Tag Archive | French Grammar

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 !

Courtney

Negatives – Indefinite Words & Expressions

Continuing from last week’s post on Negatives.

Many English indefinite expressions begin with the word some. They are often the positive counterparts of negative words.

  • quelquefois – sometimes
  • quelqu’un – someone, somebody
  • quelque chose – something
  • quelque part– somewhere

The word some before a noun is expressed in French either by the partitive article or by quelques, which is more emphatic.

Je n’ai que quelques mots à vous dire. | I only have a few words to say to you.


Vous trouverez quelques idées intéressantes dans cet article. | You’ll find some interesting ideas in this article.

The pronoun some when used emphatically is rendered by quelques-unsquelques-unes. The pronoun en will also usually appear in the sentence.

As-tu acheté des journaux français ? | Did you buy any French newspapers?

J’en ai acheté quelques-uns. | I bought some/a few.


As-tu acheté des revues françaises ? | Did you buy any French magazines?

J’en ai acheté quelques-unes. | I bought some/a few.

When some is the subject of the sentence and means “some people”, its French equivalent is certains. It often occurs in conjuction with d’autres (others).

Certains appuient cette nouvelle loi, d’autres sont contre. | Some support this new law, others are against it.


To express someone/somewhere/something or other, etc., French uses je ne sais plus the appropriate interrogative word.

  • je ne sais qui – someone or other
  • je ne sais quoi – something or other
  • je ne sais où – somewhere or other
  • je ne sais comment – somehow
  • je ne sais quel + noun – some + (noun) or other
  • je ne sais quand – sometime or other
  • je ne sais pourquoi – for some reason or other
  • je ne sais combien – I’m not sure how much/many

Examples:

Nicolette est allée je ne sais où aujourd’hui. | Nicolette went somewhere or other today.

Oui, le dimanche elle va rendre visite à je ne sais qui à Lille. | Yes, on Sundays she goes to visit someone in Lille.


Il s’est sauvé de l’accident je ne sais comment. | Somehow or other he saved himself from that accident.

Quelle chance ! Cette tragédie a fais je ne sais combien de victimes. | What luck! That tragedy caused I don’t know how many deaths.


Any in the sense of “it doesn’t matter which one” is expressed in french by n’importe followed by the appropriate interrogative word.

  • n’importe qui – anyone
  • n’importe quoiquoi que ce soit – anything
  • n’importe où – anywhere
  • n’importe comment – anyhow
  • n’importe quel + noun – any + noun
  • n’importe lequel, laquelle, lesquels, lesquelles – whichever one(s), any one(s)
  • n’importe quand – at any time
  • n’importe combien – any amount, no matter how much, how many

Qu’est-ce que tu veux manger ? | What do you want to eat?

N’importe quoi. | Anything.

Et où est-ce que tu veux aller après ? | And where do you want to go afterwards?

N’importe où. | Anywhere.


Note that the English word any and the words it appears in (anyone, anything, anywhere) are translated by negative words in French if the sentence is negative, and by indefinite words and expressions if the sentence is positive.

Est-ce qu’il en sait quelque chose ? | Does he know anything about it?

Non, il n‘en sait rien. | No, he doesn’t know anything about it.


Allez-vous quelque part cette semaine ? | Are you going anywhere this week?

Non, nous n‘allons nulle part. | No, we’re not going anywhere.


Sometimes when the English word any is used in a negative sentence, its French equivalent is one of the expressions with n’importe. The word “just” often appears before “any” in the English sentence in this case.

Je ne vais pas offrir n’importe quoi. | I’m not going to give just anything as a gift.


Nous ne voulons pas passer le temps avec n’importe qui. | We don’t want to spend time with just anyone.


I hope you all don’t mind me posting a day early. I’m actually going to be out of town, and will be travelling on my usual posting day and just wanted to get a weekly post out to you sooner rather than later. 🙂

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Negatives

With most words there is usually an opposite, or a negative. Read below to review these types of words for French.

Positive

Negative

encore, toujours still plus no more
encore, davantage more plus no more, not anymore
quelquefois sometimes jamais never
toujours always jamais never
souvent often jamais never
quelqu’un someone, somebody personne no one, nobody
quelque chose something rien nothing
quelque part somewhere nulle part nowhere

Some additional pairs of corresponding positive and negative expressions:

Positive

Negative

déjà ever jamais never
déjà already pas encore not yet
soit…soit/soit…ou either…or ni…ni neither…nor
ou or ni neither, nor

In both simple and compound tenses, ne precedes the conjugated verb and the negative word usually follows the conjugated verb.

Est-ce que tu a déjà été en Belgique ? | Have you ever been to Belgium?

Non, je n‘y suis jamais allé(e). | No, I’ve never been there.


Nous passerons l’été soit à Nice, soit en Espagne. Et vous ? | We’ll spend the summer either in Nice or in Spain. How about you?

Nous ne partons ni dans le Midi, ni à l’étranger. Nous travaillons cet été. | We won’t be going either to the south of France or abroad. We’re working this summer.


More than one negative word can be used in a sentence: ne…plus jamais or ne…jamais plus (never again), ne…plus rien (nothing else, nothing more), ne…plus personne (nobody else, no one any more), etc.

Il n‘y a jamais personne ici. | There’s never anyone here.

C’est qu’il n‘y a plus rien à faire. | That’s because there’s nothing more to do.


Negative words can also stand by themselves.

Connais-tu beaucoup de monde ici ? | Do you know a lot of people here?

Personne. | No one.


Qu’est-ce que vous cherchez ? What are you looking for?

Rien. | Nothing.


Both ne and the negative words pasrienjamais, and plus precede and infinitive. Personne, however, follows an infinitive.

Je vous conseille de ne pas aller. | I advise you not to go there.


Il m’a dit de ne jamais revenir. | He told me never to come back.


On passe la journée à ne rien faire. | We spend the day doing nothing.


Je préfère ne voir personne. | I prefer not to see anyone.


After the word que, French uses negative words.

J’ai l’impression que Christophe est plus paresseux que jamais. | I have the impression that Christophe is lazier than ever.

Vous vous trompez. Il travaille mieux que personne. | You’re mistaken. He works better than anyone.


Before adjectives, nouns, pronouns, or adverbs, non or pas is usually used. Non is more formal, pas is more colloquial.

Tu es éreinté ? | Are you exhausted?

Pas/Non éreinté. Un peu fatigué. | Not exhausted. A little tired.


Il travaille mardi, pas/non jeudi. | He’s working Tuesday, not Thursday.


If there’s anything you would like to see on the blog, please leave me a comment. I’ll be doing a part 2 to this, so look for that next week! For those that do leave me comments, I apologise for any length of time it takes for me to approve them. I thought about removing the comment screening, but I’ve been receiving a lot of spam comments lately, so it must stay the way it is, sadly.

I hope everyone has a great week!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Cleft Sentences

Cleft sentences: highlighting the indirect object and other elements of the sentence.

Cleft sentences in French can be used to highlight elements of the sentence other than the subject and the direct object. For example, the indirect object can be placed after c’est, and the rest of the sentence is converted into a relative clause.

J’ai donné les CDs à mon collègue.

C’est à mon collègue que j’ai donné les CDs.

I gave my coworker the CDs.


Il a demandé un prêt à ses parents.

C’est à ses parents qu’il a demandé un prêt.

He asked his parents for a loan.


Indirect object pronouns can also be highlighted as à + a disjunctive pronoun and placed after c’est in a c’est __ que construction.

Je lui ai envoyé un courriel.

C’est à lui/elle que j’ai envoyé un courriel.

I sent him/her an email.


Il leur a téléphoné hier.

C’est à eux/elles qu’il a téléphoné hier.

He called them yesterday.


Prepositional phrases can be highlighted by placing them after c’est in a c’est __ que construction.

Nous avons acheté le cadeau pour Claudie.

C’est pour Claudie que nous avons acheté le cadeau.

We bought the gift for Claudie.


Il a travaillé avec Franck et Nicolette.

C’est avec Franck et Nicolette qu’il a travaillé.

He worked with Franck and Nicolette.


Ils ont joué au foot dans le parc.

C’est dans le parc qu’ils ont joué au foot.

They played football/soccer in the park.


I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Comparative & Superlative Forms of Adverbs

 

Comparisons of Equality & Inequality

The following structures are used to express comparisons of equality or inequality:

Vous ne buvez pas autant que lui. (autant qualifies verb)

You don’t drink as much as him.


Il faudra le récompenser davantage. (davantage qualifies verb)

He’ll have to be rewarded more/given a greater reward.


Cette voiture roule aussi rapidement que l’autre. (aussi qualifies adverb in positive statement)

This car goes as fast as the other.


Il ne m’écrit pas si/aussi souvent que vous. (si or aussi qualifies adverb in negative statement)

He doesn’t write to me as often as you do.


Plus j’étudie ce livre, plus j’admire l’auteur. (plus introduces each clause)

The more I study this book, the more I admire the author.


Comparative Forms

The comparative form of the adverb is made by putting plus before the regular form:

Ce mot s’emploie plus couramment. | This word is more commonly used.

The adverb mal has the regular comparative form plus mal:

Mon oncle va plus mal. | My uncle is feeling/getting worse.

There are several common irregular comparative forms:

beaucoup | much

plus | more

bien | well

mieux | better

peu | little

moins | less


Superlative Forms

The superlative forms of the adverb is made by putting le before the comparative form. This applies to regular and irregular comparative forms. Since adverbs are invariable, le is used irrespective of the gender/sex and number of the subject of the verb.

Ma nièce a tout mangé le plus vite possible.

My niece ate everything as quickly as possible.


Les magasins vendaient ces articles le plus cher possible.

The shops sold these items at the highest price they could.


Wow, first day of June! Fast year this has been so far. I hope you all are doing well!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

 

Object Pronouns – Indirect Object Pronouns

Welcome back to part two of object pronouns! You can find part one here.

An indirect object is the person to whom or for whom an action is done. It is connected to its verb by the preposition à.

J’écris à Jean. | I write (toJean.


Les élèves parlent au professeur. | The students talk to the professor.


Nous donnons des cadeaux à nos amis. | We give gifts to our friends.


The French indirect object pronouns refer only to people. Lui may mean either to/for him or to/for her, depending on the context.

 

Indirect Object Pronouns

 
 

singular

plural

first person

me

nous

second person

te

vous

third person

lui

leur

The indirect object pronouns follow the same rules for position as the direct object pronouns.

Ce chapeau vous va très bien. | That hat looks very good on you.

Il vous plaît ? | Do you like it?


Et Marion ? Elle a faim ? | What about Marion? Is she hungry?

Oui, je lui prépare un sandwich. | Yes, I’m making a sandwich for her.


Je vais leur téléphoner ce soir. | I’m going to call them this evening.

S’ils ne sont pas là, te peux leur laisser un message au répondeur. | If they’re not there, you can leave them a message on the answering machine.


I hope everyone is having a good week!

Merci à vous !

Courtney