Archive | December 2016

Verbs Conjugated With Etre

As we all know, there are verbs in French that are conjugated with avoir and être. Most verbs are conjugated with avoir, but there are a select few verbs that get conjugated with être, and for some it’s difficult to remember which ones get conjugated with être. These verbs are motion verbs, with the exception of the verbs “marcher” (to walk), and “quitter” (to leave/abandon).

If anyone reading this has ever taken a formal French class, you may have heard your professor speak of the acronym to help you remember which verbs get conjugated with être; this acronym is DR MRS VANDERTRAMP. If you’ve never heard of this, then here it is!

Devenir – to become

Revenir – to return/come back


Monter – to climb/go up/ascend

Rentrer – to return/re-enter/go home/go back

Sortir – to go out/go/leave/exit


Venir – to come/come along

Arriver – to arrive/turn up/show up

Naître – to be born/arise

Descendre – to descend/go down/move down/dismount

Entrer – to enter/go in/come in

Retourner – to return/go back/come back

Tomber – to fall/tumble/topple

Rester – to stay/remain

Aller – to go

Mourir – to die/pass away/perish

Partir – to leave/depart/head out/take off


Last post of the year! I wish you all the best as we all wrap up 2016. I will see you all in the new year with new weekly posts!

A la prochaine !

Courtney

Bon vs. Bien

A new versus! This one even stumps advanced French students. Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion you may have.

Bon

With a noun:

  • J’ai mangé dans un bon restaurant. – I ate at a good restaurant.
  • J’ai regardé une bonne émission. – I watched a good episode/programme.

With ‘être’:

  • To say something is delicious:
    • Cette pomme est bonne. – This apple is good.
  • To say something is ready or ok:
    • C’est bon ? On y va ? – Are you ready? Shall we go?
  • To say something is correct or is of good quality:
    • Ta dissertation est bonne. – Your essay is good.

Bien

With a verb:

  • Elle chante bien. – She sings well.
  • Je patine bien. – I skate well.

With ‘être’:

  • To say something is cool, nice, or interesting:
    • Ce film est bon. – This movie is good.
    • Cette peinture est bien. – This painting is cool.
    • Ton appartement est bien. – Your apartment is nice.

Hopefully this short but sweet versus post was at least helpful for everyone. Whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you a happy one! Happy solstice as well!

A la prochaine !

Courtney

Uses of Inversion

Inversion of the subject and verb occurs in a number of contexts, in some cases being obligatory, and in other cases it’s a mark of good formal style. Inversion can be simple or complex. Simple inversion means that the subject and verb are inverted, whether the subject is a noun or pronoun. Complex inversion means that the subject and verb are inverted if the subject is a pronoun, but that if the subject is a noun, the corresponding pronoun must be supplied to make the inversion.

When inversion is obligatory:

Simple inversion occurs when a verb such as “she said”/”he thought” is given after some direct speech or thought. Note that the inversion is necessary even if only one or two words of the direct speech or thought have occurred:

  • “Pourquoi”, demanda-t-il, “n’êtes-vous pas resté chez Madame Gautier ?”
  • “Why,” he asked, “didn’t you stay with Mrs. Gautier?”
  • “J’aimerais vous parler”, dit Françoise.
  • “I’d like to speak to you,” said Françoise.

Similarly, if the form “it appears/seems” occurs part of the way through a sentence, simple inversion is required:

  • Il y a, paraît-il, un conflit.
  • There is, it appears, a conflict.
  • Lucille avait menti, semblait-il, lors du procès.
  • Lucille had lied, it seemed, during the trial

Complex inversion is necessary when any of the following adverbs or adverbial phrases are the first item in the clause or sentence. However, if they occur later in the clause or sentence, the word order is unchanged.

  • aussi – and so
  • du moins – at least
  • à peine – scarcely
  • peut-être – perhaps
  • sans doute – probably/doubtless
  • toujours – nonetheless
  • Sans doute aimeriez-vous voir la maison ?
  • Vous aimeriez sans doute voir la maison ?
  • You would probably like to see the house?

With peut-être and à peine, inversion may be replaced by que + standard declarative word order. This construction is common in informal speech writing:

  • Peut-être qu’il a oublié notre rendez-vous. (informal)
  • Perhaps he’s forgotten our meeting.
  • A peine que j’ai reçu la nouvelle, mon frère m’a téléphoné. (informal)
  • I’d scarcely received the news when my brother called me.

When inversion is optional:

The following adverbs and adverbial phrases are commonly followed by complex inversion when they are the first item in the clause or sentence. However, the inversion is not obligatory:

  • ainsi – thus
  • (et) encore – even so
  • rarement – rarely
  • en vain/vainement – in vain
  • Ainsi la vedette a-t-elle annoncé sa retraite.
  • Ainsi, la vedette a annoncé sa retraite.
  • And so/Thus the star has announced her retirement.

After the relative pronouns que, ce que, dont, ce dont, où, simple inversion may occur when the subject is a noun (not a pronoun). This use of inversion tends to occur in formal style when the subject is substantially longer than the verb:

  • Je citai l’exemple du village où habitait mon grand-père maternel. (formal)
  • I gave the example of the village where my maternal grandfather was living.

Similarly, simple inversion may be used in the second half of a comparison (after que), especially when the subject is longer than the verb:

  • Ce produit est plus toxique que ne l’a dit le ministère de la santé. (formal)
  • This product is more toxic than the ministry of health has said.

Take care, everyone, and have a great week!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Double Object Pronouns

Double object pronouns occur when using direct and indirect object pronouns with the same verb.

When a sentence contains two object pronouns, the pronouns take the following order:

me

te

le, l’

lui

se

before

la, l’

before

leur

before

y

before

en

nous

les

vous

Double object pronouns follow the same rules of position as single object pronouns:

  • Est-ce que ton père te prête la voiture ?
  • Does your father lend you the car?
  • Non, il ne me la prête jamais.
  • No, he never lends it to me.
  • Tu vas donner les cadeaux aux enfants ?
  • Are you going to give the gifts to the children?
  • Oui, je vais les leur donner.
  • Yes, I’m going to give them to them.
  • Sandrine a sa calculatrice ?
  • Does Sandrine have her calculator?
  • Oui, je la lui ai rendue hier.
  • Yes, I returned it to her yesterday.
  • Nos cousins ont besoin d’argent.
  • Our cousins need money.
  • Nous pouvons leur en envoyer.
  • We can send them some.
  • C’est une très belle avenue.
  • This is a very beautiful avenue.
  • Oui, nous nous y promenons souvent.
  • Yes, we often take a walk here.

There are some restrictions on the use of object pronouns. The object pronouns metenousvousluileur cannot follow a reflexive pronoun. The preposition à or de plus a stressed pronoun is used instead. En does not replace de plus animate noun when the de is part of a verbal expression, such as s’approcher de and avoir peur de.

  • Je me fie à ce dictionnaire → Je m’y fie
  • Je me fie à ce médecin → Je me fie à lui
  • J’ai peur des avions → J’en ai peur
  • J’ai peur de nos professeurs → J’ai peur d’eux
  • Nous nous approchons de la ville → Nous nous en approchons
  • Nous nous approchons de notre père → Nous nous approchons de lui

Object pronouns in affirmative commands:

In affirmative commands, object pronouns follow the verb and are joined to it with a hyphen. Me and te become moi and toi after the command.

  • Dites-nous ce qui est arrivé.
  • Tell us what happened.
  • Les journaux ? Mettez-les sur la table.
  • The newspapers? Put them on the table.
  • Aidez-moi !
  • Help me!

Although the final -s of the tu form is usually dropped in the imperative of -er verbs, it is restored (and pronounced) before y and en in affirmative commands.

  • J’ai envie de manger des pommes.
  • I feel like eating apples.
  • Achètes-en.
  • Buy some.
  • J’aime mes vacances en Bretagne.
  • I love my vacation in Brittany.
  • Restes-y plus longtemps.
  • Stay there longer.

When an affirmative command contains two object pronouns, the pronouns take the order shown in the chart below. Moi en becomes m’en and toi en becomes t’en in affirmative commands.

moi

toi

le, l’

lui

la, l’

before

nous

before

y

before

en

les

vous

leur

  • Je viens de recevoir mes photos.
  • I’ve just received my photos.
  • Montre-les-moi.
  • Show them to me.
  • Regarde, j’ai du jus de fruits.
  • Look, I have some fruit juice.
  • Donne-m’en. J’ai très soif.
  • Give me some. I’m very thirsty.
  • Je peux me servir de ton stylo ?
  • May I use your pen?
  • Volontiers. Sers-t’en.
  • Gladly. Use it.

In affirmative commands, y is replaced by  or là-bas after me/moite/toilela if y refers to a place.

  • Tu vas être à la bibliothèque ?
  • Are you going to the library?
  • Oui, attends-moi là-bas.
  • Yes, wait for me there.

I hope you are all having a great week!

À la prochaine,

Courtney

The Superlative

In English, the superlative is expressed by adding -est to an adjective or adverb (ex: small → smallest; slow → slowest), or by adding the words “most” or “least” in front of the adjective or adverb (ex: beautiful → most beautiful; happy → least happy).

The superlative in French is expressed by placing the definite article and the words plus or moins in front of the adjective or adverb.

  • Je crois que c’est la région la plus pittoresque du pays.
  • I think that this is the most picturesque region in the country.
  • Eric est le plus grand élève de la classe.
  • Eric is the tallest student in the class.
  • Aurélie lit le plus vite.
  • Aurélie reads the fastest.

The form of the definite article (le, la, les) used depends upon the noun which follows, to which the adjective refers and with which it agrees in gender and number. However, the article is always le in adverbial superlative expressions.


Irregular Comparative and Superlative Forms

The comparative and superlative forms of the adjective bon (good) and the comparative of the adverb bien (well) are irregular in both French and English.

Positive

Comparative

Superlative

Adjective

Bon (good)

Meilleur (better, masculine)

Le meilleur (the best, masculine)

Meilleure (better, feminine)

La meilleure (the best, feminine)

Adverb

Bien (well)

Mieux (better)

Le mieux (the best)

  • Si nous allions à un meilleur restaurant, nous mangerions mieux.
  • If we went to a better restaurant, we would eat better.
  • Félicitations, je te souhaite le mieux !
  • Congratulations, I wish you the best!

Happy first day of December! As we get closer to wrapping up this year, I’d like to hear from you guys – what you like, what you don’t like, what you’d like to see more of. I want to make this blog work for everyone and their needs.

Merci à vous !

Courtney