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French Vocabulary – Cars Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Vocabulary

As I’ve shared before, I love to drive in France. The post I shared a few weeks ago and a recent passage in the book I’m reading got me thinking about car-related vocabulary. This week we’ll look at some key words related to cars … and some examples of how to use them in context.

L’idée m’est venue … / The idea struck me

As I mentioned, part of the inspiration for this week’s post came from a book. Until I read it, I had forgotten that in French there is a specific word for ‘car door’ (as opposed to a door door). The passage (“Elle claqua la portière et partit à grandes enjambées …” * / “She slammed the door and left taking big strides …”) comes from Un Appartement à Paris by one of France’s most popular contemporary authors Guillaume Musso (whose works are available in 41 different languages!) It’s the third novel I’ve read by him and I highly recommend him if you like fun adventures with an other-worldly twist.

La voiture The car

Français English
la voiture the car
les pneus (m.) the tires
le clignotant the blinker
le coffre the trunk (the boot)
le frein the brake
le klaxon the horn
la portière the door
le volant the steering wheel
le pare-brise the windshield
les essuie-glaces (m.) the windshield wipers

Les voitures ont normalement quatre pneus. / Cars generally have for tires.

Avant de tourner, il faut mettre son clignotant. / Before turning, one must turn on their blinker.

On dirige une voiture à l’aide du volant. / One controls the car with the steering wheel.

Quand il pleut, les essuie-glaces permettent de nettoyer le pare-brise. / When it rains, the windshield wipers keep the windshield clean.

En Angleterre on appelle ‘le coffre’ ‘the boot. Aux Etats-Unis on dit ‘the trunk’. / In England they call ‘le coffre’ ‘ the boot’. In the US they say ‘the trunk’.

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* Notice the use of the more literary passé simple.

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris