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Double Object Pronouns with Reflexive Verbs

When a reflexive pronoun is an indirect object and the verb also has a direct object, that direct object can be replaced by the corresponding direct object pronoun. The reflexive pronoun always comes first.

  • Je me brosse les dents. | I brush my teeth.
  • Je me les brosse. | I brush them.

  • Il se lave la tête. | He washes his hair.

  • Il se la lave. | He washes it.

  • Elle se lime les ongles. | She files her nails.

  • Elle se les lime. | She files them.

The pronouns and en also appear with reflexive pronouns.

  • Je me suis mêlé à la conversation. | I joined in the conversation.
  • Je m’y suis  mêlé. | I joined in.

  • Ils se sont repentis de leurs actes. | They regretted their actions.

  • Ils s’en sont repentis. | They regretted them.

  • Nous nous sommes habitués à cet appartement. | We got used to that apartment.

  • Nous nous y sommes habitués. | We got used to it.

  • Vous vous doutiez de son incompétence. | You suspected his incompetence.

  • Vous vous en doutiez. | You suspected it.

  • Je me suis fait mal au bras. | I hurt my arm.

  • Je m’y suis fait mal. | I hurt it.

Commands are formed with and en as follows:

  • Arrête-toi au feu rouge. | Stop at the red light.
  • Arrête-t’y. | Stop there.

The direct object pronouns cause agreement of the past participle because they precede the verb.

  • Ils s’est acheté cette voiture. | He bought himself that car.
  • Il se l‘est achetée. | He bought it for himself.

  • Elle s’est cassé la jambe. | She broke her leg.

  • Elle se l‘est cassée. | She broke it.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Idiomatic Verbs – Etre

The verb être (to be) can also be used idiomatically in the following important idiomatic expressions:

être de retour (to be back)

  • Je serai de retour à neuf heures.
  • I shall be back at 9 o’clock.

être en retard (to be late)

  • J’espère que le train ne sera pas en retard.
  • I hope the train won’t be late.

être sur le point de (to be about to)

  • Nous étions sur le point de sortir.
  • We were about to leave.

être en train de (to be in the middle of)

  • Nous sommes en train de le décider.
  • We are (in the middle of) deciding it.

être enrhumé (to have a cold)

  • Maman est enrhumée et ne pourra pas nous accompagner.
  • Mom has a cold and will not be able to accompany us.

Note as well:

  • Ce n’est pas la peine.
  • It is not worth the effort.

Have a fantastic week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Idiomatic Verbs : Faire

Faire – to make, do

In addition to being one of the most common verbs in the French language, faire is also used in a variety of idiomatic expressions.

Most expressions of weather in French use faire.

  • Quel temps fait-il ? Il fait chaud.
  • [What weather makes it? It makes warm.] (Literally)
  • How is the weather? It’s warm.

  • Il fait beau (temps). Il fait froid.
  • [It makes good (weather). It makes cold.] (Literally)
  • The weather is fine. It’s cold

  • Il fait mauvais (temps). Il fait du vent.
  • [It makes bad (weather). It makes some wind.] (Literally)
  • The weather is bad. It’s windy

  • Il fait doux. Il fait du soleil.
  • [It makes mild. It makes some sun.] (Literally)
  • It’s mild. It’s sunny.

Other common expressions using faire:

  • Cela ne fait rien. | That doesn’t matter.
  • Cela ne me fait rien. | I don’t care.

Faire un voyage (to take a trip)

  • J’aimerais faire un voyage. | I would like to take a trip.

Faire une promenade (to take a walk)

  • Nous faisons une promenade. | We take a walk.

Faire des emplettes (to go shopping)

  • Je dois faire des emplettes cet après-midi. | I must go shopping this afternoon.

Faire mal (to hurt, be painful)

  • Est-ce que cela vous fait mal ? | Does that hurt you?

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Special Cases with “de”

Many verbs and verbal expressions require de before an infinitive complement. Among them are verbs signifying an interruption of the action expressed by the infinitive.

Special Cases with “de”

S’indiquer de is usually translated as “it makes (someone) indignant that”.

  • Le prof s’indigne de voir que nous ne travaillons pas.
  • It makes the professor indignant to see that we are not studying.

Se souvenir de is most often followed by the infinitive of the auxiliary + the past participle (the perfect infinitive).

  • Je ne me souviens pas de l’avoir vu.
  • I don’t remember having seen him.
  • Elle ne se souvient pas d’être sortie avec lui.
  • She doesn’t remember going out with him.

In French, n’oubliez pas de is used to tell someone to remember to do something.

  • N’oubliez pas de rédiger le rapport.
  • Remember to write up the report.

Bien faire de means “to be right in (doing something), to do the wise thing by (doing something)”.

  • Tu as bien faire de nous prévenir.
  • You were wise to let us know.

Venir de means “to have just (done something)”.

  • Il n’est plus là. Il vient de quitter le bureau.
  • He’s not here anymore. He has just left the office.

See you all next week, everyone. Have a good one!

A bientôt !

Courtney

The Infinitive

The French infinitive parallels many of the uses of the English present participle, which ends in -ing.

In French, the infinitive can be a verbal noun that functions as the subject of a sentence.

  • Trouver un bon travail n’est pas facile. | Finding a good job is not easy.
  • Mon but, c’est de travailler à Paris. | Working in paris is my goal.
  • Voir, c’est croire. | Seeing is believing.

The infinitive in French is used after prepositions.

  • avant de sortir | before going out

The French infinitive is often used for impersonal instructions.

  • Ralentir | Slow (on road signs)
  • Agiter avant emploi | Shake before using

The impersonal expressions il faut (one must, you have to), and il vaut mieux (it’s better to) are followed directly by an infinitive. These expressions are not conjugated for person, because impersonal il is the only possible subject. However, they are conjugated for tense.

Imparfait il fallait, il valait mieux
Passé Composé il a fallu, il a mieux valu
Futur il faudra, il vaudra mieux
Conditionnelle il faudrait, il vaudrait mieux
  • Quand est-ce que tu veux partir en vacances ? | When do you want to go on vacation?
  • J’aime prendre mes vacances en hiver. Toi ? | I like to take my vacation in the winter. How about you?
  • Moi, je préfère les prendre au printemps. | I like to take it in the spring.
  • Je déteste voyager quand il fait froid. | I hate to travel when it’s cold.
  • Tu comptes avertir Paul ? | Do you intend to alert Paul?
  • Oui, mais j’ai beau l’appeler. Il ne fait pas attention. | Yes, but it’s no use calling him. He pays no attention.
  • Il affirme pouvoir nous aider. | He affirms that he can help.
  • Nous devons accepter son offre. | We must accept his offer.
  • Il faut lui téléphoner, alors. | Then we must phone him.
  • Il vaut mieux lui envoyer un courriel. | It’s better to send him an email.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Agreement of Verbs with Collective Subject

A collective subject is a noun occurring in the singular which refers to a plural group of people or objects – e.g. the police (all those employed by the police force).

Usually in French a singular collective noun requires the third person singular of the verb, whereas English may use a plural verb.

  • La foule s’est dispersée. | The crowd has/have scattered.
  • Tout le monde a applaudi. | Everyone applauded.

When a singular collective noun is followed by de/des + plural noun, the verb may occur in either the singular or plural. There is a greater tendency to use the plural when the plural noun is qualified.

  • Un groupe de manifestants a été arrêté. | A group of protesters has/have been arrested.
  • La sélection des fromages français qui sont proposés dans ce magasin viennent surtout de Normandie. | The selection of French cheeses which are sold in this shop come mainly from Normandy.

The plural form of the verb must be used after the following collective subjects:

  • force + plural noun = many a (literary)
  • une infinité de + plural noun = a good many
  • nombre de + plural noun = many (formal)
  • un assez grand nombre de + plural noun = a substantial number of
  • le plus grand nombre/le plus grand nombre de + plural noun = the majority
  • la plupart/la plupart de + plural noun = the majority
  • quantité de + plural noun = many (formal)

La plupart des conférenciers viennent de l’étranger.| Most of the speakers/lecturers are from abroad.


Happy New Year, everyone et Bonne Année ! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Agreement of Verbs with Composite Subjects

This is part 2 of Agreement of Subject and Verb, and today I’ll be going over agreement of verbs with composite subjects.

A composite subject consists of two or more nouns or pronouns. When a verb has as its subject two or more nouns in a list or joined by et, the verb is put in the third person plural.

  • La fidélité, la générosité, et la tolérance sont des qualités importantes.
  • Fidelity, generosity, and tolerance are important qualities.

When a verb has as its subject two nouns joined by ou, the verb is put in the third person plural if ou expresses the idea of conjunction (i.e. “both… and…”).

  • La neige ou le verglas rendent cette route très dangereuse.
  • Snow or ice (i.e. both snow and ice) make this road very dangerous.

But if two nouns joined by ou are in opposition, the verb is put in the third person singular (i.e. “either… or…”).

  • Le ministre ou son député va assister à la cérémonie.
  • The minister or his deputy (i.e. either the minister or his deputy) will attend the ceremony.

When the subject of a verb is a first or second person pronoun plus another pronoun/noun, the verb agrees with the first person (if there are both first and second persons) or with the second person (if there are second and third persons). It is usual to include the pronoun nous or vous after the composite subject, before the verb.

  • Suzette et moi, nous allons au théâtre ce soir.
  • Suzette and I are going to the theatre this evening.
  • Votre frère et vous, vous pourriez ouvrir un magasin diététique.
  • You and your brother could open a health food store.

Last post of 2017! I will see you all in the new year, so be safe and have fun!

A l’année prochaine…

Courtney