··········· Table of Contents ···········

Basics 1 · Genders, Personal Subject Pronouns, Subject-Verb Agreement updated 2019-01-01

Grammar notes like those below can be helpful if you're having trouble with the lessons, so consider trying the lessons above before reading the notes. They'll be more helpful once you have a context for understanding them.

Genders

French has two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. All nouns have a gender that you must memorize. Sometimes, the gender can be obvious: une femme ("a woman") is feminine. Other times, it's not obvious: une pomme ("an apple") is also feminine.

There is no rule of thumb to guess a noun’s gender, so make sure you learn every noun together with its indefinite article un or une as if the article were part of the noun, like “apple” is une pomme.

Personal Subject Pronouns

In every complete sentence, the subject is the person or thing that performs an action or is being described. This is often a noun, but a personal subject pronoun (e.g. "I", "you", or "he") can replace that noun. In both English and French, pronouns have different forms based on what they replace.

English French Example
I je Je mange. — I eat.
You (familiar singular) tu Tu manges. — You eat.
He/It il Il mange. — He eats.
She/It elle Elle mange. — She eats.

Subject-Verb Agreement

Notice above that the verb manger (as well as its English equivalent, "to eat") changes form to agree grammatically with the subject. These forms are called conjugations of that verb.

Here are some conjugations for verbs you'll encounter in the first few units:

Subject Manger (To Eat) Être (To Be) Avoir (To Have)
je je mange — I eat je suis — I am j'ai — I have
tu tu manges — you eat tu es — you are tu as — you have
il/elle/on il mange — he eats il est — he is il a — he has

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Basics 2 · Articles, Elisions, Contractions, Words beginning with H updated 2019-01-01

Articles

Articles (e.g. "the" or "a") provide context for a noun. In English, articles may be omitted, but French nouns almost always have an article. French has three types of articles:

Articles have multiple forms, as provided in this table:

Article Masculine Feminine Plural Example
Definite le/l' la/l' les le chat — the cat
Indefinite un une des une femme — a woman
Partitive du/de l' de la/de l' de l'eau — (some) water

It is critical to understand that articles must agree with their nouns in both gender and number. For instance, le femme is incorrect. It must be la femme because la is feminine and singular, just like femme.

Elisions

Le and la become just l' if they're followed by a vowel sound. This is an example of elision, which is the removal of a vowel sound in order to prevent consecutive vowel sounds and make pronunciation easier. Elisions are mandatory—for instance, je aime is incorrect. It must be j'aime.

These other one-syllable words can also elide: je, me, te, se, de, ce, ne, and que. Tu can also be elided in casual speech, but not in writing (including on Duolingo).

Contractions

In a contraction, two words combine to form one shortened word. For instance, the partitive article du is a contraction of the preposition de with le.

However, since du can create vowel conflicts, when it would appear in front of a vowel sound, it takes the elided de l' form instead. This is also the case for de la.

Words Beginning with H

The letter H is always mute (silent) in French, but when H starts a word, it can act as a consonant (aspirate) or vowel (non-aspirate). For example, the H in homme acts as a vowel. This means that "the man" must be written as l'homme.

Conversely, an aspirate H doesn't participate in elisions or liaisons (which you'll learn about soon). It's usually found at the beginning of loanwords from other languages. For instance, "the hero" is le héros. Pay attention to this when learning new vocabulary.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Common Phrases · Bonjour, Idioms, Liaisons, Enchaînement, Il y a updated 2019-01-01

Bonjour !

Bonjour is a universal greeting that can be spoken to anyone at any time. In France, greeting people is very important, and some will even say bonjour aloud when entering a public room or bus. Culturally it is considered good manners to greet shopkeepers and staff upon entering a store or restaurant, and the height of rudeness to ignore them. Bon après-midi is often used as a farewell in the afternoon, while bonsoir is an evening greeting.

Note: après-midi can be masculine or feminine, so you can also use bonne après-midi.

Idioms

Many words or phrases cannot be translated literally between English and French because their usages are idiomatic. For instance, consider « Ça va ? », which means "How are you?" The literal translation of the French is "That goes?", but this is nonsensical in English. It is very important to identify idioms in both languages and learn how to translate them properly.

Liaisons

In a liaison, an otherwise silent ending consonant is pushed to the next word, where it's pronounced as part of the first syllable. Like elisions, this prevents consecutive vowel sounds. Liaisons are possible whenever a silent ending consonant is followed by a word beginning in a vowel sound. Some liaisons are mandatory, some are forbidden, and some are optional.

Here are some mandatory liaisons, along with approximate pronunciations:

Liaisons are forbidden:

Note that some consonants take on a different sound in liaisons, and it's important to pronounce these correctly when speaking.

Original Consonant Resulting Liaison Sound Example
-s, -x, -z Z des hommes [de-zɔm]
-d T un grand arbre [œ̃ grɑ̃-tarbr]
-f V neuf ans [nəvɑ̃]

Liaison rules vary among speakers, particularly across dialects, and fewer liaisons tend to appear in casual and slow speech. Note that the slow mode in Duo listening exercises does not include liaisons.

Enchaînement

In enchaînements, ending consonant sounds are pushed onto the next word if it begins in a vowel. This is essentially the same as a liaison, except that the consonant sound wasn't silent beforehand. For instance:

The Impersonal Expression IL Y A

Impersonal expressions are phrases where there isn't a real subject. For instance, in the phrase "It is snowing" (Il neige), "it" doesn't refer to anything. It's a dummy subject that exists just to maintain the sentence structure.

One of the most common impersonal expressions is il y a, which is an idiom for "there is" or "there are".

You will learn more about impersonal expressions in "Verbs Present 1".

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Plurals 1 · Plurals, Plural Articles, Plural Pronouns & Verbs, Agreement, Tu or Vous updated 2019-01-01

Plurals

Many French words have plural forms. Plural nouns and adjectives can be formed by appending an -s to the singular, but remember that this -s is usually silent.

Plural Articles

The plural definite article "les" corresponds to the English plural "the". It is the plural of le, la, and l'. It is used with specific nouns that are known to the speaker or to indicate a generality about a plural noun.

The plural article "des" is an indefinite article. It is simply the plural of "un" or "une". This article does not exist in English. It is required in French and means “more than one” when the English noun would have “a” or “an” in the singular.

Plural Pronouns and Verbs

There are also plural forms for pronouns and verb conjugations. Consider parler ("to speak"):

Person French Example
I je Je parle. — I speak.
You (familiar singular) tu Tu parles. — You speak.
You (formal) singular vous Vous parlez. — You speak.
He il Il parle. — He speaks.
She elle Elle parle. — She speaks.
We nous Nous parlons. — We speak.
You (plural) vous Vous parlez. — You speak.
They (any group including a male) ils Ils parlent. — They speak.
They (all women) elles Elles parlent. — They speak.

Agreement

Pronouns, adjectives, and articles must agree with their nouns in both gender and number. Consider the examples below and note how the article and adjective change to agree with each noun.

Not all adjectives change forms. For instance, riche is the same for both masculine and feminine singular nouns, and their common plural form is riches.

Tu or Vous?

French has two words for the subject pronoun "you": tu and vous. For a singular "you", tu should only be used for friends, peers, relatives, children, or anyone else who's very familiar to you. In all other cases and also for plurals, the more formal vous should be used to show respect. When in doubt, use vous.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Gallicism · C’est or Il est, Idioms with Avoir updated 2019-01-01

A gallicism is a phrase or grammatical construction peculiar to the French language.

C'est or Il est?

When describing people and things with a noun after être in French, you usually can't use the personal subject pronoun like il, elle, ils, and elles. Instead, you must use the indefinite pronoun ce, which can also mean "this" or "that". Note that ce is invariable, so it can never be ces sont.

Indefinite Subject Pronoun Personal Subject Pronoun
Singular c'est il/elle est
Plural ce sont ils/elles sont

These pronouns aren't interchangeable. The basic rule is that you must use ce when être is followed by any determiner—for instance, an article or a possessive adjective. Note that c'est should be used for singulars and ce sont should be used for plurals.

If an adjective, adverb, or both appear after être, then use the personal pronoun.

As you know, nouns generally need determiners, but one important exception is that professions can act as adjectives after être and devenir (“to become”). This is optional; you can also choose to treat them as nouns.

However, c'est should be used when using an adjective to make a general comment about (but not describe) a thing or situation. In this case, use the masculine singular form of the adjective.

Idioms with Avoir

One of the most common idioms in French is the use of the verb avoir in certain places where English would use the verb "to be". This is especially common for states or conditions that a person may experience.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Basics 3 · Être & Avoir, Continuous Tenses updated 2019-01-01

Être and Avoir

Être and avoir (“to be” and “to have”) are the most common verbs in French. Like many common verbs, they have irregular conjugations.

Subject Être ("to be") Avoir ("to have")
je/j' (je) suis (j')ai
tu es as
il/elle/on est a
nous sommes avons
vous êtes avez
ils/elles sont ont

There should be a “z” liaison between ils or elles and ont [il-zɔ̃] or [ɛl-zɔ̃]. The "z" sound is essential here to differentiate between "they are" and "they have", so be sure to emphasize it.

These two verbs are very important because they can act as auxiliary verbs in French, but they differ from their English equivalents. "I write" and "I am writing" both translate to j'écris, not je suis écrivant (the present participle of écrire). This is because être cannot be used as an auxiliary in a simple tense. It can only be used in compound tenses, which you will learn in the "Passé Composé" unit.

Another important distinction is that avoir means "to have" in the sense of "to possess", but not "to consume" or "to experience". Other verbs must be used for these meanings.

Continuous Tenses

English has two present tenses: simple ("I write") and continuous ("I am writing"), but French has no specialized continuous verb tenses. This means that "I write", "I am writing", and "I do write" can translate to j'écris (not je suis écrivant) and vice versa.

However, the idiomatic phrase être en train de is often used to indicate that someone is in the process of doing something.

Most of the time present tense sentences in French can be interpreted in either the present or the present continuous tense in English. Stative verbs in English are an exception to this and have no continuous form. For instance, J'aime un garçon cannot be translated as "I am loving a boy".

You can learn more about stative verbs here: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/intermediate-grammar/stative-verbs

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Food 1 · Partitive Article, Count Noun or Mass Noun, Omitted Articles, De + Definite Article updated 2019-01-01

The Partitive Article

The partitive article is used for unspecified amounts of uncountable nouns. In English, it can translate to "some", but it's often just omitted. Remember that du is a contraction of de + le and that partitives can elide: du and de la become de l’ before a vowel sound.

Gender Partitive Article Example
Masculine du Je mange du poisson. — I am eating fish.
Feminine de la Je mange de la viande. — I am eating meat.
Elided Masc. de l' Je mange de l'ananas. — I am eating pineapple.
Elided Fem. de l' Je bois de l'eau. — I am drinking water.

Nouns almost never appear without articles in French, so articles must be repeated in serial lists.

Count Noun, Mass Noun, or Both?

Count nouns are discrete and can be counted, like une pomme ("an apple"). They can be modified by definite and indefinite articles, but usually not partitive articles.

Mass nouns like lait ("milk") are uncountable, and they can be modified by definite and partitive articles, but not indefinite articles.

However, many nouns can behave as both count nouns and mass nouns. This is true for most edible things. For instance, consider poisson ("fish") or vin ("wine"):

Note that some mass nouns can be pluralized in English when they refer to multiple types of the noun, but this usage isn't found in French. For instance, "the fishes" refers to multiple species of fish, while les poissons just refers to multiple fish.

Omitted Articles

When an article is missing in an English sentence, it must be added to the French translation. The definite article can be used to fill this void in four situations:

  1. Almost anywhere one would use "the" in English (i.e. when referring to specific things).
  2. Before the subject of a sentence to state general truths about it.
  3. Before the direct object of a verb of appreciation (like aimer) to express like/dislike.
  4. Before categories (singular or plural), concepts and immaterial things.

If any of the above is true, then use the definite article. Otherwise, use the indefinite or partitive article. When in doubt, add “some” before the English bare noun; if the sentence keeps its meaning, use the indefinite or partitive article.

Both articles are missing in the English version of this example. Aimer expresses fondness for wine, so le vin should be used there. However, boire is not a verb of appreciation, so the partitive du should be used on the uncountable lait.

“Art” is a concept, so l’art should be used there. Dessiner is not an appreciation verb and the plural object “cats” only means “some cats”, so the plural indefinite des should be used on the count noun chats.

This is a general truth about horses, but #2 above can only apply to subjects, so only chevaux takes a definite article here. Animaux are countable, so use the plural indefinite des.

This is a tricky example because the meat is the direct object of manger, not aimer. Thus, #3 does not apply and viande cannot take a definite article.

Also, the French definite article can be ambiguous when translating from French to English. Depending on the context, it can refer to either a specific noun or the general sense of a noun.

De + Definite Article

De plus a definite article can also have other meanings. De means "of" or "from", so this can also indicate possession or association with a definite noun.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Animals 1 · Noun Genders, Feminine Animals updated 2019-01-01

Noun Genders

As you learned in "Basics 1", French has two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. All nouns have a gender, and most nouns have a fixed gender. For instance, la pomme is always feminine and un bébé ("a baby") is always masculine, even for baby girls.

However, some nouns can have multiple genders depending on the situation, and many masculine nouns can be changed to a feminine form simply by adding an -e to the end. Your male friend is un ami and your female friend is une amie. Some nouns, like un élève and une élève ("a student"), have the same spelling and meaning for both gender forms.

Other nouns may have the same spelling, but different genders and meanings. For instance, un tour (masculine) is a tour, while une tour (feminine) is a tower.

One of the most difficult aspects of learning French is memorizing noun genders. However, by spending some time now memorizing the following patterns, you may be able to guess most nouns' genders and save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.

Some genders depend on a noun's classification. For instance, languages, days of the week, months, seasons, metals, colors, and measurements are mostly masculine.

Otherwise, memorizing word endings is the best way to guess genders. We'll learn these ending patterns in four steps:

First: Nouns ending in -e tend to be feminine. All others, especially nouns ending in consonants, tend to be masculine. This is true for over 70% of all nouns.

Second: Nouns that have the endings -ion and -son tend to be feminine, even though they end in consonants.

Third: Nouns with these endings are usually masculine, although they end in -e:

Fourth: Watch out for these complications:

That's it! Memorize these, and you'll be able to guess most noun genders.

Feminine Animals

In French, female animal nouns are generally formed as follows by taking the last consonant, doubling it, and adding a mute -e to the end.

Of course, there are many exceptions. For example:

Other animal nouns do not vary in masculine or feminine and the opposite gender will be specified with mâle or femelle.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

source

Weather 1 · Impersonal Expressions, Il fait, Il y a updated 2019-01-01

Impersonal Expressions to Describe the Weather

In French, it is common to use verbs like faire ("to do") idiomatically for general conditions such as weather, especially with ordinary adjectives like beau, mauvais, chaud, froid, etc.

To describe the weather (le temps), we can use the impersonal expression il fait (literally, "it does" or "it makes"). In English, when we say "it is raining", we do not use "it" as a real subject. The "it" doesn't refer to anything. This is the same with the French il in impersonal expressions: it is not a real subject. You have encountered something similar to this in the "Phrases" unit: il y a ("there is/are").

However, il fait followed by various ordinary adjectives describes sensory impressions.

Note that we can also explicitly describe the weather with the same adjectives: Le temps est chaud. Le temps est froid. Le temps est beau., etc.

Some weather conditions are commonly expressed with a noun instead of an adjective, and il y a is used, followed by a partitive article if the noun is uncountable or the indefinite article with a count noun.

There are other French verbs used impersonally with il to describe the weather. You will encounter some of them in this unit.

To ask someone about the weather, simply use the expression Quel temps fait-il ? (What is the weather like?). You will learn later on how this question is formed grammatically.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Adjectives 1 · Agreement, Placement, Figurative, Euphony updated 2019-01-01

Agreement

Unlike English adjectives, French adjectives must agree in number and gender with the nouns that they modify. A black dog is un chien noir, but a black dress is une robe noire. Also, remember that some adjectives have the same masculine and feminine form, especially those ending in a silent -e (e.g. riche).

When used with pronouns, adjectives agree with the noun that has been replaced. This is particularly tricky with the formal vous: to a singular man, you would say vous êtes beau, but to plural women, you would say vous êtes belles.

Adjective Placement

In French, most adjectives appear after the nouns they modify. For instance, colors follow the noun, as in le chat noir. However, some adjectives precede the noun. You may find it helpful to remember many these types of adjectives using the mnemonic BANGS.

There are a few things to keep in mind. BANGS is not a grammar rule and later on you may encounter a few adjectives that would seem to fit in a BANGS category, but in fact follow the noun. It is a mnemonic device to help you remember many of the common, short adjectives that do precede nouns in French.

However, all determiner adjectives (e.g. possessives, interrogatives, and demonstratives) appear before the noun, e.g. mon livre "my book" and ce cochon "that pig". You will learn these later.

Figurative Adjectives

A few adjectives can come both before and after the noun depending on their meaning. The most common example is grand, which is a BANGS adjective for everything but people. For people, it comes before a noun when it means "important" and after the noun when it means "tall". For instance, Napoleon was un grand homme ("a great man"), but not un homme grand ("a tall man").

Usually, figurative meanings will precede the noun, while literal meanings will follow the noun.

Euphony

As you have already learned, elisions, contractions, liaisons, and enchaînements are all designed to prevent consecutive vowel sounds (which is called hiatus). This quest for harmonious sounds is called euphony and is an essential feature of French. It has, however, created some unexpected rules.

For instance, the masculine beau ("beautiful") changes to bel if its noun begins with a vowel sound. A beautiful man is un bel homme. The other two common changes are vieux to vieil ("old") and nouveau to nouvel ("new"). You may also encounter fou which becomes fol ("crazy" or "mad") in front of a vowel sound. "A mad hope" is un fol espoir.

Note that this doesn't occur to feminine adjectives because they usually end in silent vowels.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Plurals 2 · Nouns & Adjectives, Articles, Conjugations, Punctuation updated 2019-01-01

Nouns and Adjectives

Most plural forms of nouns and adjectives can be formed by appending an -s to the singular, but remember that this -s is usually silent.

Note: If the noun is preceded by an adjective, des becomes de.

Articles

Articles must agree with the nouns they modify, so plural nouns require either les or des. This is a great way to tell if a noun is plural. If you hear les or des (which sound like [le] and [de]), then the noun is plural. If not, it's probably singular.

Conjugations

Remember that verbs change conjugation to agree with their subjects in both grammatical person and number.

Subject Être ("to be") Parler ("to speak")
je suis parle
tu es parles
il/elle/on est parle
nous sommes parlons
vous êtes parlez
ils/elles sont parlent

Punctuation

There are no quotation marks in French. Instead, the French use guillemets (« »). Exclamation marks (!), question marks (?), colons (:), semicolons (;) and guillemets need to have a space on either side.

When writing numbers in French, commas are decimal points, while spaces mark thousands places.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Clothing · Idiomatic Plurals, Diacritics, Nasal Vowels updated 2019-01-01

Idiomatic Plurals

English has a number of idiomatic nouns that appear the same whether singular or plural and care must be taken when translating them into French.

For instance, "the pants" can mean one or more pairs of pants in English, but le pantalon is singular and means one pair of pants in French. Les pantalons is plural and refers to multiple pairs of pants, never a single pair. Similarly, when translating le pantalon back to English, you can say "the pants" or "the pair of pants", but "the pant" is not correct. This also applies to un jean, un pyjama, un short ("a pair of jeans/pajamas/shorts").

Please note that un vêtement refers to “a single article of clothing”, and it's incorrect to translate it as "clothes" Clothes is invariably plural in English and refers to a collection of clothing. “Clothes” would be des vêtements.

Diacritics

The acute accent (é) only appears on E and produces a pure [e] that isn't found in English. To make this sound, say the word "cliché", but hold your tongue perfectly still on the last vowel to avoid making a diphthong sound.

The grave accent (è) can appear on A/E/U, though it only changes the sound for E (to [ɛ], which is the E in "lemon"). Otherwise, it distinguishes homophones like a (a conjugated form of avoir) and à (a preposition), or ou (“or”) and (“where”).

The cedilla (ç) softens a normally hard C sound to the soft C in "cent". Otherwise, a C followed by an A, O, or U has a hard sound like the C in "car".

The circumflex (ê) usually means that an S used to follow the vowel in Old French or Latin. (The same is true of the acute accent.) For instance, île was once "isle".

The trema (ë) indicates that two adjacent vowels must be pronounced separately, like in Noël ("Christmas") and maïs ("corn").

Nasal Vowels

There are four nasal vowels in French. Try to learn these sounds by listening to native speakers.

IPA Letter Sequence Examples
/œ̃/ un/um un/parfum
/ɛ̃/ in/im/yn/ym vin/pain/syndicat/sympa
/ɑ̃/ an/am/en/em dans/chambre/en/emploi
/ɔ̃/ on/om mon/ombre

These aren't always nasalized. If there's a double M or N, or if they are followed by any vowel, then the vowel should have an oral sound instead. For instance, un is nasal, but une is not. Also, vin is nasal, but vinaigre is not.

Please see this discussion for more information about nasal vowels.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Colors · Nouns & Adjectives updated 2019-01-01

Colors can be both nouns and adjectives. As nouns, colors are usually masculine.

As adjectives, they agree with the nouns they modify except in two cases. First, colors derived from nouns (e.g. fruits, flowers, or gems) tend to be invariable with gender and number. Orange ("orange") and marron ("brown") are the most common examples.

Second, in compound adjectives (les adjectifs composés) made up of two adjectives, both adjectives remain in their masculine singular forms.

Most colors that end in -e in their masculine forms are invariable with gender.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Possessives 1 · Possessive Adjectives, Euphony, Femme & Fille updated 2019-01-01

Possessives Match What is Owned

In English, possessive adjectives (e.g. "his/her") match the owner. However, in French, they match the thing being owned.

Consider the example of "her lion". The French translation is son lion, because lion is masculine and both the lion and the woman are singular. Note that if we hear just son lion, we can't tell if the lion is owned by a man or woman. It's ambiguous without more context. If two people or more own a lion, then it is leur lion.

Because of this ambiguity, the convention is that the object belongs to the subject: Elle aime son lion = "She likes her lion"; otherwise "She likes his lion" would turn to Elle aime son lion à lui.

Possessives have different forms that agree with four things: the number of owners, the number of things owned, the gender of the thing owned, and the grammatical person of the owner (e.g. "his" versus "my").

For one owner, the possessive adjectives are:

Person English Masculine Singular Feminine Singular Plural
1st my mon ma mes
2nd your (singular) ton ta tes
3rd his/her/its son sa ses

For multiple owners, genders don't matter:

Person English Singular Owned Plural Owned
1st our notre nos
2nd your (formal singular or plural) votre vos
3rd their leur leurs

The plural second-person possessive adjectives, votre and vos, should be used when addressing someone formally with vous.

Examples:

Owner Masc. Singular Owned Fem. Singular Owned
My Mon père — My father Ma mère — My mother
Your Ton livre — Your book Ta lettre — Your letter
His/Her/Its Son oiseau — His/Her/its bird Sa vache — His/Her/Its cow
Our Notre riz — Our rice Notre soupe — Our soup
Your Votre sac — Your bag Votre cravate — Your tie
Their Leur chien — Their dog Leur fille — Their daughter
Owner Masc. or Fem. Plural Owned
My Mes parents (m) — My parents
Your Tes lettres (f) — Your letters
His/Her/Its Ses animaux (m) — His/Her/Its animals
Our Nos tomates (f) — Our tomatoes
Your Vos vêtements (m) — Your clothes
Their Leurs enfants (m) — Their children

Euphony in Possessives

For the sake of euphony, all singular feminine possessives switch to their masculine forms when followed by a vowel sound.

Person Masculine Feminine Feminine + Vowel Sound
1st mon chat ma robe mon eau
2nd ton chat ta robe ton eau
3rd son chat sa robe son eau

Femme and Fille

Femme can mean "woman" or "wife" and fille can mean "girl" or "daughter" depending on the context. For example, when femme and fille are preceded by a possessive adjective, then they translate to "wife" and "daughter", respectively.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Present 1 · Conjugations, Pronunciation, Infinitives after conjugations: Appreciation updated 2019-01-01

Conjugations

As you learned in "Basics 1", verbs like parler conjugate to agree with their subjects. Parler itself is an infinitive, which is a verb base form. It consists of a root (parl-) and an ending (-er). The ending can dictate how the verb should be conjugated. In this case, almost all verbs ending in -er are regular verbs in the 1st Group that share the same conjugation pattern. To conjugate another 1st Group verb, affix the ending to that verb's root.

Every verb belongs to one of three groups:

Subject G1: parler G2: finir G3: dormir
je parle finis dors
tu parles finis dors
il/elle/on parle finit dort
nous parlons finissons dormons
vous parlez finissez dormez
ils/elles parlent finissent dorment

Aller ("to go") is the only fully irregular verb in Group 1, but a handful of others are slightly irregular.

Spelling-changing verbs end in -ger (e.g. manger) or -cer (e.g. lancer, "to throw") and change slightly in the nous form, as well as any other form whose ending begins with an A or O. These verbs take a form like nous mangeons or nous lançons.

Stem-changing verbs have different roots in their nous and vous forms. For instance, most forms of appeler ("to call") have two L's (e.g. j'appelle), but the N/V forms are nous appelons and vous appelez.

Pronunciation

There is a temptation to pronounce all the letters when first encountering the various conjugations, but it would be a mistake. Often the final consonants are silent at the end of words. For example, the verb “parler” in je parle, tu parles, il/elle parle, ils/elles parlent sounds exactly the same [paʁl]. In fact, il parle and ils parlent are perfect homophones, as well as elle parle and elles parlent. The third person plural ending, -ent, is always silent.

However, the ending “-ent” found at the end of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs is not silent and is pronounced [ɑ̃]. For example: vêtement [vɛtmɑ̃], content [kɔ̃tɑ̃], and souvent [suvɑ̃].

Infinitives after conjugations.

The infinitive is the non-conjugated form of a verb. It does not need a specific subject and it has several uses: as a noun, as a soft command, in interrogative or exclamatory phrases, and other uses that will be developed in further lessons.

For now, we will focus on the use of an infinitive directly after a conjugated verb. There are about thirty French verbs which can be directly followed by another verb in the infinitive.

The most frequent of them are:

Verbs of appreciation: aimer, adorer, désirer, détester, préférer

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Present 1 · Il faut/Aller/Movement/Opinion/Ability/Perception, More about Il faut updated 2019-01-01

The impersonal il faut:

Aller in the near future tense:

Verbs of movement: aller, courir, descendre, entrer, monter, partir, retourner, revenir, sortir, venir

Verbs of opinion: croire, espérer, oser, penser, souhaiter

Verbs of ability: pouvoir, paraître, rester, savoir, sembler, vouloir

Verbs of perception: écouter, entendre, regarder, sentir, voir

Other conjugated verbs need a preposition to introduce another verb in the infinitive, typically “à” or “de”, or possibly several alternative prepositions with different meanings. There is no rule of thumb to know which verb needs one or another preposition, so constructions have to be learned as you go.

More about Il faut

A few defective impersonal verbs can only be used in impersonal statements and must be conjugated as third-person singular with il. Remember that il is a dummy subject and does not refer to a person.

Falloir means "to be necessary", and in the present tense, it takes the form il faut + infinitive or noun. The meaning of il faut extends from necessity to needs and obligations. It is very versatile and common both in writing and in spoken French.

Il faut can also be used transitively with a noun to indicate that something is needed.

This type of impersonal verb does not exist in English and the translation may change depending on the target audience and context. Il faut can mean we/you/they/I must/need to/have to do something.

However, il faut never translates to “he must/needs to/has to”. Later you will learn about inserting an indirect personal pronoun which specifies directly who must/needs to/has to do something.

Here is a broad example without context that can interpreted a number of ways:
Il faut faire ça. — “It is necessary to do that” or “We/You/They/I must/need to/have to do that” or “One must/needs to/has to] do that” or even “That has to be done”.

This next example is more specific:
Il faut diminuer la quantité de sucre que nous mangeons. — “It is necessary that we decrease the quantity of sugar that we eat” or “We must/need to/have to decrease the quantity of sugar that we eat”.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Present 1 · Confusing Verbs, One Each or One Shared, Ah l’amour updated 2019-01-01

Confusing Verbs

Used transitively, savoir and connaître both mean "to know", but in different ways. Savoir implies understanding of subjects, things, or skills, while connaître indicates familiarity with people, animals, places, things, or situations.

Attendre means "to await", which is why it does not need a preposition.

One Each or One Shared

When the verb has a plural subject and a singular object, the object does not always refer to just one thing. Depending on the nature of the object, it can refer to one thing for each subject or one thing shared by the subjects.

Ah, L'Amour !

Love is tricky in France. For people and pets, aimer means "to love", but if you add an adverb, as in aimer bien or aimer beaucoup, it means "to like". For everything else, aimer only means "to like". Adorer means "to love" or “to adore”, though it tends to be more coy than aimer.

Please note that bien acts as a softener when used with aimer + people or things.

In love, less is sometimes more!

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Demonstratives 1 · Demonstrative Adjectives, Ça/Ça or Ce updated 2019-01-01

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives ("this", "that", "these", and "those") modify nouns so they refer to something or someone specific. They can be used in place of articles. Like other adjectives, they must agree with the nouns they modify.

Gender Singular Plural
Masc ce/cet ces
Fem cette ces

The singular masculine ce becomes cet in front of a vowel sound for euphony.

Ce can mean either "this" or "that". It's ambiguous between the two. To specify, use the suffix -ci ("here") or -là ("there") on the modified noun.

Typically, -ci and -là are added when comparing people or things or for a specific emphasis. However, these suffixes are required with some time notions to specify a present or past or even future date.

French learners often confuse the demonstrative adjective ce with the pronoun ce (from U05: Gallicism"). Discerning between them is easy, however: an adjective must modify a noun, while a pronoun can stand alone as a subject or object. Compare:

In the first example, ces is an adjective that modifies hommes, but in the second, ce is a subject pronoun.

Ça

The indefinite demonstrative pronoun ça is the shortened informal version of cela, and it refers to an unnamed concept or thing. When it's used as an object, it usually translates to "this" or "that".

Ça can also be used as a subject, in which case it can also mean "it".

Ça or Ce?

A simple rule of thumb to follow is that ce should be used with être, including in the double-verb constructions pouvoir être and devoir être.

Ça should be used with all other verbs.

However, when an object pronoun comes before être, then you must use ça, not ce. This is relatively rare.

Also, note that ça is informal and is usually replaced by cela ("that") or ceci ("this") in writing.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Conjunctions 1 · Coordinating Conjunctions updated 2019-01-01

Conjunctions function by hooking up words, phrases, and clauses. This unit focuses on coordinating conjunctions, which link two or more similar elements in a sentence. For instance, et may be used to link two nouns together.

It may also link two adjectives or even two clauses.

For the most part, French coordinating conjunctions behave very similarly to their English counterparts.

Conj. English Example
et and Elle a un chien et un chat. — She has a dog and a cat.
mais but Mais pas maintenant. — But not now.
ou or Oui ou non ? — Yes or no?
comme as/like Je suis comme ça. — I am like that.
donc so/thus Il est jeune, donc il est petit. — He is young, so he is small.
car because Je lis, car j'aime ce livre. — I read because I like this book.

The conjunction car means "because", and it's usually reserved for writing. The subordinating conjunction parce que is preferred in speech; you'll learn this in "Conjunctions 2".

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Questions · Inversions, Est-ce que, Intonation, Interrogative Adjectives/Pronouns/Adverbs updated 2019-01-01

Inversions

The most formal way of asking a question is to use an inversion, where the verb appears before its pronoun and the two are connected by a hyphen.

However, if the subject of the sentence is a noun, then the noun should appear before the verb, although a pronoun still needs to appear afterwards.

If the verb ends in a vowel, the letter T must be inserted between the verb and the pronouns il or elle for euphony. This T is chained onto the pronoun and is meaningless.

Inverted forms still obey other grammar rules, like those for il est vs. c'est. However, the pronoun in an inversion cannot elide.

Note: Puis-je comes from the verb pouvoir. Inverted, it always takes the form of puis-je, and not peux-je. This is the equivalent of “may I” in English and it is a formal register of speech.

Est-ce Que

Est-ce que (pronounced [ɛs kə]) can be added in front of a statement to turn it into a question. This interrogative format is the standard way of asking a close-ended question (answer: yes/no) both in writing and in speech. Remember that que elides in front of vowel sounds.

Intonation

In informal speech, one of the most common ways to ask a question is simply to raise your intonation at the end of a statement, like you'd do in English.

Interrogatives

An interrogative word introduces an open-ended question. French has interrogative adjectives, pronouns, and adverbs.

Interrogative Adjectives

French has one interrogative adjective with four forms. It translates to "which" or "what" depending on the context.

Singular Plural
Masculine quel quels
Feminine quelle quelles

An interrogative adjective cannot stand alone. It must modify (and agree with) a noun, and that noun must either be adjacent to it or separated by a form of être. Use “quel” whenever you are choosing between two or more nouns or you are asking specific information about a noun. The answer to the question is limited by the preexisting frame of reference.

Quel is also an exclamatory adjective in statements.

Interrogative Pronouns

Unlike an adjective, an interrogative pronoun can stand alone. For instance, the interrogative pronoun lequel can replace quel + noun. Note that it agrees with the noun it replaces.

Quel Form Lequel Form
Quel cheval ? — Which horse? Lequel ? — Which one?
Quels hommes mangent ? — Which men eat? Lesquels mangent ? — Which ones eat?
Quelle robe est rose? — Which dress is pink? Laquelle est rose ? — Which one is pink?
Quelles lettres ? — Which letters? Lesquelles ? — Which ones?

The difference between quel and lequel is a matter of how wide the frame of reference is. Quels livres lis-tu ? has a wide-open choice of possible answers, whereas *Lesquels de ces livres lis-tu ?” suggests that the choice has already been narrowed and there are no more than a couple of books.

The most common interrogative pronouns are qui (for people) and que (for everything else). However, the construction changes based on a number of factors. Qui is the only pronoun that can start a question by itself, but both qui and que can be used with inversion.

After prepositions and at the end of informal questions, que becomes quoi.

Qui and que can be very confusing because they can also be relative pronouns. Que can also be a subordinating conjunction. You will learn these uses later.

Interrogative Adverbs

A number of interrogative adverbs can be used to request information.

Note that when these adverbs are used with intonation-based questions, they can appear at the beginning or the end of the sentence (except pourquoi).

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Pronouns · On, Direct Object Pronouns, En, Y, Relative Pronouns, Reflexive Se updated 2019-01-01

On

On is a versatile and ubiquitous French indefinite subject pronoun. Standing for an unidentified person, on is genderless, masculine by default and the verb is conjugated in third-person singular, which is why conjugation charts often list il/elle/on together.

On can be used for general statements, much like the English, formal “one”, or the general “you”.

On is often used in active statements where English uses a passive construction.

Yet, Francophones usually say on as a substitute for nous. In this use, on keeps its conjugations in third person singular, but its adjectives or past participles can be in the plural masculine or feminine, depending on whom the subject represents.

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct objects are things or people that are directly acted upon by a verb. For instance, in the sentence "Ben threw the ball", the ball is the direct object. French has a set of pronouns that can be used to refer to a direct object.

English Direct Object
me me
you (sing.) te
him le
her la
us nous
you (plur. or formal sing.) vous
them les

Direct object pronouns usually come before their verbs.

Me/te/le/la elide, so make sure you notice them when they hide in the first syllable of a verb.

Le and les only contract when they're articles, not when they're object pronouns.

Note: “On” does not have a direct object form. As a consequence, L’enfant nous voit keeps the object pronoun “nous”, and On nous aime means “One loves us”.

For more information about direct objects see TNs, U21: Verbs Present: 2.

En Replaces De + Noun

The adverbial pronoun en can be used to replace objects introduced by de. For instance, it can replace a partitive article + noun.

En may replace nouns or pronouns in verb constructions that use de.

Nouns in adverbs of quantity or numbers can also be replaced with en.

Notice that en always precedes the verb, but adverbs stay in place after the verb.

Y Can Refer to a Place or a preceding indirect object.

The adverbial pronoun y can refer to a previously mentioned or implied place, in which case it's usually translated as "there".

In English, "there" may be omitted, but the same is not true of y in French. Je vais is not a complete sentence without y. The verb aller must be followed by a location or y.

Y can also replace the indirect object of a verb using à.

The Relative Pronouns Que and Qui

As mentioned in “Interrogative Pronouns”, qui and que can be very confusing because they can be interrogative or relative pronouns.

In a nutshell:

Relative pronouns introduce relative clauses, which are subordinate clauses that elaborate upon a previously mentioned noun or pronoun (the antecedent). Use que when the relative pronoun is the object ("whom", “which” or “that” in English) and use qui when it's the subject ("who", “which” or “that” in English).

If you have trouble figuring out whether to use qui or que, try rephrasing the sentence without the relative pronoun. Use qui if the antecedent is the subject; otherwise, use que. You can also remember that as a relative pronoun, qui is followed by a verb, whereas que is followed by a noun or pronoun.

In questions, after qui est-ce (lit. “who is it”) or qu’est-ce (lit. “what is it”), the relative pronouns qui and *que” can be used to introduce a relative clause.

The Reflexive Pronoun Se

A reflexive pronoun like se can be used to indicate that a verb acts upon the subject. Se is used with all third-person subjects, regardless of gender and number.

When se refers to a plural subject, it can also be reciprocal or mutual ("each other").

Certain pronouns can be added to the end of the sentence to differentiate between reflexive and reciprocal uses if necessary.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Adjectives · Multiple Adjectives, Grand or Gros, Faux-Amis updated 2019-01-01

Multiple Adjectives

When multiple adjectives modify a noun, they should come before or after the noun based on the same rules. This means that adjectives may straddle the noun if one is a BANGS adjective.

When arranging multiple adjectives on the same side, concrete adjectives should usually be placed closer to the noun than abstract ones.

You can add conjunctions and adverbs to break up multiple adjectives.

When there are multiple nouns being described by one adjective, that adjective takes the masculine plural by default.

However, if the nouns are all feminine, then they take the feminine plural.

Grand or Gros?

Grand and gros can both mean "big", but they're only partly interchangeable.

Grand tends to be used for:

Gros tends to be used for:

Faux Amis

Many English and French words look alike and share meanings. This is because English is heavily influenced by French and Latin. However, there are faux amis ("false friends") that look similar but do not have the same meaning. For instance, gros looks like "gross", but their meanings are not the same. Be careful before assuming the meaning of a French word based on its English lookalike.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Present 2 · Group 3 Verbs, Transitive & Intransitive, Confusing Verbs updated 2019-01-01

Group 3 Verbs

As you learned in "Verbs Present 1", Group 3 verbs are considered irregular, but some sparse patterns do exist among the -ir and -er verbs in this group.

Subject G1 parler G2 finir G3 dormir G3 ouvrir G3 vendre
je parle finis dors ouvre vends
tu parles finis dors ouvres vends
il/elle/on parle finit dort ouvre vend
nous parlons finissons dormons ouvrons vendons
vous parlez finissez dormez ouvrez vendez
ils/elles parlent finissent dorment ouvrent vendent

Among the G3 -ir verbs, some conjugate like dormir, while verbs like ouvrir conjugate as though they're -er verbs. Note that singular conjugations of dormir drop the last letter of the root. Also, while some -re verbs (such as attendre, entendre, and perdre) conjugate like vendre, dozens of other conjugation patterns exist, so it's best to memorize each verb's conjugation individually.

Here are some useful conjugation websites to use while you are learning the various conjugations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_conjugation http://la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com/ http://www.conjugation-fr.com/

Even native speaking French school children must spend time writing and rewriting verb conjugations, so take the time to learn them from memory and don’t be discouraged if it requires daily effort.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Sentences can have grammatical objects, which are nouns that are affected by a verb. There are two types of objects: direct objects, which are nouns acted upon, and indirect objects, which are nouns that are indirectly affected by the action.

In this example, "Ben" is the subject, "the ball" is the direct object, and "him" is the indirect object. You can usually recognize indirect objects in English by looking for a preposition after a verb. Identifying objects is important, especially in French.

Verbs can be transitive, intransitive, or both. Transitive verbs can have direct objects, while intransitive verbs cannot. However, both types of verbs can have indirect objects.

Parler is an interesting example because it's intransitive for everything but language names.

French verbs can be tricky for Anglophones because some transitive verbs in French have intransitive English translations and vice versa. Pay attention to this.

Confusing Verbs

Like their English counterparts, voir "to see" and regarder "to watch" differ based on the subject's intention. If the subject is actively watching or looking for something, use regarder. Otherwise, use voir.

Similarly, the verbs entendre “to hear” and écouter “to listen” differ whether it is a passive event that happens naturally (entendre) or an action that is done consciously (écouter). Use écouter if the subject is actively listening, if not, use entendre.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Prepositions 1 · De & À, Articles after De, Des before Adjectives updated 2019-01-01

French prepositions can be difficult because their meanings and uses don't always line up to what you would expect in English.

De and À

The most common French prepositions are de ("of"/"from") and à ("to"/"at"). These prepositions can be used in many ways. For instance, they may indicate movement or location.

Le and les (masc. or fem.) contract with the preposition “ à, as they do with the preposition de, whenever they are adjacent.

Definite Article De À
le du au
la de la à la
les des aux

If the contraction is followed by a vowel sound, du and de la both become de l' and au and à la both become à l'. This change occurs for euphony only; the nouns do not change genders because of it.

De may be found in numerous fixed expressions, especially after adverbs of quantity to form prepositional phrases like un peu de (“a little”) or beaucoup de ("a lot of"). In such cases, the partitive or indefinite article is removed.

Adding de or à to the end of certain verbs can change their meanings.

Using Articles After De

Most articles can be used immediately after expressions and verbs ending in de, but they must follow contraction and elision rules.

However, no article that already contains de may follow a negative term. This includes the partitives du and de la and the indefinites un, une and des. In this situation, the article is removed so that only the naked de remains.

Des Before Adjectives

When the plural indefinite article des appears immediately before an adjective, it changes to de. This occurs with BANGS adjectives, which come before the noun, as well as with adjectives placed before the noun with a subjective meaning

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Numbers 1 · Zéro to Vingt, Uses of Un updated 2019-01-01

Between 0 and 20, most French numbers are constructed similarly to English numbers. The main difference is that French starts using compound numbers at dix-sept (17), while English continues with single-word numbers until 21.

Number French
0 zéro
1 un
2 deux
3 trois
4 quatre
5 cinq
6 six
7 sept
8 huit
9 neuf
10 dix
11 onze
12 douze
13 treize
14 quatorze
15 quinze
16 seize
17 dix-sept
18 dix-huit
19 dix-neuf
20 vingt

Uses of Un

The word un (or une in feminine) can be used in a number of ways:

  1. As an indefinite article ("a" or "an"), which is used to modify countable nouns that are unspecified or unknown to the speakers.
    • un livre — a book
    • une lettre — a letter
  2. As a numeral ("one"), which is a kind of adjective.
    • J'ai une seule question. — I have only one question.
  3. As a pronoun ("one"). Like in English, French numbers can be used as pronouns. In general, when you see a preposition like de after a number, that number acts as a pronoun.
    • C'est un de mes enfants. — He is one of my children.
    • Je connais une de ces femmes. — I know one of those women.

Note: In either example above, you can use l’un or l’une as an optional, more formal alternative. It is generally recognized that the addition of the elided definite article l’ can avoid a vowel sound conflict, and the omission of it a consonant sound conflict. However, l’un or l’une is preferable at the beginning of a sentence or before a plural personal pronoun.

Also, keep in mind that liaisons are forbidden before and after et with one notable exception in the number vingt et un [vɛ̃ te œ̃].

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Family · Refresher: C’est or Il est updated 2019-01-01

Refresher: C'est or Il Est?

You learned in U05: Gallicism that you must often use the impersonal pronoun ce when describing people and things with être followed by a modified noun. In general, use ce whenever être is followed by any determiner—for instance, an article or a possessive adjective. Remember that ce is invariable, so use c'est for singulars and ce sont for plurals.

This rule applies everywhere, including in questions, inversions, and subordinate clauses.

The personal pronoun il should only be used with être when followed by an adjective and/or adverb.

In the last example, note that est-ce still appears because est-ce que is a fixed impersonal phrase.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Possessives 2 · Possessive Pronouns updated 2019-01-01

Possessive pronouns replace a possessive adjective + a noun. Like most other pronouns, they agree in gender and number with the noun they replace.

For one owner, the forms of possessive pronouns follow a simple pattern:

Person English Masc. Sing. Fem. Sing. Masc. Plur. Fem. Plur
1st mine le mien la mienne les miens les miennes
2nd yours le tien la tienne les tiens les tiennes
3rd his/hers le sien la sienne les siens les siennes

For multiple owners, the articles vary with gender, but the pronouns do not:

Person English Sing. Masc. Sing. Fem. Plural
1st ours le nôtre la nôtre les nôtres
2nd yours le vôtre la vôtre les vôtres
3rd theirs le leur la leur les leurs

The 2nd-person articles for multiple owners can be used for a single owner when speaking formally.

Notice that you must use c'est with possessive pronouns, not il est, elle est, because possessive pronouns use the definite pronouns le, la, les

The definite article at the beginning of a possessive pronoun can contract with à or de.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Demonstratives 2 · Ceci or Cela, Ce or Cela, Demonstrative Pronouns/+Relative Pronoun/+Preposition, Comparisons updated 2019-01-01

Ceci and Cela

Ceci ("this") and cela ("that") are the formal versions of the indefinite demonstrative pronoun ça ("this" or "that"), and they literally mean “this thing” and “that thing”. These are used when pointing something out, referring to something indefinite (like an idea), or referring back to something already mentioned.

Ceci is usually only used when making a distinction between "this" and "that". Otherwise, cela is preferred in writing and ça is preferred in speech.

Ce or Cela?

Remember that ce can only be used with être, including devoir être and pouvoir être.

However, cela and ceci can also be used with être for emphasis.

Cela/ceci/ça should be used with all other verbs.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns (e.g. "this one", "that one", "these", "those") replace a demonstrative adjective + noun for the sake of avoiding repetition. Like most other pronouns, they agree in gender and number with the noun they replace.

Type Adj + Noun ⇒ Pronoun English
Masc. Sing. ce + noun ⇒ celui the one / this one / that one / this / that
Fem. Sing. cette + noun ⇒ celle the one / this one / that one / this / that
Masc. Plur. ces + noun ⇒ ceux the ones / these ones / those ones / these / those
Fem. Plur. ces + noun ⇒ celles the ones / these ones / those ones / these / those

Demonstrative pronouns refer to a very specific thing and cannot stand alone. They must be used in one of three constructions.

Demonstrative Pronoun + Relative Pronoun

A relative pronoun and dependent clause can follow the demonstrative pronoun. For instance, you can use que when the relative pronoun is the direct object and use qui when it's the subject.

Demonstrative Pronoun + Preposition

The preposition de can appear after the demonstrative pronoun to indicate possession.

Demonstrative Pronoun + Suffix

This construction appears in "Demonstratives 3".

Usage Examples

Demonstrative pronouns are often used in comparisons or choices between alternatives.

They can also be used within prepositional phrases.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Time · Close Future, Dates, Jour or Journée, Telling Time updated 2019-01-01

The Close Future

In French, the present tense can often be used to describe something that will happen soon.

This also occurs in English, albeit less frequently.

Describing Dates

The most common way to express a date in French is to use nous sommes or on est.
This construction is idiomatic and does not directly translate to English.

Note that c'est vendredi does not mean "it is Friday" but "it is on Friday", where "c'est/it is" refers to an event or occasion. However, c'est vendredi aujourd'hui means and translates to/from "it is Friday today".

Note that while "today" is a noun and adverb in English, aujourd'hui cannot be used as a noun to give a date, so you cannot say Aujourd'hui est mardi. However, hier, aujourd'hui, and demain can be used as nouns when jour or journée are used as well.

This construction can be used to express the month or year, though you must add en. Like weekdays, months aren't capitalized in French.

When denoting specific dates, put le and the date before the month. Also, French date abbreviations take the form DD/MM/YY.

However, for the first day of the month, you must use the word premier.

To express a relative time in the past, you can use il y a.

Jour or Journée?

A few words for dates and times have both masculine and feminine forms that are used in different contexts.

English Masculine Feminine
day jour journée
morning matin matinée
evening soir soirée
year an année

Consider the meaning of the whole sentence when deciding between the two. Some pairs are more flexible than others. Jour and journée can sometimes be interchangeable, but matin and matinée are very strictly separate.

The masculine forms are used for countable units of time and specific dates or moments. For instance:

The feminine forms are used to express or emphasize a duration or the passing of time. They're also used with most adjectives. For instance:

Deciding between forms with un depends on whether un acts as a numeral or article. If you can translate un as "one" in English, then go with the masculine.

I must spend a (one) year abroad. — Je dois passer un an à l’étranger.
I’ll have dinner there one day. — Je vais dîner là-bas un jour.

Notice that chaque matin doesn't require an article but tous les matins does. This is because chaque, ce, and articles are all examples of determiners, which are words that give context to nouns. You will learn more about determiners in "Adjectives 3".

Telling time: Quelle heure est-il ?

To introduce the time (which is l'heure, not le temps), the impersonal il est is used, and the noun heure(s) is required, except for midi (noon) and minuit (midnight).

Time is often expressed on a 24-hour clock; otherwise du matin (from 1:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.), de l'après-midi (from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.) or du soir (from 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.) are added. This also works with minutes, quarter-hours (et quart or moins le quart) and half-hours (et demie).

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Infinitive 1 · Infinitive Mood, Without Prepositions, With Prepositions, After Nouns, After Adjectives, Causative Faire updated 2019-01-01

Verb conjugations are classified in two ways: tense and mood. Tenses reflect a time frame (e.g. present tense), while moods reflect a speaker's attitude. So far, you've mainly used the indicative mood (for facts and certainties), but it is only one of seven moods.

The Infinitive Mood

The infinitive mood is an impersonal mood that isn't conjugated nor associated with any subject pronoun. It can be used in a variety of constructions, either with or without prepositions.

Without Prepositions

Infinitives are often the objects of other conjugated verbs such as vouloir, pouvoir, and aimer. You learned this in "Verbs: Present 1".

Infinitives can also act like nouns and can be used as subjects.

Here, note that French infinitives can often be translated as English gerunds (with an -ing ending), especially when they're subjects.

After Verbs + Prepositions

As you learned previously, some verbs must be followed by a preposition to complete their meaning (e.g. penser à). An infinitive can be used as a object when it follows such prepositions.

Since infinitives can act like nouns, they can follow être + de to describe or define a subject (as a subject complement).

The preposition pour ("for" or "in order to") can come before an infinitive to express the purpose of an action.

Keep in mind that conjugated verbs should never come after prepositions.

After Nouns

An infinitive can also modify a noun when used with de or à. It may take practice to decide which preposition should be used, but in general, use de whenever the infinitive has an object.

Use à when the verb in the sentence is avoir (with the translation "to have").

À can also be used to indicate the purpose of a noun.

After Adjectives

Infinitives can be used with the construction il est + adjective + de to create impersonal expressions. Remember from "Common Phrases" that an impersonal statement is one with a dummy subject instead of a real one.

However, if the subject il is a real thing instead of just a dummy subject, then you must use à instead of de.

To further illustrate the difference, consider these two different translations of "It is fun to read." The first is a general statement, while the second is a statement about a real subject.

As a consequence, the construction c’est amusant de lire is improper because the only impersonal personal pronoun is il and ce/c’ is a demonstrative pronoun (“this” or “that”) representing a real thing, like ceci or cela. However, please note that [c’est + adjective + de + an infinitive] is massively used in spoken French, as well as [c’est + adjective + que+ a subordinate clause].

Causative Faire

Faire often appears before a verb to indicate that the subject causes something to happen instead of performing it. It's often used in relation to cooking, where the verb often describes what the food does, not the person cooking.

It can also be used to indicate that the subject has directed someone else to perform an action.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Adverbs 1 · Placement, Comparatives & Superlatives, Bon/Bien/Mauvais/Mal updated 2019-01-01

Adverbs are invariable words that can modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and more.

Adverb Placement

If an adverb modifies a verb, it usually follows right after it.

An adverb comes before an adjective or other adverb that it modifies.

A long adverb that modifies a phrase can usually be relegated to the beginning or end of a sentence.

Comparatives and Superlatives

The adverbs plus ("more") and moins ("less") can be used with the conjunction que in comparisons.

To express equivalence, use aussi...que ("as...as").

Adding a definite article before plus or moins creates a superlative. The definite article agrees with the noun being modified.

If the adjective should follow the noun, then the definite article must be repeated.

Bon, Bien, Mauvais, and Mal

In French, we have to deal with the good (bon and bien), the bad (mauvais and mal), and the ugly (trying to decide which to use). Luckily, in most cases, bon and mauvais are adjectives while bien and mal are adverbs.

There are also a number of fixed expressions or special usages for bien. You are familiar with some of these from "Common Phrases", and bien can also be exceptionally used as an invariable adjective, that is, it does not form agreements with the nouns it modifies.

Also, remember that aimer normally means "to love" when directed at people and pets, but adding bien reduces its meaning to "to like".

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Near Time · Near Future, Recent Past updated 2019-01-01

So far, you have learned how to express present events using the present tense. You have also just learned about the infinitive form of a verb. We can combine these verb forms to help ease you into building more French verb tenses.

There are two special tenses in French used to indicate an action that happens very close to present time: the near future and the near past (also called "recent past"). They are formed by conjugating aller and venir in the present tense and adding an infinitive. You will learn them both in this "Near Time" unit.

Near Future (le futur proche)

The near future tense is used for things that are going to happen very soon or in the near future. It is similar in meaning and construction with the English "to be going to" + infinitive.

To form the futur proche, conjugate the semi-auxiliary verb aller ("to go") in the present tense and add the infinitive form of your active verb.

As a reminder, here is the present tense conjugation of aller

Subject Verb
je vais
tu vas
il/elle/on va
nous allons
vous allez
ils/elles vont

Here are some examples of the near future tense.

Near Past or Recent Past (le passé récent)

The recent past tense is used to describe things that have just happened.

To form the recent past, conjugate the verb venir ("to come") in the present tense, add the preposition de, and add the infinitive.

As a reminder, here is the present tense conjugation of venir

Subject Verb
je viens
tu viens
il/elle/on vient
nous venons
vous venez
ils/elles viennent

Here are some examples of the recent past tense.

Note that the required preposition de must elide (contract) with the infinitive when the infinitive starts with a vowel or a mute H.

In these tenses, there is no movement meant by aller or venir. They work as auxiliary verbs.

Also note that the French recent past does not distinguish between the English simple past and the English present perfect. For example, "tu viens de manger" can be translated as either "you just ate" or "you have just eaten".

As you continue to see more verb forms in later units, you will be able to conjugate aller and venir into other tenses and moods. If they are used in the "near time" construction, you can then express more special situations, events, and conditions.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Occupations · Professions as Adjectives, Genders updated 2019-01-01

Remember that occupations can act as adjectives when used with être or devenir, so unlike in English, the French often drop the indefinite article (un, une, des) before an occupation.

However, if any specification follows the occupation, then the indefinite article must be added.

Omitting the indefinite article is optional. However, if it's included in the third-person, then you must use c'est or ce sont.

Genders in Occupations

Some occupations have the same form in both masculine and feminine.

Some professions do not reflect the gender of the person at all and are invariable; un médecin, un professeur, and un maire, for instance, are all masculine regardless of the person doing the work.

Other occupations have a feminine form that's derived from the masculine:

Masculine Feminine English
un policier une policière a police officer
un agriculteur une agricultrice a farmer
un avocat une avocate a lawyer
un enseignant une enseignante a teacher
un serveur une serveuse a server
un cuisinier une cuisinière a cook
un coiffeur une coiffeuse a hairdresser
un boulanger une boulangère a baker

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Negations · Ne… Pas/Plus/Jamais/Rien/Personne/Aucun, Negative Pronouns & Conjunctions, Word order, Notes updated 2019-01-01

A negation changes the meaning of a statement to its negative. Most French negations are constructed out of two words that surround a conjugated verb.

Note that the particle ne elides before vowel sounds.

Along with ne...pas, there are a number of other negations you can use.

Note that in negations, indefinite and partitive articles change to de.

Of course, there's an exception: when negating être, all articles may be used.

Negative Pronouns and Conjunctions

In addition to the negative adverbs above, you also have the option of starting a sentence with a negative adverb, which acts like a masculine subject. Both personne and rien can also be negative pronouns if you put ne after them.

Personne ne means "nobody".

Rien ne ("nothing") is the pronoun version of ne...rien.

The negative conjunction ni can be used to add something to a negation and is similar to the English "nor". Think of it as a negative form of et ("and"). Ni can be used in addition to other negative adverbs.

When ni coordinates multiple conjugated verbs, each verb must be preceded by ne.

Word Order

When the negated verb has a pronoun object, it belongs right after ne.

When a negation is used with an inversion (to ask a question), the whole inversion must remain inside the negation.

Unconjugated verbs like infinitives must come after the negation.

Extra adverbs that modify the verb usually come after the negation. Otherwise, they follow the rules from "Adverbs 1".

Other Notes

In English, two negatives may make a positive, but in French, they usually don't. For instance, consider ne… jamais rien, which is "never… anything", not "never… nothing".

The particle ne is often skipped or slurred in casual speech. It's also omitted for short phrases that lack a verb.

Remember that verbs of appreciation (e.g. aimer) require the definite article in French. Negations are no different.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Conjunctions 2 · Subordinating Conjunctions, Temporal/Causal, Elisions with Si & Que updated 2019-01-01

Subordinating Conjunctions

In "U17: Conjunctions 1", you learned about coordinating conjunctions, which link similar elements that have equal importance in a sentence. However, in complex sentences, one clause may be dependent on another.

The subordinating conjunctions are as follows:

Sub. Conjunction English Meaning
comme as, since
lorsque when
puisque as, since
quand when, whenever
que that
quoique even though
si if

In this example, quand il a faim ("whenever he is hungry") is a dependent clause because it gives more information about the main clause il mange ("he eats"). The dependent clause is introduced by quand, which is a subordinating conjunction.

Unlike coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions can begin sentences.

Two or more words can join together to form a conjunctive phrase which acts as a conjunction. Many conjunctive phrases end in que, such as “parce que”, “alors que”, “pendant que”, “après que”, etc.

Temporal Conjunctions

Quand and lorsque both mean "when", but they aren't always interchangeable. Both can be used for temporal correlations, but lorsque cannot be used in direct or indirect questions. Only quand is also an adverb, so it can be used in questions. When in doubt, use quand.

Alors que, pendant que, and tandis que can indicate simultaneity.

Alors que and tandis que can also indicate a contrast, contradiction or opposition, though this is rare for tandis que.

Causal Conjunctions

Parce que, car, and puisque all mean "because" and describe some kind of cause-and-effect relationship, but they aren't completely interchangeable.

Parce que is a subordinating conjunction that provides an explanation, motive, or justification.

Car is similar to parce que, but it's a coordinating conjunction and thus cannot begin a sentence or clause.

Puisque is a subordinating conjunction that means "because" or "since" and gives an already-known or obvious reason or justification.

Elisions with Si and Que

Usually, only one-syllable words ending in -e can be elided (je, de, le, ne, me, te, se, que) as well as puisque, quoique, and jusque.

However, si can elide but only before il and ils, so you must write s'il/s’ils, but si elle/si elles.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Adverbs 2 · Construction, Adverbs with Negations updated 2019-01-01

Constructing Adverbs

In English, many adverbs are constructed from adjectives by adding "-ly" to the end. For instance, "quick" becomes "quickly". In French, add -ment to feminine adjectives to create adverbs.

However, if the masculine form ends in -nt, replace that ending with -mment instead.

Adverbs with Negations

In negative clauses, adverbs that would otherwise follow the verb usually appear after the negation.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Compound Past 1 · Auxiliaries, Past Participles, Agreement, Using the PC updated 2019-01-01

Compound verbs contain at least two words: a conjugated auxiliary and a past participle. In this unit, we will cover the passé composé (PC), which can translate to the English past simple or present perfect.

The French PC is the tense of choice to translate the English past simple. The French language also has a past simple tense, but it has run out of use, except in formal writing and in third person singular and plural.

In both languages, the compound verb begins with an auxiliary verb (avoir and "to have" here) that is conjugated according to the subject. A past participle (e.g. vu or "seen") follows the auxiliary and remains invariable.

With the auxiliary avoir, the past participle never agrees with the subject.

Auxiliaries

In English, the active present perfect has only one auxiliary verb ("to have"), but the PC has two: avoir and être. Most verbs use avoir.

A handful of verbs use être. The mnemonic "ADVENT" may help you remember these.

Initial Verb Opposite Verb Related Verbs
Arriver (arrive) partir (leave)
Descendre (descend) monter (ascend)
Venir (come) aller (go) devenir (become), revenir (return)
Entrer (enter) sortir (leave) rentrer (re-enter)
Naître (be born) mourir (die)
Tomber (fall)

The remaining verbs are passer (pass), rester (stay), retourner (return), and accourir (run up). Notice that être verbs often involve movement or transformation.

Also, all pronominal verbs use être.

With the auxiliary être, the past participle agrees with the subject.

Object pronouns, negations, and inversions appear around the auxiliary.

Past Participles

A participle is a special non-conjugated form of a verb. Most participles are formed by adding an ending to a verb's root.

Group Ending Example
-er verbs manger ⇒ mangé
-ir verbs -i choisir ⇒ choisi
-re verbs -u vendre ⇒ vendu

Unfortunately, most irregular verbs have irregular participles. For instance, the past participle of venir is venu.

Note that participles vary with gender and number just like adjectives when the auxiliary is être.

Gender Singular Plural
Masculine venu venus
Feminine venue venues

Adverbs appear right before the participle.

Participle Agreement

A participle that follows avoir is usually invariable.

However, if a direct object appears before avoir, its participle agrees with the direct object. Below, vues agrees with the plural feminine robes because les precedes the verb.

A participle that follows être agrees with the subject.

However, if a pronominal verb is intransitive, then the participle is invariable. For instance, compare s'appeler (transitive: appeler quelqu’un) to se téléphoner (intransitive: téléphoner à quelqu’un).

Using the PC

Translating the past tense can be difficult because the English simple past (preterit) overlaps the French passé composé and imparfait (taught later in the “Past Imperfect” unit). The PC can translate to the preterit when it narrates events or states that began and ended in the past. In this usage, the PC often appears with expressions of time or frequency like il y a, which means "ago" when followed by a duration.

The PC can also translate to the present perfect for actions and states that started in the past and are still true.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Objects · Cognates, Noun of Noun updated 2019-01-01

Cognates

As you may have noticed, a lot of English vocabulary (vocabulaire) comes from French. This has created many etymological patterns that you can use to your advantage when learning new words. Consider the following suffix patterns:

The “Noun of Noun” construction

Unlike English, French does not have noun adjuncts, which are nouns that modify other nouns. Instead, you must use de or another preposition and remove the article to make the second noun add information to the first noun in terms of content, material, quality or purpose. Note that the “noun or noun” construction is also used in English.

Other prepositions can be used with a similar function and construction.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Adjectives 3 · Determiners, Indefinite Adjectives, Comparatives & Superlatives, Bon/Bien/Mauvais updated 2019-01-01

Determiners

You learned in "Basics 1" that almost all nouns must be preceded by an article. This isn't entirely accurate. Rather, almost all nouns must be preceded by a determiner, which is a word that puts a noun in context. As of this unit, you will have encountered every type of determiner.

There are very few exceptions to the rule that nouns must have a determiner. A few are verb-based. For instance: a few nouns expressing a status with être; names of languages with parler; and most nouns with devenir.

Determiners are also omitted after some prepositions.

Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite adjectives like plusieurs, certains, quelques, and chaque reference nouns in a non-specific sense, akin to the way indefinite articles reference nouns.

Comparatives and Superlatives

In "Adverbs 1", you learned that you can use plus as a comparative and le/la/les plus as a superlative.

Bon ("good"), bien ("well"), and mauvais ("bad") also have comparative and superlative forms, but they're irregular, just like their English counterparts.

Bon

To say "better" when referring to a noun, you can't just say plus bon. Instead, use meilleur, which is a BANGS adjective with four inflections.

masc fem
singular meilleur meilleure
plural meilleurs meilleures

For the superlative, just add a definite article before the adjective that agrees with it.

Bien

When "better" modifies an action, state of being or an adjective, you must use mieux.

Add a definite article to create a superlative.

Mauvais

Unlike bon and bien, comparative and superlative forms of mauvais can either be regular (with plus) or irregular (with pire).

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Prepositions 2 · Temporal, Duration, References, Puzzling Prepositions, Peu updated 2019-01-01

Temporal Prepositions

Choosing a preposition for time depends on the situation, but multiple choices may be appropriate.

Duration

Pendant and durant are interchangeable and mean "during" or "for". These are versatile and can be used for most expressions of duration.

Depuis ("since" or "for") can be used for things that are still happening, and it's usually followed by a start date or a duration. It's tricky because a French present-tense verb with depuis often translates to an English present perfect verb.

En ("in") indicates the length of time an action requires for completion and can be used with any tense. You can also think of it as “within”.

Pour ("for") is the most limited choice and is used with some verbs like être, aller or partir for future events.

References

Use à to pinpoint exactly what time of day an event begins or to give the endpoint of a time range in conjunction with de.

En can also indicate that an action took place in a particular month, season, or year. The exception is spring, which requires au.

Dans also means "in", but it gives the amount of time before an action will take place.

Puzzling Prepositions

Chez can be combined with a person (pronoun or noun) to refer to someone's home or workplace.

Note: You can say “je suis chez le boulanger” (at the baker’s- person), but not chez la boulangerie (the bakery- place). For that, you’d say “je suis à la boulangerie”.

Entre means "between", both literally and figuratively.

Parmi means "among" and indicates that something is part of a larger group of assorted people, animals, or things.

However, if the larger group is uniform in some specific way, entre can also mean "among".

There are some situations where both entre and parmi are acceptable.

Devant and avant both mean "before", but devant is spatial while avant is temporal.

Peu

Using the word peu ("few"/"little") can be surprisingly complicated. By itself, peu is usually an adverb that diminishes what it modifies and is generally translated using "not very/much/well".

Appending de creates a preposition of quantity that modifies nouns.

However, peu can also be a noun, especially when preceded by an article.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Places 1 · Spatial Prepositions, Special Rules: Cities & Countries updated 2019-01-01

Spatial Prepositions

Expressing locations in French can be tricky because many English prepositions don't have one-to-one French translations. This is especially true for "in", which can be dans, en, or à depending on how specific the location is.

Dans means "in" for specific, known locations. It is especially appropriate when the location name has an article or possessive.

Use à and its contractions for unspecific or vague locations.

When describing a location that doesn't require a determiner (usually a type of place), use en.

Special Rules: Cities and Countries

For all cities (and islands), use à for "to" or "in" and de for "from".

Plural islands use the prepositions aux and des.

Countries, provinces/states, and continents have gender-based rules. For feminine ones, en means "to" or "in" and de means "from". Luckily, all continents are feminine, as are most countries ending in -e.

For masculine countries that start with a consonant sound, use au and du.

If they start with a vowel sound, switch back to en and d’ for euphony.

For countries with pluralized names, use aux and des.

Cardinal points are not capitalized, masculine and usually keep their articles. Tu habites au nord. — You live in the North. Nous venons du sud. — We are coming from the South. Le soleil se lève à l’est. — The sun rises in the East. Le vent souffle de l’ouest. — The wind is blowing from the West.

Country To or In From
feminine en de, d’
masculine beginning in a consonant au du
masculine beginning in a vowel en d’
plural aux des
State or Province To or In From
feminine en de
masculine beginning in a consonant au, dans le du
masculine beginning in a vowel en, dans l’ d’, de l’

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Compound Past 2 · Être Verbs + Direct Objects, Past Participles as Adjectives, Advanced Participle Agreement, C’est in the PC updated 2019-01-01

Être Verbs + Direct Objects

Six être verbs can be used transitively with a direct object: monter, descendre, sortir, rentrer, retourner, and passer. When used transitively, they switch from être to take avoir as an auxiliary.

Notice that the transitive versions of these verbs have a different meaning than the intransitive versions.

Past Participles as Adjectives

Just like in English, past participles can be used as adjectives in French.

Advanced Participle Agreement

You learned in the first compound verb lesson that participles that follow an avoir auxiliary are invariable unless a direct object (often a pronoun) precedes the verb.

An avoir participle also agrees with any form of quel + a noun as long as the noun is the object of the compound verb.

This is also true for lequel (plus its other forms) and combien.

Participles do not agree with indirect objects, y, or en.

C'est in the PC

In the present indicative tense, c'est can be used to identify or describe nouns. In the passé composé, être takes avoir as an auxiliary. One consequence of this is that ce actually becomes ç' because it must elide before the vowel beginnings of all forms of avoir while still retaining its original soft consonant sound.

Since this form is somewhat awkward, many Francophones prefer to use the imparfait instead.

In informal writing, you may also see the ungrammatical form Ça a été. When spoken, both "A" sounds fuse into one long vowel. Erudite Francophones may also use ce fut as a substitute. This alternative uses the passé simple tense, one of the French literary tenses.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Irregular Plurals · Plurals ending in -x updated 2019-01-01

Plural Nouns and Adjectives

Most French nouns and adjectives can be pluralized by adding an ending -s, like in English.

The plural forms for most words ending in -ail are regular and made with an -s at the end.

EXCEPTIONS
There are seven exceptions: un bail/des baux (leases), un corail/des coraux (coral(s)), un émail/des émaux (emails), un soupirail/des soupiraux (ventilators), un travail/des travaux (a job/works), un ventail/des ventaux (leaves or casements), un vitrail/des vitraux (stained glass(es)).

Words that do not end with an -s in the plural form typically end in -x. For instance, most words ending in -al change to -aux.

EXCEPTIONS
These words ending in -al are exceptions: un bal/des bals (balls/formal dances), un festival/des festivals (festivals), un carnaval/des carnavals (carnivals), un cal/des cals (calluses), un régal/des régals (treats or delights), un chacal/des chacals (jackals).

Add -x to the end of most nouns that end in -au, -eau, and -eu to pluralize them.

Seven masculine nouns ending in -ou also add an -x in the plural.

The plural forms of -au, -eau, -eu, and -ou words are homophones of their singular forms. In general, the best way to tell if a noun is plural is to listen carefully to its article. If you hear les or des, it's plural. Otherwise, it's probably singular.

Masculine & Feminine Adjectives

Similarly, masculine singular adjectives ending in -al take on -aux endings in the plural. However, feminine singular adjectives ending in -ale simply add an ending -s.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

People · Nationality Nouns & Adjectives updated 2019-01-01

French nouns for persons of a certain nationality (demonyms) are capitalized, but in French, national adjectives and language names are not capitalized. By default, the demonyms une Francaise/des Françaises are “a Frenchwoman/French women” and un Japonais/des Japonais are “ a Japanese man/Japanese men or Japanese people. Only when the person is not a man or woman, is it necessary to use an adjective and a noun. These rules apply to all nationalities.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Present 3 · Pronominal Verbs, Pronoun Order, Verbs with À & De updated 2019-01-01

Pronominal Verbs

A pronominal verb requires a reflexive pronoun, which is a special kind of pronoun that agrees with and refers back to the subject. They're identical to direct object pronouns except for the third-person se.

Person Singular Plural
1st me nous
2nd te vous
3rd se se

One type of pronominal verb, the reflexive verb, describes an action being done by the subject to the subject.

Reflexive verbs include se in their infinitive forms (e.g. se promener). It isn't necessary to include the reflexive pronoun in the English translation. Also, the reflexive verb should come after ne in negations.

The other kinds of pronominal verbs are reciprocal, passive, and subjective. You will learn these later.

Pronoun Order

Remember that pronoun objects can be either direct (no preposition) or indirect (preposition à). The verb acts upon the direct object and the indirect object receives the direct object.

When two object pronouns are related to the same verb, they appear in a predefined order between the subject and the verb.

1.The indirect object pronouns me, te, se, nous, vous precede the direct object pronouns le, la, les:

2.The direct object pronouns le, la, les precede the indirect object pronouns lui and leur:

Pronoun Order Summary

Subject 1 2 Verb
me/m’ le/la/l’/les
te/t’ le/la/l’/les
se/s’ le,la/l’/les
nous le/la/l’/les
vous le/la/l’/les
le/la/l’/les lui/leur

Verbs with À and De

As you learned previously, à or de can appear after a verb to introduce an infinitive or object. You should consider such a preposition to be an integral part of the verb that completes or changes its meaning.

However, recall from "Verbs: Present 1" that conjugated verbs can be followed by verbs in the infinitive without needing a preposition.

Here is the list of the verbs followed by an infinitive without a preposition:

Aimer/aimer mieux, aller, compter, croire, courir, daigner, descendre, désirer, détester, devoir, entendre, entrer, espérer, faire, falloir, (s')imaginer, laisser, monter, oser, paraître, partir, penser, pouvoir, préférer, prétendre, rentrer, rester, retourner, revenir, savoir, sembler, sentir, sortir, souhaiter, valoir mieux, venir, voir, vouloir.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Present 3 · Y = À + Thing, Confusing Verbs updated 2019-01-01

Y Replaces À + Thing

For verbs appended with à (like penser à), the adverbial pronoun y can replace à + a thing.

To replace à + a person or animal, use an indirect object pronoun instead.

Confusing Verbs

Demander à means "to ask to" when followed by an infinitive.

However, when used with nouns, demander is particularly confusing because its direct and indirect object are the opposite of its English counterpart, "to ask".

Manquer à means "to miss", but the pronouns are flipped from its English counterpart. If it helps, you can think of manquer as "to be missed by".

Plaire à is commonly translated as "to like", but for grammatical purposes, think of it as "to please" or "to be pleasing to".

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Pronominal · Reciprocal/Subjective/Passive Pronominal Verbs, Objects & Agreement updated 2019-01-01

Pronominal Verbs

A pronominal verb is always paired with a reflexive pronoun that agrees with the subject and (almost) always precedes its verb. In "Verbs: Present 3", you learned about reflexive verbs, which describe actions being done by the subject to the subject.

Pronominal verbs always take être as an auxiliary in compound tenses like the passé composé. The pronominal verb se lever ("to get up") means to physically get up from a non-standing position, not to wake up.

When a pronominal verb is inverted in a formal question, its reflexive pronoun stays before the verb.

Reciprocal Verbs

Another type of pronominal verb, the reciprocal verb, is used with plural subject pronouns and describes when multiple people act upon each other.

Recall from "Pronouns 1" that you can distinguish between reflexive and reciprocal meanings by appending certain pronouns.

Subjective Pronominal Verbs

Subjective (or idiomatic) pronominal verbs have a reflexive pronoun because they are idiomatic; they do not have a reflexive or reciprocal meaning. Examples include se souvenir, se taire, se marier, and s'enfuir.

Passive Pronominal Verbs

A pronominal verb can be used in a passive sense with an inanimate subject in the third-person, often the indefinite pronoun ça.

This construction may sound unusual to Anglophones, but it is a common alternative to using the passive voice when one wishes to avoid naming an agent.

Objects and Agreement

Pronominal verbs have the same transitivity as their non-pronominal forms. For instance, appeler is transitive, so s'appeler is also transitive. When a pronominal verb is transitive, the reflexive pronoun is its direct object.

When a pronominal verb is intransitive, se is its indirect object. As a consequence, the past participle remains invariable.

Some verbs can have both direct and an indirect objects, in which case the reflexive pronoun is the indirect object.

When describing actions on parts of the body, Francophones avoid using possessive adjectives; instead, they use reflexive verbs with definite articles whenever possible.

Notice that the past participles of the previous two examples do not agree with the reflexive pronouns. While pronominal verbs take être as an auxiliary, they behave like avoir verbs because their participles actually only agree with preceding direct objects. If there is no preceding direct object, they are invariable. In the next two examples, the direct objects follow the verb, so the participles are still invariable.

In the next examples, the participles agree with preceding direct objects.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Past Imperfect · Conjugation, Translations, Using the Imperfect, States or Situations, Actions or Processes, Habit or Repeated Actions, combining the Imperfect with the PC updated 2019-01-01

Conjugating the Imperfect

French has a few past tenses, one of which is the imperfect (imparfait). You can construct it by taking the present indicative nous form of any verb and replacing the -ons with the imperfect ending. Notice that all the conjugated forms except the nous and vous forms have the same sound.

Subject Ending Être Avoir Parler Manger Finir Prendre
je (j') -ais étais avais parlais mangeais finissais prenais
tu -ais étais avais parlais mangeais finissais prenais
il/elle/on -ait était avait parlait mangeait finissait prenait
nous -ions étions avions parlions mangions finissions prenions
vous -iez étiez aviez parliez mangiez finissiez preniez
ils/elles -aient étaient avaient parlaient mangeaient finissaient prenaient

The only irregular imperfect verb is être, which takes on an ét- root. However, for spelling-changing verbs that end in -ger or -cer (e.g. manger), add an "e" to the root so the consonant remains soft.

Translating the Imperfect

Translating the past tense between English and French can be difficult because there is no simple mapping between the English past tenses and the two main French past tenses, the imparfait and the passé composé (taught in the previous units). When choosing a tense, pay close attention to what you're trying to express.

The imperfect describes situations, states of mind, and habits in the past. In a story, it sets the scene or background; thus, it often translates to and from the English past continuous tense.

For repeated actions or habits, you can also use constructions with "used to" or "would".

A lot of confusion stems from the versatile English preterit (simple past), which overlaps both French tenses. For instance, the preterit can also be used for habits with other elements of language suggesting frequency or repeated events.

English stative verbs (e.g. "to be", "to think") usually can't be used in English continuous tenses. When used in past tenses, they should translate to the preterit. However, French does not distinguish stative from dynamic verbs, and all French verbs can use the past imperfect.

Using the Imperfect

The Imperfect conveys three things from the past:

States or situations

Use the preterit here to describe mental or physical conditions, scenes, date or times, weather, etc.

Also, when using il y a in other tenses, conjugate avoir to match. For the Imperfect, it becomes avait.

Actions or processes

The continuous past can be used here to set up a scene by describing an ongoing action or process.

A habit or repeated action

A sense of habit or repeated action, state or feeling is inherent in the imparfait and there is no need for further elements of language to point to frequency or recurrence, especially in storytelling.

Combining the Imparfait and the Passé Composé

The imparfait and passé composé can work together in the same sentence. A verb in the imparfait may be used as a background for an action given by a verb in the passé composé.

Remember that while you shouldn't use English continuous tenses for stative verbs (such as "to be"), any French verb can take the imparfait. Thus, you may often need to translate the imparfait into the English preterit when dealing with verbs that describe background feelings or states.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Numbers 2 · Vingt to Milliards updated 2019-01-01

In French, most numbers are structurally similar to their English counterparts. They start as single words.

Number French Number French
0 zéro 10 dix
1 un 11 onze
2 deux 12 douze
3 trois 13 treize
4 quatre 14 quatorze
5 cinq 15 quinze
6 six 16 seize
7 sept 17 dix-sept
8 huit 18 dix-huit
9 neuf 19 dix-neuf

After seize (16), French starts combining a multiple of ten (e.g. dix) with a single digit (e.g. sept) to form a compound number (e.g. dix-sept). English also does this starting after 20. This pattern remains in French numbers up to 60, but notice the et (no hyphens) in the middle of 21, 31, 41, and 51. However, since 1990, all compound numbers may use hyphens.

Number French
20 vingt
21 vingt et un / vingt-et-un
22 vingt-deux
23 vingt-trois
24 vingt-quatre
25 vingt-cinq
26 vingt-six
27 vingt-sept
28 vingt-huit
29 vingt-neuf
30 trente
31 trente et un / trente-et-un
...
40 quarante
41 quarante et un / quarante-et-un
...
50 cinquante
51 cinquante et un / cinquante-et-un

For 60 through 79, French combines soixante (60) with the numbers from 1 to 19. There is no separate word for 70.

Number French
60 soixante
61 soixante et un / soixante-et-un
62 soixante-deux
63 soixante-trois
64 soixante-quatre
65 soixante-cinq
66 soixante-six
67 soixante-sept
68 soixante-huit
69 soixante-neuf
70 soixante-dix
71 soixante et onze / soixante-et-onze
72 soixante-douze
73 soixante-treize
74 soixante-quatorze
75 soixante-quinze
76 soixante-seize
77 soixante-dix-sept
78 soixante-dix-huit
79 soixante-dix-neuf

The same thing happens from 80-99, except notice that quatre-vingts (80) has an ending -s while the rest of the set does not. Also, notice that there is no et in 81.

Number French
80 quatre-vingts
81 quatre-vingt-un
82 quatre-vingt-deux
83 quatre-vingt-trois
84 quatre-vingt-quatre
85 quatre-vingt-cinq
86 quatre-vingt-six
87 quatre-vingt-sept
88 quatre-vingt-huit
89 quatre-vingt-neuf
90 quatre-vingt-dix
91 quatre-vingt-onze
92 quatre-vingt-douze
93 quatre-vingt-treize
94 quatre-vingt-quatorze
95 quatre-vingt-quinze
96 quatre-vingt-seize
97 quatre-vingt-dix-sept
98 quatre-vingt-dix-huit
99 quatre-vingt-dix-neuf

This pattern does not appear in Swiss or Belgian French, which instead uses septante (70), huitante or octante (80), and nonante (90) with the original pattern.

From 100 to 999, put the number of hundreds first, just like in English. Notice that multiples of 100 have an ending -s, but there is no ending -s if cent is followed by another number.

Number French
100 cent
108 cent huit / cent-huit
144 cent quarante-quatre / cent-quarante-quatre
200 deux cents / deux-cents
233 deux cent trente-trois / deux-cent-trente-trois
400 quatre cents / quatre-cents

Numbers in the thousands are also similar to English in structure. Note that French separates every three digits with a space or period instead of a comma and that mille is never pluralized.

Number French
1 000 mille
1 580 mille cinq cent quatre-vingts / mille-cinq-cent-quatre-vingts
4 181 quatre mille cent quatre-vingt-un / quatre-mille-cent-quatre-vingt-un
317 800 trois cent dix-sept mille huit cents / trois-cent-dix-sept-mille-huit-cents

Million (million) and milliard (billion) do pluralize, and they keep their ending -s even when followed by other numbers. Also, unlike cent and mille, million and milliard must be preceded by a number.

Number French
1 000 000 un million
4 000 000 quatre millions
9 227 465 neuf millions deux cent vingt-sept mille quatre cent soixante-cinq / neuf-millions-deux-cent-vingt-sept-mille-quatre-cent-soixante-cinq
1 000 000 000 un milliard

A noun can usually directly follow a number, but de must appear before nouns for million and milliard.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Possessives 3 · Possessive Pronouns updated 2019-01-01

A possessive pronoun replaces a possessive adjective + a noun. Like most other pronouns, they agree in gender and number with the noun they replace. You first encountered these in "Possessives 2".

Possessive pronouns take different forms depending on how many things are possessed. First, let's take another look at the forms used when a single thing is possessed.

Owners Person English Masc. Sing. Fem. Sing.
singular 1st mine le mien la mienne
singular 2nd yours le tien la tienne
singular 3rd his/hers le sien la sienne
plural 1st ours le nôtre la nôtre
plural 2nd yours le vôtre la vôtre
plural 3rd theirs le leur la leur

To change these to the forms used when multiple things are possessed, simply add an -s to the end of the pronoun and change the definite article to les.

Owners Person English Masc. Plur. Fem Plur.
singular 1st mine les miens les miennes
singular 2nd yours les tiens les tiennes
singular 3rd his/hers les siens les siennes
plural 1st ours les nôtres les nôtres
plural 2nd yours les vôtres les vôtres
plural 3rd theirs les leurs les leurs

Note that the plural forms here are invariable with gender.

Possessive pronouns act like modified nouns, so you must use ce/c' when referring to them with être.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Demonstratives 3 · Demonstrative Pronouns + Suffixes -ci & -là updated 2019-01-01

A demonstrative pronoun (e.g. "this one" or "those") replaces and agrees with a demonstrative adjective + noun. You learned four such pronouns in "Demonstratives 2".

Type Adj + Noun ⇒ Pronoun English
Masc. Sing. ce + noun ⇒ celui the one / this one / that one / this / that
Masc. Plur. ces + noun ⇒ ceux the ones / these ones / those ones / these / those
Fem. Sing. cette + noun ⇒ celle the one / this one / that one / this / that
Fem. Plur. ces + noun ⇒ celles the ones / these ones / those ones / these / those

Demonstratives like ce and celui are ambiguous and can mean either "this" or "that". To remove this ambiguity, you can add a suffix to the end of each pronoun. Add -ci for "this/these" and -là for "that/those".

These suffixes can also be used with demonstrative adjectives in many situations.

In conversations, be aware that using demonstrative pronouns like celui-là to refer to people who aren't present can be considered condescending.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Body · Body Parts with Definite Articles updated 2019-01-01

As you learned in the "Pronominal Verbs" unit, Francophones avoid using possessive pronouns with parts of the body. Whenever a specific person who has the body part has already been mentioned, the definite article is used instead of a possessive adjective and the verb of the sentence becomes reflexive.

Avoir mal/Avoir une douleur

Use the verb avoir to express pain in French.

When describing pain in specific locations use avoir mal + (au, à la, à l’, aux).

The plural of mal is maux and it needs a determiner.

Pain can also be expressed with avoir une douleur + (au, à la, à l’, aux).

To talk about pain in general, use the definite article, la, les.

Idioms

The expression avoir mal au cœur does not mean that the heart hurts and has nothing to do with heart problems or pain at all. It means "queasy", "nauseated", or "sick to one's stomach".

To talk about chest or heart pain use des douleurs thoraciques/cardiaques or more simply des douleurs dans/à la poitrine

In French, estomac is “stomach”, the organ, and ventre refers to the “belly”, “(lower) abdomen” or “womb”. Thus to describe pain or cramping in your abdomen use ventre, not estomac unless you know you are suffering from stomach disorders specifically.

When shopping for clothing in France, you will need to know how measurements are shown on size charts. Tour de poitrine means the circumference of the chest for men or women.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Adjectives 4 · Participles as Adjectives, Neuf vs Nouveau updated 2019-01-01

The Participle as an Adjective

The French past participle, which you learned in "Verbs: Compound Past 1 & 2", can often be used as an adjective.

Neuf

The adjective neuf ("new") describes something that has just been created or manufactured. Don't confuse it with nouveau, which describes something that has just been acquired by a new owner but may already be quite old. Remember that the masculine nouveau is placed before the noun it modifies and it becomes nouvel in front of vowel sounds.

While neuf (new) and neuf (9) are homonyms, you can often distinguish them based on context. For instance, neuf (9) comes before its noun, isn't accompanied by any articles, and is invariable.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Pronouns 2 · Direct, Indirect, Disjunctive Objects, Quelque updated 2019-01-01

French has three sets of personal object pronouns: direct object pronouns (from "Pronouns 1"), indirect object pronouns, and disjunctive pronouns.

English Direct Object Indirect Object Disjunctive
Example "je le vois" "je lui parle" "je vais avec eux"
me me me moi
you (sing.) te te toi
him le lui lui
her la lui elle
self soi
us nous nous nous
you (plur.) vous vous vous
them (masc.) les leur eux
them (fem.) les leur elles

You may notice that only the third-person pronouns differ between direct and indirect objects.

Please note that soi is the disjunctive pronoun with the impersonal “il, on, chacun/e, personne, and nul/le” as a subject.

Indirect Objects

As you learned in "Verbs: Present 2", indirect objects are nouns that are indirectly affected by a verb; they are usually introduced by a preposition.

A personal indirect object pronoun can replace à + indirect object. For instance, the first two examples above could be changed to the following:

Remember that il faut alone cannot mean or translate to “he must/needs to/has to. The insertion of an indirect pronoun between il and faut* determines who must/needs to/has to perform the action.

Disjunctive Pronouns

Disjunctive pronouns (a.k.a. stressed or tonic pronouns) must be used in certain situations. For instance, only disjunctive pronouns can follow prepositions.

Note that lui can be masculine or feminine when it's an indirect object, but it can only be masculine when it's disjunctive.

The construction être + à + disjunctive pronoun indicates possession.

However, using à + pronoun is incorrect when a verb can accept a preceding pronoun.

Disjunctive pronouns are also used for emphasis, for multiple subjects, or in sentence fragments without a verb.

As mentioned before, there is also a disjunctive, impersonal pronoun you can use to represent an unidentified subject.

Quelque

The indefinite adjective quelque ("some") can be combined with pronouns or nouns to create indefinite pronouns. For instance, chose means "thing", so quelque chose means "something".

Quelque can combine and elide with un ("one") to give quelqu'un ("someone"), which is singular.

For multiple people or things, use the plural forms quelques-uns (masc) and quelques-unes (fem), which are normally translated as "a few", or perhaps "some".

While quelqu'un only refers to an indefinite person (there is no feminine quelqu’une) quelques-un(e)s can refer to anything.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Pronouns 2 · Indirect Objects and Y, Indirect Objects and EN updated 2019-01-01

Indirect Objects and Y

For most verbs, personal indirect object pronouns like lui can only refer to people or animals, but you can use the adverbial pronoun y for inanimate things.

Some verbs allow personal pronouns like lui to be used with anything you can personify. These verbs are dire à, demander à, donner à, parler à, téléphoner à, and ressembler à.

Some French expressions don't allow any preceding indirect objects, notably être à, faire attention à, s’habituer à, penser à, revenir à, and tenir à.

Remember that y can also refer to locations.

Indirect Objects and EN

En Replaces De + Noun

The adverbial pronoun en can be used to replace objects introduced by de. For instance, it can replace a partitive article + noun.

En may replace nouns or pronouns in verb constructions that use de, like parler de ("to talk about").

Nouns in expressions of quantity or numbers can also be replaced with en.

Notice that en always precedes the verb, but adverbs stay in place after the verb.

You have learned in U19 “Pronouns” that object pronouns precede the verb.

Also, in the section U45a “Verbs: Present 3”, you were shown the pronoun order between the subject and the verb when a verb has both a direct and an indirect objects. When en is one of these objects, it is placed right before the verb it depends on and after any other pronouns.

En with another object pronoun

Here are a few examples to show you how to construct a sentence when the objects are en and another object pronoun.

1.Verbs with indirect objects (introduced by à) + direct objects like donner quelque chose à quelqu’un, commander quelque chose à quelqu’un, falloir quelque chose à quelqu’un, offrir quelque chose à quelqu’un, demander quelque chose à quelqu’un, montrer quelque chose à quelqu’un, etc.

2.Verbs with 2 objects and reflexive verbs like parler de quelque chose, se souvenir de quelque chose, s’informer de quelque chose, s’inquiéter de quelque chose, se méfier de quelque chose, s’occuper de quelque chose, etc.

3.A few idiomatic phrases:

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Infinitive 2 · Infinitives as Subjects, Polite Orders, Impersonal Expressions with À or De, Register, Faire vs Rendre updated 2019-01-01

As you learned in "Verbs: Infinitive 1", verbs in the infinitive mood are not conjugated and are not paired with a subject pronoun. The infinitive is more versatile in French than in English.

As a Subject Noun

For instance, an infinitive can act as a noun (where gerunds might be used in English).

Polite Orders and Instructions

In French, the infinitive is also used for generalized instructions like those in product manuals, public notices, recipes, and proverbs.

Conjugated verbs are the only verbs that can appear inside a negation, so when a negation is used with an infinitive, both parts of the negation come before the infinitive.

Impersonal Questions

An infinitive can also be used to pose a question. These sentences may not translate literally to English.

Impersonal Expressions

Recall that the subject in the impersonal construction il est + adjective + de must be a dummy subject. If it's a real subject, you must use à instead of de.

Please refer to further examples in the chapter Extra: Impersonal vs Personal Expressions

Registers of Formality

Communication in French can occur at several different levels of formality, which are called registers. Different registers may vary in word choice, sentence structure, and even pronunciation. For instance, the use of liaisons is relatively formal. By comparison, English verbal formality is arguably less intricate.

The most obvious indication of register is pronoun choice. As you know by now, addressing someone with the pronoun vous is considered more formal. This is described by the French verb vouvoyer [vuwɑje]

The more familiar tu form should be used with friends, peers, relatives, or children. If you're not sure who's a vous and who's a tu, consider matching the register of your interlocutor. Alternatively, you can directly ask if you can speak informally by using the verb tutoyer [tytwɑje].

Question structure is another key ingredient of register. Inversions are considered formal.

Use the conditional forms of aimer and vouloir for polite requests. More on this in the "Verbs: Conditional" unit.

Faire vs Rendre

In "Verbs: Present 1", you learned about the causative faire, which can indicate that the subject has directed someone to perform an action. Notice that faire is followed by an infinitive here.

The verb rendre ("to make") can also indicate that the subject has caused something to happen, but it's used with adjectives instead of verbs.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Abstract Objects 1 · Expressing Obligations and Needs updated 2019-01-01

There are many different ways to express need or obligation in French, but there is no single expression that works in all situations. In "Verbs: Present 1", you learned the essential semi-auxiliary verb devoir, which means "must", "have to", or "need to" when placed before another verb.

Remember that the impersonal expression il faut + infinitive can also express a need or obligation.

You can also use the impersonal construction from the last unit, il est + adj + de.

Another way to express obligation is avoir à, though this is rarely used by French speakers because it tends to create vowel conflicts.

What about when you want to say that you need something (instead of having to do something)? One way you learned previously is to use il faut with a noun instead of a verb.

A common expression for need is avoir besoin de quelque chose. While this literally translates as "to have need of something", a better translation is "to need something".

You can also use this expression with verbs but it is far less frequent than il faut and far less common than “to need to + verb”.

Notice that besoin is invariable in this expression, but the noun un besoin ("need") is just a standard masculine noun that does have a plural form.

Consider the difference between "I don't have to" and "I must not". The former expresses a lack of obligation, while the latter expresses an obligation to avoid an action. In French, to express a lack of obligation, use a negation with avoir besoin de or avoir à.

To express "must not" in French, use a negation with devoir or il faut.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Adverbs 3 · Placement, Confusing Words: Actuellement/Effectivement/Définitivement, Ne… que updated 2019-01-01

Placement

In a compound tense like the passé composé, adverbs normally come between the auxiliary verb and its participle.

Unlike English, adverbs in French never come between the subject and the verb. Instead they usually follow the conjugated verb that they modify.

We often read in the evening. — Nous lisons souvent le soir.

Time adverbs (aujourd’hui, hier, demain, etc.) can come at the the beginning or the end of a sentence.

It’s important to keep in mind that time adverbs cannot stand alone as a subject.

Correct: Aujourd’hui, c’est son anniversaire. — Today is her birthday.
Incorrect: Aujourd’hui est son anniversaire.

Place adverbs (ici, là-bas, partout, etc.) typically come after the direct object they modify.

Confusing Words

Be careful about the faux amis that appear in this unit. Many of them look like English adverbs with a different ending, but they may have an entirely different meaning.

Actuellement

The French adverb actuellement means "currently" or "at the moment", not "actually".

To translate "actually", use en fait ("in fact") or en réalité ("in reality"). This conveys the notion that the rest of the sentence should be surprising to the listener.

Alternatively, effectivement or réellement can translate as "actually", but these are more confirmatory than contradictory in tone.

Effectivement

Effectivement is also misleading because it means "really" or "indeed". To say "effectively" or "efficiently", use efficacement.

Définitivement

There is a difference between the adverbs "definitively" and "definitely". Most commonly, "definitively" describes a conclusive ending or final resolution. The French adverb définitivement also carries this meaning.

"Definitively" and définitivement can also describe an authoritative action.

Conversely, "definitely" is used for conditions that are true beyond a doubt. For this, use certainement or a close synonym, like absolument or sûrement.

With the meaning of “beyond any doubt”, the French also use sans aucun doute, indubitablement, incontestablement, indéniablement. However, sans doute does not mean “without a doubt” but “probably”.

Ne… que

The adverb ne is a limitation but not a negation when combined with the conjunction que. Instead ne… que means “only”, as an alternative to seulement. Since it is not negative, the indefinite article is not altered in front of the direct object.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Infinitive 3 · Impersonal Expressions, Causative Faire, Past Participle Usage, Confusing Verbs updated 2019-01-01

As you learned before, an infinitive can act as a noun (where gerunds might be used in English).

Impersonal Expressions

When you use the impersonal construction il est + adjective + de, keep in mind that il must be a dummy subject. If it's a real subject, you must use à instead of de.

In informal usage, c'est tends to replace the impersonal il est, but it is an improper use of ce/c’ which is indefinite but not impersonal.

You’ll find more about this in the following sections of the Tips & Notes: Extra: Personal & Impersonal constructions and Extra: C'est/Ce sont.

Causative Faire

Recall from "Verbs: Infinitive 1" that faire may precede a verb to indicate that the subject causes that action to happen. This is especially common when describing food preparation.

Past Participle Usage

As you learned in "Verbs: Compound Past 1 & 2", the passé composé is formed with an auxiliary verb (e.g. avoir) and a past participle (e.g. terminé).

As in English, a verb in the past infinitive appears in its past participle form after its auxiliary in the infinitive.

Notably, the past infinitive is used after the verbs allowing a double-construction (e.g. aimer, vouloir, pouvoir, sembler, etc. re. Verbs: Present 1 Infinitives after conjugations and Infinitives and Verbs: Present 3 Verbs with À and De, when the action or state occurred before the action or state expressed by the main, conjugated verb.

However, past participles can sometimes also act as adjectives in both French and English.

Keep this in mind for the next unit, where you will learn the passive voice.

Confusing Verbs

Remember from "Verbs: Present 3" that manquer à means "to miss", but with flipped pronoun positions as compared to English. If it helps, you can think of manquer à as "to be missed by".

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Passive Voice · Construction & Uses, Passive PC updated 2019-01-01

The most common grammatical voice is the active voice, which describes a clause whose subject is also the agent of the verb in the clause. For instance, when "Hugo throws a ball", Hugo is both the subject of the clause and the agent that performs the verb.

On the other hand, the passive voice describes any clause where the subject is not the agent of the verb in the clause. For instance, when "The ball is thrown by Hugo", the subject ("the ball") is actually the direct object of the action. The passive voice in both English and French is constructed using the auxiliary "to be" and the past participle of the action verb. The past participle must agree with the subject here.

Notice that the agent of a verb in the passive voice can be introduced by the preposition par ("by"). However, you can also use de with verbs expressing emotions or feelings, like aimer or respecter.

The passive voice is useful for emphasizing a verb's object or avoiding naming a verb's agent.

However, Francophones often avoid the passive voice by using the imprecise pronoun on in the active voice.

The Passive Passé Composé

Remember that when multiple verbs are combined in a single construct, only the first verb can be conjugated; any following verbs must be infinitives or participles. When using the passive voice in the passé composé (or another compound tense), être takes avoir as an auxiliary. Thus, avoir must be conjugated, followed by être and the action verb in past participle form.

Note that the past participle of the action verb still must agree with the subject (as usual for être verbs).

Also note that être is intransitive and cannot have a direct object, so its past participle été is always invariable.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Prepositions 3 · Long List, Confusing Prepositions updated 2019-01-01

The following prepositions appear in the course. Note that the translations below are not exhaustive; some prepositions have additional, more obscure English meanings.

Preposition Translation Examples
à côté de next to à côté de ma femme — next to my wife
à travers through(out)/across à travers la vitre — through the looking-glass
à at arriver à la banque — to arrive at the bank
à in être à Paris — to be in Paris
à to aller à Paris — to go to Paris
après after après vous — after you
au milieu de in the middle of au milieu de l'hiver — in the middle of winter
au-dessus de above au-dessus des nuages — above the clouds
auprès de next to/close to (See below.)
avant before avant ce jour — before this day
chez at the home of chez nous — our house
chez at the office of chez le dentiste — the dentist's office
contre against contre toute attente — against all odds
dans in dans un coin — in a corner
d'après according to d'après eux — according to them
de/d' from de la ville — from the city
de/d' of la femme de mon frère — my brother’s wife
de/d' about parler de la ville — to talk about the city
depuis since depuis octobre — since October
depuis for depuis deux mois — for two months
derrière behind derrière lui — behind him
devant in front of devant elle — in front of her
durant during durant la nuit — during the night
en bas de at the bottom of en bas de l'escalier — at the bottom of the stairs
en dehors de outside of/apart from en dehors de la maison — outside the house
en haut de on top of/at the top of en haut de la page — at the top of the page
entre between entre deux fougères — between two ferns
hors de outside of hors de question — out of the question
jusqu'à up to/until jusqu'à midi — until noon
malgré despite malgré elle — despite her(self)
parmi among parmi des amis — among friends
pendant during/for pendant longtemps — for a long time
pour for pour ma mère — for my mother
pour (in order) to pour manger — to eat
près de near près de Paris — near Paris
sans without sans peur — without fear
sauf except/without sauf un — except for one
selon according to selon nous — according to us
sous under sous vide — under vacuum
sur on sur la table — on the table
vers toward(s) vers l'est — toward the East

The following are prepositional phrases used in the course.

French English Example
à cause de because of à cause de la neige — because of the snow
afin de in order to afin de devenir juge — in order to become a judge
assez de enough assez de poisson — enough fish
autant de as many/as much/so many autant de mots — as many words
beaucoup de a lot of beaucoup de mots — a lot of words
en train de in the process of en train de courir — in the process of running
grâce à thanks to grâce à elles — thanks to them
jusque up to/until (See below.)
loin de far from loin de chez nous — far from (our) home
moins de less (than) moins de soupe — less soup
moins de fewer (than) moins d'enfants — fewer children
plein de as much as/as many as elle a plein de chocolat — she has as much chocolate
plus de more (than) plus de lait — more milk
tant de so much/so many tant de mots ! — so many words!
un petit peu de a little bit of un petit peu de gâteau — a little bit of cake
un peu de a bit of un peu de pluie — a bit of rain
un peu de a little un peu d'argent — a little money

Confusing Prepositions

Jusque is an adverb that means "until" or "up to" and defines the ending point of an action (in time or space). It can also be combined with prepositions like à or chez or with adverbs. Note that jusque elides before words starting with vowel sounds, such as à, ici, , or alors.

Auprès de has both physical and figurative meanings. In the physical sense, it means "next to" or "close to".

Figuratively, it can mean "in the opinion of".

It can also mean "compared to".

Also, it can be used when applying to an organization.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Pluperfect · Construction, Être Verbs, Nuances updated 2019-01-01

In French, the pluperfect (plus-que-parfait) is a compound-tense verb conjugation used to indicate that an action, state or event preceded another action, state or event in the past. It is a prior-past tense.

Luckily, the French pluperfect is quite similar to the English past perfect, whose form combines the past-tense verb "had" with a past participle. In the French plus-que-parfait, the auxiliary (avoir or être) is conjugated in the imperfect tense and the past participle follows the same rules of agreement as the passé composé.

Formation of the Plus-que-parfait

pronoun avoir past participle English
j’ avais mangé I had eaten
tu avais fini you had finished
il/elle/on avait dormi they had slept
nous avions pris we had taken
vous aviez su you had known
ils/elles avaient chanté they had sung
pronoun être past participle English
j’ étais allé(e) I had gone
tu étais tombé(e) you had fallen
il/elle était mort(e) he/she had died
nous étions venu(e)s we had come
vous étiez sorti(e)(s) you had gone out
ils/elles étaient entré(e)s they had entered

In a sentence that describes some past time frame, any verb conjugated in the pluperfect expresses an action, process or event that has occurred even earlier in the past.

Reflexive and Passive Verbs

Recall that there are three situations where verbs take être as an auxiliary: when the verb is naturally an être verb; pronominal verbs; and passive verbs. Refer to the previous units for more information.

In the pluperfect, pronominal and reflexive verbs still take être as an auxiliary, and the reflexive pronoun always precede the auxiliary. Consider these examples:

In passive constructions, the rules of agreement in the past participle remain the same as in the passé composé.

Nuances

On Duolingo, be sure to translate the plus-que-parfait to the English past perfect and not to the preterit (simple past). The distinction between verb tenses in proper French is much stricter than it is in English, so Duolingo is correspondingly strict about verb tense inexactness.

The pluperfect can be used to express wishes about the past with si seulement ("if only").

Déjà

When the adverb déjà is used with the pluperfect, it must come immediately after the auxiliary. Its English counterpart, "already", can be positioned more flexibly.

Negations surround the auxiliary in the pluperfect. Also, the negative form of déjà is usually ne pas encore ("not yet").

Often the pluperfect in English and French overlap but there are two exceptions to this. Depuis in French is usually paired with the imparfait to describe an event that preceded another past event, but the English translation is in the pluperfect, “had + past participle”. Likewise, venir de conjugated in the imparfait means “had just done something”.

Depuis

The preposition depuis can mean either "since" or "for" and it is most often used in conjunction with the imparfait rather than the pluperfect.

Venir de

You learned earlier in Near Time that the present tense of venir + de means “just did something”. When venir de is conjugated in the imparfait it means “had just done something”.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Future · Conjugations, Conjunctions of Time updated 2019-01-01

In Near Time, you learned the French near future tense (futur proche), which uses aller + infinitive to describe an action that is going to happen soon.

Conjugations

Another way to express the future is the French simple future tense.

To form it, add the endings below to the infinitive of a verb. For infinitives ending in -re, drop the final -e before adding the endings. For instance, entendre becomes j'entendrai.

Pronoun Ending Example English
je -ai j’espérerai I will/shall hope
tu -as tu puniras You will punish
il/elle/on -a elle comprendra She will understand
nous -ons nous partirons We will/shall leave
vous -ez vous mettrez You will put
ils/elles -ont ils écriront They will write

Also, some verbs are irregular in the simple future. For example:

Infinitive Stem Example Translation
être ser- je serai I'll be
avoir aur- j'aurai I'll have
aller ir- j'irai I'll go
faire fer- je ferai I'll do/make
pouvoir pourr- je pourrai I'll be able to
falloir faudr- il faudra It'll be necessary to
devoir devr- je devrai I'll have to
venir viendr- je viendrai I’ll come
tenir tiendr- je tiendrai I’ll hold
courir courr- je courrai I’ll run
voir verr- je verrai I'll see

Use the simple future tense for events that will happen at any point in the future, often with a lower degree of certainty than a futur proche.

After a conjunction of time

The French simple future tense is very similar to the English simple future tense except in compound sentences that use a conjunction of time. When the main clause is in the simple future, the subordinate clause also must be. In English, the subordinate clause is often in the present tense.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Measures · Être De updated 2019-01-01

Être de

Whenever an expression of measurement is used with the verb être, the preposition de must follow it.

Faire une Taille

To talk about clothing size, use the verb faire.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Verbs: Subjunctive Present · Rules & Trends, Conjugations updated 2019-01-01

Unlike the English subjunctive, the French subjunctive mood is common and required, both in writing and in speech. It is even used in informal conversations.

Rules and trends :

Je suis désolé qu'il soit ici. — I am sorry that he is here.

Je regrette qu'il soit ici. — I regret that he is here. (Subject differs => Subjunctive)
Je déteste être ici. — I hate being here. (Subject is the same => Infinitive)

Conjugation:

The French subjunctive has 4 tenses : present, imperfect, past and pluperfect. There is no future tense and among the 3 past tenses, only the subjunctive past is commonly used.

The subjunctive present endings are the same for all verbs:

Pronoun Ending
Je -e
Tu -es
Il/Elle -e
Nous -ions
Vous -iez
Ils/Elles -ent

In most cases, the subjunctive is formed by removing the –ent ending from the ils/elles indicative present form, and then adding the subjunctive endings.

-er verbs:

For je, tu, il, elle, on, ils, elles, the subjunctive present form and pronunciation are identical to those of the indicative present :

chanter — stem = chant-ent

Subject Verb
que je chante
que tu chantes
qu’il/elle/on chante
qu’ils/elles chantent

For nous, vous, the subjunctive present form and pronunciation are similar to those of the indicative imperfect :

Subject Verb
que nous chantions
que vous chantiez

-ir and –re verbs:

For "je, tu, il, elle, on", the subjunctive present is different from the indicative present, because the stem is different. Yet the pronunciation is the same as that of the ils/elles indicative present.

finir — stem = finiss-ent

Subject Verb
que je finisse
que tu finisses
qu’il/elle/on finisse
qu’ils/elles finissent

dormir — stem = dorm-ent

Subject Verb
que je dorme
que tu dormes
qu’il/elle/on dorme
qu’ils/elles dorment

comprendre — stem = comprenn-ent

Subject Verb
que je comprenne
que tu comprennes
qu’il/elle/on comprenne
qu’ils/elles comprennent

For nous, vous, the subjunctive present form and pronunciation are similar to those of the indicative imperfect :

finir — stem = finiss-ent

Subject Verb
que nous finissions
que vous finissiez

dormir — stem = dorm-ent

Subject Verb
que nous dormions
que vous dormiez

comprendre — stem = comprenn-ent

Subject Verb
que nous comprenions
que vous compreniez

Other common and irregular verbs:

Subject Être Avoir Aller Faire
que je/j' sois aie aille fasse
que tu sois aies ailles fasses
qu’il/elle/on soit ait aille fasse
que nous soyons ayons allions fassions
que vous soyez ayez alliez fassiez
qu’ils/elles soient aient aillent fassent
Subject Courir Voir Venir Falloir
que je/j' coure voie vienne -
que tu coures voies viennes -
qu’il/elle/on coure voie vienne qu’il faille
que nous courions voyions venions -
que vous couriez voyiez veniez -
qu’ils/elles courent voient viennent -
Subject Pouvoir Vouloir Savoir Devoir
que je puisse veuille sache doive
que tu puisses veuilles saches doives
qu’il/elle/on puisse veuille sache doive
que nous puissions voulions sachions devions
que vous puissiez vouliez sachiez deviez
qu’ils/elles puissent veuillent sachent doivent

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Imperative · Formation, With Object Pronouns, Irregular Forms, Negative, Pronominal updated 2019-01-01

The imperative (l'impératif) mood is used to give orders or to make a suggestion or a request.

Formation of the imperative

To form the imperative, simply take the present tense forms of tu, nous, or vous. See the chart below. For -er verbs, the -s is dropped for the tu form, unless the adverbial pronouns en or y follow the verb (please re. below).

Note that according to French typographic rules, an extra space is required before the exclamation mark at the end of a sentence in the imperative.

Pronoun Regarder Choisir Attendre Boire
(tu) Regarde ! Choisis ! Attends ! Bois !
(nous) Regardons ! Choisissons ! Attendons ! Buvons !
(vous) Regardez ! Choisissez ! Attendez ! Buvez !

Note that the nous form of the imperative corresponds to the command in English "let's" + verb.

Imperative with object pronouns

In affirmative commands, object pronouns are placed after the verb and connected with a hyphen.

Note that the indirect or direct object me is changed to its stressed pronoun form when inverted in the imperative.

When the verb has both a direct and an indirect pronoun, the direct pronoun will be inserted between the verb and the indirect pronoun, with hyphens.

You will need to return the final -s in the tu form of -er verbs if the verb is followed by the pronoun en or y for euphony. The -s creates a Z-sound liaison and avoids the vowel sound conflict.

Irregular forms

There are some commonly used irregular forms of the imperative, namely the imperative forms for être, avoir, savoir, and vouloir.

Pronoun Être Avoir Savoir Vouloir
(tu) Sois ! Aie ! Sache ! Veuille !
(nous) Soyons ! Ayons ! Sachons ! Veuillons !
(vous) Soyez ! Ayez ! Sachez ! Veuillez !

The imperative form veuillez, which comes from vouloir, is very polite and formal. This is translated in English with the word "please”.Veuillez is common in official letters, public signage, and correspondence, for example.

Note that instead of the formal Veuillez, Merci de is common and still a polite way of giving orders, suggestions or advice.

Negative imperative

In the negative form, the negation elements ne and pas are placed around the verb. Object pronouns are placed before the verb. The word order is similar to that of the indicative mood, so just remove the subject pronoun.

Remember that the direct/indirect object pronoun order is reversed to indirect/direct in 3rd person singular or plural.

Imperative with pronominal verbs

For pronominal verbs, the pronouns are placed after the verb. The reflexive pronoun (te) takes the stressed pronoun form (toi) in this case. However, in the negative imperative, the reflexive pronoun is placed before the verb, and the "te" remains as "te." Observe how the imperative of se lever is formed below.

For the formal singular or plural vous, just like for nous, the subject, object, reflexive and stressed pronoun forms are the same.

Here is another example: the nous form of s'arrêter.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Conditional · Formation, Hypotheses with “si”, Polite Requests and Wishes, Regrets & Preferences updated 2019-01-01

You have already learned 4 verb moods: the indicative, infinitive, subjunctive, and imperative moods. The conditional mood le conditionnel is a mood in itself when it is used together with “if” clauses to express conditions or hypotheses, and it is most often translated by “would”.

Formation

The stem used to form the conditional present tense is the infinitive, as for the indicative Simple Future, and the endings are the same as those used in the indicative Past Imperfect: -ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient.

Pronoun Stem Ending Example Translation
je casser ais Je casserais I would break
tu choisir ais Tu choisirais You would choose
il/elle/on apprendr ait Elle apprendrait She would learn
nous paraîtr ions Nous paraîtrions We would appear
vous permettr iez Je permettriez You would allow
ils/elles lir aient Ils liraient They would read

For infinitives ending in -re, drop the final -e before adding the endings. For instance entendre becomes j’entendrais. Also, some verbs are irregular in the conditional present. For example:

Infinitive Stem Example Translation
être ser- Je serais I would be
avoir aur- J'aurais I would have
aller ir- J’irais I would go
faire fer- Je ferais I would do/make
pouvoir pourr- Je pourrais I would be able to/I could
falloir faudr- Il faudrait It would be necessary to
devoir devr- Je devrais I would have/need to/I should
voir verr- Je verrais I would see

Uses

Hypotheses with si + imperfect clauses.

In hypothetical situations describing what would happen if certain conditions were met, the conditional is used in the main clause and the indicative past imperfect l’imparfait is used in the si clause.

Si + Past Imperfect (Imparfait), Conditional Clause

The order can also be reversed.

Conditional Clause si + Past Imperfect (Imparfait)

Polite requests and wishes with pouvoir, aimer and vouloir.

When politely asking for something, the conditional softens the request or invitation.

To mean “I’d like”, Je voudrais and j’aimerais are practically interchangeable.

Regrets and Preferences

When reality and desire don’t match, aimer or aimer bien in the conditional are used to mean “wish + subjunctive”.

Aimer mieux and préférer can translate the idiomatic “would rather” to express preference.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Conditional · Future time in the Past, Possibilities & Uncertainty, Needs, Obligations & Advice updated 2019-01-01

A future time in the past.

When reporting past thoughts or sayings, the conditional is used to express a future event.

Possibilities and uncertainty.

Prospects and uncertain facts can be told with the conditional mood. The use of the conditional to report uncertain facts is unique to French and would be expressed as “allegedly”, “believed to”, or “reportedly” in English. It is commonly found in breaking news stories.

Needs, Obligations & Advice.

The conditional mood can be used in combination with other moods and to translate English modal verbs and idiomatic verbal phrases.

-I should/ought to call him. — Il faudrait que je l’appelle (subjunctive). / Je devrais l’appeler.
-Should you ever meet her, please let me know. — Si vous devriez la rencontrer, faites-le moi savoir (imperative).
-They ought to be in bed at this time. — Ils devraient être couchés (infinitive) à cette heure-ci.
-You might try this. — Vous devriez peut-être essayer (infinitive) ceci.
-I had better tell you the truth. — Je ferais mieux de te dire la vérité. (idiom)
-It would be better to start the meeting later. — Il vaudrait mieux commencer la réunion plus tard. (idiom)

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Past Conditional · Formation, Past si Clauses, Regrets and Criticisms, Unconfirmed News updated 2019-01-01

The past conditional conditionnel passé in French is very similar to English. It expresses what could have, should have, or would have occurred if certain conditions had been met.

Formation

The past conditional is a compound verb of two parts. The first part is made of the conditional auxiliary verbs avoir or être. The second part is the past participle of the main verb.

Pronoun Finir (with auxiliary avoir) Translation
j’ aurais fini I would have finished
tu aurais fini you would have finished
elle aurait fini she would have finished
nous aurions fini we would have finished
vous auriez fini we would have finished
elles auraient fini they would have finished
Pronoun Venir (with auxiliary être) Translation
j’ serais venu(e) I would have come
tu serais venu(e) you would have come
il serait venu he would have come
elle serait venue she would have come
nous serions venu(e)s we would have come
vous seriez venu(e)(s) you would have come
ils seraient venus they would have come
elles seraient venues they would have come
Pronoun Habiller (Pronominal with auxiliary être Translation
je me serais habillé(e) I would have dressed
tu te serais habillé(e) you would have dressed
il se serait habillé he would have dressed
elle se serait habillée she would have dressed
nous nous serions habillé(e)s we would have dressed
vous vous seriez habillé(e)(s) you would have dressed
ils se seraient habillés they would have dressed
elles se seraient habillées they would have dressed

Past si Clauses

A past conditional clause describes what would have happened if certain conditions had been met. It may be helpful to think of it as a past tense if… then statement. The “si clause” is made using the pluperfect plus-que-parfait that you learned about earlier and the past conditional.

Si + plus-que-parfait, conditionnel passé

Regrets and Criticisms

The past conditional can also be used to express regret whether the unmet condition is explicit or implied.

Or criticism:

Unconfirmed News

When relaying information about unconfirmed events or uncertain facts, the past conditional may be used. In English, the terms “allegedly”, “reportedly”, and “believed to be” are indications that the facts haven’t been confirmed, but in French the past conditional serves the same purpose.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Present Participle · As Adjectives or Nouns, As Verbs, Perfect Participle, Passive, Gerunds updated 2019-01-01

Present Participle

You have already seen the past participle, which is used in compound tenses, in the passé composé units. The other type of participle in French is the present participle (participe présent), which is formed by taking the present indicative nous form of a verb and switching the -ons ending to -ant.

Nous Form Translation Present Participle Translation
faisons (we) do/make faisant doing/making
disons (we) say disant saying
agissons (we) act agissant acting
voyons (we) see voyant seeing

The verbs être, avoir, and savoir have irregular present participles: étant, ayant, and sachant, respectively.

Although English also has present participles, they're used differently and more often than their French counterparts, so it would be wise to avoid trying to make comparisons between the two languages here. In particular, the French present participle cannot be used after another verb, including the auxiliary être.

The French present participle can be used as an adjective; a noun; a verb; or a gerund (when combined with the preposition en).

Present Participles as Adjectives or Nouns

Present participles can be used as adjectives that agree with the noun they describe.

Many nouns are derived from the present participle of a verb.

Present Participles as Verbs

Present participles are invariable when used as verbs. When used as a simple verb, the present participle expresses a state or action that is simultaneous with, and performed by the same subject as the main verb.

Past participles and present participles can be combined in two ways: the perfect participle and the passive voice.

Perfect Participle

The perfect participle (participe présent passé) indicates that one action was completed before another. In this compound tense, a past participle follows the present participle of its usual auxiliary—étant for être verbs and ayant for avoir verbs. This is basically a present participle version of the passé composé.

Remember that all compound tenses (including the perfect participle and the passé composé) follow the same agreement rules. Refer to the "Compound Past" lessons for more information.

Passive Voice

When used in the passive voice, the past participle always follows a form of the passive marker être. In the present tense, this form will be étant.

In the past tense, être usually takes its perfect participle form, which is ayant été.

Gerunds

Adding en before a present participle creates a gerund (gérondif) that can describe how one action is related to another. They might be related by time, condition, manner, or cause.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Subjunctive Past · Refresher, Conjugation, Sequence of Events updated 2019-01-01

From the Tips and Notes in Subjunctive Present, you have already learned that:

Conjugation

The Subjunctive Past is a compound tense and as such, the verb uses the same auxiliary être or avoir as in the indicative mood, and the same rules of agreement are applied in the past participle (Re. Tips and Notes in Verbs: Compound Past 1 & 2).

To form a subjunctive past, the auxiliary is conjugated in subjunctive present, and the past participle of the verb is added.

Avoir verb:

Subject Verb
que j’ aie mangé
que tu aies mangé
qu’il/elle ait mangé
que nous ayons mangé
que vous ayez mangé
qu’ils aient mangé

Être verb:

Subject Verb
que je sois allé(e)
que tu sois allé(e)
qu’il soit allé
qu’elle soit allée
que nous soyons allé(e)s
que vous soyez allé(e)(s)
qu’ils soient allés
qu’elles soient allées

Sequence of events

Since there is no Subjunctive Future and the Subjunctive Imperfect and Pluperfect are no longer used in contemporary French, you will have to use:

To pick the suitable subjunctive tense in the subordinate clause, you will compare the subordinate clause’s time of event with that of the main clause.

Let's compare with the indicative:

Time in main to time in subordinate Indicative Subjunctive: [TENSE vs MEANING]
Present to future Je crois que tu viendras. - I think that you will come. J'attends que tu viennes. [PRESENT with a FUTURE meaning] - I am waiting for you to come.
Present to present J’espère que tu vas bien. - I hope that you are doing well. Je doute que tu ailles bien. [PRESENT with a PRESENT meaning] - I doubt that you are doing well.
Past to simultaneous past Je croyais qu'il faisait froid. - I believed that the weather was cold. Je ne croyais pas qu'il fasse froid . [PRESENT with a SIMULTANEOUS PAST meaning] - I did not believe that the weather was cold.
Past to earlier past (avoir) Je pensais que tu avais mangé assez. - I thought that you had eaten enough. Je doutais que tu aies mangé assez. [PAST with an EARLIER PAST meaning] - I doubted that you had eaten enough.
Past to earlier past (être) J'étais sûr(e) que tu étais parti(e). - I was certain you had left. Je ne pensais pas que tu sois parti(e) [PAST with an EARLIER PAST meaning] - I did not think you had left.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Moods in Verbs · Infinitive, Indicative, Participles, Subjunctive, Imperative, Conditional updated 2019-01-01

Summary of grammatical moods in verbs

Verbs have tenses (present, past, future), and they are divided in 6 categories or modes (moods) indicating various ways of presenting states or actions.

L'infinitif (the infinitive) is actually the name and non-conjugated form of a verb. It indicates an action or state, without a subject.

L'indicatif (the indicative) is used to describe a fact or state that is real or considered as real.

Le participe (the participle) can help form verbal forms and compound tenses.

Le subjonctif (the subjunctive), to express one’s fears, wishes, doubts, regrets, etc.

L'impératif (the imperative), to give orders and commands, and to express advice, requests or suggestions.

Le conditionnel (the conditional), to indicate that an action or state is possible, on one condition; to replace the future when the main clause’s verb is in the past tense; to express a wish or request; to indicate that a fact is not sure yet.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Personal and Impersonal constructions · Il est + adjective + À or De + Infinitive updated 2019-01-01

Aside from the typical "il faut" or "il pleut", more complex structures can use the dummy subject il with state verbs (être, paraître, sembler, devenir, demeurer, rester), various adjectives complemented by the preposition de + a verb in infinitive or a subordinate clause introduced by the conjunction que + a verb in the subjunctive mood.

One of the issues for learners is to distinguish the impersonal "il" as a dummy subject (= it) from the personal "il" as a real subject (= he or it).

NOTE: C'est + ADJ + de and C'est + ADJ + que, though used colloquially, are improper and should not be used in writing, because c', ceci, cela/ça are real subjects.

This is a list of examples using some adjectives able to build IMPersonal or PERSonal constructions.

Facile/Difficile:

Possible/Impossible:

Important:

Evident:

Triste:

Utile/Inutile:

Simple/Compliqué:

Bon/Pas Bon:

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

C'est / Ce sont · Nature, form & construction of Ce, Used when followed by, In specific Figures of Speech, Il est/Elle est/Ils sont/Elles sont updated 2019-01-01

NATURE, FORM & CONSTRUCTION OF CE

Ce is an indefinite demonstrative pronoun, not to be confused with the demonstrative adjective ce (masc. sing., in front of a word starting with a consonant sound).

Ce is used mostly with the verb “être” (+ pouvoir être & devoir être) to identify or describe people or things.

C’est can be followed by an adjective that remains masculine and singular.

Ce sont is the plural of c’est (not ces sont).

Ce sont cannot be used in front of an adjective.

Ce sont precisely translates to “they are + modified noun/pronoun” or “these/those are + modified noun/pronoun”.

The inversion sont-ce is rarely used in questions:

In the negative form: ce n’est pas and ce ne sont pas.
In the interrogative form: n’est-ce pas ?/est-ce que ce n’est pas ? and est-ce que ce ne sont pas ? (not ne sont-ce pas?)

C'EST / CE SONT ARE USED WHEN FOLLOWED BY: a non-specific adjective, a modified noun, another pronoun, a proper noun, a disjunctive pronoun, dates, and an infinitive as a subject.

1.An adjective for non-specific referents (in singular only)

2.Modified nouns, i.e. nouns determined by an article or a possessive, demonstrative or numeral adjective, and indefinite adjectives:

-Exceptions: the « single status » case: When il est, elle est, ils sont, elles sont are followed by a noun or pronoun, and the identification expresses a unique/exclusive status, the change to c’est/ce sont is optional. Some key triggers are: possessives + le seul, le premier, le dernier, l’unique, le plus, le moins, etc.

3.Another pronoun (demonstrative, possessive, interrogative, indefinite or numeral)

4.A proper noun or a disjunctive pronoun.

5.Dates.

6.An infinitive as subject.

C'EST / CE SONT IN SPECIFIC FIGURES OF SPEECH

1.Impersonal constructions: In informal usage, it is common to use c'est instead of il est. For example, the following would be completely normal in everyday speech. Yet, in writing, this form of emphasis is quite cumbersome.

2.Emphasis by extraction: One element of the sentence is “extracted” to emphasize it. C’est… qui (subject) or c’est… que (object) come as brackets around the element. In English, a word may be emphasized by placing stress on it, but French does not put stress on individual words.

3.The “double-subject/object”: The real subject or object is isolated, followed by a comma, and then repeated in the form of c’est or ce sont.

IL/ELLE EST AND ILS/ELLES SONT REFER TO SPECIFIC PERSONS, ANIMALS OR THINGS.

The personal pronouns are used to introduce the following: an adjective for something specific, a quality, an occupation, impersonal constructions and for time.

1.An adjective alone, i.e. the adjective is not followed by a noun.:

2.Qualities vs professions

Note: A few adjectives can have a different meaning when used as nouns:

3.Occupations and a few ‘status’ nouns (which are treated as adjectives)

4.Impersonal constructions: Using the impersonal "il est", i.e., when the "il" does not refer to anything specific, or "il est" is followed by an adjective, and the adjective is followed by a clause (que + expression or de + expression).
However, as mentioned above, in speech, it is common to use c'est instead of il est.

There are many other impersonal constructions using Il est. In such phrases, il est… que is followed by a verb in the indicative or subjunctive, and il est… de by an infinitive.

5.Clock time and time of the day use il est: Il est trois heures, il est tôt, il est tard, il est temps que (+subj.)/de.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Aimer · Aimer, aimer bien, adorer, and other appreciation verbs updated 2019-01-01

It is essential for beginners to learn about the grammar and, even more importantly, the meanings and uses of appreciation verbs. When it comes to feelings, nobody wants to goof-up, be misunderstood, nor hurt feelings or offend sensibilities.

Grammar

There is one important rule to know about the direct object of such appreciation verbs as aimer, aimer bien, adorer, apprécier, préférer, détester, haïr, respecter, admirer: Whenever the object is a count noun, a mass noun, a concept or a plural noun, the definite articles (le, la, l’, les) are most often used, not to specify the object but to generalize it.

These cover statements may also be understood as one-time opinions about specific things, so if the context allows, the definite article “the” can be suitable before the object. Also remember that only indefinite (un, une, des) and partitive (du, de la, de l') articles disappear and are replaced with de in front of the direct object of a negated verb, as in Je n’ai pas d’ordinateur or Je ne mange pas de chocolat.

Another rule is that appreciation verbs can be followed by an infinitive without a preposition or a subordinate clause with a verb in the subjunctive mood.

”I love you” is Je t’aime.

To properly express our feelings in French, we have two main verbs: aimer and adorer, which translate to “like” and “love”, depending on the object and other elements of the language, especially adverbs.

When you love someone, you say je t'aime.
When you like someone, you say je t’aime bien.
When you like something, you say j’aime ça or j’aime bien ça.
When you like doing something, you say j'aime faire ça or j'aime bien faire ça.
When you love something, you say j’adore ça.
When you love doing something, you say j'adore faire ça.

Among human beings, l’amour is love and the verb is aimer. This applies to romantic relationships and family bonds, and extends to pets.

To clear any doubt, you can also use être amoureux/amoureuse to mean “to be in love”.

If the feeling is not love, the verb aimer needs an adverb like bien or beaucoup to weaken aimer and thereby state that the feeling is not “love” in the romantic sense. However, this does not preclude sincere commitment and affection.

To evidence the difference between aimer and aimer bien when the object is a person, we can quote the song from Zazie, « Chanson d’ami »:

When it comes to animals and things or concepts, aimer and aimer bien are not significantly different and several adverbs can be added to better qualify our feeling.

Adorer for exaggeration

In ancient times, adorer was the verb of choice for gods or idols. Nowadays, using adorer mostly denotes enhancement, magnification or embellishment of an otherwise milder feeling.

Other appreciation verbs

Préférer is synonymous with aimer mieux but their constructions are different.

Détester and hair are synonymous, but due to its somewhat difficult conjugation, haïr has become uncommon. Another synonym of détester is avoir horreur de, which does not imply any fear, unlike the faux-ami “to have a horror of”.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE

Punctuation · French punctuation updated 2019-01-01

English and French share many of the same punctuation marks, but how they are used can be different between the two languages.

Le point (.)

The period or full-stop is used after title abbreviations if the last letter is not in the abbreviation.

MonsieurM.
MadameMme (no punctuation)
DocteurDr (no punctuation)

It may be used to separate numbers in a date. Remember that the order is day, month, year in French.

le 6 avril 2001 ⇒ 6.4.2001
le 27 novembre 2015 ⇒ 27.11.2015

For numbers, le point or a space may be used between every three digits, where in English you would find a comma.

Deux mille deux cents ⇒ 2 200 or 2.200
Deux millions ⇒ 2 000 000 or 2.000.000

-Please note that le point not used as a decimal placeholder in numbers. Please see la virgule below.

La virgule (,)

La virgule is used to separate ideas joined by a conjunction, natural pauses, and more than two items in a series. However, the “oxford comma” does not exist in French, and la virgule is not used before et or ou in a series.

It is found in front of conjunctions when it is separating two coordinating ideas with different subjects.

Decimals in English are separated by une virgule in French. Thus π is 3,141 592…

This can be a confusing because the punctuation for numbers in French is the inverse in English.

French English
4,5 (quatre virgule cinq) 4.5 (four point five)
4.500 (quatre mille cinq-cents) 4,500 (four thousand five hundred)

Two-Part Punctuation

Anytime the punctuation mark is composed of two or more parts, there is a space both before and after it.

They all follow this pattern:

text[space]![space]text

Le point d’exclamation and Le point d’interrogation (! and ?)

The punctuation following a phrase changes the meaning.

Notice the space between the last word and le point d’interrogation and le point d’exclamation.

Le point-virgule (;)

As in English le point-virgule or semicolon separates two independent phrases (subject-verb ; subject-verb) connected logically together.

Use a point-virgule if the second clause in a sentence begins with an adverb.

Les deux points (:)

The colon or les deux points is used before enumerating a list of things.

It is also serves to link two clauses in a cause or consequence situation.

Lastly les deux points can appear before quoted text.

Les guillemets and les tirets ( « » and — )

French quotation marks are not introduced in the Duolingo course, but spend anytime reading French articles or books and you will be confronted with these two notations.

As shown above, les guillemets can enclose quoted text that is followed by les deux points. They can also enclose a single word or group of words to add emphasis or nuance, much like quotations marks do in English writing. They often encircle foreign or slang words as well.

Les guillemets require an international or French keyboard to make. They are not two angle brackets simply typed together. Here are instructions for PC and for Mac. It is also useful to change your keyboard settings in order to easily type the various accents.

This: « »
Not that: << >>

Like all two-part punctuation in French, there is a space before and after les guillemets.

When you pick up a French novel you may notice what looks like a long hyphen in front of the dialogue whenever the speaker changes. This is un tiret and it is longer than the trait d’union (hyphen) you have already seen in inverted questions, numbers, and imperative statements involving pronouns.

Les tirets can also be found in the middle of sentences, acting in the place of parenthesis.

Important: If you find any errors in the Tips and Notes, have questions related to the grammar points above, or would like to discuss the topic in depth, please feel free to comment below. We ask that you keep your comments on topic so that this post stays educational and everyone can benefit from them. Any spam or unrelated comments will be deleted.

For more Tips and Notes, click HERE


76 skills with tips and notes by Sitesurf, CommeuneTexane, DXLi & GeorgeofTruth
0.017