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French éminent or imminent

What’s the difference between éminent and imminent?

by | 1 Sep 2020 | French Language


The French words –adjectives to be more specific– éminent and imminent look and sound similar, yet they have completely different meanings. Let’s make sure there is no confusion.


Éminent can be used to describe things or people. It means eminent, exceptionally important or renowned, distinguished. 


Here are two examples:

  • Deux éminents chercheurs ont donné leur avis. (Two distinguished researchers gave their opinion.)
  • Elle a été nommée à un poste éminent. (She was appointed to an eminent position.) 


Imminent means imminent (yes, it’s the same word in both languages), impending. It is used to describe actions or situations that are upcoming, nearly immediately. 


For example:

  • Est-il conscient du danger imminent ? (Is he aware of the impending danger?)
  • Nous discuterons des changements imminents. (We will talk about the impending changes)


Both adjectives may sound extremely similar to some of you. The only difference is on the first syllable, so make sure you hear and pronounce the é or the i correctly. Both sounds need you to move your lips as when you smile, but your lips need to be very close to each other for the i and you need to make the space between your upper and lower lips a little bigger to pronounce the é.


Listen to the French pronunciation of éminent:


Listen to the French pronunciation of imminent:


Useful tip: to remember which one is which, look and remember the first letters in bold:

imminent → nearly immediate

éminent → exceptional


Here you are! You now know the difference between éminent and imminent. Congratulations! 🙂

Now, how about trying the following quiz? You can try it as many times as you like. You can also share your score(s) in the comment section below.

Have fun!


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