Archive | August 2017

The Subjunctive in Adjective Clauses

There is even more to the subjunctive than we have already tapped into. I’ve discussed this not too long ago here, here, and here.

An adjective clause is a subordinate clause that describes a noun much as an adjective does. Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.

Most adjective clauses appear in the indicative:

Il a un travail qui lui plait. | He has a job that he likes.


Nous avons un bureau qui est confortable. | We have an office that’s comfortable.


Je me sers d’un ordinateur qui a beaucoup de mémoire. | I use a computer that has a lot of memory.


Il y a des entreprises ici qui font du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are firms here that trade with Mexico.

However, if the noun of the main clause in not identified or is negated, then the verb of the adjective clause appears in the subjunctive:

Il veut un travail qui lui plaise. | He wants a job that he will like.


On a besoin d’un bureau qui soit confortable. | We need an office that’s comfortable.


Je cherche un ordinateur qui ait beaucoup de mémoire. | I’m looking for a computer that has a lot of memory.


Il n’y a pas d’enterprises ici qui fassent du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are no firms here that trade with Mexico.

The subjunctive is therefore used after il n’y a rien qui/que, il n’y a personne qui/que, and il n’y a aucun/aucune X qui/que:

Il n’y a rien qui me plaise. | There’s nothing that appeals to me.


Il n’y a personne ici qui sache programmer. | There’s no one here who knows how to program.


Il n’y a aucune banque qui soit ouverte. | There’s no bank that’s open.

The indicative is used when there is no negative:

Il y a quelque chose qui me plaît. | There’s something that appeals to me.


Il y a quelqu’un ici qui sait programmer. | There’s someone here who knows how to program.


Il y a une banque qui est ouverte. | There’s a bank that’s open.


There’s even more on this subject, so be sure to come back next week for more! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

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Giving Explanations

Part 2 to last weeks post on offering and asking for explanations.

Constructions for giving explanations rely heavily on prepositions/prepositional phrases, conjunctions, or verbs of explanation.

Prepositions/Prepositional Phrases

Il n’a pa pris la voiture à cause du brouillard. | He didn’t take the cause because of the fog.


La bibliothèque sera fermée le mardi en raison des congés annuels. | The library will be closed on Tuesdays due to staff holidays.

Le stock est épuisé en vertu des demandes exceptionnelles. | Supplies have been exhausted due to exceptional demand.


Par suite d‘encombrements, nous ne pouvons pas répondre à votre appel. | Since all the lines are engaged, we cannot answer your call.


Grâce à sa générosité, nous pourrons réparer l’église. | Thanks to his generosity, we will be able to repair the church.


Les fouilles ont été achevées à l’aide d‘une prestation municipale. | The excavations were completed with the help of a grant from the local council.


Ils augmenteront leur chiffre d’affaires au moyen d‘un investissement considérable. | They’ll increase their turnover thanks to large scale investment.


Devant les accusations, il a dû retirer sa candidature. | In view of the accusations, he had to withdraw from the election.


Malgré la pluie, on est sortis. | We went out despite the rain.


Le concert a eu lieu en dépit des protestations des résidents. | The concert took place despite protests from residents.


Faute de personnel, nous sommes obligés de fermer à midi. | Due to staff shortages, we have to shut down at noon.

Conjunctions Which Indicate an Explanation

Je ne peux pas venir parce que j’ai un dîner ce soir. | I can’t come because I’ve got a dinner tonight.


Il faudra augmenter les contrôles de sécurité puisqu‘il y a un risque d’attentat. | Security risks will have to be increased since there is a risk of an attack.


Elle a reçu sa formation au Mexique, ce qui fait qu‘elle parle bien espagnol. | She did her training in Mexico, which means she speaks Spanish well.


Nous avons perdu deux employés, si bien que le courrier a pris du retard. | We’ve lost two members of staff, so we’re behind with this mail.


On a besoin d’un étudiant en sciences naturelles. Voilà pourquoi j’ai pensé à toi. | We need someone studying biology. That’s why I thought of you.


Cet auteur est très apprécié, car il traite un sujet d’actualité. | This author is highly thought of because he writes about a topical subject.


Je me chargerai des invitations, à condition que vous m’envoyiez la liste des adresses. | I’ll take care of the invitations, provided that you send me the address list.


Nous sommes rentrés hier, bien qu‘ils / quoiqu‘ils aient voulu nous garder un jour de plus. | We came back yesterday, although they wanted us to stay a day longer.


Je n’ai pas sonné de peur quede crainte que vous ne soyez déjà couché. | I didn’t ring the bell in case you were already in bed.

Verbal Constructions Used to Give an Explanation

L’érosion résulte surtout des intempéries. | The erosion is mainly caused by adverse weather.


La querelle provenait d‘un conflit de tempéraments. | The quarrel stemmed from a clash of temperaments.


Ce sujet de doléance remontait aux conditions de vie à l’époque. | This grievance could be traced to living conditions at the time.


On peut attribuer son succès à son enthousiasme. | His/Her success can be attributed to his/her enthusiasm.


La crise s’explique par le manque d’investissement. | The crisis can be explained by the lack of investment.


Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Asking for and Offering Explanations

Something to note before going into this lesson, the verb expliquer is used to translate “to explain”, but the reflexive form s’expliquer often translates to “to quarrel”, or “to have a fight”, and une explication can suggest an acrimonious change of views.

Ils se sont expliqués hier. | They fought yesterday.


Asking Someone for an Explanation

This may be a neutral request for information, or a demand that the person addressed should justify him/herself.

Est-ce que vous pourriez m’expliquer les modes d’emploi ? | Could you explain the instructions to me?


Tu peux m’expliquer ce qui se passe ? | Can you explain to me what’s happening?


Je vous demanderais de m’expliquer votre décision. | May I ask you to explain your decision?


J’espère du moins que vous pourrez expliquer votre absence. | I trust you can account for your absence.


Comment voulez-vous justifier ce retard ? | How do you intend to justify this delay?


Offering an Explanation

Here are some examples of how to give your explanation to someone.

Vous aimeriez que je vous explique la structure de notre société ? | Would you like me to explain to you our company’s structure?


Si tu veux, je peux te montrer comment l’appareil fonctionne. | If you’ like, I’ll show you how the machine works.


Permettez que je vous explique notre raisonnement. | Allow me to explain our reasoning to you.


Si vous permettez, j’essayerai d’éclairer la raison de ce malentendu ? | May I try to explain the reason for this misunderstanding?


Il voulait me fair comprendre les obstacles. | He wanted to explain the obstacles to me.


Mon collègue pourra vous rendre compte de nos progrès. | My colleague will be able to tell you about our progress.


Je dois m’excuser de ma conduite hier. | I must apologise for my conduct yesterday.


Je ne veux pas y aller. Je vais prétexter un rendez-vous. | I don’t want to go. I’ll make the excuse that I’ve got a meeting.


There will be a part 2 to this post, so be sure to come back next Thursday for that post! I hope everyone is having a great week!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Accepting Apologies

This is part 2 to last week’s Making Apologies post. This week we’ll learn what to say when we accept these apologies.

To accept an apology without reservation:

Ce n’est pas grave. | It doesn’t matter.


Je t’en prie. / Je vous en prie. | Don’t mention it./Forget it.


Il n’y a pas de quoi. | That’s alright.


Ne t’en fais pas. / Ne vous en faites pas. | Don’t worry.


N’en parlons plus. | Let’s forget it.


To accept an apology, but stress that the fault must not happen again:

Ça va, pourvu que tu ne recommences pas. (especially to children) | That’s alright, just don’t do it again.


Je vous excuse, mais vous devriez faire mieux attention à l’avenir. | I forgive you, but you should take more care in the future.


Espérons du moins que cela ne se reproduira pas. | Let’s hope it does not happen again.


Some less formal and more colloquial responses:

Pas de problème ! | No problem!


Il n’y a pas de mal ! | No harm!


Pas de soucis ! No worries!


Very short post this week. I try to bring you guys enough content in each post, so I apologise for the brevity of this post! Look at how I’m apologising on an apologies post (not intentional!). Now what would you say in response? En français. 🙂

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Making Apologies

In French, as in most languages, there are set formulae for making your apologies, and accepting those apologies of someone else.

Apologizing to Friends/Close Colleagues

Simplest form of an apology:

Oh, pardon ! | Sorry!


Je m’excuse ! | My apologies! / I’m sorry!


Je suis désolé(e) ! | I’m really sorry!

Slightly more elaborate ways of apologising and admitting responsibility:

C’est ma faute. Excuse-moi. | It’s my fault. Sorry.


Je m’en veux beaucoup. | I’m really cross with myself for it.


J’espère que tu ne m’en veux pas / ne m’en voudras pas. | I hope you’re not too upset with me.


Je suis désolé(e) de t’avoir dérangé. | I’m really sorry to have disturbed you.

There are ways to apologise and also suggest that you are not entirely to blame. You would use “Je suis désolé(e)” and one of the following examples:

Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès. | I didn’t do it on purpose/deliberately.


Je ne pouvais pas faire autrement. | I had to./There was nothing else I could do.


J’essayais simplement de vous aider. | I was only trying to help you.


Je n’avais pas le choix. | I didn’t have a choice.


More formal apologies in conversation:

Brief apology:

  • Oh, pardonnez-moi ! (ex: if you accidentally bumped into someone or stepped on their foot) | Oh, I’m sorry!
  • Excusez-moi ! (ex: when you’ve done something wrong) | I’m sorry. / My apologies.
  • C’est moi le coupable. | It’s my fault. / I’m to blame.

Come back next week for part two of this post, “Accepting Apologies”. As always, if you have a request or a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to help. 🙂 Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney