When to Use Face, Visage or Figure in French?(Q&A)
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When to Use Face, Visage or Figure in French?(Q&A)

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Bonjour tout le monde !

If you are one of the close to 20,000 subscribers of my weekly newsletter, you’d know that I answer questions from readers every week.

The questions could be anything from language, travel, culture, and anything about France. I know that some of the questions are also on the minds of other French learners, so here, I am sharing to you some of the questions and my answers to them.

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Question:

What is the proper, or best, usage of:  face, visage et figure ?

Michael, California

My answer:

A very tricky question here, Michael ! Basically, all three have more or less the same meaning as face in English but with some nuances in the usage.

  • Face is the side of something. (i.e., the North Face)  We use it in relation to a person in two situations : medical terms (une lésion à la face = a wound on the face)  or for slang which is an insult most of the time (for example: face de rat = rat face).
  • Visage is the most commonly used one. For example : Elle a un beau visage. She has a beautiful face.
  • Figure means an external shape.  It can be used in so many scenarios.

    • We use it with some adjectives to express certain feelings (Tu fais une drole de figure = a strange look. Probably the person is sad or preoccupied).  
    • We also use it as a slang but a more polite form than face.

Overall, the three words describe the same area of your face, but I won’t recommend using the French word face unless you want to be mean to someone.

I hope this helps.

Frédéric

Over to you…

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About the Author Frederic

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +

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