People used verbal expression of their thoughts since ancient times to understand each other. The languages appeared in different areas and in different times, developed, changed and now people may use their languages to express their thoughts.
Languages of different countries differ, and it is impossible to understand each other if the languages people speak belong to different groups. “As members of different ethic and cultural groups, our languages vary, yet they reflect universal principles of grammar” (Myers). As it was mentioned, there are some language groups. The languages inside those groups developed by the influence of one language or immerged out of one language. “Sometimes old information can facilitate of new information. Knowing Latin may help us to know French and English – a phenomenon called positive transfer” (Myers).
French and English languages have something in common, as they belong to one language group, and at the same time they differ as the development of languages occurred under different circumstances. We are going to find some common features and differences in the grammar and syntax of these languages.
The first difference of two languages is the different levels expression: the linguistic formulation of the text can be released “at the level of abstract expression by means of abstract words or at the level of concrete expression by means of concrete words” (Vinay). The structures of these languages differ in the way that English sentences are organized around concrete words, and abstract words make the structure of French sentences. Such example may be given:
Eng. He swam across the river. Fr. Il traversa la riviere a la nage.
In this example the word “nage” is more concrete than “swim’ is subordinated to the abstract word “traverser”. (Vinay)
Using restrictive pronouns may also be the considered as the difference of these two languages. The example may be studied of two words “who” and “qui”. Restrictive relative “who” may be used as a direct object in English and the corresponding word “qui” in French may not be used in such position (but it may be used as an object of the preposition). (Cinque)
The common difference is in the position of French “assez” and English “enough”. English ‘enough” differs from “so”, “too” and “how” “in following rather than preceding adjective (Clinque). For example, “rich enough” and “too rich”. The same equivalent “assez” has no difference in position with the corresponding degree elements, for example, “assez riche” and “trop riche”. (Clinque)
Continuing the investigation of pronouns usage, we want to identify one more difference. So, not to repeat the attributive adjective, French expresses pronouns which are understood in English. We want to represent such example,
Eng. He is satisfied, but I am not. Fr. Il est satisfait, mains je ne le suis pas. (Vinay)
French and English differ in usage of pronouns which do not have a precise point of reference in the utterance: French does not use such pronouns (the exceptions may occur in several idioms), and English uses them.
Eng. I find it hard to believe. Fr. J’ai du mal á croire. (Vinay)
So, the syntax and grammar rules in English and French differ in some items, what we could see from our examples. There is no need to speak about linguistic, stylistic and other differences of these languages to say that they are rather different, in spite of the fact that the common initial language was Latin and that the basic constructions are similar.
Cinque, Guglielmo. Kayne, Richard S. The Oxford handbook of comparative syntax. Oxford University Press US.
Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology. Worth Publishers. 7th edition.
Vinay, Jean-Paul. Darbelnet, Jean. Sager, Juan. Hamel, C. M.-J. Comparative stylistics of French and English: a methodology for translation. John Benjamins Publishing Company.