Online and computer-based tools to help improve your writing in French
If you are called upon to write a text in French, and especially if French is not your first language, you will probably want to make use of all the help you can get. Of course, at the end of the day, the coherence of your argument and the originality of your thinking are crucial, but for that the best software is still found inside your head! However, beyond that, nothing takes away from the quality of a text like spelling and grammar mistakes, especially obvious or frequent ones. Typing a text without the proper diacritics is even worse: it may even make your text incomprehensible. Leaving out accents in French is a bit like leaving out letters or punctuation in English. At a more advanced level, the effect of a text depends on well-chosen vocabulary and well-structured sentences. In sum, to give your ideas the best chance of being understood, you need to make sure your text has been revised and corrected.
Here are some of the tools you should consider using.
- Make sure you're using a French keyboard.
If you're in Canada, the Canadian French variant is probably the best. To see how to set this up in Windows, see for example here. For a Mac, see for example here.
- Use a grammar and spelling checker.
- At the most basic level, this can be done in Microsoft Word. To see how, click here.
- At a much richer level, use the Antidote software. Antidote provides detailed diagnostics and suggestions for correction as well as an electronic dictionary and grammar manual. It is available on all the machines in the semi-public site in Kingston Hall at Queen's (3rd floor). To see how to use it, click here. Antidote can also be purchased at the Queen's Campus Bookstore or online.
- Use an online dictionary.
The list provided by Nathalie Soini of Stauffer Library at Queen's is a good place to start. To see the list, click here. Note that some of these materials are freely available on the web, while some others require you to have an account on the Queen's University system.
© Greg Lessard
Département d'Études françaises, Queen's University, Canada
Dernière modification: 16 septembre 2013