Tag Archive | French Grammar

Irregular Verbs Resembling Regular Verbs

It is essential to know how to conjugate verbs in French, and more importantly how different verbs (-er, -ir, -re ending) are conjugated. There comes the dilemma when there are irregular verbs that resemble “regular” verbs, but they do not conjugate the same way.

A small number of -ir verbs have the ending of -er verbs in the present tense. The example below is ouvrir (to open).

j’ouvre nous ouvrons
tu ouvres vous ouvrez
il/elle ouvre ils/elles ouvrent

Verbs conjugated like ouvriraccueillir (to welcome), couvrir (to cover), cueillir (to gather, pick), découvrir (to discover), rouvrir (to reopen), souffrir (to suffer).

Another group of -ir verbs is conjugated like -re verbs. The example below is partir (to leave, to set out for [a destination]).

je pars nous partons
tu pars vous partez
il/elle part ils/elles partent

Verbs conjugated like partir: dormir (to sleep), mentir (to lie), repartir (to leave again), sentir (to feel), servir (to serve), sortir (to go out).

The verb mettre (to put) is conjugated like an -re verb, but it only has one t in the singular.

je mets nous mettons
tu mets vous mettez
il/elle met ils/elles mettent

Verbs conjugated like mettre: battre (to beat), combattre (to fight, combat), débattre (to debate), omettre (to omit), permettre (to permit), promettre (to promise).

The verbs convaincre (to convince) and vaincre (to conquer) have two stems. The singular stem ends in -c, and the plural stem ends in -qu.

je convaincs nous convainquons
tu convaincs vous convainquez
il/elle convainc ils/elles convainquent

Infinitives ending in -aindre-eindre, and -oindre have two stems. The singular stem ends in -n, and the plural stem ends in -gn. They follow the pattern of the verb craindre (to fear), in the following example.

je crains nous craignons
tu crains vous craignez
il/elle craint ils/elles craignent

Verbs conjugated like craindre: atteindre (to reach, attain), éteindre (to put out, extinguish), joindre (to join), peindre (to paint), plaindre (to pity), rejoindre (to rejoin).

Verbs like connaître (to know) have a singular stem ending in -ai. In the third person singular form, the -i changes to . The plural stem ends in -ss.

je connais nous connaissons
tu connais vous connaissez
il/elle connaît ils/elles connaissent

Verbs conjugated like connaître: apparaître (to appear), disparaître (to disappear), paraître (to seem, appear),  reconnaître (to recognise).

Verbs with infinitives ending in -uire like construire (to build) have two stems. The singular stem ends in -i and the plural stem ends in -s.

je construis nous construisons
tu construis vous construisez
il/elle construit ils/elles construisent

Verbs conjugated like construire: conduire (to drive), détruire (to destroy), introduire (to introduce), produire (to produce), traduire (to translate).

The verb recevoir (to receive) is conjugated similarly to devoir. Note the change of c to ç before o.

je reçois nous recevons
tu reçois vous recevez
il/elle reçoit ils/elles reçoivent

Verbs conjugated like recevoir: décevoir (to disappoint), apercevoir (to notice).

Until next week, dear readers. Have a wonderful week!

A bientôt !



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…


The Conditional Perfect

The conditional perfect tense in French consists of the conditional of the auxiliary verbs avoir or être + the past participle. The past participle follows the same agreement rules as in the passé composé.


j‘aurais parlé, fini, vendu nous aurions parlé, fini, vendu
tu aurais parlé, fini, vendu vous auriez parlé, fini, vendu
il/elle/on aurait parlé, fini, vendu ils/elles auraient parlé, fini, vendu


je serais parti(e), rentré(e), allé(e) nous serions parti(e)s, rentré(e)s, allé(e)s
tu serais parti(e), rentré(e), allé(e) vous seriez parti(e)(s), rentré(e)(s), allé(e)(s)
il serait parti, rentré, allé ils seraient partis, rentrés, allés
elle serait partie, rentrée, allée elles seraient parties, rentrées, allées
on serait parti(s/es), rentré(s/es), allé(s/es)

The conditional perfect expresses the idea would have spoken, would have finished, would have sold. In other words, it labels actions that did not take place, but that would have or could have taken place if certain conditions had been met.

Moi, je n’aurais pas fait ça. | I wouldn’t havedone that.

Personne ne l’aurait compris. | Nobody would have understood him.

Tu lui aurais dit la vérité, toi ? | Would you have told her the truth?

In journalistic language, the conditional perfect may be used to express an assertion that the writer sees as alleged but not yet verified, one deriving from sources rather than investigation. The English equivalent is usually the present perfect tense.

L’enterprise aurait demandé un prêt considérable. | The company had asked (implication – it is rumoured) for a large loan.

Selon des sources en générale bien informées, des officiels de l’ONU auraient été à la solde de régimes brutaux du Moyen-Orient. | According to usually knowledgeable sources, UN officials have been on the payroll of brutal Middle Eastern regimes.

See you all next week, everyone!

A bientôt !


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


  • 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 !


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…


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 !


Compound & Complex Sentences

This week let’s learn about what makes up compound and complex sentences.

There are two types of conjunctions that join sentences together: Coordinating conjunctions & Subordinating conjunctions.

Coordinating conjunctions create compound sentences, sentences in which neither clause is subordinate to the other. Typical coordinating conjunctions are etmais, and ou.

Je suis allé(e) à son bureau et j’ai demandé une interview. | I went to his office and asked for an interview.

Nous, on est sortis, mais elle, elle est restée à la maison. | We went out, but she stayed home.

Laissez-moi travailler ou je m’en vais. | Let me work, or I’ll leave.

The French equivalent of not only… but also is non seulement… mais aussi.

Non seulement il fait froid, mais il neige aussi. | It’s not only cold, but it’s also snowing.

The conjunction ou may be expanded to ou alors.

Laissez-moi travailler ou alors je m’en vais. | Let me work, or else I’ll leave.

Ou bien adds a note of emphatic exclusion of one of the alternatives. It may appear at the head of both conjoined sentences.

Ou bien c’est lui qui ment ou bien c’est elle. | Either he’s lying or she is.

Ou bien je reste locataire ou bien je deviens propriétaire. | Either I continue being a tenant or I become an owner.

Soit…soit also conjoins two sentences with the meaning either…or.

Soit ils le savaient déjà, soit ils ont reçu un courriel à cet égard. | Either they knew it already or they got an email about it.

Subordinating conjunctions embed a sentence within a larger sentence, and that embedded sentence is then dependent on, or subordinate to, the main clause. This is called a complex sentence. The most common subordinating conjunction in French is que.

Que is followed by the indicative after verbs that emphasize the truth value of the subordinate clause, like savoiraffirmerconfirmerdéclarer, and  jurer.

  • Nous savons qu‘ils aiment la France. | We know they like France.
  • Il affirme qu‘il n’y est pour rien. | He affirms that he is not at all to blame.
  • Je confirme que j’ai vendu ma maison. | I am confirming that I sold my house.
  • Elle a déclaré qu‘elle était l’auteur du message. | She declared that she was the author of the message.
  • Je jure que je le lui ai rendu. | I swear that I returned it to him.

Subordinating conjunctions that express cause and result also introduce clauses in the indicative One of the most common is parce que because.

On ne peut pas sortir parce qu‘il pleut. | We can’t go out because it’s raining.

Je ne peux pas aller avec vous parce que j’ai trop à faire. | I can’t go out with you because I have too much to do.

There are many conjunctions of time that are always followed by the indicative.

  • après que – after
  • aussitôt que/dès que – as soon as
  • chaque fois que – each time that
  • depuis que – since/from the time that
  • lorsque – when
  • maintenant que – now that
  • pendant que – while
  • quand – when

Après que tu installeras ce logiciel, tu pourras travailler avec plus d’efficacité. | After you install this software, you will be able to work more efficiently.

Chaque fois que je reçois un de ses courriels, je le lis avec beaucoup d’intérêt. | Each time I receive one of his emails, I read it with a great deal of interest.

Je suis un peu effrayé depuis que j’ai reçu son message. | I’m a bit frightened since I received his message.

Note: aussitôt quedès quelorsque, and quand are followed by the future tense when the main clause is in the future or the imperative.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !