Tag Archive | Français

Indefinite Words & Expressions

This is actually a part 2 from a post I did a few months ago.

When an indefinite or negative word or expression is followed by an adjective, the preposition de is placed between them. The adjective is always masculine singular.

  • quelqu’un/personne d’intelligent | someone/no one intelligent
  • quelque chose/rien de délicieux | something/nothing delicious
  • Quoi de neuf ? | What’s new?
  • un je ne sais quoi de fascinant | something fascinating

The phrase d’autre translates else with quelqu’unquelque chose personnerien, and quoiquelqu’un/quelque chose/rien d’autre (someone/something/nothing else), Quoi d’autre ? (What else?). Note also ailleurs (elsewhere) and nulle part ailleurs (nowhere else). De followed by a masculine singular adjective is also used after qu’est-ce qu’il y a and ce qu’il y a.

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a de plus amusant pour les enfants que le guignol ? | What is more fun for children than a puppet show?

The word chaque means each. The corresponding pronoun (each one) is chacunchacune.

Avez-vous apporté quelque chose pour chaque enfant ? | Have you bought something for each child?

Oui, j’ai un cadeau pour chacun. | Yes, I have a gift for each (one).

The word tout has several uses in French. As an adjective it has four forms: touttoutetoustoutes.

🔵 When it directly precedes a singular noun, it means every.

  • Tout enfant doit aller à l’école. | Every child must go to school.

This is similar in meaning to tous/toutes + definite article + plural noun.

  • Tous les enfants doivent aller à l’école. | All children must go to school.

🔵 Tout/Toute + definite article + singular noun means all the, the whole. Compare tout la ville (the whole city) with toute ville (every city).

🔵 Tout/Toutes les + number:

  • Il vient tous les trois mois. | He comes every three months (every third month).
  • Prenez. C’est pour tous les deux. | Take it. It’s for both of you.
  • Nous sommes sortis tous les quatre. | All four of us went out.

🔵 Tout as a pronoun means everything.

  • J’espère que tout va bien. | I hope everything is all right.
  • Tout est en règle. | Everything is in order.

🔵 Tous as a pronoun (final s is pronounced) means everyone. It is followed by a plural verb when it is the subject of the sentence.

  • Ils sont tous revenus. | They all came back.
  • Tous on demandé de vous voir. | Everyone has asked to see you.

🔵 Tout le monde + singular verb is the most common way to express everyone. To express the whole world, French uses le monde entier.

  • Tout le monde a demandé de te voir. | Everyone has asked to see you.

Have a great week, tout le monde !

A la prochaine…

Courtney

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Idiomatic Expressions

It’s good to learn the idiomatic expressions of a language you want to learn. Not everything is translated literally, and unless you learn these expressions, you’ll be left with scratching your head. So I’ve compiled a few of these helpful expressions for your reference. 🙂

Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles.

Literal translated: To have the ass surrounded by noodles.

Idiomatic expression: To be a lucky so-and-so.

Pédaler dans la semoule.

Literal translation: To pedal in semolina.

Idiomatic expression: To go around in circles.

L’habit ne fait pas le moine.

Literal translation: The habit doesn’t make the monk.

Idiomatic expression: The suit doesn’t make the man.

Chanter comme une casserole.

Literal translation: Sing like a saucepan.

Idiomatic expression: Someone who can’t sing/sings flat.

Avoir le cafard.

Literal translation: To have the cockroach.

Idiomatic expression: To feel blue/feel down.

Faut pas pousser mamie dans les orties!

Literal translation: Don’t push granny into the nettles!

Idiomatic expression: Don’t push your luck!

Être dans de beaux draps.

Literal translation: To be in beautiful sheets.

Idiomatic expression: To be in a right mess.

Noyer le poisson.

Literal translation: Drown the fish.

Idiomatic expression: Change the topic/confuse the issue.

Il pleut des cordes.

Literal translation: It’s raining ropes.

Idiomatic expression: It’s raining cats and dogs.

C’est la fin des haricots.

Literal translation: It’s the end of the beans.

Idiomatic expression: Nothing more can be done.

Il me court sur le haricot.

Literal translation: He’s running on my bean.

Idiomatic expression: He’s getting on my nerves.

Ça ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard.

Literal translation: It doesn’t break three legs of a duck.

Idiomatic expression: Nothing to write home about.

Faire une queue de poisson.

Literal translation: Make a fish tail.

Idiomatic expression: Cut someone off.

Avoir le cul entre deux chaises.

Literal translation: To have one’s ass between two chairs.

Idiomatic expression: To sit on the fence.

Revenons à nos moutons.

Literal translation: Let’s come back to our sheep.

Idiomatic expression: Let’s get back to business/get back on track.

Manger les pissenlits par la racine.

Literal translation: Eat the dandelions by the root.

Idiomatic expression: Push up daisies.

Avaler des couleuvres.

Literal translation: To swallow snakes.

Idiomatic expression: To be gullible.

Être rond comme une queue de pelle.

Literal translation: To be round as a shovel handle.

Idiomatic expression: Drunk as a skunk.


I hope everyone is having a great week! Let me know if you like posts like this, and I can make more. Also, if anyone is having difficulty understanding the idiomatic expressions in English, let me know and I’ll be happy to explain it. I know a lot of my readers come from non-English speaking countries, and English isn’t their first language.

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Uses of the Subjunctive in Adverb Clauses

An adverb is a subordinate clause that modifies a verb much as an adverb does. Adverbial clauses are introduced by adverbial conjunctions that express time, cause, means, purpose, or consequences such as whenhowbecausein order thatprovided thatwhile, etc.

Certain French adverbial conjunctions are always followed by the subjunctive.

  • à condition que – on the condition that, provided that
  • à moins que – unless
  • afin que – so that, in order that (formal)
  • avant que – before
  • bien que/quoique – although, even though
  • de crainte que – for fear that
  • en attendant que – until
  • encore que – although
  • jusqu’à ce que – until
  • malgré que – in spite of the fact that, although
  • pour que – so that, in order that
  • pourvu que – provided that, as long as
  • sans que – without

Ce n’est pas la peine de nous réunir à moins que tout le monde lise les articles du journal électronique.

It doesn’t pay for us to have a meeting unless everyone reads the articles online.


Discutions le projet avant que le conseiller revienne.

Let’s discuss the project before the consultant returns.


Je vais télécharger ce logiciel bien qu’il soit un peu vieux.

I’m going to download this software even though it’s a bit old.


Pour que vous puissiez me contacter je vous donnerai l’adresse de mon compte email.

So that you can contact me, I’ll give you my email address.


Je vais allumer mon ordinateur pour que vous consultiez le tableur.

I’m going to turn on my computer in order for you to consult the spreadsheet.


Je te dirai tout ce qui m’est arrivé pourvu que tu ne racontes ça à personne.

I’ll tell you what happened to me as long as you don’t tell anyone.


Ton ordinateur ne va pas fonctionner sans que vous y installiez ce nouveau système d’exploitation.

Your computer won’t work without you installing this new operating system.


If the subjects of both clauses are the same, the subordinate clause is usually replaced by an infinitive.

Je ne peux pas commencer mon travail sans déboguer ce programme.

I can’t begin my work without debugging this program.


Qu’est-ce que je dois faire pour télécharger la base de données ?

What do I have to do to download the database?


Ne quittez pas votre ordinateur avant d’effacer tous ce fichiers.

Don’t leave your computer without deleting all those files.


Tu ne pourras pas devenir consultant à moins d’avoir un bon ordinateur portatif.

You won’t be able to become a consultant unless you have a good laptop.


I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

The Past Subjunctive

Continuing on from last week’s post on the Subjunctive, we’ll be going over the past subjunctive.

The past subjunctive in French is the subjunctive of the passé composé. It consists of the subjunctive of the auxiliary verb (avoir or être) plus the past participle. The same rules of agreement apply as in the passé composé.

parler, finir, vendre

  • que j’aie parlé, fini, vendu
  • que tu aies, fini, vendu
  • qu’il/elle/on ait parlé, fini, vendu
  • que nous ayons parlé, fini, vendu
  • que vous ayez parlé, fini, vendu
  • qu’ils/elles aient parlé, fini, vendu

aller

  • que je sois allé(e)
  • que tu sois allé(e)
  • qu’il soit allé
  • qu’elle soit allée
  • qu’on soit allé(s/es)
  • que nous soyons allé(e)s
  • que vous soyez allé(e)(s)
  • qu’ils soient allés
  • qu’elles soient allées

The past subjunctive is used in the same types of subordinate clauses as the present subjunctive. It is used to indicate that the action of the subordinate clause happened before the action of the main clause.

J’ai peur qu’il parte. | I’m afraid he’ll leave.

J’ai peur qu’il soit parti. | I’m afraid he left.


Il est triste que tu ne puisses pas aller. | It’s sad that you can’t go.

Il est triste que tu n’aies pas pu. | It’s sad that you couldn’t go.


Je ne crois pas qu’ils viennent. | I don’t think they’ll come.

Je ne crois pas qu’ils soient venus. | I don’t think they came.


Nous doutons que l’équipe perde. | We doubt that the team will lose.

Nous doutons que l’équipe ait perdu. | We doubt that the team has lost.


Elle est contente que tu comprennes. | She’s happy that you understand.

Elles est contente que tu aies compris. | She’s happy that you understood.


There will be a couple more posts on this subject coming up in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that. Also, I’m taking requests for posts! I hope everyone’s having a great week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

The Subjunctive in Adjective Clauses

There is even more to the subjunctive than we have already tapped into. I’ve discussed this not too long ago here, here, and here.

An adjective clause is a subordinate clause that describes a noun much as an adjective does. Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.

Most adjective clauses appear in the indicative:

Il a un travail qui lui plait. | He has a job that he likes.


Nous avons un bureau qui est confortable. | We have an office that’s comfortable.


Je me sers d’un ordinateur qui a beaucoup de mémoire. | I use a computer that has a lot of memory.


Il y a des entreprises ici qui font du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are firms here that trade with Mexico.

However, if the noun of the main clause in not identified or is negated, then the verb of the adjective clause appears in the subjunctive:

Il veut un travail qui lui plaise. | He wants a job that he will like.


On a besoin d’un bureau qui soit confortable. | We need an office that’s comfortable.


Je cherche un ordinateur qui ait beaucoup de mémoire. | I’m looking for a computer that has a lot of memory.


Il n’y a pas d’enterprises ici qui fassent du commerce avec le Mexique. | There are no firms here that trade with Mexico.

The subjunctive is therefore used after il n’y a rien qui/que, il n’y a personne qui/que, and il n’y a aucun/aucune X qui/que:

Il n’y a rien qui me plaise. | There’s nothing that appeals to me.


Il n’y a personne ici qui sache programmer. | There’s no one here who knows how to program.


Il n’y a aucune banque qui soit ouverte. | There’s no bank that’s open.

The indicative is used when there is no negative:

Il y a quelque chose qui me plaît. | There’s something that appeals to me.


Il y a quelqu’un ici qui sait programmer. | There’s someone here who knows how to program.


Il y a une banque qui est ouverte. | There’s a bank that’s open.


There’s even more on this subject, so be sure to come back next week for more! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Giving Explanations

Part 2 to last weeks post on offering and asking for explanations.

Constructions for giving explanations rely heavily on prepositions/prepositional phrases, conjunctions, or verbs of explanation.

Prepositions/Prepositional Phrases

Il n’a pa pris la voiture à cause du brouillard. | He didn’t take the cause because of the fog.


La bibliothèque sera fermée le mardi en raison des congés annuels. | The library will be closed on Tuesdays due to staff holidays.

Le stock est épuisé en vertu des demandes exceptionnelles. | Supplies have been exhausted due to exceptional demand.


Par suite d‘encombrements, nous ne pouvons pas répondre à votre appel. | Since all the lines are engaged, we cannot answer your call.


Grâce à sa générosité, nous pourrons réparer l’église. | Thanks to his generosity, we will be able to repair the church.


Les fouilles ont été achevées à l’aide d‘une prestation municipale. | The excavations were completed with the help of a grant from the local council.


Ils augmenteront leur chiffre d’affaires au moyen d‘un investissement considérable. | They’ll increase their turnover thanks to large scale investment.


Devant les accusations, il a dû retirer sa candidature. | In view of the accusations, he had to withdraw from the election.


Malgré la pluie, on est sortis. | We went out despite the rain.


Le concert a eu lieu en dépit des protestations des résidents. | The concert took place despite protests from residents.


Faute de personnel, nous sommes obligés de fermer à midi. | Due to staff shortages, we have to shut down at noon.

Conjunctions Which Indicate an Explanation

Je ne peux pas venir parce que j’ai un dîner ce soir. | I can’t come because I’ve got a dinner tonight.


Il faudra augmenter les contrôles de sécurité puisqu‘il y a un risque d’attentat. | Security risks will have to be increased since there is a risk of an attack.


Elle a reçu sa formation au Mexique, ce qui fait qu‘elle parle bien espagnol. | She did her training in Mexico, which means she speaks Spanish well.


Nous avons perdu deux employés, si bien que le courrier a pris du retard. | We’ve lost two members of staff, so we’re behind with this mail.


On a besoin d’un étudiant en sciences naturelles. Voilà pourquoi j’ai pensé à toi. | We need someone studying biology. That’s why I thought of you.


Cet auteur est très apprécié, car il traite un sujet d’actualité. | This author is highly thought of because he writes about a topical subject.


Je me chargerai des invitations, à condition que vous m’envoyiez la liste des adresses. | I’ll take care of the invitations, provided that you send me the address list.


Nous sommes rentrés hier, bien qu‘ils / quoiqu‘ils aient voulu nous garder un jour de plus. | We came back yesterday, although they wanted us to stay a day longer.


Je n’ai pas sonné de peur quede crainte que vous ne soyez déjà couché. | I didn’t ring the bell in case you were already in bed.

Verbal Constructions Used to Give an Explanation

L’érosion résulte surtout des intempéries. | The erosion is mainly caused by adverse weather.


La querelle provenait d‘un conflit de tempéraments. | The quarrel stemmed from a clash of temperaments.


Ce sujet de doléance remontait aux conditions de vie à l’époque. | This grievance could be traced to living conditions at the time.


On peut attribuer son succès à son enthousiasme. | His/Her success can be attributed to his/her enthusiasm.


La crise s’explique par le manque d’investissement. | The crisis can be explained by the lack of investment.


Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Asking for and Offering Explanations

Something to note before going into this lesson, the verb expliquer is used to translate “to explain”, but the reflexive form s’expliquer often translates to “to quarrel”, or “to have a fight”, and une explication can suggest an acrimonious change of views.

Ils se sont expliqués hier. | They fought yesterday.


Asking Someone for an Explanation

This may be a neutral request for information, or a demand that the person addressed should justify him/herself.

Est-ce que vous pourriez m’expliquer les modes d’emploi ? | Could you explain the instructions to me?


Tu peux m’expliquer ce qui se passe ? | Can you explain to me what’s happening?


Je vous demanderais de m’expliquer votre décision. | May I ask you to explain your decision?


J’espère du moins que vous pourrez expliquer votre absence. | I trust you can account for your absence.


Comment voulez-vous justifier ce retard ? | How do you intend to justify this delay?


Offering an Explanation

Here are some examples of how to give your explanation to someone.

Vous aimeriez que je vous explique la structure de notre société ? | Would you like me to explain to you our company’s structure?


Si tu veux, je peux te montrer comment l’appareil fonctionne. | If you’ like, I’ll show you how the machine works.


Permettez que je vous explique notre raisonnement. | Allow me to explain our reasoning to you.


Si vous permettez, j’essayerai d’éclairer la raison de ce malentendu ? | May I try to explain the reason for this misunderstanding?


Il voulait me fair comprendre les obstacles. | He wanted to explain the obstacles to me.


Mon collègue pourra vous rendre compte de nos progrès. | My colleague will be able to tell you about our progress.


Je dois m’excuser de ma conduite hier. | I must apologise for my conduct yesterday.


Je ne veux pas y aller. Je vais prétexter un rendez-vous. | I don’t want to go. I’ll make the excuse that I’ve got a meeting.


There will be a part 2 to this post, so be sure to come back next Thursday for that post! I hope everyone is having a great week!

A bientôt !

Courtney