Archive | October 2017

Position of Adverbs

Going back to basics this week in terms of grammar.

Adverbs Qualifying Verbs

An adverb qualifying a verb in one of the simple tenses, ex.: the present, future, imperfect, or present conditional, should follow the verb.

  • Ils s’arrêtèrent brièvement. | They stopped briefly.
  • Ils arriveront inévitablement en retard. | They will inevitably arrive late.

Adverbs of place and other longer adverbs qualifying a verb in one of the compound tenses, ex.: the perfect, pluperfect, future perfect, or conditional perfect, follow the past participle.

  • Nous sommes restés ailleurs. | We stayed elsewhere.
  • Mon frère l’aurait écrit lisiblement. | My brother would have written it legibly.

Other, shorter adverbs usually come immediately before the past participle in compound tenses.

  • Je n’aurais jamais bien compris. | I should never have understood properly.
  • L’avait-elle déjà oublié ? | Hd she already forgotten it?

In all these cases, the adverb must not separate the subject and verb/auxiliary verb.

  • Nous avons demandé l’addition aussitôt. | We immediately asked for the bill.

Adverbs such as apparemment, assurément, heureusement, malheureusement, naturellement, peut-être, probablement may occur either in the regular position in relation to the verb, or (for emphasis) at the beginning of the sentence + que.

  • Il ne m’a rien dit, naturellement. | He said nothing to me, naturally.
  • Naturellement qu’il ne m’a dit rien.

Adverbs Qualifying Adjectives, Other Adverbs or Adverbial Phrases

Adverbs usually immediately precede the adjectives, other adverbs or adverbial phrases which they qualify.

  • Vous êtes parfaitement conscient de ce que vous faites ? | Are you perfectly well aware of what you are doing?
  • La voiture démarra très lentement. | The car started up very slowly.
  • Il faut revoir les chiffres, surtout à court terme. | We must review the figures, especially in the short term.

Adverbs Introducing or Qualifying a Whole Sentence

An adverb usually stands at the beginning of a sentence if it introduces or qualifies the whole sentence. This position adds emphasis to the adverb.

  • Malheureusement, je n’avais pas vérifié son adresse. | Unfortunately, I hadn’t checked his/her address.
  • Surtout, il faut se garder de réagir trop vite. | Above all, we must take care not to react too hastily.

Similarly, an adverb which provides a link with the previous statement will normally occur at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Le nouveau curé était très apprécié. Pourtant, il y avait des détracteurs. | The new priest was very well thought of. However, there were those who criticized him.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Irregular Verbs Resembling Regular Verbs

It is essential to know how to conjugate verbs in French, and more importantly how different verbs (-er, -ir, -re ending) are conjugated. There comes the dilemma when there are irregular verbs that resemble “regular” verbs, but they do not conjugate the same way.

A small number of -ir verbs have the ending of -er verbs in the present tense. The example below is ouvrir (to open).

j’ouvre nous ouvrons
tu ouvres vous ouvrez
il/elle ouvre ils/elles ouvrent

Verbs conjugated like ouvriraccueillir (to welcome), couvrir (to cover), cueillir (to gather, pick), découvrir (to discover), rouvrir (to reopen), souffrir (to suffer).


Another group of -ir verbs is conjugated like -re verbs. The example below is partir (to leave, to set out for [a destination]).

je pars nous partons
tu pars vous partez
il/elle part ils/elles partent

Verbs conjugated like partir: dormir (to sleep), mentir (to lie), repartir (to leave again), sentir (to feel), servir (to serve), sortir (to go out).


The verb mettre (to put) is conjugated like an -re verb, but it only has one t in the singular.

je mets nous mettons
tu mets vous mettez
il/elle met ils/elles mettent

Verbs conjugated like mettre: battre (to beat), combattre (to fight, combat), débattre (to debate), omettre (to omit), permettre (to permit), promettre (to promise).


The verbs convaincre (to convince) and vaincre (to conquer) have two stems. The singular stem ends in -c, and the plural stem ends in -qu.

je convaincs nous convainquons
tu convaincs vous convainquez
il/elle convainc ils/elles convainquent

Infinitives ending in -aindre-eindre, and -oindre have two stems. The singular stem ends in -n, and the plural stem ends in -gn. They follow the pattern of the verb craindre (to fear), in the following example.

je crains nous craignons
tu crains vous craignez
il/elle craint ils/elles craignent

Verbs conjugated like craindre: atteindre (to reach, attain), éteindre (to put out, extinguish), joindre (to join), peindre (to paint), plaindre (to pity), rejoindre (to rejoin).


Verbs like connaître (to know) have a singular stem ending in -ai. In the third person singular form, the -i changes to . The plural stem ends in -ss.

je connais nous connaissons
tu connais vous connaissez
il/elle connaît ils/elles connaissent

Verbs conjugated like connaître: apparaître (to appear), disparaître (to disappear), paraître (to seem, appear),  reconnaître (to recognise).


Verbs with infinitives ending in -uire like construire (to build) have two stems. The singular stem ends in -i and the plural stem ends in -s.

je construis nous construisons
tu construis vous construisez
il/elle construit ils/elles construisent

Verbs conjugated like construire: conduire (to drive), détruire (to destroy), introduire (to introduce), produire (to produce), traduire (to translate).


The verb recevoir (to receive) is conjugated similarly to devoir. Note the change of c to ç before o.

je reçois nous recevons
tu reçois vous recevez
il/elle reçoit ils/elles reçoivent

Verbs conjugated like recevoir: décevoir (to disappoint), apercevoir (to notice).


Until next week, dear readers. Have a wonderful week!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Indefinite Words & Expressions

This is actually a part 2 from a post I did a few months ago.

When an indefinite or negative word or expression is followed by an adjective, the preposition de is placed between them. The adjective is always masculine singular.

  • quelqu’un/personne d’intelligent | someone/no one intelligent
  • quelque chose/rien de délicieux | something/nothing delicious
  • Quoi de neuf ? | What’s new?
  • un je ne sais quoi de fascinant | something fascinating

The phrase d’autre translates else with quelqu’unquelque chose personnerien, and quoiquelqu’un/quelque chose/rien d’autre (someone/something/nothing else), Quoi d’autre ? (What else?). Note also ailleurs (elsewhere) and nulle part ailleurs (nowhere else). De followed by a masculine singular adjective is also used after qu’est-ce qu’il y a and ce qu’il y a.

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a de plus amusant pour les enfants que le guignol ? | What is more fun for children than a puppet show?

The word chaque means each. The corresponding pronoun (each one) is chacunchacune.

Avez-vous apporté quelque chose pour chaque enfant ? | Have you bought something for each child?

Oui, j’ai un cadeau pour chacun. | Yes, I have a gift for each (one).

The word tout has several uses in French. As an adjective it has four forms: touttoutetoustoutes.

🔵 When it directly precedes a singular noun, it means every.

  • Tout enfant doit aller à l’école. | Every child must go to school.

This is similar in meaning to tous/toutes + definite article + plural noun.

  • Tous les enfants doivent aller à l’école. | All children must go to school.

🔵 Tout/Toute + definite article + singular noun means all the, the whole. Compare tout la ville (the whole city) with toute ville (every city).

🔵 Tout/Toutes les + number:

  • Il vient tous les trois mois. | He comes every three months (every third month).
  • Prenez. C’est pour tous les deux. | Take it. It’s for both of you.
  • Nous sommes sortis tous les quatre. | All four of us went out.

🔵 Tout as a pronoun means everything.

  • J’espère que tout va bien. | I hope everything is all right.
  • Tout est en règle. | Everything is in order.

🔵 Tous as a pronoun (final s is pronounced) means everyone. It is followed by a plural verb when it is the subject of the sentence.

  • Ils sont tous revenus. | They all came back.
  • Tous on demandé de vous voir. | Everyone has asked to see you.

🔵 Tout le monde + singular verb is the most common way to express everyone. To express the whole world, French uses le monde entier.

  • Tout le monde a demandé de te voir. | Everyone has asked to see you.

Have a great week, tout le monde !

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Idiomatic Expressions

It’s good to learn the idiomatic expressions of a language you want to learn. Not everything is translated literally, and unless you learn these expressions, you’ll be left with scratching your head. So I’ve compiled a few of these helpful expressions for your reference. 🙂

Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles.

Literal translated: To have the ass surrounded by noodles.

Idiomatic expression: To be a lucky so-and-so.

Pédaler dans la semoule.

Literal translation: To pedal in semolina.

Idiomatic expression: To go around in circles.

L’habit ne fait pas le moine.

Literal translation: The habit doesn’t make the monk.

Idiomatic expression: The suit doesn’t make the man.

Chanter comme une casserole.

Literal translation: Sing like a saucepan.

Idiomatic expression: Someone who can’t sing/sings flat.

Avoir le cafard.

Literal translation: To have the cockroach.

Idiomatic expression: To feel blue/feel down.

Faut pas pousser mamie dans les orties!

Literal translation: Don’t push granny into the nettles!

Idiomatic expression: Don’t push your luck!

Être dans de beaux draps.

Literal translation: To be in beautiful sheets.

Idiomatic expression: To be in a right mess.

Noyer le poisson.

Literal translation: Drown the fish.

Idiomatic expression: Change the topic/confuse the issue.

Il pleut des cordes.

Literal translation: It’s raining ropes.

Idiomatic expression: It’s raining cats and dogs.

C’est la fin des haricots.

Literal translation: It’s the end of the beans.

Idiomatic expression: Nothing more can be done.

Il me court sur le haricot.

Literal translation: He’s running on my bean.

Idiomatic expression: He’s getting on my nerves.

Ça ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard.

Literal translation: It doesn’t break three legs of a duck.

Idiomatic expression: Nothing to write home about.

Faire une queue de poisson.

Literal translation: Make a fish tail.

Idiomatic expression: Cut someone off.

Avoir le cul entre deux chaises.

Literal translation: To have one’s ass between two chairs.

Idiomatic expression: To sit on the fence.

Revenons à nos moutons.

Literal translation: Let’s come back to our sheep.

Idiomatic expression: Let’s get back to business/get back on track.

Manger les pissenlits par la racine.

Literal translation: Eat the dandelions by the root.

Idiomatic expression: Push up daisies.

Avaler des couleuvres.

Literal translation: To swallow snakes.

Idiomatic expression: To be gullible.

Être rond comme une queue de pelle.

Literal translation: To be round as a shovel handle.

Idiomatic expression: Drunk as a skunk.


I hope everyone is having a great week! Let me know if you like posts like this, and I can make more. Also, if anyone is having difficulty understanding the idiomatic expressions in English, let me know and I’ll be happy to explain it. I know a lot of my readers come from non-English speaking countries, and English isn’t their first language.

Merci à vous !

Courtney