Archive | April 2013

Grammar – Liaisons

Grammaire – Les Liaisons

Liaison occurs between two words when the second word begins with a vowel sound, that is, with aeiou, and sometimes y.

In addition, consonants in liaisons sometimes change pronunciation. For example, an S is pronounced like a Z when it is in a liaison. Review the list below.

Letter  –  Sound
D              T
F              V
G              G
N              N
P              P
R              R
S              Z
T              T
X              Z
Z               Z

Compare the sounds

vousvous avez

ontont-ils

unun homme

lesles amis

Sound files courtesy of french.about.com!

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Lesson 8 – Family and Friends

Leçon 8 – Family and Friends

Family

Let’s meet the members of your family!

Father Un père

Mother Une mère

BrotherUn frère

SisterUne soeur

SonUn fils

DaughterUne fille

HusbandUn mari

WifeUne femme

GrandfatherUn grandpère

GrandmotherUne grandmère

GrandsonUn petitfils

GranddaughterUne petitefille

Cousin (male)Un cousin

Cousin (female)Une cousine

UncleUn oncle

AuntUne tante

NephewUn neveu

NieceUne nièce

Additional Vocabulary

Stepfatherun beau-père

Stepmotherune belle-mère

Stepbrother/Brother in lawun beau-frère

Stepsister/Sister in lawune belle-soeur

Half brotherun demi-frère (demi pronounced deh-mi)

Half sisterune demi-soeur

Friends

Boy – un garçon 

Girl – une fille

Friend (male) – un ami ; un copain

Friend (female) – une amie ; une copine

Gentleman – un monsieur

Lady – une madame (it’s actually dame, but there is no sound file for dame.)

Amis et Copains

Young French people, just like young American people, enjoy spending time with their friends. They refer to their friends as un ami (for a boy), and une amie (for a girl), or – more commonly – as un copain (boy) or une copine (girl).

Note that the words copaincopine can also have special meanings. When a boy talks about une copine, he is referring to a friend who is a girl. However, when he says ma (my) copine, he is referring to his girlfriend. Similarly, a girl would call her boyfriend mon copain.

All sound files courtesy of french.about.com!

Small Announcement

My dear readers,

I apologise for the lack of posts lately. It’s been way too hot where I live to sit with the computer on, which creates more heat, and books on my lap to write a post. It literally takes me hours to write up a new post, and it’s been a bit too uncomfortable lately with this heat wave. But I will be back; I have not abandoned you!

À bientôt!
Courtney

Verbs – Etre

Verbs – Etre

A long time ago, my first French professor told my class that the most important verb to know in French is être, which means to be. If you don’t know how to conjugate être, you’ll have a difficult time learning how to speak simple sentences in French.

Je (I) suis (am)    [pronunciation – zhuh swee]

Tu (you, singular) es (are)    [pronunciation – to eh]

Il/Elle/On (he/she/one) est (is)    [pronunciation – eel/el/ohn eh]

Nous (we) sommes (are)    [pronunciation – noo sum]

Vous (you, plural; you, formal) êtes (are)    [pronunciation – vooz ett]

Ils/Elles (they, masculine & feminine plural) sont (are)    [pronunciation – eelz/ellez sohn]

The different uses of être

Some of these may be a bit advanced, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed reading them, but just read them over and get a feel for this verb.

être à quelque chose    to be at/into something

  • Etienne n’est pas là; il est au travail.  –  Etienne is not here; he is at work.
  • La maison est à dix kilomètres de Bordeaux.  –  The house is ten kilometers from Bordeaux.
  • Ce livre est à moi.  –  This book belongs to me.
  • Je suis à vous dans un instant!  –  I’ll be right with you!

être à + infinitif    to be to + infinitive

  • C’est une région à voir.  –  It is an area that is worth seeing.
  • Ton costume est à nettoyer.  –  Your suit needs to be cleaned.

être à quelqu’un de + infinif    to be up to somebody to + infinitive

  • C’était à elle de donner son avis.  –  It was up to her to give her opinion.
  • C’est à toi de jouer.  –  It is your turn to play.

être contre/pour quelque chose/quelqu’un    to be against/for something/somebody

  • Etes-vous contre la nouvelle loi?  –  Are you against the new law?

Lesson 7 – Nouns

Leçon 7 – Nouns

Talking About a Person or a Thing

  1. A noun is a name of a person, place, or thing. In French, every noun has a gender, either masculine or feminine. Except for people, you cannot tell what the gender of the noun is just by looking at it. You need other clues.
  2. Many words that accompany nouns can indicate gender. They are called “gender markers.” Une and un are gender markers; they are indefinite articles and correspond to a/an in English. Une accompanies a feminine noun, and un accompanies a masculine noun.

Indefinite Articles

  • Feminine – une amie; une soeur; une école
  • Masculine – un ami; un frère; un college

Definite Articles

Lela, and l’ are definite articles and often correspond to the in English.

  • Feminine – la fille; la soeur; l’amie
  • Masculine – le garçon; le frère; l’ami

Attention!

Note that the definite articles le and la are shortened to l’ when they accompany a noun that begins with a vowel. When pronounced, the vowel sound is dropped. This is called “elision.”

la amie → l’amie

le ami → l’ami

The of the indefinite article un is pronounced when it accompanies a noun beginning with a vowel. This is called “liaison.”

un ami ; un élève

Describing a Person or a Thing

  • An adjective is a word that describes a noun. The bolded words in the following sentences are adjectives.

La fille est blonde. Le garçon est blond aussi.

Jeann est française. Vincent aussi est français.

  • In French, an adjective must agree with the noun it describes or modifies. Adjectives that end in a consonant such as blond and français have two forms in the singular.

Feminine

La fille est blonde.

La fille est française.

La fille est brune.

La fille est intelligente.

L’ecole est grande.

Masculine

Le garçon est blond.

Le garçon est français.

Le garçon est brun.

Le garçon est intelligent.

Le college est grand.

  • Adjectives that end in e, such as énergique and sympathique, are both masculine and feminine.

Feminine

Charlotte est très énergique.

Elle est sympathique.

Masculine

Nicolas est très énergique.

Il est sympahique.

Attention

When the final consonant is followed by an e, you pronounce the consonant. When a word ends in a consonant, you don’t pronounce it.

petite    petit

française    français

intéressante    intéressant

Lesson 6 – Communication

Leçon 6 – Communication

La politesse

Expressions of politeness are always appreciated. The following are the French expressions for please, thank you, and you’re welcome.

Please

  • s’il vous plaît – formal
  • s’il te plaît – informal

Thank you

  • Merci (mostly followed by the person’s name or Madame/Monsieur) – formal & informal

You’re welcome

  • Je vous en prie – formal 
  • Je t’en prie – informal
  • De rien – informal

How to ask people how they feel

  • Ça va? – How are you? / How are things going? / How’s everything?
  • Ça va! – (I’m) fine. / (I’m) okay. / Everything’s alright.

Ça va…

  • très bien – very well
  • bien – well/good
  • comme ci, comme ça – so so
  • mal – bad
  • très mal – very bad

Lesson 5 – Telling Time

Leçon 5 – Telling Time

Now that we’ve learned our numbers, it’s time we start learning how to tell time, French style!

Unlike in the United States, the French use a 24-hour clock, as well as a 12-hour clock; but for the sake of teaching something familiar, I will teach the 12-hour. 🙂

The French word for “time” when talking about telling time is l’heure. Although o’clock may be left out in English, the expression heure(s) must always be used in French when giving the time, with the exception of minuit (midnight), and midi (noon).

To distinguish between A.M. and P.M., the French use the following expressions:

  • du matin – in the morning – il est dix heures du matin – it is 10A.M.
  • de l’après midi – in the afternoon – il est deux heures de l’après midi – it is 2P.M.
  • du soir – in the evening – il est huit heures du soir – it is 8P.M.

NOTE: In telling time, the number and the word heure(s) are linked together. And remember, the h in heure(s) is always silent, and the s is never pronounced. (The letters in the following words are crossed out for pronunciation sake.)

  • une heure (oon-err)
  • deux heures (dooz-err – the X in deux is pronounced like a Z in front of this silent H)
  • trois heures (tr-wah-z – err)
  • quatre heures (cat-err)
  • cinheures (sah-nk-err – the Q in cinq is prounounced like a K in front of this silent H, and the in is a  nasal vowel)
  • six heures (seez-err – the X in siis pronounced like a Z in front of this silent H)
  • sepheures (set-err)
  • huit heures (weet-err)
  • neuf heures (nuv-err)
  • dix heures (deez-err – the X in dix is pronounced like a Z in front of this silent H)
  • onze heures (oh-zuh – err – the on is a nasal vowel… which I should probably go over soon…)

In French, written time is written out as the hour and minute separated with an h, where as in English, the hour and minute are separated with a colon :

Quelle heure est-il? (Kel err eh-teel) What time is it?

Il est… (Always reply to the above question with Il est before stating the time.)

0h00 – 12:00 – minuit (midnight)

1h00 – 01:00 – une heure

2h00 – 02:00 – deux heures

3h00 – 03:00 – trois heures

4h00 – 04:00 – quatre heures

5h00 – 05:00 – cinq heures

6h00 – 06:00 – six heures

7h00 – 07:00 – sept heures

8h00 – 08:00 – huit heures

9h00 – 09:00 – neuf heures

10h00 – 10:00 – dix heures

11h00 – 11:00 – onze heures

12h00 – 12:00 – midi (noon)

How to indicate the minutes:

10h10 – dix heures dix (deez-err dee)

6h25 – six heures vingt-cinq (seez-err vahn-sah-nk)

2h52 – deux heures cinqante-deux (sah-nk-ahnt dew)

How to indicate the half hour and the quarter hours:

1h15 – il est une heure et quart

2h30 – il est deux heures et demie

3h45 – il est trois heures moins le quart

Number pronunciations 1 through 19 can be heard here.

Thanks to About French for the .wav files!