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To produce good quality essays in French it is important not to think it out in English and try to translate it.

Widen your French vocabulary as much as possible. Use the new words you have learnt as much as possible.

Learn phrases, clauses and sentences that will be useful in an essay. Try to develop a good French style.

Think strategicaly about how to approach a writing assignment.


  1. Taking in the title. Underline keywords and if necessary check their meanings. Think about the title.
  2. Gathering material. Collect notes from various sources.
  3. Generating ideas. Get your ideas down on paper, jot down thoughts, sample sentences.
  4. Planning. Organise your notes into a simple and coherent outline plan.
  5. First draft. Check your work for structure and language mistakes as you go along.
  6. Reviewing. Read over your work and correct errors and omissions
  7. Final draft. Word process or write legibly. Your general presentations should be good - first impressions do count!.


You will write a piece of French usually a letter, report or article from a printed stimulus.

  • Read the question carefully and make sure you understand it. Don't rush to start writing.
  • Use your phrases and vocabularly well. Write as fluently as you can. Don't repeat phrases, use a variety.
  • Check your work carefully and methodically.
  • Keep within thw word limit - most important!


You will not have time to do all the 7 steps in an exam!

Choose your title carefully. By now you should know what kind of essay you prefer writing so choose carefully.

Usually there are 3 types:

  • creative e.g.writing about a photo, a newspaper article
  • discursive e.g. current affairs, European issues, social problems.
  • task based e.g. a letter, and advert, a report.


A good essay will include:

  • A relevant introduction. Keep it fairly breif, get down to the business of the essay quickly.
  • A coherent development. Sort out your points and present them in a strctured way, giving your essay a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • A strong conclusion. The conclusion should show the reader that you have really 'answered the question' or 'repsonded to the title'.


Don't forget:

  • Check your work e.g. go through the verbs then the adjectives, gender spelling.
  • Count the words. It is very important to keep within the word limit. If your essay is too long, it could cut out your conclusion and therefore lose you marks.
  • Use as many tenses as you can (correctly!).


Learn a few of these to use in essays.


tout d'abordfirst of all
d'une part... d'autre parton one hand... on the other hand
par contreon the contrary
bien quealthough
néanmoinsnever the less
il est donc question is therefore a question of
il paraît donc évident appears therefore clear that
quant àas for/ regarding
au niveau (international)at the (international) level
il faut donc rappeler queit is necessary therefore to remember
il est certain queit is certain that
l'important, c'estthe important thing is
il ne faut pas oublier queyou must not forget that
en conclusionin conclusion
tout bien considéréall things considered
après toutafter all
en fin de compteat the end of the day
ce que je dis, en fait, c'est...what I am saying, in fact, is...


Some phrases and clauses.

1. Telling stories in the past.


il y a deux mois2 months ago
aprés avoir finiafter finishing
comme elle sortaitas she was going out
à ce moment - at that moment
pendant son séjourduring his stay
longtempsfor a long time
de temps en tempsfrom time to time
au printempsin the spring
en éte/automne/ hiverin the Summer/Autumn/Winter
c'était le deux janvierit was the 2nd of January
vendredi dernierlast Friday
Je lui ai ditI told him
avant - hierthe day before yesterday
hier matinyesterday morning.


2. The future


tout de suiteimmediately
dans deux heuresin 2 hours
vers huit heures ce soirabout 8 o'clock this evening
la semaine prochainenext week
à l'heureon time
nous arriverons vers midiwe will get there about midday


3. Joining words


d'abordfirst of all
aprés celaafter that
un peu plus tarda little later
une heure plus tardan hour later
une fois arrivé(e)after arriving
enfinat last
malgré toutdespite everything


4. Descriptions


un vieil hommean old man
aux cheveux blancs et courtswith white short hair
il portrait des lunetteshe was wearing glasses
il était petithe was short/small
une jeune fillea young girl with blonde hair
elle portait un jean et un T-shirt bleushe was wearing jeans and a blue T-shirt
âgée de seize ansaged 16
elle écoutait la musiqueshe was listening to music
qui portait une boîtewho was carrying a box


There is usually a journalistic style essay in the creative section you will probably use third person singular and plural a lot in this type of writing so make sure you have revised your verbs thoroughly!

Ensure you can lay out a letter in the correct way:

1. A formal letter

Bristol le 14 mai (usually you put the town and date)

Monsieur / Madame (Dear Sir/ Madam)


    Veuillez agreér, Monsieur / Madame l'assurance de nos sentiments distingués


    Je vous prie d'agreér Monsieur / Madame l'expression de mes sentiments les plus distingués

(Yours faithfully)


2. A more informal letter to someone you know (or at least their name)

Chamonix le 20 novembre

Chère Madame Marceau (Dear Mrs Marceau)

Bien cordialement (Your Sincerley)