French Podcast Transcripts

How to use ‘mauvais’ or ‘mal’ in French?

Mauvais or mal in French? “Mauvais” and “mal” are both French words that can be translated as “bad” or “wrong” in English, but they are used in different contexts.

Mauvais or mal in French?

Bad or Bad in French?? “Mauvais” and “mal” are both French words that can be translated as “bad” or “wrong” in English, but they are used in different contexts.

#1  “Mauvais”

   “mauvais” is an adjective that agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies. It is used to describe a noun and is equivalent to the English word “bad” or “wrong.” ‘Mauvais’ tuns into ‘mauvaise’ when you the noun you use is feminine (feminine as the gender of the noun). Mauvais is used as the opposite of good.  For example, when you talk about food, the weather, a smell…


  J’ai passé une mauvaise journée. (I had a bad day.)

 Il a eu une mauvaise note. (He got a bad grade.)

 Ce film est mauvais. (This movie is bad.)

 Elle a fait un mauvais choix. (She made a bad choice.)

 #2  “Mal”

“mal” is an adverb and does not change with gender or number. It is used to modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb and translates to “badly” or “wrongly” in English. You use ‘mal’ when you express the opposite of well.


Il chante mal. (He sings badly.)

J’ai mal dormi hier soir. (I slept badly last night.)

Elle se sent mal.  (She feels bad.)

 Tu comprends mal la question. (You are misunderstanding the question.)

In summary, “mauvais” is an adjective used to describe a noun, while “mal” is an adverb used to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

#3 Practice

C’est un mal ou mauvais restaurant = C’est un mauvais restaurant. It’s a bad restaurant.

Je parle mal ou mauvais français = Je parle mal français = I speak bad French.

Mon français est mal ou mauvais ? = Mon français est mauvais.

ça sent mal ou mauvais ! = ça sent mauvais = it smells bad!

Allright, you made it!! Practice makes perfect!

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