Chance ou hasard? Occasion ou opportunité?
SHAHSS oo ah-ZAAR? oh-kah-zeeYAW oo oh-pore-tew-nee-TAY?
Luck or chance? Opportunity or appropriateness?
Oh boy. This will be fun. Four words that are easy to mix up or misuse, but so frequently used, it’s critical to get them straight! Words like these are called false friends, or faux amis (FOH zah-MEE): the meaning looks obvious, but they will trick you.
la chance = luck. As in, Il a de la chance. He’s lucky (he has luck). Attention! Doesn’t refer to having a chance to do something.
le hasard = chance (has nothing to do with hazard, meaning danger, but is related to hazarding a guess, which implies that your guess has only a slight possibility of being correct). As in a game of chance, un jeu de hasard.
l’occasion = occasion. Or opportunity. Or event. J’ai saisi l’occasion: I grabbed the opportunity. Je n’ai pas eu l’occasion de le faire: I haven’t had a chance to do it.
l’opportunité = appropriateness. As in, This is not the opportune moment for that discussion. Related to à propos, a French expression that we use in English to mean related to. As in, That’s not à propos of the discussion. (Therefore it’s not opportune to discuss it at this time.) By the way, can you see the expression à propos in the English word appropriate? They are cousins.
Don’t you love it?
And don’t confuse au hasard and par hasard, either. Au hasard (oh ah-ZAAR) means randomly. Je l’ai dit au hasard = It was just a random remark (I said it randomly).
Par hasard (paar ah-ZAAR) = by chance. Je l’ai vu par hasard. I saw him by chance.