Tag Archive | French in Action

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

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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

Accepting Apologies

This is part 2 to last week’s Making Apologies post. This week we’ll learn what to say when we accept these apologies.

To accept an apology without reservation:

Ce n’est pas grave. | It doesn’t matter.


Je t’en prie. / Je vous en prie. | Don’t mention it./Forget it.


Il n’y a pas de quoi. | That’s alright.


Ne t’en fais pas. / Ne vous en faites pas. | Don’t worry.


N’en parlons plus. | Let’s forget it.


To accept an apology, but stress that the fault must not happen again:

Ça va, pourvu que tu ne recommences pas. (especially to children) | That’s alright, just don’t do it again.


Je vous excuse, mais vous devriez faire mieux attention à l’avenir. | I forgive you, but you should take more care in the future.


Espérons du moins que cela ne se reproduira pas. | Let’s hope it does not happen again.


Some less formal and more colloquial responses:

Pas de problème ! | No problem!


Il n’y a pas de mal ! | No harm!


Pas de soucis ! No worries!


Very short post this week. I try to bring you guys enough content in each post, so I apologise for the brevity of this post! Look at how I’m apologising on an apologies post (not intentional!). Now what would you say in response? En français. 🙂

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Making Apologies

In French, as in most languages, there are set formulae for making your apologies, and accepting those apologies of someone else.

Apologizing to Friends/Close Colleagues

Simplest form of an apology:

Oh, pardon ! | Sorry!


Je m’excuse ! | My apologies! / I’m sorry!


Je suis désolé(e) ! | I’m really sorry!

Slightly more elaborate ways of apologising and admitting responsibility:

C’est ma faute. Excuse-moi. | It’s my fault. Sorry.


Je m’en veux beaucoup. | I’m really cross with myself for it.


J’espère que tu ne m’en veux pas / ne m’en voudras pas. | I hope you’re not too upset with me.


Je suis désolé(e) de t’avoir dérangé. | I’m really sorry to have disturbed you.

There are ways to apologise and also suggest that you are not entirely to blame. You would use “Je suis désolé(e)” and one of the following examples:

Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès. | I didn’t do it on purpose/deliberately.


Je ne pouvais pas faire autrement. | I had to./There was nothing else I could do.


J’essayais simplement de vous aider. | I was only trying to help you.


Je n’avais pas le choix. | I didn’t have a choice.


More formal apologies in conversation:

Brief apology:

  • Oh, pardonnez-moi ! (ex: if you accidentally bumped into someone or stepped on their foot) | Oh, I’m sorry!
  • Excusez-moi ! (ex: when you’ve done something wrong) | I’m sorry. / My apologies.
  • C’est moi le coupable. | It’s my fault. / I’m to blame.

Come back next week for part two of this post, “Accepting Apologies”. As always, if you have a request or a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to help. 🙂 Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Degrees of Certainty – Impossibility, Doubt

This is the third and last in this 3 part series of French in Action. (Part 1; Part 2) Today we wrap this series up with the negative : Impossibility and Doubt.

Impossibility

The expressions used to denote possibility can be used in the negative to suggest impossibility.

La date nous est impossible.|The date’s impossible for us./We can’t make the date.


Mon fils a toujours tenté l’impossible.|My son’s always tried to do the impossible.


J’aimerais faire le tour du monde, mais c’est un rêve irréalisable.|I’d like to travel around the world, but it’s an impossible dream.


L’accord était voué à l’échec.|The agreement was impossible/bound to fail.


Il est impossible qu‘elle soit exclue de l’équipe.|She can’t possibly be excluded from the team.


Votre démarche a rendu impossible tout compromis.|Your action has made any compromise impossible.


Il est hors de question que vous le fassiez à sa place.|It’s out of the question for you to do it instead of him/her.


Doubt

French possesses the verb douter, the cognate of the English verb “to doubt”. The constructions in which it is used can confuse English speakers. Note that se douter de quelque chose means “to suspect that something is the case” (as in the opposite of doubt).

On peut douter de l’authenticité de la signature.|There is reason to doubt whether the signature is authentic.


Je doute qu‘il ait eu le temps de tout faire.|I doubt if/that he had time to do everything.


Il est parti ? Je m’en doutais.|Has he left? I thought as much.


Je me doutais de ses intentions.|I suspected those were his intentions.


J’ai hésité à vous réveiller.|I wasn’t sure whether I should wake you up.


Je me suis méfié de ce qu’il a dit.|I wasn’t sure whether to trust what he said.


On peut avoir des doutes sur ses capacités.|There’s reason to doubt his abilities.


Rien n’indique qu‘il ait décidé de revenir.|There’s nothing to suggest he’s decided to come back.

Here are some adverbial and adjectival constructions to express doubt:

Il ne sera pas forcément d’accord.|He won’t necessarily be in agreement.


Je serais difficilement convaincu.|It would be difficult to persuade me.


Ile est fort peu probable que le magasin soit ouvert dimanche.|It’s very unlikely that the shop is open on Sunday.


Il est douteux qu‘elle se représente aux prochaines élections.|It is doubtful whether/unlikely that she will stand again at the next election.


L’issue est incertaine.|The outcome is undecided/unsure.


Le verdict était contestable.|The verdict was debatable/open to question.


C’est une procédure tout à fait aléatoire.|It’s a completely random procedure./The procedure leaves everything to chance.


Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Degrees of Certainty – Probability, Possibility

Continuing on from last week’s part 1 post, we’ll continue with probability and possibility.

Probability

The chance that something will happen. To convey that something is probable in a word or short phrase:

Tu assisteras au concert ? – Sans doute.|You’ll go to the concert? _ Most likely./Probably.


C’est Christine qui a téléphoné ? – Probablement.|Was it Christine who called? – Probably.


Christophe fait du théâtre maintenant ? – Paraît-il.|Christophe is doing some acting now? – So it seems.


Vous allez poser le tapis vous-même ? – En principe.|Are you going to lay the carpet yourself? – That’s the idea.

The combination of the verb pouvoir with the verb bien provides the basis for a number of expressions of probability:

Je peux bien prendre le train.|I may well take the train.


Ils pourraient bien téléphoner ce soir.|They’re likely to call this evening.

Other ways to form probability expressions:

Il est très/fort probable qu‘elle jouera le rôle de la reine.|It’s very/highly likely that she’ll play the role of the queen.


Il y a de fortes chances que j’obtiendrai une bourse.|There’s a very good chance that I’ll get/obtain a grant.


Ils sont censés arriver par le train de six heures.|They’re meant to arrive on the six o’clock train.


Ils devraient vous rembourser tout de suite.|They should reimburse you immediately.


Possibility

Most constructions expressing “the possibility that…” or “doubt that…” are followed by the subjunctive.

Brief responses to indicate that something is possible include:

Il est malade ? C’est possible.|Is he sick? – Possibly./Maybe.


Tu as besoin de la voiture ? – Ça se peut.|Will you need the car? – Possibly./I might.


Tu pourrais le remplacer ? – Oui, éventuellement.|Could you replace him? – Possibly.

More elaborate expressions often use the verb pouvoir:

Ils ont pu perdre leur chemin.|They may have lost their way.


Il se peut que la voiture soit tombée en panne.|It’s possible the car’s broken down.


A la limite, on pourrait croire qu‘il l’a fait exprès.|You might almost think he did it deliberately.

Possibility can also be expressed by idiomatic phrases:

Il est possible que je sois en mesure de vous aider.|It may be that I’m in a position to help you.


Nous vous soutiendrons dans la mesure du possible.|We shall support you as far as we can.


Ce que vous proposez, c’est très faisable.|What you’re suggesting is quite possible/do-able.


Tu crois que c’est un projet réalisable ?|Do you think the plan could work/is feasible?


Come back next week for the final installment of this three part topic. Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Degrees of Certainty

Certainty

Affirmative expressions of certainty and probability take the indicative – the indicative is used to express most statements and questions.

To convey certainty by a single word or a short phrase:

Il viendra demain ? – Certainement. | Will he come tomorrow? – Definitely.


On les invitera ? – Ah, oui, sûrement. | Will they be invited? – Yes, of course.


Ce candidat sera élu, c’est sûr. | This candidate is sure to be elected.

Fuller expressions of certainty rely mainly on adjectives or verbs. The most useful expressions based on adjectives are those with a personal subject:

Je suis sûr que vous réussirez. | I’m sure you’ll succeed.


Elle est convaincue que c’est la meilleure solution. | She’s convinced it’s the best solution.


Ils sont persuadés qu‘il y a eu une erreur. | They’re convinced there’s been a mistake.

Impersonal subjects ce and il also convey certainty:

Il n’y aura pas de session d’été. C’est formel. | There won’t be a summer session. That’s final.


Il est sûr maintenant que le président va démissionner. | It’s now certain that the president is going to resign.

The word doute can be used in expressions to make an affirmation, but take note that sans doute means “probably”.

Il n’y aucun doute qu‘elle l’emportera la prochaine fois. | Of course she’ll win next time.


Sans aucun doute ils le payeront plus cher en Angleterre. | No doubt they’ll pay more for it in England.

Similarly to doutecertitude conveys a similar degree of affirmation:

J’ai la certitude qu‘il m’a déjà posé la même question. | I’m absolutely sure he’s already asked me the same question.


Elle sait avec certitude qu‘elle sera envoyée aux Etats-Unis. | She knows that she’ll definitely be sent to the United States.


Next week there will be a part 2 to this post, and it will be on the degrees of probability and possibility. This is the first in a little series of French “in action” posts that I’ll be doing, where there will be somewhat real life situations and how to use it in speech. Not like those generic “The mouse is under the chair” type of non-useful phrases.

I am also working on a requested post one of my followers asked for, and I think I will make it a page at the top of my blog.

Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney