Learning French for a trip to Paris

I have wanted to properly learn a language for some time now but have never felt like I had the time and was never sure which to learn with so many to choose from: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek e.t.c. Not to mention languages from places outside Europe and extinct languages such as Latin and Ancient Greek! But my recent trip to France prompted me to learn some basic French which I hope to expand on afterwards. To do this I compiled a list of words and phrases that were most likely to be useful to me in Paris and which was short enough for me to learn in a limited to amount of time. The list is not perfect as I have never had French lessons and had to use the Internet and my own initiative to work out some of the phrases but English is the third most spoken language in the world and one of the friends I am going with speaks French so we did not really need to be perfect for my trip!

My list ended up like this:
• Hello/ Good morning/ Hi – Bonjour/ Salut
• Goodbye – Au revoir/ Salut
• Good evening – Bonsoir
• Goodnight – Bonne nuit
• Please – S’il vous plaît
• Thank you (very much) – Merci (beaucoup)
• Sorry – Dèsolè
• How are you? – Comment allez-vous?
• I am fine – Ça va
• Very well – Très bien
• Yes – Oui
• No – Non
• Okay/ agreed – D’accord
• And – Et
• With – Avec
• Or – Ou
• Excuse me – Excusez-moi
• Pardon? – Pardon
• How are things? – Comment ça va
• My name is… – Je’mapelle…
• I am English – Je suis Anglais
• Do you speak English? – Parlez-vous Anglais
• I do not understand – Je ne comprends pas
• Pleased to meet you – Enchanté
• Help me – Aidez-moi
• I am lost – Je suis perdu
• I am lost – Je suis malade
• See you soon – À bientot
• See you tomorrow – À demain
• Mr – Monsieur
• Mrs – Madame
• Miss – Mademoiselle
• Where is the…? – Où est le…?
• I want the…? – Je veux les…?
• A bottle of water – Une bouteille d’eau
• Tap water – Eau du robinet
• Chicken – Poulet
• Fish – Poisson
• Salad – Salade
• Potato – Pomme de terre
• Rice – Riz
• Pasta – Pâtes
• Tomato – Tomate
• Soup – Soupe
• Bakery – Boulangerie
• Butchery – Boucherie
• Cake shop – Pâtisserie
• Turn left – Tourner à gauche
• Turn right – Tournez à droite
• Where are the toilets? – Où sont les toilettes
• I want the bill – Je veux l’addition

The summer holidays is a great time for not only visiting new places either abroad or within the country you live but for learning new things and improving yourself as a person. Learning a new language, reading new genres, researching a topic that interests you or experimenting with writing in the form of blogging or short story writing are all enjoyable pastimes which can help to keep you productive, whilst spending time with friends and family either just relaxing or doing something active like cycling can help your physical and emotional wellbeing, something especially key for introverts as it is easy to isolate yourself during holidays!
As for me, I had a great holiday in Paris with my homemade phrase book (even though I rarely used it!) and wish anyone else planning to go to France luck with their French!

To see my Trip Advisor reviews for our B&B, the café we ate dinner at, and the boat tour we went on, click the links below.




Apologise versus Apologize

An age old argument: –ize or –ise. Is it apologise or apologize?

Until recently, I thought that it was apologise as I was told that apologize was American.

However, this is a common misconception as both are actually English.

When I discovered this, I was at a loss as to which to use. I then found that –ize was the original, with –ise being introduced later and neither being American.

But the fact still remains that many people believe that –ize is American and it can lose you respect in Britain.

However, as always in the English language, there are exceptions.

These words must end in –ise:





















There are also some that must end in –yse:









Personally, I still use –ise, as it is necessary to use –ise for some words but there are no words for which it is necessary to use –ize and I have always used –ise. If you live in the UK, then you should use –ise unless you are associated with Oxford University or Cambridge University, both of which will expect you to use –ize.

Fans of Inspector Morse will probably know that Morse himself condemns those who use –ise, calling them illiterate, saying that people who went to Oxford or Cambridge should know the right way, as the Oxford and Cambridge English dictionaries use a “z”.

If you live in America, then you should probably use –ize and people who live elsewhere, again, I don’t know, but as I said in my post about the Oxford comma, do what you feel is right and if you have been doing it one way all your life then you probably shouldn’t change now!

The Oxford Comma

The Oxford Comma. Some love it and some hate it. But why?

The Oxford comma is a comma that goes before the words “and”, “or”, and “nor” in a list of 3 or more items. For example:

“I had eggs, toast, and orange juice.”

Many people, including myself, were taught at primary school never to put a comma before the word “and”, as it is wrong. But is it?

The main use of the Oxford comma, also called the Serial Comma or the Harvard Comma is to avoid ambiguity and to clarify meaning.

Meaning is clear in a simple list with or without an Oxford comma:

“She wore tan shoes, pink shoelaces and a polka dot dress.”

This sentence clearly states three separate items of clothing.

“She wore tan shoes, pink shoelaces, and a polka dot dress.”

This sentence also clearly states three separate items of clothing.

However, in a complicated list, meaning can be ambiguous without the use of an Oxford comma.

“I’d like to thank my parents, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.”

This suggests that your parents are Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, a mistake which can be avoided with the use of an Oxford comma.

“I’d like to thank my parents, Bill Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey.”

The comma also helps in lists which contain compound terms (“meat” and “vegetable pies”) joined by a conjunction (“and”), such as:

“The bar sold cider, real ales, meat and vegetable pies, and sandwiches.”

Without an Oxford comma, this sentence suggests that the pies and sandwiches were vegetable:

“The bar sold cider, real ales, meat and vegetable pies and sandwiches.”

When planning to publish your work, you should bear in mind that some organisations such as The Associated Press, The Economist, and the New York Times dislike, avoid, and omit the Oxford comma.The comma has been part of Oxford University Press style for centuries, changing its name from the serial comma to the more well-known Oxford comma, but was rejected recently by the university’s branding people to get academics to be consistent. But the Oxford Press still uses it, along with The Elements of Style, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual, the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the American Medical Association.

However, the general consensus seems to be that you can choose to use the Oxford comma, or not use it, but you should be consistent.


  • Primary school does not always teach you the right way to do things
  • Avoids ambiguity
  • Clarifies meaning
  • Matches the natural speech pattern of pausing before the last item in a series
  • Supported by Oxford university


  • Unnecessary in simple sentences
  • Some organisations do not allow it
  • In some instances it does not help clarity and can introduce ambiguity
  • Can be redundant, as the preceding conjunction serves the same purpose as the comma
  • Takes up more space
  • Mostly only used in America (obviously not a con if you are from America – use away!)
  • People such as teachers and employers may attempt to correct you

In conclusion

If you live in the UK, then either use the Oxford comma and swear by it, use it when it is necessary, or don’t use it at all. If you live in America, then you should probably use it. If you live elsewhere, I have no idea! But I would suggest you do want you feel is right wherever you live because, really, it doesn’t matter what other people think about your grammar unless people like your teachers or tutors are telling you to do it another way, in which case should probably listen to them… or carry on regardless if you want!