Parts of a Sentence
In this grammar lesson, I will breakdown the basic elements of what makes up a sentence in French. In French grammar, words are classified into eight parts: the noun, the determiner, the adjective, the pronoun, the verb, the adverb, the preposition and the conjunction.
Le nom, en français, identifies a person, place, animal, thing, or an idea. Nouns can be proper (names of people, names of countries and cities, company names, etc.), or common nouns (things such as a book, a car, food, etc.). All French nouns have a gender, either masculine or feminine, and learning the gender for each noun is important in speaking French as all nouns have to have agreement with articles and adjectives.
The determiner is an important noun modifier which introduces and provides context to a noun, often in terms of quantity and possession. In English, the determiner would be “the”, “a”, or “an”; in French, the determiner are articles – le, la, les, un, une, de, de la, du, and des.
L’adjectif, en français, modifies a noun by describing it in size, color, and shape. In French, most adjectives follow the noun they modify. However, adjectives that describe beauty, age, number, goodness, and size all precede the noun. (C’est une belle journée, for example.)
Pronouns, or proper nouns, take the place of a noun. French pronouns are je, tu, il, elle, nous, vous, ils, elles, me, te, le, la, les, lui, leur.
I go into further detail on pronouns in Lesson 9.
In French, verbs are variable. They are affected by:
- The person (the speaker, the addressee, or others: je, tu, il, nous
- The number (singular or plural)
- The gender
- The tense (the present, past and future, etc.).
- The aspect (how the time in which an event occurs is viewed: as complete, ongoing, consequential, planned, etc.
- The mood (finite forms: indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and conditional
- The voice (a verb in the active or passive voice
Adverbs provide information about the words they modify, such as when, where, how, how often, or to what degree something is done.
When a French adverb modifies a verb, it is placed after the conjugated verb.
Example: Je regarde souvent la télé le soir. – I often watch television in the evening.
When a French adverb modifies an adjective, it is placed in front of the word it is modifying.
Example: Nous avons très bien mangé. – We ate very well.
A preposition is a word that links nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence.
Here is a great list of French prepositions.
Conjunctions are invariable words that are used to join words or clauses that have equal value: mais, ou, et, donc, or, ni, car
As a general rule, if you have a noun in French, there is virtually always an article in front of it. I have two older posts on articles here (part 1), and here (part 2).
I hope this was helpful to everyone! As always, I welcome comments of any kind. Have a great week!
À bientôt !