French to English translation

To aid with French to English translation, various tools, services and information pages are available on this site. Which is the right section of the site is right for you will depend on your circumstances.

Profesisonal French-English translation

For an accurate, professional translation, you should opt for this site's professional translation service. Please see the translation service home page or e-mail for more information about prices and turnaround times. This option is generally the most suitable for:

Informal use: understanding a shopping web site, getting the gist of a newspaper article etc

On the other hand, if you're simply looking to get the "rough gist" of a piece of French text, and can accept some misinterpretations, poorly written sentences, grammatical errors, missing words etc, then there are various on-line machine translation tools that can provide this type of "very rough" translation.

It is important to understand that automatic translation tools such as Google Translate are only designed to get a rough gist and are not suitable for professional use. (For more information, see this article about the dangers of machine translation.)

For example, putting machine-translated text on your web site is likely to give your company or web site a very unprofessional image, and put customers off rather than attracting the additional business that you were hoping for. And at worst, it could actually give them incorrect information without you being aware.

On the other hand, if you understand these risks and are convinced that it is suitable for your purposes, a machine translation has the advantage of being virtually instantaneous; see the French translation tool on this site, or various others available on the web.

Resources if you want to attempt the translation yourself...

If you're brave and have at least some knowledge of French yourself and wish to invest the time yourself in translating the text, then this site contains a free on-line French dictionary and English-French counterpart. Note that, unlike the machine translation tool, the dictionary contains information to guide you to an appropriate translation of a word or phrase. Another valuable, and under-used, resource is the translation examples database, which allows you see how words have tended to be translated between French and English (and various other languages) in practice. This database is a valuable resource in particular for translating journalistic and political texts (as well as some more general texts).

One problem that can come up when attempting to translate a text with little knowledge of the language yourself is that some words, notably verbs, can have radically different forms. In French, it is precisely the verbs that present this problem most. To help with this, a list of common French verb forms gives a no-nonsense list of commonly-ccurring forms, with common translations and grammatical information.

If your problem is more vocabulary-oriented, then in addition, a French/English computing glossary and glossary of business French are also available. Some themed vocabulary guides are also available, such as the guide to French finance terms or a guide to writing a French business letter.