180 queries in the FR to ENG language pair:
Conjunctions are hyper-represented here – tripping people up left and right.
Why the confusion? French students likely hit a conjunction plateau after the big seven: mais, ou, et, donc, or, ni, and car. The two-semester foreign language requirement probably maxes out long before anyone gets a glimpse of the subjunctive mood. But beyond the pages of Allez, viens! Joie de lire! Level 2, these expressions pop up pretty often. It makes sense then to commit them to memory, understand their nuances and have a repertoire of graceful English equivalents at the ready.