Have you ever got midway through a conversation that led you to translate “because” and you went with with parce que, only to then think “is that right?” because you know there are other alternatives to it?
It’s quite likely because you actually wanted to say “because of“, and the equivalent in French doesn’t actually start with “parce que” and then add a word for “of”.
So, in this article let me guide you through how to decide between parce que and all the other terms I hear on a daily basis that mean because and because of so you can be fully equipped to both understand and use them with confidence.
Either watch the video below or keep reading for the abridged version for how to say because in French.
Parce que & car
Ask yourself the question “do I want to say because or because of and translate that to French?”.
If the answer is because, then you will need one of parce que or car.
- Je suis ici parce que je suis tombé.
- I’m here because I fell.
Or even with parce que at the start of the sentence:
- Parce que je suis pas fiable, mon patron m’a viré.
- Because I’m not reliable, my boss fired me.
Car is simply a more formal version of French. Nothing to do with the vehicle :p.
There is more nuance to it if you go deep into the technicalities but that’s pretty much it.
Sometimes I hear it spoken but mainly I encounter it in written form.
- Je suis ici car je suis tombé.
À cause de & grâce à
Returning to that question “do I want to say because or because of?”, if your answer is because of then you need to use one of à cause de or grâce à.
For an intermediate speaker I like to recommend that you think of à cause de as because of in the negative sense. I.e. there is a negative consequence, fault, or blame for something. In this case, use à cause de:
- Je suis tombé à cause d’une flaque d’eau que je n’ai pas vue.
- I fell because of a puddle that I didn’t see.
- On est dans cette situation à cause de toi.
- We’re in this situation because of you.
It’s not always used for negative situations, but it’s useful for you at this stage to think of it like that because it will enable you to choose between à cause de and grâce à without thinking.
What do I mean? Well grâce à is used exclusively for positive outcomes. Think of it as thanks to if it makes it easier.
- Grâce à toi, je suis sauvé.
- Because of you/Thanks to you, I’m saved.
- Elle a survecu grâce à la générosité d’un inconnu.
- She survived because of a stranger’s generosity.
En raison de
This is one I’ve never heard out loud, but I see it in official messages, letters, or announcements.
So, not one I encourage you to use in your speaking but it’ll help your comprehension to know about.
It means because of or due to.
My two examples today come from public transport.
- Le trafic est interrompu entre Portet-St-Simon et Latour de Carol en raison d’un accident de personne.
- Trains are suspended between Portet-St-Simon and Latour de Carol because of/due to an accident involving a person.
And on the tram recently in Montpellier I saw:
- Retards annoncés sur la ligne 2 en raison d’un accident.
- Delays reported on line 2 due to an accident.
So that’s it! Never mix up your translations of because and because of in French again.
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