Adverbial Nuance – Standard Written & Spoken French (2/2)

Continuing from last week, here is part 2. Also note that any faux ami will be mentioned.

mûrement – more closely / at leisure (thinking over something)

  • J’ai mûrement réfléchi à votre proposition.
  • I’ve thought over your suggestion.

parallèlement – also / at the same time

  • Il travaille à l’hôtel le soir et poursuit parallèlement ses études.
  • He works at the hotel in the evenings, and is carrying on his studies at the same time.

ponctuellement – irregularly / from time to time [faux ami]

  • Cette troupe d’acteurs ne monte des pièces que ponctuellement.
  • This theatre company only stages performances from time to time.

proprement – literally, correctly (concerning definitions)

  • Ce bâtiment, proprement dit “Le Temple d’Adonis”, est plus connu sous le nom de “La Cachette”.
  • This building, whose correct name is “The Temple of Adonis”, is commonly known as “The Hideaway”.

scrupuleusement – thoroughly / precisely (of work done)

  • Elle a vérifié scrupuleusement tous nos comptes.
  • She checked all our accounts thoroughly.

sensiblement – noticeably / appreciably [faux ami]

  • La qualité des repas s’est sensiblement améliorée.
  • The meals have got noticeably better.

strictement – absolutely (usually with a negative)

  • Cette phrase ne veut strictement rien dire.
  • This sentence means absolutely nothing.

sûrement – certainly (with hypotheses, or a negative)

  • Il sera sûrement parti maintenant.
    • He’ll certainly have left by now. / He must have left by now.
  • Tu le feras ? | Will you do it?
    • Sûrement pas ! | Certainly not!

uniquement – only [faux ami]

  • J’ai accepté uniquement pour te faire plaisir.
  • It was only to please you that I accepted.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !



Adverbial Nuance – Standard Written & Spoken French (1/2)

Going off from last week’s lesson, adverb nuances in standard written and spoken French. This will be in two parts. And again, I will indicate any faux ami.

accessoirement – in addition

  • Il existe accessoirement deux piscines en plein air.
  • In addition there are two open-air/outdoor swimming pools.

actuellement – currently [faux ami]

  • Le nombre de chômeurs est actuellement en baisse.
  • The number of people unemployed is currently falling.

alternativement – alternately, by turns

  • Ils se relayaient pour garder les enfants alternativement.
  • They took turns looking after the children.

couramment – fluently, commonly

  • Tu parles le grec couramment ?
    • Do you speak Greek fluently?
  • C’est quelque chose qui se fait couramment en Egypte.
    • It’s something which is common practice/commonly done in Egypt.

définitivement – for good/definitively [faux ami]

  • Vous avez quitté Paris définitivement ?
  • Have you left Paris for good?

éventuellement – possibly [faux ami] (Can also be used to translate “might” or “may”.)

  • Tu auras éventuellement besoin d’argent ?
  • Might you need some money?

forcément – necessarily

  • Je ne viendrai pas forcément moi-même.
  • I shall not necessarily come myself.

globalement – all in all, overall

  • Les résultats ont été globalement positifs.
  • Overall the results have been positive.

inversement – conversely, alternatively

  • Si vous voulez rester ici, j’irai le chercher, ou inversement vous y irez et moi je resterai ici.
  • If you’d like to stay here, I’ll go and fetch him, or conversely you go and I’ll stay here.

Next week will be part 2! Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…


Adverbial Nuances – Formal Notices

Adverbs qualify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. In this lesson, we’re going to look at some common French adverbs which have particular nuances. There are cases in which the adjective from which the adverb is derived does not necessarily give the adverb’s idiomatic meaning. Then, there are a number of adverbs which are close in form to an English adverb, but slightly or notably different in meaning. Where these adverbs derive from an adjective which may be classed as a faux ami, and I will note which are a faux ami in the examples below.

Adverbs used primarily in formal notices

formellement – strictly [faux ami]

  • Il est formellement interdit de donner à manger aux animaux.
  • Feeding the animals is strictly forbidden.

incessamment – immediately

  • Toute personne non ressortissante de la C.E.E. doit se rendre incessamment au bureau de l’immigration.
  • All non-E.E.C. residents should report immediately to the immigration office.

instamment – urgently/expressly (associated with polite orders)

  • Les clients sont instamment priés de ne pas toucher aux objets exposés dans la vitrine.
  • Customers are expressly requested not to touch articles in the window.
  • Please do not touch articles in the window.

ultérieurement – later [faux ami]

  • Veuillez nous rappeler ultérieurement. (Recorded message)
  • Please call back later.

I will continue next week with more adverbial nuances. Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Très vs. Beaucoup & Merci de vs. Merci pour

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a versus post, and this week I’m bringing you two!

Très vs. Beaucoup

Très + adjective/adverb:

  • Elle est très sportive. | She is very athletic.
  • C’est très bien. | It’s very good.

Très + avoir faim, soif, peur, envie, mal, chaud, froid:

  • Tu as très faim ? | Are you very hungry?
  • Le chat a très peur. | The cat is very scared.

Beaucoup + noun/verb (Note, use de/d’ before the noun!)

  • Elle fait beaucoup de sport. |  She does a lot of sports.
  • J’aime beaucoup. | I really like.

Note: Never use très and beaucoup together!

Merci de vs. Merci pour

Merci de + infinitive

  • Merci de faire attention. | Thank you for paying attention.
  • Merci de ne pas fumer. | Thank you for not smoking.

Merci de/pour + noun

  • Merci pour/de ta visite. | Thank you for your visit.
  • Merci pour/de votre aide. | Thank you for your help.
  • Merci pour les gâteaux. | Thank you for the cakes.
  • Merci pour tout. | Thank you for everything.

Often the two prepositions are possible, but remember:

  • de + abstract noun
  • pour + concrete noun

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…



Speaking good idiomatic French requires not only a sound grasp of grammar and vocabulary, but also a sensitivity to the different registers appropriate to situations. The following lesson is a guideline on courtesy in common situations.


Saying Hello

When greeting a stranger or an adult you only slightly know, remember to include the polite title of address: Bonjour, Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle.

When a young woman ceases to be addressed as Mademoiselle, and becomes Madame, and her marital status is unknown, looks to be under or over 20-25 years old, err on the side of caution by using Madame.

For informal or closer acquaintances, it is common to say the name after the greeting.

  • Bonjour, Monsieur Gautier.
  • Bonjour, Anne.

Salut is a familiar greeting, equivalent to “Hi” in English, and much used among young people.

  • Salut, Amandine ! | Hi, Amandine!

An initial greeting is usually accompanied by a handshake if you do not know the person well, or between men. For family and closer friends, particularly two women or a woman and a man, it is usual to faire la bise – to kiss on both cheeks. The number of bises given varies from region to region, two being the minimum, four the maximum – just follow local custom!

Note that the French expect to shake hands or faire la bise not just on a first introduction, but on subsequent meetings. For example, if you work in an office, you usually shake hands with your colleagues every morning and possibly again to say goodbye in the evening.

Thank you to those who share my blog. I notice where people are being referred from, and it just makes me so happy that you all are enjoying what I’m giving you all. So thank you again! And by the way, I am so close to having two hundred posts!!!

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Verbs – Partir

This week’s post is all about the verb partir! On a personal note, when I was first learning French (15 years ago), there was a song by an indie French singer called Partir that I loved. For me it was fun to learn the meaning of the word in relation to this song.

Ok, on to the lesson!

Partir – to leave, to go out

  • Partir, c’est mourir un peu. | To leave is to die a little.
  • La navette partira dans dix minutes. | The shuttle will leave in ten minutes.
  • Mathilde est partie faire quelques courses, elle rentrera vers six heures. | Mathilde has gone to do a little shopping; she will be back around 6 o’clock.
  • Colomb était parti chercher la route des Indes. | Columbus had set out to look for the way to India.

Partir à/en/pour quelque chose/de quelque chose– to leave for/from somewhere

  • Nous partons aux Etats-Unis le mois prochain. | We will leave for the United States next month.
  • Il va partir en Argentine construire une maison. | He is leaving for Argentina to build a house.
  • Nos voisins sont partis pour la montagne. | Our neighbours have left for the mountains.
  • Quand est-ce que vous partez pour votre croisière ? | When are you leaving on your cruise?

Partir pour + infinitif – to leave to + infinitive

  • Caroline est partie en Afrique pour combattre le sous-développement. | Caroline left to fight underdevelopment in Africa.
  • Il est bien parti pour gagner le Tour de France. | He has gotten off to a good start in the Tour de France.
  • Je suis parti pour rester tout l’été à travailler. | It looks like I will be working here all summer.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Simple and Complex Sentences

A simple sentence usually consists of a single clause.

  • Le taxi vous attend, Madame.
    • The taxi is waiting for you, Madame.

A more elaborate form of the simple sentence includes several main clauses, joined together by coordinating conjunctions (et, mais, alors, puis, etc.). Although the clauses form a single sentence, the word order and construction of each individual clause is not affected by the coordination.

  • Je voulais vous téléphoner, mais j’ai perdu votre numéro.
    • I wanted to call you, but I lost your number.

Complex sentences consist of one or more main clauses and one or more subordinate clauses. A subordinate clause may be introduced by a subordinating conjunction, or by a relative pronoun.

  • L’acteur qui jouait le rôle d’Hamlet s’est foulé la cheville pendant que nous répétions le dernier acte.
    • The actor who was playing Hamlet sprained his ankle while we were rehearsing the last act.
  • Vous avez vu l’homme qui a volé mon sac ?
    • Did you see the man who stole my bag?

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…