French word of the week: cher

Welcome back to your weekly dose of French words. Our word this week is the adjective cher.

You can find its pronunciation here:

Cher is an adjective. You’ll also see its feminine form, chère. There are two plural forms of both masculine and feminine – chers and chères.

If you need a reminder about adjectives, check out our EL Grammar pages on using adjectives in French.

We use the word cher in a few different contexts in French. You’ll commonly hear it when talking about money and prices. The first meaning we’re looking at is using cher to describe something as expensive:

Je ne peux pas payer cent euros – c’est trop cher ! I can’t pay a hundred euros – it’s too expensive!

Cette bouteille de champagne est notre plus chère. This bottle of champagne is our most expensive one.

Interestingly, the second meaning is similar to another word for expensive in English, but not in French. It means dear.

In English, we might interchangeably use the words expensive and dear:

These shoes are far too dear for my budget.

These shoes are far too expensive for my budget.

But in French, the second meaning of cher, chère, chers or chères translates to something or someone dear to you: in other words, important or precious to you. We also use this in English in the same way:

Mon grand-père m’a donné cette montre, elle m’est chère. My grandfather gave me this watch, it’s precious to me.

C’est pour un ami très cher qui se marie. It’s for a very dear friend who’s getting married.

There’s even a related noun which you might have heard – chéri (or chérie), meaning darling or dear. It’s helpful to be able to recognise where an adjective ties in with the meaning of a related noun:

J’adore ta robe ma chérie ! Darling, I love your dress!

Ne t’inquiète pas mon chéri, ça va améliorer. Don’t worry my dear, things will get better.

Finally, there’s another significant way that we use the word dear in English. Maybe it would help you if we wrote it with a capital D?

Chère Mélanie, je vous écris pour vous dire… Dear Mélanie, I’m writing to tell you

Chers messieurs… Dear sirs…

Check out our blog about the etiquette for writing letters in French.

From buying expensive champagne to writing formal letters, this word certainly comes in handy for certain lifestyles!

We’ll be back next week with another French word.

Written by Holly Tarbet, freelance copywriter and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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