Translating Matériau and Matériel

Syllabus Montreal Translation Truck with building materialsAs an English follow-up to our French article “Trop souvent confondus : matériau et matériel,” I thought it might be handy to take a look at how these terms differ when it comes to their English translations.

Matériau translates as building materials. Think wood, metal, or bricks. Matériel, on the other hand, translates as hardware, equipment, or tools. Picture Tonka trucks.

Take, for instance, a set of skis. Matériau de ski refers to what the skis are made of, the actual wood that they’re built with. Matériel de ski translates as ski equipment or gear. Matériels are the tools you need to get the job done. Matériaux are the crude materials you need to build your project.   

When it comes to translating the two terms, the difference is subtle, yet material.


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