Tag Archive | Elementary French

The Preposition à

Continuing from last weeks post with the preposition à.

The preposition à also:

  • Is used with nouns derived from verbs or with infinitives as a replacement for a subordinate clause.
    • à mon arrivée | when I got there (upon my arrival)
    • à notre retour | when we got back (upon our return)
    • à l’entendre chanter | when I heard him/her sing (upon hearing him/her sing)
    • à la réflexion | if you think about it (upon second thought)
  • Translates as at and to with certain nouns.
    • à ma grande surprise, joie | to my great surprise, joy
    • à sa consternation | to his dismay
    • à la demande de tous | at everyone’s request
  • Expresses a standard for judging or knowing (and means by, according to, from)
    • reconnaître quelqu’un à sa voix | to recognise someone by his/her voice
    • à ce que j’ai compris, il ne viendra pas | from what I understood, he won’t come
    • juger quelque chose aux résultats | to judge something by the results

Here are some idioms and useful expressions with à:


  • se couper au doigt | to cut one’s finger
  • qui est à l’appareil ? | who’s calling?
  • à côté | next door, nearby
  • à côté de | next to
  • à deux pas de chez moi | right near my house
  • être à la page | to be up to date
  • à la une | on the front page (newspapers, news websites)


  • à la fois | at the same time, at once
  • à l’instant | a moment ago
  • à ses heures (libres) | in one’s free time
  • à plusieurs reprises | several times
  • à tout moment | all the time

It was requested that I make more posts from last weeks blog post, so I will be working on that over the next few weeks. I thank you in advance for your patience!

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…



Prepositions : à

The preposition à has many uses in French. Remember its contractions: à + le → auà + les → auxÀ is also used before infinitives in many constructions.

Expresses direction and location in space:

  • aller à la banque | to go to the bank
  • être à la banque | to be at the bank

Labels distance in time and space:

  • habiter à quinze kilomètres de Paris | to live fifteen kilometers from Paris
  • être à trois heures de Nice | to be three hours from Nice

Expresses the point in time at which something happens (clock time, age):

  • à quelle heure le train part-il ? | what time does the train leave?
  • arriver à 7n heures du soir | to arrive at 7 in the evening
  • à dix-huit ansat (the age of) eighteen

Expresses the manner or style in which something is done:

  • manger à la française | to eat French style
  • coucher à quatre dans une chambre | to sleep four to a room

Labels the principal ingredient in a dish or a characteristic feature:

  • un sandwich au fromage | a cheese sandwich
  • une glace aux fraisesstrawberry ice cream
  • la femme au chapeau | the woman in (wearing) the hat
  • une chemise à manches longues | a long-sleeved shirt

Expresses possession or belonging to someone:

  • ce stylo est au prof | this pen is the professor’s
  • c’est bien gentil à toi | that’s really nice of you

Expresses the means by which something is done:

  • fait à la main | made by hand
  • aller à bicycletteà pied | to go by bikeon foot
  • écrire au crayon | to write in pencil

Is used in expressions of measurement:

  • faire du 70 à l’heure | to do 70 kilometers an hour
  • vendre au kiloau mètre | to sell by the kilogramby the meter
  • être payé au mois | to be paid monthly
  • un à unpeu à peu one by one little by little

Indicates the purpose for which an object is intended:

  • une tasse à thé | a teacup
  • sandwichs à emporter | sandwiches to take out

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Uses of the Indefinite Article

As in English, in French the indefinite article refers to a noun which has not been specifically identified. Note that the plural form “some” is frequently omitted in English, but must always be included in French.

  • J’ai acheté des pêches et des poires.
  • I bought peaches and pears.

The indefinite article must also be included before a noun followed by de + a singular abstract noun which is qualified.

  • Elle a une mère d’une tolérance exceptionnelle.
  • Her mother is exceptionally tolerant. (Literally: She has a mother of exceptional tolerance.)

  • Il est d’une patience admirable.
  • He has admirable patience. (Literally: He is of an admirable patience.)

So sorry for the very short post this week. I’ve been very sick with the flu this week and forgot all about planning, but I am doing much better now. 🙂

As always, have a great week, everyone, and stay healthy!

Merci à vous !


Agreement of Subject & Verb – Impersonal Verbs

In French, the form of the verb changes according to the subject, voice, tense, and mood.

Impersonal Verbs

Impersonal verbs have as their subject the neuter pronoun il (it/there). An impersonal verb can therefore only be used in the third person singular form, or as an infinitive or participle. It is important to distinguish between verbs which are used only in the impersonal form, and those which may be used in this form or with other subjects.

The following verbs are used only impersonally:

s’agir il s’agit de (+ noun) it is a question of
y avoir il y a there is/are
falloir il faut it is necessary
neiger il neige it is snowing

Other verbs occur in their common, literal meaning only with an impersonal subject:

geler il gèle it is freezing
pleuvoir il pleut it is snowing

As in English, some French verbs admit either a personal or an impersonal subject:

  • arriver
    • il va arriver un accident | there’s going to be an accident
    • un accident va arriver | an accident is going to happen
  • exister
    • il existe plusieurs solutions | there are several solutions
    • plusieurs solutions existent | several solutions exist
  • se passer
    • il s’est passé quelque chose de remarquable
    • quelque chose de remarquable s’est passé
    • something remarkable has happened
  • se trouver
    • il se trouvait dans le parc une vieille statue | there was an old statue in the park
    • une vieille statue se trouvait dans le parc | an old statue was/stood in the park

Be sure to come back next week for part 2 (of three) on this subject. Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place tell where something happens.

ailleurs – elsewhere, somewhere else ici – here
autour – around – there
d’ailleurs – besides là-bas – over there
dedans – inside loin – far away
dehors – outside n’importe où – anywhere
derrière – behind nulle part – nowhere
dessous – below nulle part ailleurs – nowhere else
dessus – above partout – everywhere
devant – in front partout ailleurs – everywhere else
en bas – down, downstairs près – near
en haut – up, upstairs quelque part – somewhere

In everyday language, both spoken and written, ici is often replaced by .

  • Je regrette, mais Mme Chartier n’est pas .
  • I’m sorry, but Mrs. Chartier is not here.

Là- can be added to some of the above adverbs of place.

  • là-dedans – in there
  • là-dessous – underneath there
  • là-dessus – on top of it, on it
  • là-haut – up there

I hope you all enjoyed this short lesson for this week. Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time tell when or in what order something happens.

actuellement – at present enfin – at last, finally
alors – then ensuite – next, following that
après – after, afterwards hier – yesterday
après-demain – the day after tomorrow jamais – never
aujourd’hui – today longtemps – for a long time
auparavant – previously, beforehand maintenant – now
aussitôt – immediately n’importe quand – anytime
autrefois – formerly, in the past parfois – sometimes
avant – before précédemment – previously
avant-hier – the day before yesterday quelquefois – sometimes
bientôt – soon rarement – rarely, seldom
d’abord – at first récemment – recently
de bonne heure – early souvent – often
déjà – already, ever tard – late
demain – tomorrow tôt – early
dernièrement – lately toujours – always
désormais – from now on tout à l’heure – a short while ago, very soon
encore – still, yet, again tout de suite – immediately
encore une fois – again

Adverbs of time usually follow the verb, but they often occur at the beginning of sentences.

  • Je vais quelquefois au théâtre. → Quelquefois je vais au théâtre.
  • Il travaillait auparavant à Lyon. → Auparavant il travaillait à Lyon.

Many phrases expressing points in time function as adverbial phrases.

  • le week-end
  • en semaine – during the week
  • la semaine dernière/prochaine – last week/next week
  • toute la journée
  • tous les ans
  • tous les mois
  • toutes les semaines
  • le lendemain – the day after
  • la veille – the evening before
  • le matin/l’après-midi
  • le soir/la nuit
  • tous les jours
  • une fois, deux fois, etc.
  • une/deux fois par semaine/mois
  • mardi
  • le mardi
  • mardi prochain
  • mardi dernier

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


The Use and Position of Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner ending in -ment and the adverbs bienmalmieuxpis, and vite usually directly follow the verb they modify. In compound tenses, short adverbs usually follow the auxiliary verb, and the longer verbs usually follow the past participle.

  • Julie et Eric se disputent constammant. | Julie and Eric argue constantly.
  • Après le dîner, ils se sont disputés amèrement et Julie a vite quitté le salon. | After dinner, they argued bitterly, and Julie quickly left the living room.

When the adverb modifies an adjective or another adverb, it precedes the word it modifies.

  • Cette lettre est très importante. | This letter is very important.
  • Les spectateurs étaient profondément émus. | The audience was deeply moved.

Adverbs of manner ending in -ment can be replaced by avec plus the corresponding noun.

  • joyeusement → avec joie
  • discrètement → avec discrétion
  • violemment → avec violence
  • amèrement → avec amertume

Sans + noun is often the equivalent of English adverbs ending in -lessly or English adverbs formed from negative adjectives.

  • sans espoir – hopelessly
  • sans hésitation – unhesitatingly
  • sans honte – shamelessly
  • sans succès – unsuccessfully

D’une façond’une manièred’un ton, or d’un air plus an adjective may be used in place of an adverb or when no adverb exists.

  • d’une façon compétente – completely
  • d’un ton moqueur – mockingly
  • d’une manière compatible – compatibly
  • d’un aire indécis – indecisively

Wishing you all a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…