Word Confusion: Cher versus Chère, Cherie

Posted March 23, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This word confusion has been bugging me for a long time, and a book I read this morning inspired me to go and explore its proper usage. I know that, in general, French adds an e — blonde, Françoise, Claude — to feminize the word, so why do so many movies find a male character addressing the female one as cher? I simply couldn’t “see” the e on the end.

Yep, it turned out that there are two spellings for the female version: cherie (it’s easy to “see” that ie when someone speaks) while chère is not so easy as only the r is pronounced. It explains why I was so confused!

My, My

As for mon and ma… Never does this twain meet! In other words, don’t address a man as ma cherie. It’s feminine all the way. Ma is the feminine version of my and used only with females; mon is the male version of my. Yep, you guessed it. It’s only used with males.

A man may address a dear female friend as ma chère or ma cherie.

A woman may address a dear male friend as mon cher.

Properly, this form of address is only used with someone you know really well.

Italics Required

When I looked up both words in my Apple Dictionary, I was surprised to find it’s a river in France as well as the singer. There was nothing there or in Merriam-Webster for cher, chère, or cherie. This means it’s not considered a commonly used foreign word in America, and it requires italics.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Cher Chère, Cherie
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Trailer screenshot of Louis Jourdan

Image of trailer screenshot (Madame Bovary trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cropped screenshot of Louis Jourdan from the film Madame Bovary

The cover for Ilona Andrews' Bayout Moon

Image courtesy of Goodreads and Ilona Andrews

Part of Grammar:
Noun Noun

A form of address, most commonly as mon cher

my dear

A form of address most commonly as ma cherie or ma chère

my dear
Mon cher, would you rub my back?

Georges, mon cher, I’ve told you again and again to put the cap back on the toothpaste.

Mon cher fil, you were brilliant!

My dear son…

Elementary, mon cher Watson…

Chère Agnes, (addressing a letter)

Now look, ma cherie sœur, you can’t wear that!

Now look, my dear sister…

Oh, ma cherie ami

Oh, my very dear friend…

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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