Tag Archive | Advanced French

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 !


Colloquialisms & Idioms

à un de ces quatre ! – see you someday!

  • Je dois y aller. À un de ces quatre !
  • I should go that. See you someday!

des fringues – clothes

  • Ève adore acheter des fringues.
  • Ève loves to buy clothes.

faire la grasse matinée – to sleep late/in

  • Demain c’est dimanche, donc on fait la grasse matinée !
  • Tomorrow is Sunday, so we’re sleeping in!

le cerveau en compote – brain turned to mush

  • J’ai trop étudié le français aujourd’hui, j’ai le cerveau en compote !
  • I studied too much French today. My brain turned to mush!

rater le coche – to miss the boat

  • J’ai manqué une belle opportunité, j’ai vraiment raté le coche !
  • I missed a great opportunity. I really missed the boat!

le bide – the belly

  • J’ai mangé trop de chocolat et maintenant j’ai mal au bide !
  • I ate too much chocolate and now my belly hurts!

une friandise – sweets/candy

  • Lucie a offert une boîte de friandises à Robert.
  • Lucie offered Robert a box of sweets/candy.

un costard – a suit

  • Pour cette soirée, il prévoit de mettre son plus beau costard.
  • For this soirée, he plans to wear his best suit.

un rencard – a date

  • Jacques a acheté des roses, il a un rencard ce soir avec Sandrine.
  • Jacques bought roses. He has a date with Sandrine tonight.

avoir la pêche – to feel great

  • J’ai bien dormi, j’ai la pêche !
  • I slept well. I feel great!

Happy new year, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Adverbial Phrases of Manner Used to Replace Adverbs

When an adverb is three or more syllables in length, it can be cumbersome in a sentence. There is a tendency to avoid excessive use of long adverbs, replacing them by adverbial phrases.

To express the manner in which an action is performed, for example, you can use d’une façon + adjective or d’une manière + adjective.

  • Elle réussit d’une façon inévitable. | She inevitably succeeded.
  • Il le refusa d’une manière peu polie. | He rudely refused.

With verbs of speech, adverbs may be replaced by d’un ton + adjective or d’une voix + adjective.

  • Le capitaine lui parla d’un ton irrité. | The captain spoke to him irritably.
  • D’une voix douce, elle lui expliqua la vérité. | She gently explained the truth to him.

With reference to people’s facial expressions, adverbs may be replaced by d’un air + adjective.

  • Ils le regardèrent d’un air furieux. | They looked at him furiously.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !



grignoter – to nibble

  • Le bonheur est une petite chose qu’on grignote, assis par terre, au soleil.
  • Happiness is a small thing that we nibble, sitting on the ground, in the sun.

drolatique – humorous

  • Cette histoire présente un personnage drolatique.
  • This story presents a humorous character.

panser – to heal

  • Le temps panse les blessures du cœur.
  • Time heals the wounds of the heart.

la téloche – television

  • Il y a un bon film à la téloche ce soir ?
  • Is there a good movie on TV tonight?

le muguet – lily of the valley

  • Le 1er mai la tradition en France est de s’offrir des brins de muguet.
  • On May 1st, the tradition in France is to offer strands of lily of the valley.

chelou – weird, suspicious, fishy

  • Elle est chelou ton histoire, j’ai du mal à te croire !
  • She is suspicious of your story, I don’t believe you!

les pompes – shoes

  • J’ai sali mes pompes en faisant du sport.
  • I dirtied my shoes while playing sports.

avoir un coup de barre – feel tired all of a sudden

  • Je me suis levé à 5h00, j’ai un coup de barre maintenant.
  • I woke up at 5:00AM. I feel tired all of a sudden.

quitte à – even if

  • Nous allons vous préparer un bon gâteau, quitte à passer la journée dans la cuisine !
  • We will prepare a good cake, even if spending the entire day in the kitchen!

se grouiller – to hurry up

  • Grouille-toi, tu es vraiment en retard !
  • Hurry up, you’re very late!

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Use of the Pluperfect and Past Anterior

Both the pluperfect and the past anterior correspond to the English pluperfect, “I had done/I had been doing”. That is to say that they refer to an action which happened at a point in the past earlier than that referred to by the previous or subsequent verb in the past historic or perfect.

  • Il s’était déjà installé quand je suis arrivé. | He had already settled in when I arrived.
  • Aussitôt qu’il fut parti, elle nous téléphona. | As soon as he had left, she telephoned us.

In some cases, English may use the preterite in place of the pluperfect, but French always uses the pluperfect/past anterior to denote the appropriate time sequence.

  • Lundi j’ai retrouvé le dossier que vous aviez préparé l’année dernière. | On Monday I came across the file which you prepared/had prepared last year.

In spoken French, only the pluperfect, not the past anterior, is used. Because the past anterior uses the past historic to form the auxiliary, it is associated with formal written French. It should be used in formal written French in place of the pluperfect if the following circumstances all apply:

  • you would otherwise use the pluperfect, referring to a single completed action in the past (not a repeated habitual action)
  • the main narrative tense of the passage is the past historic (not the perfect)
  • the clause which requires the past anterior is introduced by one of the following time conjunctions: aussitôt que/ dès que (as soon as), après que (after), à peine que (hardly), quand/lorsque (when):
    • Dès qu‘il eut annoncé sa décision de vendre la maison, des agents immobiliers s’empressèrent de le contacter.
      • As soon as he had announced his decision to sell the house, estate agents rushed to make contact with him.
    • A peine se fut-elle couchée que le bruit recommença.
      • Hardly had she gone to bed when the noise started again.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !