French Language Blog

Man’s Best Friends – Pets In French Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in Vocabulary

Some of the first words most people learn in French are le chien et le chat (the dog and the cat), but it’s surprising how the word for pets in general is often left out.

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

When I first asked un francophone (a French speaking person) how to say the word “pet” en français, they immediately started laughing.

Comment dit-on “pet” en français ?
Quoi ?! Hahaha !

How do you say “pet” in French?
What?! Hahaha!

It’s an example of how thinking in French can cause les francophones to make mistakes in English. Le rire (the laugher) came from the fact that there is a particular juvenile word en français that sounds exactly like the English word “pet”.

Tu veux vraiment dire un pet…. comme le gaz intestinal ?
Non ! Pas de tout ! Je parlais des animaux.
Je ne comprends pas alors.
Les animaux qui sont nos amis….
Les animaux de compagnie ?
Oui, je crois que c’est ça !

You really mean to say a fart… like intestinal gas?
No! Not at all! I was talking about animals.
I don’t think I understand then.
The animals who are our friends….
Yes, I think that’s it!

Un pet, to be clear, is a fart in French and un animal de compagnie is a pet in English. To make the somewhat long animal de compagnie easier to remember, just think of its literal translation and the word should stick in your head.

Un animal de compagnieA companion animal

Figuring out how to talk about le meilleur ami de l’homme (man’s best friend) and all your favorite animals may involve an awkward conversation if you don’t already know the French word. Just remember that even if there’s un malentendu (a misunderstanding) at first, in the end you’ll be having fun and improving your vocabulary!

Voici un vocabulaire des animaux de compagnie :

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

Pet – L’animal de compagnie
Man’s best friend – Le meilleur ami de l’homme
Dog – Le chien
Cat – Le chat
Ferret – Le furet
Guinea Pig – Le cochon d’Inde
Gerbil – La gerbille
Hamster – Le hamster
Horse – Le cheval
Pot-bellied Pig – Le cochon vietnamien
Parrot – Le perroquet
Parakeet – La perruche
Betta Fish – Le combattant
Goldfish – La poisson rouge
Lizard – Le lézard
Snake – Le serpent
Turtle – Le tortue
Frog – La grenouille
Pet Food – La nourriture pour animaux
Dog Food – La nourriture pour chien
Cat Food – La nourriture pour chat

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Diane:

    Looking forward to improving my French in this manner