The Results Are In! The 3 Best Online French Grammar Checkers

You’ve put a lot of sweat and tears into your French…

…but maybe you still flub your grammar sometimes.

Hey, that’s okay.

We all make mistakes.

The good news is, French grammar checkers can rescue you from at least some of those mistakes.

You may think the capabilities of automated checkers are so limited that there is simply no point in bothering.

However, the best ones can actually be really handy: These checkers will flag things like gender errors, failure to use the subjunctive or article issues (like using des instead of de).

And they’ll also check your spelling, of course.

Plus, if you can wait a little longer, there are sites where human beings are willing to graciously fill the role of online grammar checker.

For the purposes of this article, I put all of the major free online grammar checker options to the test, as well as one popular site where human native speakers correct each other’s texts.

My test text was a 450-word description of my apartment for Airbnb; I translated it into French, intentionally including mistakes that are common for beginning and for advanced students of the language, as well as some mistakes common for un-schooled speakers who “pick up” French by speaking it.

And who am I kidding, I also made some nice, fat grammatical errors of theunintentional sort.

For comparison, I submitted my text to a professional, native-speaking French writer and translator who happens to be a friend.

Each grammar checker had its merits as well as flaws. All of them have free options for French learners.

In this post, we’ll look at only the absolute best of the best checkers, whom they’re best for and how to use them.

Check My French! The 3 Best Online French Grammar Checkers

Scribens

This website is pretty plain and the tool is not as well-known as the others, so I was surprised that it won out overall in terms of thoroughness of corrections, ease of use of the interface and clarity of the grammar explanations.

Here’s what you should know about Scribens:

  • It flagged gender problems throughout the text, including where an adjective was not immediately adjacent to the noun it was modifying. For example, it corrected “le chambre principal est petit” to la chambre principale est petite” (the master bedroom is small); other checkers often failed to catch petit.
  • It did not erroneously flag too many proper nouns, like Barcelone(Barcelona), Picasso and Gaudí, which some checkers did.
  • It corrected some more complex issues, like use of the subjunctive, and even had a convenient drop-down box with the corrected subjunctive for you to click on to replace your own silly text. Most others didn’t offer features for such complex types of correction.
  • A great feature for learners and grammar nerds is that it not only provides that drop-down box with the corrected word that you can click on, but also a short grammar explanation within the box, and a link to therègle générale (general rule), a page that provides even more explanation and—important for learners—a few examples.
  • The free version allows you to paste quite a bit of text into a box and check it immediately on the page. There is a premium version for €39.90 that allows you unlimited text and has plugins for browser windows and desktop word processing programs.

This is the best choice for those who are starting out with French and want to have their grammar explanations and the interface in English. It allows you to check a smaller block of text in one go, and did not flag quite as many true mistakes as Scribens, but may still be more useful for you depending on your level and preferences.

Here’s what you should know about BonPatron:

  • It caught some subjunctive issues and other more complex grammar issues.
  • It does not have a drop-down menu that allows you to select the correction; you have to type it yourself. Some learners may find this beneficial, however.
  • The grammar explanations in English were somewhat generalized but quite clear. This is not going to tell you the exact correct answer necessarily, just that, for example, you need a feminine article of some sort.
  • There is a check box to indicate if you are writing in the first-person feminine, so that the tool will check the text accordingly. I tested this, and it seems to work fine.
  • At the bottom of the page, your errors are linked to pages with much longer grammar descriptions in English of French grammar rules that you have violated.

The Human Grammar Checkers at Lang-8

There are a lot of issues with French that no automatic grammar checker is going to catch and make clear to you, especially if you’re not a native speaker.

Written French can be a vast horror, and if you happen to need a lot of guidance with your writing, using any automatic grammar checker can be like putting a Band-Aid over a severed limb.

That’s why it’s great to know about Lang-8, a resource that lets you get your writing corrected by native speakers.

I submitted the same text for correction on Lang-8, and then for karma (and for the site’s point system) corrected some other users’ texts in English. About 24 hours later, I received my correction.

The writer who corrected my text on Lang-8 changed many of my phrasings; some because they were wrong, but also a lot just because she could come up with words that sounded better, or were more standard in a given context.

For example, I wanted to say that there were both “tripots et restaurants chics” (dive restaurants and fancy places) in my lively neighborhood.Tripots apparently sounds awful, though, so she reformulated my phrase to“restaurants du plus populaire à l’ultra-chic.”

There are also cultural issues to consider in cross-cultural writing that, for now, no grammar checker is likely to master. “You shouldn’t call the bedroompetite at all,” she said. “By Parisian standards it’s actually quite large! No French person will be disappointed.”

So you may not be lucky enough to have a French writer friend nearby to check your text, but you can get always get native speakers to correct it at Lang-8.

The Lang-8 correction was not quite as complete as my friend’s, but absolutely far more complete than any of the automatic grammar checkers.

While you never know how well the native speakers on the site know their own language (French is a challenge even for the French), one advantage is that several people may eventually correct your text, so you get various perspectives on what is correct or the best phrasing (although this can be confusing, too).

Lang-8 has a social feature that allows you to friend other users and build a more personal connection, so that you can develop relationships and people to count on as you move forward with your writing. It’s not uncommon to make appointments with other users on Skype to talk through texts, for example.

 

The verdict? If you can understand a French interface and grammar explanations, use Scribens.fr for quick grammar checks. If not, useBonPatron.com, which has good explanations in English.

But, as discussed, all of the automatic options are limited in terms of what they can do to help you write correctly in French, so if you have the time you should make the effort to exchange corrections with someone on Lang-8.comor in real life.

With the tools above, you should be better able to tackle the correction of any French text that you might produce, whether it’s for the pleasure of writing, improving your language skills or more concrete tasks like convincing traveling Francophones to rent out your “normal”-sized room.

 Credit/Source: for FluentU by MOSEHAYWARD

Dordogne named among the ‘best places in Europe’

Dordogne named among the 'best places in Europe'

Photo: Dale Musselman/Flickr

This rural southwestern département has made this year’s Lonely Planet list of top ten destinations in Europe for 2016.

Last year it was the mountainous Auvergne region that Lonely Planet shone a light on and now in the spotlight is an area in southwestern France that locals and expats have already cherished for quite some time: the Dordogne.

The area, often jokingly called Dordogneshire – given the huge number of British living there – came in fourth out of ten on Lonely Planet’s Best of Europe list.

Often referred to by its previous name, the Périgord, this département sits between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenées mountain range (highlighted in red below).

It takes its name from the stately Dordogne river that flows from the Auvergne mountains to the sea near Bordeaux.

“Nowhere does French art de vivre (art of living) quite like the Dordogne,” says Lonely Planet, going on to call it a “Garden of Eden… stitched from dreamy chateaux, market towns and walnut groves.”

Photo: Stephane Mignon/Flickr

You might know Lyon as the culinary capital of France, but Lonely Planet would beg to differ.

“For travellers following the increasingly hip ‘local produce, homemade’ mantra, this foodie region – without the crowds of Provence and 100 percent au naturel – has never been so alluring.”

Photo: Jonny/Flickr

Indeed, apart from its gorgeous countryside and flourishing British expat population, the area is famous for its cuisine, often based on duck or goose. Foie gras, confit de canard, truffles, and walnut cake are just a few of the local specialties. 

Lonely Planet recommends that to take full advantage of this foodie region, you need to “dive into the markets”, “dine at the region’s top tables”, “quaff the local wines”, and “gorge on truffles”. 

After that, the travel guide advises checking out the area’s abundance of castles which have earned it the nickname “The Other Chateau Country” (after the Loire Valley) as well as the multitude of prehistoric cave paintings, Lascaux being the most famous.

Photo: @lain G/Flickr

It’s not only Lonely Planet that has taken notice of the Dordogne; British Airways just started offering direct flights from London.

Best go now before the crowds move in.

CREDIT/SOURCE: Le Local

Chateau de Puymartin

exterior2Built in the 13th century and destroyed during the 100 year war, this castle was rebuilt by Radulphe de Saint-Clar around 1450.  It was then partly restored in the 19th century by his descendant, The Marquis de Carbonnier de Marzac, ancestor of the family currently residing in a private section of the chateau.

The legend of the Dame Blanche retraces the life of Therese de Saint-Clar, who was imprisoned for 10-15 years and died in the chateau’s tower by her jealous husband, following her tryst with a Protestant lover.

 

Les Jardins d’eau

Only 8km from Sarlat in Carsac-Aillac, there are gardens created in 1999 which feature a rare collection of aquatic plants on a Gallo-Roman site. Strolling along the pathways provides a visual splendor of colorful nature at its best, with benches placed at strategic places to relax in the shade and take in the tranquile setting – a lovely way to discover the area and enjoy a beautiful setting.

frog

lotus

overview pond

red lotus

http://www.jardinsdeau.com

 

French Riviera / Cote d’Azur

Sun and sea, nature, villages perched, beauty, diversity, art, activity, traditions, & yachts:  some words that come to mind, from living here for over 8 years, but what stands out the most is (Mediterranean) BLUE!  The one thing I would change would be to have sandy beaches in Nice, rather than pebbly ones.

Overview of Nice and all that this area has to offer – watch new Tourist Office video HERE

 

 

Product of the month: The Périgord Walnut

The Perigord walnut is an extremely healthy and versatile nut grown in southwestern France. Perigord is the old walnutsname for this region, which is now usually referred to in English as the Dordogne. Most of the Perigord walnut production area is located in the Dordogne department, but there are also significant amounts produced in the neighboring Corrèze and Lot departments and small areas of other neighboring ones.

It has benefited from a Protected Designation of Origin status since 2002, but the walnut has had a history in the region that dates back thousands of years. While the walnuts grown today aren’t quite the same, walnuts themselves have been found at 17,000-year-old prehistorical Cro-Magnon sites in the Périgord walnut-producing region.
The Périgord walnut production area is located in and around the départment of Dordogne in southwestern France.

Walnuts continued to play a major role in the culture of the area ever since then and are inextricably linked to the region’s history. During the early Middle Ages, peasants would often pay off their debts with Perigord walnuts and by the 13th century, tithes to local churches were paid in walnut oil. The oil was at one time considered to be worth its weight in gold and contributed greatly to the wealth of the region due to its widespread and many varied uses. In 1730, it was found that more than three fourths of the national peasant population used nothing but Perigord walnut oil for cooking. Besides culinary uses, the oil can also be used as body oil or in painting.

The Périgord walnut can be used in so many ways in cuisine that the list of culinary dishes it can’t be used in is probably a lot shorter than the list of dishes it is included in. The possibilities are almost endless: Salads, mousses, covered in chocolate, baked in breads, used in cheeses, roasted or used as oil – the Périgord walnut is a versatile nut that has thousands of applications. It’s even used to make a type of liqueur, Eau-de-vie de Noix du Périgord, and a type of wine in the region (vin de noix – “walnut wine”), bringing a subtle, nutty flavor to the drinks.

 

There are numerous health benefits of consuming this walnut. The Périgord region of France has one of the lowest rates of heart disease – by some estimates it has the second-lowest rate in the world. The cholesterol-lowering properties of the walnut, which play a large role in local cuisine, certainly help to play a part in this. The walnut is also rich in fiber and antioxidants, high in protein, and filled with healthy minerals like magnesium, iron, and potassium.

Credit/Source:  French Food in the U.S.

An Anecdote About Table Linens

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

“Up until the sixteenth century, eating was a rather rough-and-ready affair that we would certainly not describe as dining. As people and their habits became more refined, table settings and linens also became more refined. As the 16th century progressed, it became a sign of wealth for each diner to have his own napkin (rather than wiping one’s hands and mouth on clothes). It was a sign of even greater wealth if the napkins were changed for fresh ones several times as the meal progressed through its courses. These napkins were larger than the ones used today and were tied around the neck to protect all those expensive silks and brocades from dripping sauces, soups, and gravies. Because it was difficult to tie a napkin behind one’s head, polite diners helped each other with this little task and thus arose the saying “making both ends meet.”

Although there are many beautiful linen tables at flea markets, locally made cotton mats and napkins are mostly used. These can be purchased in wonderful colors and patterns and only become more beautiful with age. The best way to handle these table linens is to wash them with your favorite detergent and dry them on the line. Using scented linen water or scented sachets with table linens may interfere with food aromas much as scented candles on the table would.”

 

Source: Joie de Vivre, 2002