You have been taking French lessons for a while now, and your vocabulary is fairly decent: you can hold a conversation in French. (If you haven't yet started lessons, get to it now by searching, for example, 'french course london'!)
At least, you speak French well in your classes!
Your French teacher has recently suggested that you start branching away from textbooks; that you should start listening to French news online, and reading French texts.
You, the eager francophone, agree.
The trouble is that you are not fluent in French; your vocabulary has substantial holes in it and not every word or idea can translate from French crystal clear into English.
Perhaps you only need to make sense of one French word here or there. Maybe the meaning of an expression escapes you.
And this is just one example of how anyone might need a French translator, or a French to English translation.
Where can you turn for clarity, so that reading French outside of the classroom becomes practical; a learning exercise?
An Internet search reveals untold numbers of French English translators, some free and some for a fee. Some automated and some done by linguists whose native language is French. The selection is mind-boggling!
Superprof to the rescue! We've investigated all manner of translator software, as well as sites that do human translations.
May we put forth a few selections?
French English Dictionaries
If you lack that occasional word or phrase, finding it in the dictionary is helpful.
Not only would such searches yield word meanings, but examples of how to use them, synonyms and antonyms, and sample sentences.
Because French words are gender-specific, some of those dictionaries point out whether you should use un or une with that word; or le or la.
Our dear Collins dictionary does not have such a feature, but you can glean the gender of any noun by the article used in the sample sentences, which are included on the page.
Reverso French English dictionary, powered by Collins, offers an expanded selection of functions.
Besides definitions, it offers synonyms, conjugation of verbs, translation of idioms, business and medical phrases; it even has a page entirely dedicated to literature!
You might say that this French to English translator is more of an encyclopedia of French language and culture.
The last online dictionary we feature here, although there are tons more available, is called French Linguistics.
As it originates in the UK, it is uniquely targeted to British students who are learning French. Their home page gives links to essential French vocab for GCSE, and a free French listening quiz.
We found this dictionary a bit of a mess.
While it does indicate which gender your looked-up word is, it also throws at you a barrage of remotely related words for you to consider learning the meaning of.
There are no synonyms or sample sentences on these pages, nor does it offer any verb conjugation or word etymology. And it only translates words – not expressions.
The bewildered student may turn to other French translators if s/he needs to know what a phrase means...
Google Translate, Microsoft Translator and Babylon
Who hasn't made use of these free online multilingual translators?
They are convenient and easy: simply copy and paste the text in question into the first field, select the language – in this instance, French, and presto! Your text is converted into your mother tongue.
Nobody ever said how well.
We had a bit of fun with this exercise. We typed a few French phrases – some of them slang phrases into each of these translators; what came out was... sometimes comical!
We then proceeded to enter text in different languages, Chinese and Spanish, to name two: in each case, the same result.
Online translators cannot distinguish context clues, which means that they are ineffective in translating homonyms, and they completely mangle the substance of any idiom you enter.
To be perfectly fair, each of these utilities does a good job of translating English words; they only lack a bit when it comes to meaning.
And woe to the French text that does not have the accent properly placed!
For example: ou is a conjunction that means or.
où is an adverb, a preposition or a relative pronoun, depending on the sentence, and each word type has several uses.
None of these web based translators can make the distinction between these two words based solely on context.
A more evolved online translator might.
The consensus of these popular, one click translator utilities: if you need something informal translated on the fly, by all means.
If you are preparing a thesis for your French A Levels, it would be best to steer clear of them, unless you are proficient enough in French to polish their oversights.
One standout to the online translator is SDL Translator.
Although it did just a bit worse in their instant text translation than the others, this page offers a link to French translation services by bilingual human translators.
You can get a free quote for the cost of your document or website translation, with a price slightly higher for business translations, as opposed to translating personal documents.
Get French lessons online on Superprof.
Let us talk about other online translation sites, now!
Click here for an article on the best French podcasts for French learners.
Translated.net; Translate by Humans
For an English to French translation, or a French translation into English that must be spot on, nothing but a human translation will do.
As demonstrated so far, machine translation can fall a bit short on accuracy, especially when interpreting nuance and context, or compensating for forgotten diacritic marks and incorrect grammar.
Barring the fact that mistakes can happen, unless your professional translator is inept, that problem would not exist if you engaged the services of a human translator to translate English.
Translated.net offers three levels of service: economy, professional and premium, with the second one touted as the best value for the money.
They count several reputable companies as their customers, having translated more than 40 thousand documents per year since their inception, 15 years ago.
Their professional translation package guarantees an overnight return.
You can submit your French website for translation to English; or an app you hope to launch in French speaking countries that needs translation English to French.
Beware! Their economy package uses translation software only lightly reviewed by a human translator, which would do nothing for your application!
If you need a technical translation, or need an English French translation to publish an article in a French medical journal, for instance, it would be best to select their professional or premium service.
We like that their prices for French to English translations are published; it can be a bit frustrating to solicit quotes and wait for a response.
Besides, a price quote is not necessarily a firm guarantee of what you will pay for translation service!
Day Translations is a service that will return a quote to you within 10 minutes. They offer language translation across the globe, as well as phone and in-person interpreting. That service might be particularly useful for immigrants who need an English translator for their visa application process.
Besides document translation and interpreting, they offer a host of services, including website translation, medical translations and language translation for legal documents.
Should you have sensitive documents such as legal or medical records, you might not want just anyone to handle them, or even see them.
This company is an accredited member of the Association of Translator Companies, and each of their linguists has been certified as a translator.
Looking for such credentials is always a good idea when dealing with personal affairs.
And then, there is always the question of secure transmission of documents submitted for language translation.
Day Translations makes it easy to render your perhaps sensitive papers into their capable hands: through their secure server, by fax, or by courier.
If your website is full of text to translate from English to French, obviously you would simply give them your web address!
Naturally, not every translation demands top security, but keeping safe in this day and age has taken on a whole new dimension, hasn't it?
So has the business of translating...
Engaging a Freelance Translator
Mass marketing is indeed a sign of our times. You can hardly access a webpage without being bombarded by ads anymore!
What if you have a single translation job; maybe a family document or some relevant passage in French that you need to understand better?
Contacting a translation company online virtually guarantees you an assortment of promotional messages and possibly discounts on your next translation.
You can spare yourself this ongoing intrusion by engaging a freelancer, who would translate your document with no further fuss or bother.
It doesn't take a lot of searching to find such collectives.
Upwork may yield desirable results, especially since their platform encourages freelancers to build a profile that would include any translation certifications they may have, as well as membership in any professional organisation.
Perhaps the best guarantee of a qualified translator is their exam results.
This freelancing platform has a battery of tests any freelancer may subject themselves to in order to prove their ability.
You may find the need for an Arabic translation, a Japanese translation or even a Spanish translation in the future, in which case a freelancer with those skills would be happy to meet your deadline!
If you can't yet communicate in written French, don't rely on a dictionary to translate your words and phrases!
For any translation French to English that you might need, you have a variety of options:
- a French dictionary
- any free online translation tool
- a French translation service
- freelance speakers of other languages
Until you have mastered the French language and can translate French into English on your own, rest assured there are plenty of instant translation options available to you.
Follow this link for info on French learning apps.