Tag Archive | French Grammar

Colorful Adjectives Part 2

Part 2 of our colorful adjectives series!

Gris

Apart from its association with the brain, grey designates something rather unpleasant.

  • la matière grise | the little grey cells/grey matter
  • un temps gris | overcast weather
  • en voir de grises | to have an unpleasant time of it
  • faire grise mine à quelqu’un | to give someone the cold shoulder

Jaune

As in English, yellow is associated with cowardice.

  • un jaune | a person or thing that regarded with dislike or disgust
  • le jaune d’un œuf | the yolk of an egg
  • rire jaune | to give a forced laugh/sickly smile

Noir

As in English, black is primarily associated with unhappiness or misfortune.

  • noir comme du jais | jet black
  • noir comme dans un four | pitch black
  • une bête noir | a pet aversion
  • le marché noir | the black market
  • une rue noire de monde | a road swarming with people
  • broyer du noir | to be depressed
  • Il fait noir. | It’s dark.
  • mettre noir sur blanc | to be put in black and white/in writing
  • porter le noir | to be dressed in black (mourning)
  • regarder quelqu’un d’un oeil noir | to look at someone with attitude/suspicion/disapproval
  • voir la vie en noir | to take a gloomy view of things

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

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Colorful Adjectives Part 1

You should be familiar with the main color adjectives in French used in their literal sense. Many of them are also used idiomatically. Even with the word couleur there are idiomatic expressions.

  • jouer dans la couleur | to follow suit (playing cards)
  • L’affaire prend couleur. | Things are taking shape.
  • Il a dit cela sous couleur d’amitié. | He said it under a show of friendship.
  • Il en parlait comme un aveugle des couleurs. | He went on about it without knowing anything,

Blanc

In French, white has the traditional image of purity, but also the association of a blank, something nonexistent.

  • être blanc comme neige | to be as pur as the driven snow
  • devenir blanc comme un linge | to turn white as a sheet
  • une copie blanche | a blank script
  • un examen blanc | a mock exam
  • la houille blanche | hydroelectric power
  • un mariage blanc | an unconsummated marriage
  • des vers blancs | blank verse
  • de but en blanc | point-blank, without warning
  • dire tantôt blanc, tantôt noir | to say one thing then another
  • donner carte blanche | to give someone absolute freedom
  • faire chou blanc | to be a total flop
  • laisser un blanc | to leave a gap
  • passer une nuit blanche | to stay up all night

Bleu

Blue in French designates something or someone as raw or fresh (green in English).

  • un bleu | a bruise; a new recruit/novice
  • un bifteck bleu | a rare steak
  • un conte bleu | a cock-and-bull story
  • une peur bleue | a terrible fear
  • le sang bleu | blue blood
  • les bleus de travail | working overalls
  • être bleu de froid | to be blue with cold
  • être bleu de colère | to be livid (with anger)
  • n’y voir que du bleu | not to smell a rat

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Verbal Opposites

Verbal Opposites

Je monte l’escalier → je descends

  • I go up the stairs → I go down [the stairs]

Je m’habille → je me déshabille

  • I dress myself → I undress myself

Le soleil se lève → il se couche

  • The sun rises → The [sun] sets

Je décolle le papier peint → Je colle le papier peint

  • I take off the wallpaper → I stick on/adhere/paste/glue the wallpaper

Je crie → Je chuchote, je murmure

  • I shout → I whisper, I murmur

Je plie la serviette → Je déplie

  • I fold the napkin → I unfold

Je nettoie → Je salis

  • I clean up → I get dirty

J’ouvre → Je ferme

  • I open → I close

J’allume → J’éteins

  • I light up → I turn off

Je mouille → Je sèche

  • I dampen → I dry up

J’ai perdu des billes → J’ai gagné des billes

  • I lost some marbles → I got/won some marbles.

J’ai fini → j’ai commencé, J’ai débuté

  • I finished → I started, I began

Je vide la bouteille → Je remplis

  • I emptied the bottle → I refilled

J’obéis → Je désobéis

  • I obey → I disobey

J’offre un cadeau → Je reçois

  • I offer a gift → I receive

Il me plait → il me déplait

  • I like it → I don’t like it

Je fais → Je défais

  • I make → I undo

Je déballe le cadeau → J’emballe le cadeau

  • I unwrap the gift → I wrap the gift

Ranger → Déranger

  • I tidy up → I disarrange

This is my 200th blog post! This will be the last post of the year. I’ll be back in January. Stay well, everyone, and enjoy your holidays!

A la prochaine année !

Courtney

Très vs. Beaucoup & Merci de vs. Merci pour

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a versus post, and this week I’m bringing you two!

Très vs. Beaucoup

Très + adjective/adverb:

  • Elle est très sportive. | She is very athletic.
  • C’est très bien. | It’s very good.

Très + avoir faim, soif, peur, envie, mal, chaud, froid:

  • Tu as très faim ? | Are you very hungry?
  • Le chat a très peur. | The cat is very scared.

Beaucoup + noun/verb (Note, use de/d’ before the noun!)

  • Elle fait beaucoup de sport. |  She does a lot of sports.
  • J’aime beaucoup. | I really like.

Note: Never use très and beaucoup together!


Merci de vs. Merci pour

Merci de + infinitive

  • Merci de faire attention. | Thank you for paying attention.
  • Merci de ne pas fumer. | Thank you for not smoking.

Merci de/pour + noun

  • Merci pour/de ta visite. | Thank you for your visit.
  • Merci pour/de votre aide. | Thank you for your help.
  • Merci pour les gâteaux. | Thank you for the cakes.
  • Merci pour tout. | Thank you for everything.

Often the two prepositions are possible, but remember:

  • de + abstract noun
  • pour + concrete noun

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Verbs – Partir

This week’s post is all about the verb partir! On a personal note, when I was first learning French (15 years ago), there was a song by an indie French singer called Partir that I loved. For me it was fun to learn the meaning of the word in relation to this song.

Ok, on to the lesson!

Partir – to leave, to go out

  • Partir, c’est mourir un peu. | To leave is to die a little.
  • La navette partira dans dix minutes. | The shuttle will leave in ten minutes.
  • Mathilde est partie faire quelques courses, elle rentrera vers six heures. | Mathilde has gone to do a little shopping; she will be back around 6 o’clock.
  • Colomb était parti chercher la route des Indes. | Columbus had set out to look for the way to India.

Partir à/en/pour quelque chose/de quelque chose– to leave for/from somewhere

  • Nous partons aux Etats-Unis le mois prochain. | We will leave for the United States next month.
  • Il va partir en Argentine construire une maison. | He is leaving for Argentina to build a house.
  • Nos voisins sont partis pour la montagne. | Our neighbours have left for the mountains.
  • Quand est-ce que vous partez pour votre croisière ? | When are you leaving on your cruise?

Partir pour + infinitif – to leave to + infinitive

  • Caroline est partie en Afrique pour combattre le sous-développement. | Caroline left to fight underdevelopment in Africa.
  • Il est bien parti pour gagner le Tour de France. | He has gotten off to a good start in the Tour de France.
  • Je suis parti pour rester tout l’été à travailler. | It looks like I will be working here all summer.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Simple and Complex Sentences

A simple sentence usually consists of a single clause.

  • Le taxi vous attend, Madame.
    • The taxi is waiting for you, Madame.

A more elaborate form of the simple sentence includes several main clauses, joined together by coordinating conjunctions (et, mais, alors, puis, etc.). Although the clauses form a single sentence, the word order and construction of each individual clause is not affected by the coordination.

  • Je voulais vous téléphoner, mais j’ai perdu votre numéro.
    • I wanted to call you, but I lost your number.

Complex sentences consist of one or more main clauses and one or more subordinate clauses. A subordinate clause may be introduced by a subordinating conjunction, or by a relative pronoun.

  • L’acteur qui jouait le rôle d’Hamlet s’est foulé la cheville pendant que nous répétions le dernier acte.
    • The actor who was playing Hamlet sprained his ankle while we were rehearsing the last act.
  • Vous avez vu l’homme qui a volé mon sac ?
    • Did you see the man who stole my bag?

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

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 !

Courtney