Idiomatic Verbs : Faire

Faire – to make, do

In addition to being one of the most common verbs in the French language, faire is also used in a variety of idiomatic expressions.

Most expressions of weather in French use faire.

  • Quel temps fait-il ? Il fait chaud.
  • [What weather makes it? It makes warm.] (Literally)
  • How is the weather? It’s warm.

  • Il fait beau (temps). Il fait froid.
  • [It makes good (weather). It makes cold.] (Literally)
  • The weather is fine. It’s cold

  • Il fait mauvais (temps). Il fait du vent.
  • [It makes bad (weather). It makes some wind.] (Literally)
  • The weather is bad. It’s windy

  • Il fait doux. Il fait du soleil.
  • [It makes mild. It makes some sun.] (Literally)
  • It’s mild. It’s sunny.

Other common expressions using faire:

  • Cela ne fait rien. | That doesn’t matter.
  • Cela ne me fait rien. | I don’t care.

Faire un voyage (to take a trip)

  • J’aimerais faire un voyage. | I would like to take a trip.

Faire une promenade (to take a walk)

  • Nous faisons une promenade. | We take a walk.

Faire des emplettes (to go shopping)

  • Je dois faire des emplettes cet après-midi. | I must go shopping this afternoon.

Faire mal (to hurt, be painful)

  • Est-ce que cela vous fait mal ? | Does that hurt you?

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

A bientôt !



The Preposition à

Continuing from last weeks post with the preposition à.

The preposition à also:

  • Is used with nouns derived from verbs or with infinitives as a replacement for a subordinate clause.
    • à mon arrivée | when I got there (upon my arrival)
    • à notre retour | when we got back (upon our return)
    • à l’entendre chanter | when I heard him/her sing (upon hearing him/her sing)
    • à la réflexion | if you think about it (upon second thought)
  • Translates as at and to with certain nouns.
    • à ma grande surprise, joie | to my great surprise, joy
    • à sa consternation | to his dismay
    • à la demande de tous | at everyone’s request
  • Expresses a standard for judging or knowing (and means by, according to, from)
    • reconnaître quelqu’un à sa voix | to recognise someone by his/her voice
    • à ce que j’ai compris, il ne viendra pas | from what I understood, he won’t come
    • juger quelque chose aux résultats | to judge something by the results

Here are some idioms and useful expressions with à:


  • se couper au doigt | to cut one’s finger
  • qui est à l’appareil ? | who’s calling?
  • à côté | next door, nearby
  • à côté de | next to
  • à deux pas de chez moi | right near my house
  • être à la page | to be up to date
  • à la une | on the front page (newspapers, news websites)


  • à la fois | at the same time, at once
  • à l’instant | a moment ago
  • à ses heures (libres) | in one’s free time
  • à plusieurs reprises | several times
  • à tout moment | all the time

It was requested that I make more posts from last weeks blog post, so I will be working on that over the next few weeks. I thank you in advance for your patience!

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…


Prepositions : à

The preposition à has many uses in French. Remember its contractions: à + le → auà + les → auxÀ is also used before infinitives in many constructions.

Expresses direction and location in space:

  • aller à la banque | to go to the bank
  • être à la banque | to be at the bank

Labels distance in time and space:

  • habiter à quinze kilomètres de Paris | to live fifteen kilometers from Paris
  • être à trois heures de Nice | to be three hours from Nice

Expresses the point in time at which something happens (clock time, age):

  • à quelle heure le train part-il ? | what time does the train leave?
  • arriver à 7n heures du soir | to arrive at 7 in the evening
  • à dix-huit ansat (the age of) eighteen

Expresses the manner or style in which something is done:

  • manger à la française | to eat French style
  • coucher à quatre dans une chambre | to sleep four to a room

Labels the principal ingredient in a dish or a characteristic feature:

  • un sandwich au fromage | a cheese sandwich
  • une glace aux fraisesstrawberry ice cream
  • la femme au chapeau | the woman in (wearing) the hat
  • une chemise à manches longues | a long-sleeved shirt

Expresses possession or belonging to someone:

  • ce stylo est au prof | this pen is the professor’s
  • c’est bien gentil à toi | that’s really nice of you

Expresses the means by which something is done:

  • fait à la main | made by hand
  • aller à bicycletteà pied | to go by bikeon foot
  • écrire au crayon | to write in pencil

Is used in expressions of measurement:

  • faire du 70 à l’heure | to do 70 kilometers an hour
  • vendre au kiloau mètre | to sell by the kilogramby the meter
  • être payé au mois | to be paid monthly
  • un à unpeu à peu one by one little by little

Indicates the purpose for which an object is intended:

  • une tasse à thé | a teacup
  • sandwichs à emporter | sandwiches to take out

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Special Cases with “de”

Many verbs and verbal expressions require de before an infinitive complement. Among them are verbs signifying an interruption of the action expressed by the infinitive.

Special Cases with “de”

S’indiquer de is usually translated as “it makes (someone) indignant that”.

  • Le prof s’indigne de voir que nous ne travaillons pas.
  • It makes the professor indignant to see that we are not studying.

Se souvenir de is most often followed by the infinitive of the auxiliary + the past participle (the perfect infinitive).

  • Je ne me souviens pas de l’avoir vu.
  • I don’t remember having seen him.
  • Elle ne se souvient pas d’être sortie avec lui.
  • She doesn’t remember going out with him.

In French, n’oubliez pas de is used to tell someone to remember to do something.

  • N’oubliez pas de rédiger le rapport.
  • Remember to write up the report.

Bien faire de means “to be right in (doing something), to do the wise thing by (doing something)”.

  • Tu as bien faire de nous prévenir.
  • You were wise to let us know.

Venir de means “to have just (done something)”.

  • Il n’est plus là. Il vient de quitter le bureau.
  • He’s not here anymore. He has just left the office.

See you all next week, everyone. Have a good one!

A bientôt !


French Registers

I can sometimes see what guests to my blog have searched for, and I was surprised that I didn’t have this topic covered yet.

There are five language registers, or styles, for all languages. Each level has an appropriate use that is determined by differing situations. It would be inappropriate to use language and vocabulary informally when speaking in a formal setting. Thus the appropriate language register depends upon the audience, who, the topic, what, purpose, why, and location, where.

Literary/Refined – Littéraire/Soutenu

Literary French is extremely formal and is nearly always written. When spoken, it tends to be for effect and can come off as sounding snobbish or old fashioned.

Formal – Formel

Formal French is polite, both in written and in spoken language. It is used to show respect, or used when the speaker isn’t familiar with a person. This register can sometimes be used to demonstrate coldness towards another person. For example, using vous instead of tu to a close friend.

Normal – Normal

This register is the most common of every day language. The normal French register has no particular distinction of formal or informal, and is the language used between everyone.

Informal – Familier

Informal register expresses closeness and is used between friends and family.

Familiar – Populaire

Familiar French is used between friends, and can range from normal register to slang.

Slang – Argot

Slang is vulgar, offensive, and usually insulting language. It may be used between friends or enemies. This register is considered to be non-standard French.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

A la prochaine…


The Infinitive

The French infinitive parallels many of the uses of the English present participle, which ends in -ing.

In French, the infinitive can be a verbal noun that functions as the subject of a sentence.

  • Trouver un bon travail n’est pas facile. | Finding a good job is not easy.
  • Mon but, c’est de travailler à Paris. | Working in paris is my goal.
  • Voir, c’est croire. | Seeing is believing.

The infinitive in French is used after prepositions.

  • avant de sortir | before going out

The French infinitive is often used for impersonal instructions.

  • Ralentir | Slow (on road signs)
  • Agiter avant emploi | Shake before using

The impersonal expressions il faut (one must, you have to), and il vaut mieux (it’s better to) are followed directly by an infinitive. These expressions are not conjugated for person, because impersonal il is the only possible subject. However, they are conjugated for tense.

Imparfait il fallait, il valait mieux
Passé Composé il a fallu, il a mieux valu
Futur il faudra, il vaudra mieux
Conditionnelle il faudrait, il vaudrait mieux
  • Quand est-ce que tu veux partir en vacances ? | When do you want to go on vacation?
  • J’aime prendre mes vacances en hiver. Toi ? | I like to take my vacation in the winter. How about you?
  • Moi, je préfère les prendre au printemps. | I like to take it in the spring.
  • Je déteste voyager quand il fait froid. | I hate to travel when it’s cold.
  • Tu comptes avertir Paul ? | Do you intend to alert Paul?
  • Oui, mais j’ai beau l’appeler. Il ne fait pas attention. | Yes, but it’s no use calling him. He pays no attention.
  • Il affirme pouvoir nous aider. | He affirms that he can help.
  • Nous devons accepter son offre. | We must accept his offer.
  • Il faut lui téléphoner, alors. | Then we must phone him.
  • Il vaut mieux lui envoyer un courriel. | It’s better to send him an email.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Uses of the Indefinite Article

As in English, in French the indefinite article refers to a noun which has not been specifically identified. Note that the plural form “some” is frequently omitted in English, but must always be included in French.

  • J’ai acheté des pêches et des poires.
  • I bought peaches and pears.

The indefinite article must also be included before a noun followed by de + a singular abstract noun which is qualified.

  • Elle a une mère d’une tolérance exceptionnelle.
  • Her mother is exceptionally tolerant. (Literally: She has a mother of exceptional tolerance.)

  • Il est d’une patience admirable.
  • He has admirable patience. (Literally: He is of an admirable patience.)

So sorry for the very short post this week. I’ve been very sick with the flu this week and forgot all about planning, but I am doing much better now. 🙂

As always, have a great week, everyone, and stay healthy!

Merci à vous !