Archive | September 2016

Misused Phrases

As with anything, there are phrases in French that often get misused, or are just used incorrectly – perhaps with the idea that something literally translates the same from your native language to French. It happens, but that’s why I’m here to help.

“Bonne nuit” to say “goodbye”

This phrase does mean “good night”, but, unless you are actually heading off to bed, you should actually use the phrase “bon soir”, which means “good evening”.

Using “garçon” for “waiter”

It is terribly offensive to call your waiter “garçon”. Instead, please say “Excusez-moi, monsieur/madam.” to get your waiter’s attention.

Saying “Je suis excité(e)” to say you’re excited

This actually means that you are sexually aroused. If that’s the actual case, then by all means, you may use that! Otherwise, you should said “J’en ai hâte” which means “I can’t wait”, or “J’ai hâte __” which means “I look forward to __”. Another good and simple phrase you could use is just simply “Je suis très heureux/heureuse” (“I am very happy”).

Saying “Je suis chaud(e)/froid(e)” to say you’re hot/cold

“Je suis chaud(e)” means “I’m horny”. And similarly, “Je suis froid(e)” actually means you’re frigid! When you’re feeling a certain temperature, always use avoir to indicate this. “J’ai chaud(e)/froid(e)”.

Saying “Je suis plein(e)” to say you’re full

Saying it this way actually means “I am pregnant”. Instead you should opt for “J’ai fini”, which means “I’m done”, or “J’ai assez/trop mangé”, meaning “I ate enough/too much”.

Don’t ask for change saying “J’ai besoin de change”

Don’t use the above phrase if you need change for a large bill. Whomever you say this to may think you need a change of clothing. Instead use “J’ai besoin de monnaie” (“I need change”.) Or you can also use “J’ai besoin de faire du change”.

Don’t say “Je suis…ans” to tell your age

Always use avoir when stating your age. “J’ai…ans”… “I have…years”. The phrase above is just incorrect grammar.

Using the verb “visiter” in reference to people

The verb visiter (to visit) is used for places and monument, sightseeing. It is not to be used to say you are visiting people. Instead, say “Je vais voir…” (“I am going to see…”), or “…rendre visite à…” which is used to visit people.


Let me know if you like posts like this and I will make more!

Have an amazing week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Verbs – Faire

Verbs post this week and it’s all about faire. Faire is a verb you will be using all the time in daily conversation, so it is important to understand how it works.

Faire

je fais nous faisons
tu fais vous faites
il/elle/on fait ils/elles font

 


Faire (+ infinitive) – to make, to do

  • Qu’est-ce que vous faites pour Noël ?
  • What are you doing for Christmas?
  • Est-ce que tu as fais ton lit ?
  • Did you make your bed?
  • Essaie de lui faire comprendre notre point de vue.
  • Try to get him to understand our point of view.

Faire quelque chose à quelqu’un – to do something to someone

  • Il a fait beaucoup de peine à ses parents.
  • He has hurt his parents terribly.
  • Quand je suis rentré, elle m’a fait une véritable scène.
  • When I got home, she had a fit.

Faire quelque chose avec/de quelque chose – to make something with/of something

  • Tu veux faire des chiffons de mes chemises préférées ?
  • You want to use my favourite shirts to make rags?

Etre fait pour quelque chose/pour + infinitive – to be made for/to + infinitive

  • Je ne suis vraiment pas fait pour ce genre de travail.
  • I am not cut out for this kind of work.
  • Christophe n’est pas fait pour vivre à Paris.
  • Christopher is not made to live in Paris.

Se faire + infinitive – to have something done

  • Il était temps qu’Alain se fasse couper les cheveux.
  • It was time for Alan to get a hair cut.

Se faire à quelque chose – to get used to something

  • Est-ce que vous faites à la vie américaine ?
  • Have you gotten used to the American way of life?

Have a wonderful week, everyone! And happy first day of Autumn!

A la prochaine,

Courtney

Lesson 32 – The Imperative

Leçon 32 – L’impératif

The imperative form is used for demands, giving orders, and addressing one or more people directly.

The imperative of almost all French verbs is easy to form – you drop the subject pronoun (tu, nous, or vous) of present tense forms. This is true for both affirmative and negative commands. The nous command is the equivalent of “let’s (not) do ___ ” in English.

  • Réfléchis avant d’agir. N’agis pas sans réfléchir.
  • Think before you act. Don’t act without thinking.
  • Ne m’interrompez pasNe dites rien.
  • Don’t interrupt meDon’t say anything.
  • N’attendons plus. Choisissons un cadeau pour maman aujourd’hui.
  • Let’s not wait any longer. Let’s choose a gift for mom today.

Most imperatives are regular in speech. However, the written forms have one orthographic change: the informal imperative (tu form) of –er verbs loses the final s of the present tense ending. The s is also lost in the informal imperative of aller and of –ir verbs conjugated like –er verbs, such as ouvrirsouffrir, etc.

  • N’ouvre pas la porte. Demande qui c’est d’abord.
  • Don’t open the door. Ask who it is first.
  • Va au bureau et donne cette lettre à la secrétaire.
  • Go to the office and give this letter to the secretary.

Some verbs had irregular imperative forms.

Command Form Command Form Command Form Command Form
Person être avoir savoir vouloir
tu sois aie sache veuille*
nous soyons ayons sachons
vous soyez ayez sachez veuillez*

*Sometimes veux and voulez are used as command forms for vouloir.


Veuillez + infinitive is used to add a polite note to the imperative,  just like “please” in English. This form is possible, but not common, since the imperative of vouloir has a formal tone.

  • Veuillez attendre en bas.
  • Please wait downstairs.
  • Veuillez répondre dans le plus brefs délais.
  • Please answer as soon as possible.

The infinitive of the verb, rather than the command form, is often used as an imperative in written French to express commands/instructions to the general public, such as instructions for use (directions on medicine bottles, or road signs, for example).

  • Agiter avant d’ouvrir.
  • Shake before opening.
  • Tenir la droit.
  • Keep right.

I hope you guys found this post to be helpful. I have noticed a spike in views to this blog, possibly due to la rentrée! To anyone new to this blog, feel free to follow me, bookmark this page, or even leave requests for posts you’d like to see here.

Have an amazing week, everyone!

A la prochaine !

Courtney

Lesson 31 – Prepositional Phrases

Leçon 31 Prepositional Phrases

Prepositional phrases, also known as compound phrases, consist of two or more words,the last of which is normally the preposition de or à.

d’après – according to

  • D’après mon collègue, l’information est fausse.
  • According to my colleague, the news is wrong.

au bord de – by / alongside

  • Il aime passer ses vacances au bord de la mer.
  • He likes spending his vacation by the sea.

auprès de – near

  • Elle préfère une table auprès de la fenêtre.
  • She prefers a table near the window.

à cause de – because of

  • Je suis arrivé en retard à cause d‘un accident.
  • I arrived late because of an accident.

à côté de – beside / in comparison with

  • Vous habitez à côté de l’église?
  • Do you live beside the church?
  • A côté des Français, les Américains consomment peu du vin.
  • In comparison with the French, Americans consume very little wine.

en dehors de – outside / except for

  • Est-ce que vous voyez Jérôme en dehors du travail?
  • Do you see Jerome outside of work?
  • Nous fréquentons peu les gens de Lille en dehors de quelques vieux amis.
  • We have very little contact with people from Lille except for a few old friends.

au delà de – beyond

  • Vous arriverez au delà des Alpes en deux heures.
  • You’ll get beyond the Alps in two hours.

au-dessous de – below

  • Au-dessous de mon balcon il y a l’entrée de la pharmacie.
  • The entrance to the pharmacy is below my balcony.

au-dessus de – above

  • L’abeille passait au-dessus de la tête.
  • The bee flew above my head.

à l’exception de – with the exception of / except for

  • A l’exception de 2005, aucune mesure de gestion n’a été requise de 2000 à 2016.
  • With the exception of 2005, no management actions were required between 2000 and 2016.
  • Notre position à cet égard est négative, à l’exception de quelques cas particulier.
  • We take a negative view of this with the exception of certain special instances.

face à – faced with / given

  • Face à ce problème, comment voulez-vous que je réagisse?
  • Faced with/Given this problem, how do you expect me to react?

en face de – opposite

  • Le parking se trouve en face de la gare.
  • The parking lot is opposite the station.

faute de – for lack of

  • Faute de personnel, nous sommes obligés de fermer le mardi.
  • We have to shut down on Tuesdays due to lack of staff.

en fonction de – in relation to/according to

  • Le salaire sera décidé en fonction de votre expérience professionnelle.
  • The salary will be fixed in relation to/according to your professional experience.

grâce à – thanks to

  • Grâce à votre générosité, nous avons remboursé sur la maison.
  • Thanks to your generosity, we have paid off the home loan.

à l’insu de – unknown to

  • A l’insu de ses parents, Caroline s’était acheté une voiture.
  • Unknown to her parents, Caroline had bought a car.

jusqu’à – up to/as far as

  • Notre jardin s’étend jusqu’à la rivière.
  • Our garden stretches as far as the river.

au lieu de – instead of

  • Je prendrai un poulet au lieu du rôti de boeuf.
  • I’ll buy a chicken instead of roast beef.

le long de / au long de – along/throughout

  • Nous avon remarqué de jolies villas le long de la route.
  • We noticed some pretty villas along the road.
  • Il n’a cessé d’interrompre tout au long de la réunion.
  • He kept interrupting throughout the meeting.

lors de – during / at the time of

  • Lors de la Révolution, cette prison fut détruite.
  • During/At the time of the Revolution, this prison was destroyed.

à partir de – as from

  • Voici mon numéro de téléphone à partir de demain.
  • Here’s my phone number as from tomorrow.

près de – near

  • L’arrêt de bus se trouve près de l’Hôtel de Ville.
  • The bus stop is near City Hall.

à propos de – about

  • J’ai entendu beaucoup de choses que tu a dit à propos de moi.
  • I heard a lot of things you said about me.

quant à – as for

  • Quant aux résultats, téléphonez-moi demain.
  • As for the results, call me tomorrow.

à raison de – at the rate of

  • Les ouvriers sont payés à raison de 20€ par pièce.
  • The workers are paid at the rate of 20€ an item.

en raison de – because of

  • L’expérience a été abandonnée en raison du mauvais temps.
  • The experiment was cancelled because of bad weather.

par rapport à – in comparison with

  • Par rapport à l’année dernière, nous avons augmenté notre part du marché.
  • In comparison with last year, we’ve increased our share of the market.

au sujet de – about

  • Le directeur veut vous parler au sujet des examens.
  • The school director wants to speak to you about the exams.

à travers – across / through

  • A travers les siècles notre ville a beaucoup évolué.
  • Our town has greatly developed through / over the centuries.

Have a lovely rest of the week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Lesson 30 – Comparison of Adjectives, Adverbs, Nouns, & Verbs

Leçon 30

An object or a person may be seen as having more, less, or the same amount of a characteristic as another object or person. To express this, French and English use comparative constructions.

To make comparisons of superiority, French uses the construction plus + adjective + que.

  • Le boulevard est plus large que notre rue.
  • The boulevard is wider than our street.

To make comparisons of inferiority, French uses the construction moins + adjective + que.

  • Mais le boulevard est moins large que l’autoroute.
  • But the boulevard is less wide than the highway.

To make comparisons of equality, French uses the construction aussi + adjective + que.

  • Le boulevard est aussi large que l’avenue de la République.
  • The boulevard is as wide as the Avenue of the Republic.

The adjectives bon and mauvais have irregular comparative forms:

bon(ne)(s) → meilleur(e)(s) mauvais(e)(s) → pire(s)
  • Ce restaurant est meilleur que l’autre.
  • This restaurant is better than the other one.
  • Le bruit est pire ici que dans mon quartier.
  • The noise is worse here than in my neighbourhood.

Adverbs are compared in the same way as adjectives.

  • Elle répond plus poliment que lui.
  • She answers more politely than he does.
  • Elle répond moins poliment que lui.
  • She answers less politely than he does.
  • Elle répond aussi poliment que lui.
  • She answers as politely than he does.

The adverbs bien and mal have irregular comparative forms: mieux (better) and pire (worse). Pire may be replaced by plus mal. The comparative of beaucoup is plus, and the comparative of peu is moins.

  • On dit que Mme Gautier enseigne mieux que M. Richard.
  • They say that Mrs. Gautier teaches better than Mr. Richard.
  • J’en doute. Ses étudiants écrivent pire (plus mal) que les étudiants de M. Richard.
  • I doubt it. Her students write worse than Mr. Richard’s students do.

When verbs are compared, autant replaces aussi in comparisons of equality.

  • Je travaille plus/moins que toi.
  • I work more/less than you.
  • Je travaille autant que toi.
  • I work as much as you.

The comparison of nouns resembles the comparison of verbs. De is used before the noun.

  • Il a plus/moins de soucis que nous.
  • He has more/fewer worries as we do.
  • Il a autant de soucis que nous.
  • He has as many worries as we do.

In comparisons, que may be followed by a noun, a stressed pronoun, a demonstrative or possessive pronoun, a prepositional phrase, or an adjective. For adjectives, the adjective functions as a noun.

  • La robe rouge est plus chic que le vert.
  • The red dress is more stylish than the green one.
  • Les petits enfants étudient autant que les grands.
  • The little kids study as much as the big kids.
  • Ce roman est moins intéressant que ceux de l’autre auteur.
  • This novel is not as interesting as the ones by the other author.

I hope you guys found this post to be helpful. Any and all feedback is welcome.

Have a great week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney