Archive | April 2015

Word of the Day 05

Today’s French word of the day:

Avoir la trouille

Meaning to be afraid.

Register: Colloquial 

Type: Phrase, Colloquialism 

Other ways to say that you’re afraid:

Avoir la pétoche

Again, thank you to Philippe for your help!


Word of the Day 04

Today’s French word of the day:

Avoir la dalle

Meaning to be hungry/starving.

Register: Colloquial 

Type: Phrase, Colloquialism 

Another colloquial phrase for you!

Other ways to say that you’re hungry:

Avoir les crocs. (To be starving.)

Crever de faim. (To starve.)

Avoir les dents du fond qui baignent. (When you have eaten too much.)

Again, a big thank you to my dear friend Philippe for helping with this post!

Word of the Day 03

Today’s French word of the day:

En avoir ras la casquette 

Meaning to be fed up.

Register: Colloquial 

Type: Phrase, Colloquialism 

More of a phrase than a word, but learning colloquialisms is so important for those who plan on becoming fluent, since these phrases don’t translate literally.

Other ways to say that you’re fed up:

J’en ai ras la casquette.

J’en ai marre.

J’en ai ras le bol.

J’en ai ras le cul. (Vulgaire)

J’en ai plein le cul. (Vulgaire)

Many thanks to my dear friend Philippe for helping with this post!

Lesson 11 – Negative Sentence Structure

Leçon 11 – Negative Sentence Structure

  • Verbs are made negative by placing ne in front of the verb, and pas after it.
    • Je ne travaille pas. Donc, je sors. – I’m not working. So, I’m going out.
  • Ne becomes n’ before a vowel.
    • Je n’aime pas écouter cette musique. – I don’t like listening to this music.
  • Note the similar negative constructions ne + verb + jamais meaning never and ne + verb + plus meaning not anymore, no more.
    • Tu n’invites plus – You don’t ask Caroline out anymore.
    • Ce n’est pas la peine. Elle n’accepte jamais. – It’s not worth it. She never accepts.
  • Ne + verb + personne means no one, and ne + rien means nothing.
    • Vous cherchez quelqu’un, monsieur ? – Are you looking for someone, sir?
    • Non, madame. Je ne cherche personne. – No, ma’am. I am not looking anyone.
  • J’entends un bruit. – I hear a noise.
  • Moi, je n’entends rien. – I don’t hear anything.
  • Personne and rien may be used as subjects, then they precede the verb and are followed by ne.
    • Rien ne change ici. – Nothing changes here.
    • C’est vrai. Personne ne déménage. Tout reste comme avant. – It’s true. No one moves out. Everything remans just as it was before.

Positive and Corresponding Negative Words

Encore, toujours = Still   /   Plus = no more

Encore, advantage = more   /   Plus = no more, not anymore

Quelquefois = sometimes   /   Jamais = never

Toujours = always   /   Jamais = never

Souvent = often   /   Jamais = never

Quelqu’un = someone, somebody   /   Personne = no one, nobody

Quelque chose = something   /   Rien = nothing

Quelque part = somewhere   /   Nulle part = nowhere

Other negative sentence structures

  • Aucun(e) with the meaning no, not any precedes a noun. Ne precedes the verb.
    • Tu crois qu’il va rentrer ? – Do you think he’s coming back?
    • Je n’ai aucune idée. – I have no idea.
  • Ce cours est très difficile. – This course is very difficult.
  • C’est que le professeur ne nous donne aucun exemple. – That’s because the professor doesn’t give us any examples.

Note that aucun(e) is always used in the singular.

  • Aucun(e) + noun or aucun(e) des + plural noun may function as the subject of a sentence. Ne precedes the verb.
    • Aucun ami n’accepte son invitation. – No friend accepts his invitation.
    • Aucun de ses amis n’accepte son invitation. – None of his friends accepts his invitation.
  • Ni… ni… means neither… nor… Like aucun(e), personne, and rien, it may either follow or precede the verb. Ne precedes the verb in both cases. When ni… ni… refers to the subject of the sentence, a plural verb is used.
    • Je ne vois ni Philippe ni Marie. – I don’t see either Philippe or Marie.
    • Ni Philippe ni Marie ne sont là. – Neither Philippe nor Marie is here.
  • (Ni)… non plus is used to mean neither or not either in a sentence where the French equivalent of nor does not appear.
    • Philippe n’est pas là. – Philippe isn’t here.
    • (Ni) Marie non plus. – Neither is Marie. (Marie either.)
  • Je n’aime pas le professeur de mathématiques. – I don’t like the mathematics professor.
  • Moi non plus. – Neither do I.
  • Ne + verb + guère means hardly.
    • Il n’est guère – He’s hardly happy.

Ne… que

  • Ne… que means only. Ne precedes the verb and que precedes the word or words emphasised.
    • Suzette aime la musique classique ? – Does Suzette like classical music?
    • Non, elle n’écoute que des chansons populaires. – No, she only listens to popular music.
  • Tu veux aller à Avignon par le train ? – Do you want to take the train to Avignon?
  • Je ne voyage qu’en voiture. – I travel only by car.
  • Ne… pas que means not only.
    • Il n’y a pas que le travail. Il faut vivre aussi. – Work isn’t all there is. You have to live too.
  • Il n’aime pas que la physique. Il adore la géographie aussi. – He doesn’t only like physics. He loves geography too.

Verbs – Irregular Verbs

Verbs – Irregular Verbs Part 1

Many French verbs do not follow the conjugation patterns as regular French verbs. These are called irregular verbs.


Aller, avoir, être, faire, prendre


Most irregular verbs have infinitives ending in –ir, -re, or –oir. The only irregular verb with an infinitive ending in –er is allerto go.

Aller to go

Je vais

Tu vas

Il/Elle/On va

Nous allons

Vous allez

Ils/Elles vont

Aller is frequently followed by a phrase of place that begins with à or en.

  • Aller à la campagne – To go to the countryside
  • Aller à Paris – To go to Paris
  • Aller en classe – To go to class
  • Aller en Champagne – To go to Champagne (the region)

French does not distinguish between location and motion toward with geographical names.

  • Je suis à Paris – I’m in Paris
  • Je vais à Paris – I’m going to Paris

Note that the same preposition is used for both.

Stuff to know:

  1. Use en before feminine names of countries: en France, en Angleterre, en Allemagne, en Russie, en Chine.
  2. Use à + the definite article before masculine and plural names of countries: aux Etats-Unis, au Canada, au Mexique, au Portugal, au Danemark, aux Pays-Bas.
  3. Use à before names of cities: à Paris, à New York, à Londres, à Berlin, à Moscou.
  4. Use à + the definite article before names of cities that have a definite article as part of their name: au Havre, au Caire, à la Nouvelle-Orléans.


Avoir and être

I covered these topics in previous posts, so for the sake of not being redundant, you can head over here to refresh avoir, and here to refresh être.


The verb faireto do, make, is one of the most common verbs in French.

Faireto do, make

Je fais

Tu fais

Il/Elle/On fait

Nous faisons

Vous faites

Ils/Elles font

  • Faire de la chimie – to study/take chemistry
  • Faire la cuisine – to do the cooking
  • Faire la grasse matinée – to sleep late/oversleep
  • Faire une promenade – to take a walk
  • Quel temps fait-il ? – What’s the weather?
  • Il fait nuit – it’s dark out
  • Faire l’idiot – to act like an idiot


The verb prendre means to take. Prendre looks like a regular –re verb by its infinitive, but its conjugation is irregular. Note that the singular forms of conjugation resemble those of regular –re verbs.

Prendreto take

Je prends

Tu prends

Il/Elle/On prend

Nous prenons

Vous prenez

Ils/Elles prennent

Prendre expresses the consumption of food and drink. English uses have for this meaning, but French does not use avoir in this sense. Example:

  • J’ai du jus d’orange. – I have orange juice. (ex: in the refrigerator)
  • Je prends du jus d’orange. – I’m having/drinking orange juice.

Prendre is also used with the names of meals:

  • Je prends le petit déjeuner chez moi. – I have breakfast at home.

Prendre can also mean to buy, especially with food.

  • Elle prend son pain chez ce boulanger-là. – She buys her food at that baker’s.
  • Je descends prendre du pain. – I’m going out to buy some bread.
  • Nous prenons des billets de théâtre. – We’re buying theatre tickets.

Prendre is used in giving directions.

  • Prenez la deuxième rue à droite jusqu’à la place. – Turn right on the second street and keep on going up to the square.