Tag Archive | French Grammar

Plurals of Nouns

Regular Noun Plurals

Most French nouns form their plural by adding -s to the singular form. Note that the -s is not pronounced.

Singular Plural
la capitale (the capital) les capitales (the capitals)
le mot (the word) les mots (the words)
l’arbre (the tree) les arbres (the trees)

Exceptions

  • Nouns whose singular ends in -s-x, or -z remain unchanged in the plural.
Singular Plural
le bras (the arm) les bras (the arms)
la voix (the voice) les voix (the voices)
le nez (the nose) les nez (the noses)
  • Nouns ending in -au or -eu in the singular form their plural by adding -x.
Singular Plural
le bureau (the office) les bureaux (the offices)
le jeu (the game) les jeux (the games)
  • Nouns whose singular ends in -al or -ail usually drop that ending and add instead -aux to form the plural.
Singular Plural
le cheval (the horse) les chevaux (the horses)
le travail (the work) les travaux (the works)
  • Note the following irregular cases:
Singular Plural
l’œil (the eye) les yeux
monsieur (sir, gentleman, Mr.) messieurs (sirs, gentlemen)
madame (lady, madam, Mrs.) mesdames (ladies, madams)
mademoiselle (young lady, Miss) mesdemoiselles (young ladies, misses)

Enjoy your week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Practice Set : Prepositions Avec & Sans

Lessons: Prepositions Avec & Sans

Sans or Avec? Complete each phrase with either avec or sans.

  1. He’s an unimaginative man. C’est un homme ____ imagination.
  2. She answered bitterly. Elle a répondu ____ amertume.
  3. They write effortlessly. Ils écrivent ____ effort.
  4. Come eat with us! I really mean it! Viens manger avec nous ! ____ façons !
  5. If it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have finished the job. ____ elle, nous n’aurions pas fini le travail.
  6. With the ice on the road, driving is difficult. ____ le verglas, il est difficile de conduire.
  7. You have to handle him carefully. Il faut le prendre ____ des gants.
  8. Don’t go out barefoot. Ne sors pas ____ chaussures.
  9. You have to speak sweetly to her. Il faut lui parler ____ douceur.
  10. He threw himself into the fray unflinchingly. Il s’est lancé au combat ____ broncher.

Give the French equivalent to each each expression using avec or sans in each case.

  1. doubtless
  2. otherwise
  3. heartless
  4. unemployed
  5. lovingly
  6. kindly
  7. anything else?
  8. unhesitatingly

The answers to this practice set will be posted as a comment in the next few days.

See you Thursday!

Courtney

Preposition : Sans

The preposition sans is the equivalent of the English word “without”.

  • Notre équipe a dû jouer sans notre meilleur joueur. | Our team had to play without our best player.
  • Sans argent on ne peut rien faire. | Without money you can’t do anything.
  • Je me suis couché sans avoir fini mon travail. | I went to bed without having finished my work.

Sans can mean if it weren’t for… or but for…

  • Sans ce plan, on se serait perdus. | If it weren’t for this street map, we would have gotten lost.

The preposition sans + noun is often the equivalent of an English adjective ending in -less or an adjective with a negative prefix such as un- or in-.

  • sans abrisans domicile fixehomeless
  • une situation sans remède – a hopeless person
  • un film sans intérêt – an uninteresting film
  • une femme sans préjugés – an unprejudiced/unbiased woman
  • sans doute – doubtless
  • sans effort – effortless

The use of sans with negative words eliminates the need for ne. The partitive article often becomes de after sans because of the implied negative meaning of the preposition.

  • sans parler à personne – without speaking to anyone
  • sans rien faire – without doing anything
  • sans jamais l’avoir vu – without ever having seen him
  • sortir sans faire de bruit – to go out without making any noise

Hello, followers! I will be posting my first practice set this week. I just don’t know what day would be best – I’m thinking either Friday or Saturday. What would you all prefer? This first set will cover this lesson and last weeks lesson.

A bientôt !

Courtney

Prepositions : Avec

The preposition avec expresses accompaniment, much like the English word “with”.

  • Attends, j’irais avec toi. | Wait, I’ll go with you.
  • Je suis d’accord avec vous. | I agree with you.

Avec labels the clause.

  • Avec l’inflation, tout le monde parle des prix. | With inflation, everyone is talking about prices.
  • J’ai peur de conduire avec toute cette neige. | I’m afraid to drive with all this snow.

Avec expresses in addition to.

  • Et avec cela (ça), madame ? | Anything else, ma’am? (In a store.)
  • Il n’a pas étudié et avec ça il a séché le cours. | He didn’t study, and on top of that he cut class.

Avec + noun is often the equivalent of an English adverb.

  • avec joie | joyfully
  • avec colère | angrily

I’m thinking of adding, in addition to these posts, having a practice set, or homework, with an answer key posted on another day. What do you guys think?

ALSO, my blog turned 5 years old last Thursday! I can’t believe I forgot to mention it!

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Position of Adjectives (Part 2)

Adjectives whose meaning changes according to position

There are a number of common adjectives whose meaning changes according to whether they are placed before or after the noun they qualify:

ancien

  • une ancienne église | a former church
  • une église ancienne | an old church

brave

  • un brave garçon | a good/fine boy
  • un garçon brave | a brave boy

certain

  • un certain échec | a certain/particular failure
  • un échec certain | a certain/definite failure

cher

  • un cher ami | a dear friend
  • un magasin cher | an expensive store

court

  • un court entretien | a short/brief interview
  • un nez court | a short nose

dernier

  • le dernier jour de l’école | the last day of school
  • la semaine dernière | last week (i.e.: previous to this week)

différent

  • différentes idées (in plural only) | various ideas
  • une idée différente (in singular only) | a different/another idea

divers (pl.)

  • diverses opinions | various opinions
  • des opinions diverses | differing opinions

grand

  • un grand artiste | a great artist
  • un artiste grand | a tall artist

même

  • la même personne | the same person
  • la personne même | the very person

nouveau

  • un nouveau projet | a new/different project
  • un projet nouveau | a newly created plan

pauvre

  • une pauvre famille | a poor family (expressing sympathy)
  • une famille pauvre | a poor/impoverished family

prochain

  • la prochaine date | the next date (i.e.: in a sequence)
  • une date prochaine | a date not far off
  • la semaine prochaine | next week (i.e.: after this week)

propre

  • ma propre voiture | my own car
  • une voiture propre | a clean car

sale

  • un sale coup (colloquial) | a dirty blow
  • une rue sale | a dirty road (not clean)

seul

  • le seul tableau | the only/single picture
  • le tableau seul | the picture alone/only the picture

vrai

  • une vraie histoire | a real story
  • une histoire vrai | a true/authentic story

Position of two or more adjectives qualifying a noun

When one noun is qualified by two adjectives, both of which normally precede the noun, the order is: ordinal numerals / indefinite adjectives

  • nouveau/jeune/vieux/vrai
  • bon/beau/gros/haut/joli/mauvais/méchant/sot/vilain
  • grand/petit
    • un jolie petit bébé | a pretty little baby
    • chaque jeune arbre | each young tree

Two adjectives preceding the noun may be linked by et, indicating that the two characteristics are distinct:

  • un beau et vieux portrait | a fine, old portrait

If either of the adjectives is qualified by an adverb, it should follow the noun:

  • un mauvais quartier très vaste | a bad, very large district

When one noun is qualified by two adjectives both of which usually follow the noun, the adjectives should be joined by et:

  • un homme courageux et intelligent | a brave and intelligent man

However, if both the adjectives define the status of the noun, et is omitted:

  • le représentant socialiste italien | the Italian Socialist representative

When one noun is qualified by two adjectives, one of which normally precedes and the other follows the noun, the order of the adjectives is unchanged:

  • une vieille ferme provençale | an old Provencal farm

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Position of Adjectives (Part 1)

In English, adjectives that qualify a noun are always placed before it (i.e.: a blue car; small child; etc.,), in French the general rule is that adjectives follow the noun they qualify. However, there are some notable exceptions: certain adjectives always precede the noun, and in some contexts the position of other adjectives may be open to the speaker’s discretion.

Adjectives which follow the noun

Adjectives used in a literal or concrete sense normally follow the noun. This applies especially to the literal use of adjectives of color and nationality, to present and past participles used adjectivally, and to adjectives derived from proper names (i.e.: artistic or political groups):

  • Le représentant américain portait un chapeau marron. | The American representative wore a brown hat.
  • J’ai remarqué un visage souriant parmi la foule des députés socialistes. | I saw a smiling face among the crowd of socialist M.P.s.

If adjectives are qualified by an adverb, they normally follow the noun:

  • C’est un film extrêmement intéressant. | It’s an extremely interesting film.

However, adjectives which normally precede the noun may still do so if qualified by an adverb such as bien, plus, moins, si, or by assez or aussi:

  • C’est une si jolie maison. | It’s such a pretty house.

The adjective almost always follows the noun if it is qualified by à + infinitive or trop…pour + infinitive:

  • Voici un problème difficile à résoudre. | Here is a problem which is difficult to solve.
  • C’est une voiture trop vieille pour faire de longs voyages. | It’s a car which is too old to do long journeys.

Adjectives which precede the noun

Possessive and demonstrative adjectives always precede the noun they qualify:

  • ce livre bleu | this blue book
  • mon frère aîné | my elder brother

The indefinite adjectives autre, certain, chaque, plusieurs, quelque, tel, and tout precede the noun they qualify:

  • Un autre homme m’a raconté toute l’histoire. | Another man told me the whole story.

Numerals and cardinal numbers also precede the noun:

  • Les deux frères Leroux étaient les premiers propriétaires de ce restaurant. | The two Leroux brothers were the first owners of this restaurant.

A number of common, short adjectives regularly precede the noun they qualify: beau, bon, bref, grand, gros, haut, jeune, joli, mauvais, meilleur, moindre, petit, sot, vaste, vieux, vilain:

  • Elle veut une jolie petite maison située dans un beau village. | She wants a pretty little house in an attractive town.

Adjectives of color may precede the noun they qualify if used metaphorically:

  • une noire journée | a black day (i.e.: unfortunate)

Next week will be the second part to this post, so stay tuned! Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Cognates

Many word in English and French are exactly the same in both languages. Many others have only minor changes in spelling and are easily recognised. The following will help increase your vocabulary.

Adjectives 

The suffixes -able, -ible, -al, -ant, -ent are usually the same in both languages.

admirable

horrible

commercial

confortable

possible

municipal

considérable

terrible

royal

brilliant

évident

ignorant

excellent

important

innocent

French suffixes and their usual English equivalents: -eux (-euse) = -ous; -eur = -or; -el = -al; -ique = -ic.

dangereux/euse

extérieur

habituel

fanatique

fameux/euse

intérieur

mortel

fantastique

furieux/euse

supérieur

naturel

stratégique

Nouns

The following suffixes are generally the same in French and English: -ion, -tion, -age, -ice, -ent, -ence.

attention

distraction

courage

fonction

million

passage

opinion

question

village

caprice

accident

différence

justice

instrument

patience

service

moment

silence

French suffixes and their usual English equivalents: -eur = -or, -er; -té = -ty; -ie = -y; -ique = -ic; -re = -er.

inspecteur

curiosité

compagnie

porteur

difficulté

énergie

visiteur

qualité

industrie

logique

lettre

musique

membre

république

théȃtre

Verbs

The great majority of all French verbs belong in the 1st conjugation (-er). Notice how we may derive the meaning of many of these verbs by observing the following changes in the ending:

  • The -er ending drops in English.

aider

consulter

insister

passer

profiter

  • The French -er becomes -e.

arriver

décider

désirer

préparer

refuser

  • The French -er becomes -ate.

communiquer

hésiter

indiquer

séparer


Thank you everyone for being so understanding that I needed to take the last couple of weeks off from the blog. I’m still recovering, but I’m well enough to return here.

Have an amazing week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney