5 funny memes about the French language
Published on February 23, 2023 / Updated on January 3, 2024
When it comes to language learning, many people get so bogged down in grammar rules and verb conjugation that they forget the most important thing…it’s meant to be fun! Take French, for example. Though it’s often portrayed as complicated and difficult to learn, the French language is not without its charms. To prove it (and to make you laugh), we’ve searched high and low for some of the funniest French language memes on the internet. So, put down your textbook and study these French memes to make light of all those tricky grammar and vocabulary points.
What better way to start this French language meme article than with a prime example of the infamous French false cognates (or faux amis)! As a reminder, false cognates are words that look or sound similar to an English word but have a completely different meaning. In the French meme above, the word “pain” is an example of a faux ami because it means “bread” in French. There are so many great examples of false cognates in French that the internet is littered with funny French language memes and puns!
Another topic that’s regularly ridiculed in memes about the French language is the French system for numbers. It’s infamous for being complicated, silly and hard to learn. But there is logic to it — we promise! Here’s a table to help simplify counting in French:
|Soixante-dix (sixty plus ten)
|Soixante et onze (sixty plus eleven)
|Quatre-vingts (twenty times four)
|Quatre-vingt-cinq (twenty times four plus five)
|Quatre-vingt-dix (twenty times four plus ten)
Is it a bit overkill? Perhaps, but c’est la vie (that’s life)! Think of it as a vocabulary exercise. You just need to memorize each number, and you’re good to go.
French is a relatively formal language, and one element English speakers sometimes struggle to grasp is the difference between tu and vous. Both of these words mean “you” in French, but tu is for informal situations while vous is for formal situations. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as all that. This French language meme makes light of matters with a flowchart that doubles as a brilliant and funny way to understand when to select each term.
Translation: When your friend incorrectly conjugates a verb.
Correct their spelling…or…Stay friends.
It should come as a comfort to learn that even French people struggle to conjugate verbs in their own language. There are three types of verbs (those ending in -er, -ir and -re) plus a myriad of verb tenses, so it’s only natural that mistakes are made. This French language meme jokes about ditching a friend when they incorrectly conjugate a verb. The implication is that it’s a terrible mistake to make, but in reality, everyone does it. Your best bet when learning French verbs? Focus on the exceptions and not the rules — because there are a lot more exceptions than rules!
The French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” is recognized around the world, not least because it’s always played at sporting events to represent the country. The Beatles even borrowed the first few bars of the anthem’s opening sequence for their uplifting hit song “All You Need Is Love.”
So why, you may be wondering, does the meme above suggest that the anthem has a darker side? Because it very much does! “La Marseillaise” was a popular battle cry heard during the French Revolution of 1789, a notoriously violent time in French history. The lyrics reflect this, with phrases like égorger nos fils et nos compagnes (to cut the throats of our sons, our women). This French meme is therefore a great representation of the French national anthem’s two-sided nature.
We hope this article is a reminder that learning a language can be a really fun experience — and that a bit of humor goes a long way. The next time you’re in a French class working on some tricky grammar points, you can whip out these French language memes to give your classmates a good giggle (and hopefully some motivation)!