How to Write an Essay in French: 4 Types of Essays All French …

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Can you name the AS French Essay phrases?


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EnglishFrenchAccents needed
given that we were about to go thereé (x3)
thanks to the intervention of the EUâ à
despite what they had told heré
from now oné
be that as it may
we are deeply disappointedé (x2) ç
it would be madness to ignore the problemè
there should have beenû
there should be
it would be desirable to pay attention to it
EnglishFrenchAccents needed
to a certain extent
in order that one can take it into account
there could be
it goes without saying that
no one could deny it
consequentlyé
it’s unlikely she has seen it
she was convinced of ité
no comparison is possible between the two
in their opinionà
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French: Months

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Extras

Created May 16, 2013 Report Nominate
Tags: French Quiz , accent , English , essay , phrase

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Random Quiz

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Can you name the AS French Essay phrases?


by

jsw

 Plays
Quiz not verified by Sporcle

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  1. 30 in 60: Elements5,401
  2. 4 to 13 Letter ‘O’ Places4,347
  3. Year-Round Minefield Blitz4,035
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  6. More Quizzes

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Also try: Italian: Days

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EnglishFrenchAccents needed
given that we were about to go thereé (x3)
thanks to the intervention of the EUâ à
despite what they had told heré
from now oné
be that as it may
we are deeply disappointedé (x2) ç
it would be madness to ignore the problemè
there should have beenû
there should be
it would be desirable to pay attention to it
EnglishFrenchAccents needed
to a certain extent
in order that one can take it into account
there could be
it goes without saying that
no one could deny it
consequentlyé
it’s unlikely she has seen it
she was convinced of ité
no comparison is possible between the two
in their opinionà
play quizzes ad-free

You’re not logged in!

Compare scores with friends on all Sporcle quizzes.



Join for Free
OR

You Might Also Like…

Latin Phrases

French: Months

Language Basics: French

In 6 Languages: Clothing

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(warning: may contain spoilers)
Show Comments

Extras

Created May 16, 2013 Report Nominate
Tags: French Quiz , accent , English , essay , phrase

Top Quizzes Today

Top Quizzes Today in Language

  1. Opposites Attract2,028
  2. Lost for Words: Compound Words799
  3. Vocabulary Blitz XVI563
  4. Japanese Hiragana288

Top Quizzes with Similar Tags

  1. French: Verbs13
  2. French: Months10
  3. French: To Be4
  4. Tongue Twisters From Around the World3

Top User Quizzes in Language

  1. Mega-Sorting Gallery: Language153
  2. Which Food Belongs in That Idiom?120
  3. Click the Continuation of the Common Clichés82
  4. Hiragana Speed Reading67


Score Distribution

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how-to-write-an-essay-in-french

By Emily Monaco

How to Write an Essay in French Without Giving Yourself Away as a Foreigner

Have something to say?

When it comes to expressing your thoughts in French , there’s nothing better than the essay.

It is, after all, the favorite form of such famed French thinkers as Montaigne, Chateaubriand, Houellebecq and Simone de Beauvoir.

But writing an essay in French is not the same as those typical 5-paragraph essays you’ve probably written in English.

In fact, there’s a whole other logic that has to be used to ensure that your essay meets French format standards and structure. It’s not merely writing your ideas in another language .

And that’s because the French use Cartesian logic , developed by René Descartes, which requires a writer to begin with what is known and then lead the reader through to the logical conclusion: a paragraph that contains the thesis.

Sound intriguing? The French essay will soon have no secrets from you!

We’ve outlined the four most common types of essays in French, ranked from easiest to most difficult, to help you get to know this concept better. Even if you’re not headed to a French high school or university, it’s still pretty interesting to learn about another culture’s basic essay!
 

 

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Must-have French Phrases for Writing Essays

Before we get to the four types of essays, here are a few French phrases that will be especially helpful as you delve into essay-writing in French:

Introductory phrases, which help you present new ideas.

  • tout d’abord – firstly
  • premièrement – firstly

Connecting phrases, which help you connect ideas and sections.

  • et – and
  • de plus – in addition
  • également – also
  • ensuite – next
  • deuxièmement – secondly
  • or – so
  • ainsi que – as well as
  • lorsque – when, while

Contrasting phrases, which help you juxtapose two ideas.

  • en revanche – on the other hand
  • pourtant – however
  • néanmoins – meanwhile, however

Concluding phrases, which help you to introduce your conclusion.

  • enfin – finally
  • finalement – finally
  • pour conclure – to conclude
  • en conclusion – in conclusion

4 Types of French Essays and How to Write Them

1. Text Summary (Synthèse de texte)

The text summary or synthèse de texte is one of the easiest French writing exercises to get a handle on. It essentially involves reading a text and then summarizing it in an established number of words, while repeating no phrases that are in the original text. No analysis is called for.

synthèse de texte should follow the same format as the text that is being synthesized. The arguments should be presented in the same way, and no major element of the original text should be left out of the synthèse.

Here is a great guide to writing a successful  synthèse de texte , written for French speakers.

The text summary is a great exercise for exploring the following French language elements:

  • Synonyms, as you will need to find other words to describe what is said in the original text.
  • Nominalization, which involves turning verbs into nouns and generally cuts down on word count.
  • Vocabulary, as the knowledge of more exact terms will allow you to avoid periphrases and cut down on word count.

While beginners may wish to work with only one text, advanced learners can synthesize as many as three texts in one text summary. The concours exam for entry into the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris calls for a 300-word synthesis of three texts, ranging from 750 to 1500 words, with a tolerance of more or less 10 percent.

Since a text summary is simple in its essence, it’s a great writing exercise that can accompany you through your entire learning process.

2. Text Commentary (Commentaire de texte)

A text commentary or commentaire de texte is the first writing exercise where the student is asked to present analysis of the materials at hand, not just a summary.

That said, a commentaire de texte is not a reaction piece. It involves a very delicate balance of summary and opinion, the latter of which must be presented as impersonally as possible. This can be done either by using the third person (on) or the general first person plural (nous). The singular first person (je) should never be used in a commentaire de texte.

A commentaire de texte should be written in three parts:

  • An introduction, where the text is presented.
  • An argument, where the text is analyzed.
  • A conclusion, where the analysis is summarized and elevated.

Here is a handy guide to writing a successful  commentaire de texte , written for French speakers.

Unlike with the synthesis, you will not be able to address all elements of a text in a commentary. You should not summarize the text in a commentary, at least not for the sake of summarizing. Every element of the text that you speak about in your commentary must be analyzed.

To successfully analyze a text, you will need to brush up on your figurative language. Here are some great resources to get you started:

  • Here’s an introduction to figurative language in French.
  • This guide to figurative language  presents the different elements in useful categories.
  • This guide , intended for high school students preparing for the BAC—the exam all French high school students take, which they’re required to pass to go to university—is great for learning how to integrate figurative language into your commentaries.
  • Speaking of which, here’s an example of a corrected commentary from the BAC, which will help you not only include figurative language but get a head start on writing your own commentaries.

3. Dialectic Dissertation (Thèse, Antithèse, Synthèse)

The French answer to the 5-paragraph essay is known as the dissertationLike the American 5-paragraph essay, it has an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. The stream of logic, however, is distinct.

There are actually two kinds of dissertation, each of which has its own rules.

The first form of dissertation is the dialectic dissertation, better known as thèse, antithèse, synthèse. In this form, there are actually only two body paragraphs. After the introduction, a thesis is posited. Following the thesis, its opposite, the antithesis, is explored (and hopefully, debunked). The final paragraph, what we know as the conclusion, is the synthesis, which addresses the strengths of the thesis, the strengths and weaknesses of the antithesis, and concludes with the reasons why the original thesis is correct.

For example, imagine that the question was, “Are computers useful to the development of the human brain?” You could begin with a section showing the ways in which computers are useful for the progression of our common intelligence—doing long calculations, creating in-depth models, etc.

Then you would delve into the problems that computers pose to human intelligence, citing examples of the ways in which spelling proficiency has decreased since the invention of spell check, for example. Finally you would synthesize this information and conclude that the “pro” outweighs the “con.”

The key to success with this format is developing an outline before writing. The thesis must be established, with examples, and the antithesis must be supported as well. When all of the information has been organized in the outline, the writing can begin, supported by the tools you have learned from your mastery of the synthesis and commentary.

Here are a few tools to help you get writing:

  • Here’s a great guide to writing a dialectic dissertation .
  • Here’s an annotated example of a dialectic dissertation , showing you where the three parts are within the essay.

4. Progressive Dissertation (Plan progressif)

The progressive dissertation is a slightly less common, but no less useful, than the first form.

The progressive form basically consists of examining an idea via multiple points of view—a sort of deepening of the understanding of the notion, starting with a superficial perspective and ending with a deep and profound analysis.

If the dialectic dissertation is like a scale, weighing pros and cons of an idea, the progressive dissertation is like peeling an onion, uncovering more and more layers as you get to the deeper crux of the idea.

Concretely, this means that you will generally follow this layout:

  • A first, elementary exploration of the idea.
  • A second, more philosophical exploration of the idea.
  • A third, more transcendent exploration of the idea.

This format for the dissertation is more commonly used for essays that are written in response to a philosophical question, for example, “What is a person?” or “What is justice?”

Let’s say the question were, “What is war?” In the first part, you would explore dictionary definitions—a basic idea of war, i.e. an armed conflict between two parties, usually nations. You could give examples that back up this definition, and you could narrow down the definition of the subject as much as needed. For example, you might want to make mention that not all conflicts are wars, or you might want to explore whether the “War on Terror” is a war.

In the second part, you would explore a more philosophical look at the topic, using a definition that you provide. You first explain how you plan to analyze the subject, and then you do so. In French, this is known as poser une problématique (establishing a thesis question), and it usually is done by first writing out a question and then exploring it using examples: “Is war a reflection of the base predilection of humans for violence?”

In the third part, you will take a step back and explore this question from a distance, taking the time to construct a natural conclusion and answer for the question.

This form may not be as useful in as many cases as the first type of essay, but it’s a good form to learn, particularly for those interested in philosophy.

Here are a few resources to help you with your progressive dissertation:

  • Here’s an in-depth guide  to writing a progressive dissertation.
  • Here are a few corrected dissertations from the philosophy portion of the baccalaureat exam

As you progress in French and become more and more comfortable with writing, try your hand at each of these types of writing exercises, and even with other forms of the dissertation . You’ll soon be a pro at everything from a synthèse de texte to a dissertation!
 

 

And One More Thing…

Of course, French is a lot more than writing essays.

To cover all your other language bases, there’s always FluentU.

FluentU lets you learn French from real-world content like music videos, commercials, news broadcasts, cartoons and inspiring talks.

Since this video content is stuff that native French speakers actually watch on the regular, you’ll get the opportunity to learn real French—the way it’s spoken in modern life.

One quick look will give you an idea of the diverse content found on FluentU:

2014 10 09 20.42.25 9 Great Channels to Learn French on YouTube

Love the thought of learning French with native materials but afraid you won’t understand what’s being said? FluentU brings authentic French videos within reach of any learner. Interactive captions will guide you along the way, so you’ll never miss a word.

2014 10 09 20.44.00 9 Great Channels to Learn French on YouTube

Tap on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more. For example, if you tap on the word “suit,” then this is what appears on your screen:

2014 10 09 20.44.51 9 Great Channels to Learn French on YouTube

Don’t stop there, though. Use FluentU’s learn mode to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video with vocabulary lists, flashcards, quizzes and fun activities like “fill in the blank.”

2014 10 09 20.45.27 9 Great Channels to Learn French on YouTube

As you continue advancing in your French studies, FluentU keeps track of all the grammar and vocabulary that you’ve been learning. It uses your viewed videos and mastered language lessons to recommend more useful videos and give you a 100% personalized experience. 

Start  using FluentU on the website  with your computer or tablet or, better yet,  download the FluentU app from the iTunes store .

If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.

Experience French immersion online!

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