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The kick start of the World Cup football tournament has been given, flags and buntings are out and big screens promise great evenings in pubs all over the country. Children might even learn a bit more about geography whilst exchanging football cards from different european countries, and they might even be allowed to stay up later some evenings, even if the next day is a school day.

For a month, football will be everywhere and even those who don’t like it will get the festive atmosphere. But, talking about football isn’t that easy! Let’s see: in English it’s all about football, or maybe soccer, ball, supporting your team and goal! In French one goes for foot, eventually football, ballon, soutenir and buts!
Football is of course the name of the game, but in France everyone will shorten it to foot and in case you want to talk about feet, you will have to use the word pieds. In France you  won’t even choose the word football to describe the ball, footballers (Footballeurs!) play with: ballon or ballon de foot is commonly used.

Using the verb supporter in French for cheering a team is quite a popular Anglicism which entered the french thesaurus and is now admitted in colloquial language. The main meaning of supporter in French is: ‘to stand’, ‘to bare’, and soutenir is more appropriate when hoping for your favourite football team (équipe) to marquer un but (to score). But (mais) you remain a supporter when you shout and sing, as the French language uses the English word.

A friend of mine pointed out recently the that French can’t even write blue, as they go for les Bleus, instead of ‘the Blues’. No blues for les Bleus (at least not right now), but vous connaissez la musique (you know the drill / song):  Allez les Bleus!


English French English French
football foot foot pied
football ballon balloon ballon
team équipe equipped équipé
goal but but mais
to support soutenir to  bare supporter
to score  marquer  final score  le score


Grrr… grammar:

Interjection (interjection) à l’impératif (imperative)
Allez les Bleus!
Grammatically talking, allez is one of the plural forms for the imperative of the verb aller (to go). Imperative moods can be used in different cases. Here one can consider that he either advises his team to do its best, or prays for it to do so. It is similar to the English: ‘Come on England!’
Allez has actually become an interjection and has so lost its verbal value. It means that it is invariable and doesn’t have to agree with any word in the sentence. You will so say, Allez la France! and use the plural form, even if France is singular.

Substantivation ou nominalisation (substantivization)
Allez les Bleus!
, as the English blue, is an adjective. By adding a determiner in front of it you can make a substantif (noun) out of it: les Bleus. The capital letter is used here in analogy with nouns like the French, the Brits…

5 thoughts on “Foot, ballon, but et score!

  1. Barbara is not only a very consiencious and gifted teacher but also a warm, openhearted person always ready to offer her skills to those in need.

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