Archive | April 2016

Interrogative Adjectives & Pronouns

Interrogative Adjectives & Pronouns

Interrogative Adjectives

Just like all French adjectives quel (which, what), has to agree in number and gender with the noun it modifies.

Singular

Quel train? – Which train? (masculine)

Quelle classe? – Which class? (feminine)

Plural

Quels trains? – Which trains? (masculine)

Quelles classes? – Which classes? (feminine)


Quel(s)/Quelle(s) may also be preceded by a preposition:

  • De quel livre est-ce que vous parlez? – What book are you talking about?
  • Pour quelle compagnie travaille-t-il? – What company does he work for

Quel(s)/Quelle(s) is used before forms of être in sentences where English uses what:

  • Quelle est la différence? – What is the difference?
  • Quelles sont vos idées? – What are your ideas?

Quel(s)/Quelle(s) may also be used in exclamations, and the implication may be either positive or negative:

  • Quels restaurants! – What restaurants!
  • Quelle catastrophe! – What a catastrophe!

 


Interrogative Pronouns

French interrogative pronouns agree in gender and number with the noun they refer to.

Singular

Lequel – which (one) (masculine)

Laquelle – which (one) (feminine)

Plural

Lesquels – which (ones) (masculine)

Lesquelles – which (ones) (feminine)

  • Un de mes enfants est tombé malade. – One of my kids got sick.
  • Lequel? – Which one?
  • Mon frère travaille dans une banque. – My brother works in a bank.
  • Dans laquelle? – Which one?
  • Il y a deux robes qui sont pour toi. – There are two dresses which are for you.
  • Lesquelles? – Which ones?

The prepositions à and de contract with the interrogative pronoun:

  • Nous allons à un pays étranger. – We are going to a foreign country.
  • Auquel? – To which one?
  • J’ai besoin de ces journaux. – I need those newspapers.
  • Desquels? Il y en a tant. – Which ones? There are so many.

The following pronouns are used for whowhom in questions:

qui or qui est-ce qui – who (subject)

qui – whom (**object of verb, requires inversion of subject of the verb**)

  • Qui sort? – Who‘s going out?
  • Qui cherchez-vous? – Whom are you looking for?

Qui as object may be replaced by qui est-ce que without inversion:

  • Qui est-ce que vous cherchez? – Whom are you looking for?

The interrogative pronoun what as object of the verb rendered que (with inversion), or qu’est-ce que (without inversion):

  • Que voulez-vous? – What do you want?
  • Qu’est-ce que vous voulez? – What do you want?

What as subject of the sentence is rendered qu’est-ce qui (without inversion):

  • Qu’est-ce qui te fait mal? – What is hurting you?

Both qui and qui est-ce que can be used after prepositions. Que becomes quoi after prepositions, and qu’est-ce que becomes quoi est-ce que:

  • À qui pensez-vous? – About whom are you thinking?
  • À qui est-ce que vous pensez? – About whom are you thinking?
  • De quoi avez vous besoin? – What do you need?
  • De quoi est-ce que vous avez besoin? – What do you need?

 

As always, please feel free to leave questions or comments, as well as any requests you may have. I will be happy to accommodate!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Lesson 22 – Expressing Possession

 

Leçon 22 – Expressing Possession

Comparing to English when one says “the cat’s tail,” there is no form corresponding to the apostrophe + s in French to express possession. Instead, one would use the comparable form “the tail of the cat”.

La maison de Aurélie. – Aurelie’s house.

La chambre du bébé. – The baby’s room.

Les rues de Londres. – The streets of London.

Possessive Adjectives

Masculine Singular

  • mon, ton, son, notre, votre, leur

Feminine Singular

  • ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur

Plural

  • mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs

These words, like other adjectives, agree in number and gender with the nouns they modify. (Note: before all vowels, the forms mon, ton, son are used)

  • Son père – could mean both his father and her father
  • Sa sœur – could mean both his sister and her sister

Je cherche ma voiture. – I am looking for my car.

Où sont nos billets? – Where are our tickets?

Quelle est votre adresse? – What is your address?

Elle cherche son ami(e). She is looking for her friend.

Expressing Possession After the Verb Être

The way to show ownership after the verb être is to use à plus the prepositional form of the pronoun.

  • à moi (mine)
  • à toi (yours)
  • à lui (his
  • à elle (hers)
  • à nous (ours)
  • à vous (yours)
  • à eux (theirs masculine)
  • à elles (theirs feminine)

Ce livre est à moi. – This book is mine.

Ces papiers sont à nous. – These papers are ours.


Ownership is also expressed after être by using the proper form of the possessive pronoun:

Masculine Singular

  • le mien, le tien, le sien, le nôtre, le vôtre, le leur

Feminine Singular

  • la mienne, la tienne, la sienne, la nôtre, la vôtre, la leur

Masculine Plural

  • les miens, les tiens, les siens, les nôtres, les vôtres, les leurs

Feminine Plural

  • les miennes, les tiennes, les siennes, les nôtres, les vôtres, les leurs

Ce livre est le mien. – This book is mine.

Ces papiers sont les nôtres. – These papers are ours.

Politeness

Hello readers!

I came across this article, which is rather surprising. It’s a couple of years old, but still quite relevant. A restaurant in Nice is charging customers a different price for the same item based on how polite it is asked for. I’ve actually never seen this in person, yet I was told that there was another restaurant in Paris that were doing the same thing.

If you ask for “Un café.” you will be charged 7€, which is insane!

If you ask for “Un café. s’il vous plaît.” you will be charged 4,25€. Still crazy since “please” was said.

BUT, if you say, “Bonjour, un café, s’il vous plaît.” you will only be charged 1,40€!

I am not saying this is true for every restaurant you go to in France, not at all, but the point I am trying to make with this article is that you should mind your manners no matter where you are.

I’m interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts on this.

See you Thursday!

Courtney

Lesson 21 – Present Participle

Leçon 21 – Present Participle of Verbs


The French present participle corresponds to the English -ing form of a verb. (running, sleeping, leaving, etc.)

The present participle of most verbs is formed by dropping the –ons form of the present tense nous form and adding -ant.

  • parler → parlons → parlant
  • finir → finissons → finissant
  • rendre → rendons → rendant
  • lire → lisons → lisant
  • prendre → prenons → prenant
  • écrire → écrivons → écrivant

Irregular verbs

Luckily, there are only three irregular verbs for the present participle!

  • avoir → ayant
  • être → étant
  • savoir → sachant

The present participle can be used as an adjective or a verb. When used as an adjective, a present participle usually follows the noun or pronoun it modifies and agrees with it in gender and number.

  • de l’eau courante (courir) → running water
  • les numéros gagnants (gagner) → the winning numbers
  • des histoires touchantes (toucher) → touching stories

When used as a verb, the present participle often follows the preposition en.

En + present participle may express an action that is happening at the same time as the action of the main verb.

  • Ici on ne parle pas en travaillant→ Here people don’t talk while working.
  • En entrant dans la bibliothèque, j’ai vu mon amie Caroline. → Upon entering the library, I saw my friend Caroline.

It may also express how or why something is done.

  • J’ai fait des progrès en français en lisant beaucoup. → I made progress in French by reading a lot.

The present participle may be used without en.

  • Ayant peur d’arriver en retard, j’ai partie de très bonne heure. → Being afraid to arrive late, I left early.

The present participle may be used instead of a relative clause. In this case it is invariable. This construction is typical of formal speech and writing.

  • les trais venant de Lyon → trains coming from Lyon
  • des employés parlant anglais → employees speaking English
  • une voiture montant le boulevard → a car going up the boulevard

 

See you later this week, dear readers!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Verbs – Aller

Verbs – Aller

The verb aller is an idiomatic verb, which is one of many verbs that are frequently used which are extremely useful and require special discussion. Here is a refresher of aller.

Aller – to go

Aller is very important as the verb used for greeting and inquiring about one’s health.

  • Comment allez-vous ? – [How go you ?] – How are you?
  • Comment ça va ? – [How it goes ?] – How are you? (Colloquially – What’s up?)
  • Ça va. – [It goes.] – Fine./OK.
  • Je vais très bien, merci. – [I go very well, thanks.] – I’m very well, thank you.

Here are some more expressions which use aller.

  • Nous allons à pied. – [aller à pied – to walk; literally to go on foot] – We walk.
  • Cette robe vous va bien. – [This dress goes you well.] – This dress looks well on you.
  • Allons donc ! – [Let’s go then!] – Come now!
  • Ça va sans dire. – That goes without saying.

Aller + infinitive is also a way to express the future.

  • Je vais à Paris. – I’m going to Paris.
  • Ils ne vont pas commencer jusqu’à mon retour. – They are not going to start until I come back.

As always, please feel free to make any requests in the comment box!

Merci à vous ! A bientôt !

Courtney

French Idioms Lesson 1

Just as learning verbs, nouns, vocabulary, etc. is important to learning a new language, so is learning idiomatic expressions whose meanings cannot be translated literally. In addition to my weekly posts, I will be sharing an idioms post every week, for as many as I can find. 🙂 Let me know if you’d prefer one idiom per post, or two.

Ils étaient sur les dents

Idiomatic meaning: They were under great pressure.

Literal meaning: They were on their teeth.