Archive | February 2017

Comparative Forms of Adjectives

In French, the comparative form of adjectives requires plus/moins before the regular form.

  • Cette rue est plus longue que l’autre.
  • This road is longer than the other.
  • Cette ville est moins propre que la nôtre.
  • This city is less clean/not as clean as ours.

If the comparison uses “so much more/less (adjective)… than”, use tellement plus/moins (adjective)… que.

  • Ce nouveau bâtiment est tellement plus joli que l’ancien.
  • This new building is so much prettier than the old one.
  • Mon jardin est tellement moins bien organisé que le tien.
  • My garden is so much less well organised than yours.

There are several adjectives that have irregular comparatives.

The comparative form of bon is irregular: meilleur.

  • Ce vin est meilleur que celui de l’année dernière.
  • This wine is better than last year’s.

The adjective mauvais has the regular comparative form plus mauvais, and also an irregular form: pire.

  • Cet album est plus mauvais que le dernier.
  • This album is worse than the last.
  • Le comportement du nouvel élève était encore pire.
  • The new student’s behaviour was even worse.
  • Vous avez entendu la dernière nouvelle ? C’est pire.
  • Did you hear the latest news? It’s worse.

Petit has the regular comparative form plus petit, which is always used for references to physical size.

  • Anne est plus petite qu’Estelle.
  • Anne is smaller than Estelle.

There is also the irregular comparative form moindre, which is rarely used, used normally  in literary style.

  • Ce détail est d’un moindre intérêt.
  • This detail is of less interest.

I hope everyone is well. Stay safe!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Negation of Adjectives

For adjectives occurring after the noun they qualify, there may exist an antonym, or a negative form.

  • les cheveux courts/longs – short/long hair
  • une réponse admissible/inadmissible – an acceptable/unacceptable reply
  • une personne contente/mécontente – a happy/unhappy person

If such a form doesn’t exist, the adjective can be negated by peu, especially in formal usage:

  • une proposition peu rentable (formal) – an unprofitable proposal
  • un employé peu disposé à s’adapter (formal) – an employee unwilling to adapt

In a less formal usage, it would be more common to negate the verb:

  • Cette proposition n’est pas rentable. – This proposal isn’t profitable.

I hope everyone is doing well this week. As always, feel free to ask questions or request a lesson. Have a great week!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Devoir vs. Falloir

It’s a brand new round of versus! This week we’ll be discussing the differences between verbs devoir and falloir. Both verbs share “obligation” in their meaning, but they are each different in their own right.

Devoir expresses obligation when followed by an infinitive:

  • Je dois travailler si je veux avoir de bonnes notes.
  • I have to work hard if I want good grades.
  • Je dois chercher ma fille à l’école.
  • I have to collect my daughter from school.
  • Nous devons gagner plus cette année.
  • We should earn more this year.

Falloir means “to need”, “to be necessary”. Since falloir is an impersonal verb, it only has one conjugation for each tense and mood – third person singular, and may be followed by an infinitive, the subjunctive, or a noun. It is more formal than devoir.

  • Il faut que tu arrives avant 18h00.
  • You have to arrive before 6:00PM.
  • Il faut se dire au revoir; le train va partir.
  • We have to say goodbye; the train is about to leave.

Preceding a noun, falloir means “to need”.

  • Qu’est-ce qu’il te faut ?
  • What do you need?
  • Il me faut un stylo.
  • I need a pen.

If you’d like a little practice, here is a short exercise on Devoir. I will try to find more related exercises for each weekly post from now on. 🙂

Have a great week!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Reflexive Verbs with Reciprocal Meaning

In the plural, reflexive verbs may convey a reciprocal meaning equivalent to “each other” in English.

  • Vous vous contactez souvent ?
  • Do you contact each other often?
  • Oui, nous nous téléphonons toutes les semaines.
  • Yes, we phone each other every week.
  • Le chef et les employés vont se parler aujourd’hui ?
  • Are the boss and the employees going to talk to each other today?
  • Oui, ils se sont donné rendez-vous à 14h00.
  • Yes, they have made an appointment (to see each other) at 2 o’clock.

In my last example, ils se sont donné rendez-vous there is no agreement of the past participle because the reflexive pronoun se is an indirect object. To determine whether or not the past participle agrees with passé composé, determine if the non-reflexive verb takes a direct or an indirect object. In this case, donner takes an indirect object of the person (donner quelque chose à quelqu’un), so se is an indirect object.

More examples:

  • voir quelqu’un – ils se sont vus.
    • Quelqu’un is a direct object; the past participle agrees with the preceding direct object se.
  • écrire à quelqu’un – ils se sont écrit.
    • Quelqu’un is an indirect object; there is no agreement of the past participle because se is an indirect object.

In the colloquial style where on replaces nouson se may have a reciprocal (“each other”) meaning:

  • On s’aime beaucoup.
  • We love each other very much.
  • On ne se ment pas.
  • We don’t lie to each other.

Below is a list of some reciprocal verbs. Note that anything marked with an asterisk * indicates that the reflexive pronoun is an indirect object.

  • *s’acheter des cadeaux – to buy gifts for each other
  • s’aider – to help each other
  • s’aimer – to love each other
  • se comprendre – to understand each other
  • se connaître – to know each other
  • se détester – to hate each other
  • *se donner rendez-vous – to make an appointment to see each other
  • *s’écrire – to write to each other
  • s’entraider – to help each other
  • *s’envoyer des courriels – to send each other emails
  • *se faire mal – to hurt each other
  • *se mentir – to lie to each other
  • *se parler – to speak to each other
  • *se poser des questions – to ask each other questions
  • se pousser – to push each other
  • se regarder – to look at each other
  • se rencontrer – to meet/run into each other
  • *se ressembler – to look alike
  • se retrouver – to meet (by appointment)
  • *se téléphoner – to phone each other
  • se voir – to see each other

Merci à vous ! A la prochaine…

Courtney