Tag Archive | French Words

The Infinitive

The French infinitive parallels many of the uses of the English present participle, which ends in -ing.

In French, the infinitive can be a verbal noun that functions as the subject of a sentence.

  • Trouver un bon travail n’est pas facile. | Finding a good job is not easy.
  • Mon but, c’est de travailler à Paris. | Working in paris is my goal.
  • Voir, c’est croire. | Seeing is believing.

The infinitive in French is used after prepositions.

  • avant de sortir | before going out

The French infinitive is often used for impersonal instructions.

  • Ralentir | Slow (on road signs)
  • Agiter avant emploi | Shake before using

The impersonal expressions il faut (one must, you have to), and il vaut mieux (it’s better to) are followed directly by an infinitive. These expressions are not conjugated for person, because impersonal il is the only possible subject. However, they are conjugated for tense.

Imparfait il fallait, il valait mieux
Passé Composé il a fallu, il a mieux valu
Futur il faudra, il vaudra mieux
Conditionnelle il faudrait, il vaudrait mieux
  • Quand est-ce que tu veux partir en vacances ? | When do you want to go on vacation?
  • J’aime prendre mes vacances en hiver. Toi ? | I like to take my vacation in the winter. How about you?
  • Moi, je préfère les prendre au printemps. | I like to take it in the spring.
  • Je déteste voyager quand il fait froid. | I hate to travel when it’s cold.
  • Tu comptes avertir Paul ? | Do you intend to alert Paul?
  • Oui, mais j’ai beau l’appeler. Il ne fait pas attention. | Yes, but it’s no use calling him. He pays no attention.
  • Il affirme pouvoir nous aider. | He affirms that he can help.
  • Nous devons accepter son offre. | We must accept his offer.
  • Il faut lui téléphoner, alors. | Then we must phone him.
  • Il vaut mieux lui envoyer un courriel. | It’s better to send him an email.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Advertisements

Uses of the Indefinite Article

As in English, in French the indefinite article refers to a noun which has not been specifically identified. Note that the plural form “some” is frequently omitted in English, but must always be included in French.

  • J’ai acheté des pêches et des poires.
  • I bought peaches and pears.

The indefinite article must also be included before a noun followed by de + a singular abstract noun which is qualified.

  • Elle a une mère d’une tolérance exceptionnelle.
  • Her mother is exceptionally tolerant. (Literally: She has a mother of exceptional tolerance.)

  • Il est d’une patience admirable.
  • He has admirable patience. (Literally: He is of an admirable patience.)

So sorry for the very short post this week. I’ve been very sick with the flu this week and forgot all about planning, but I am doing much better now. 🙂

As always, have a great week, everyone, and stay healthy!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Relative Clauses with Qui & Lequel

The relative pronoun qui may serve as the object of a preposition. In such cases, it refers only to people. There is no agreement of the past participle in the compound tenses when qui is preceded by a preposition.

  • l’homme à qui je donne le livre | the man I’m giving the book to
  • la femme à qui nous pensons | the woman that we’re thinking of
  • les étudiants à qui j’ai parlé | the students whom I spoke to

Lequel is the relative pronoun that refers primarily to things after a preposition. It agrees in gender and number with its antecedent.

masculine

feminine

singular

lequel

laquelle

plural

lesquels

lesquelles

The preposition à and de combine with the forms of lequel as follows:

masculine

feminine

singular

auquel, duquel

à laquelle, de laquelle

plural

auxquels, desquels

auxquelles, desquelles

  • l’examen auquel j’ai réussi | the test I passed (réussir à)
  • la matière à laquelle je m’intéresse | the subject I’m interested in (s’intéresser à)
  • les bureaux auxquels vous téléphonez | the offices you telephone (téléphone à)
  • les études auxquelles il s’applique | the studies he applies himself to (s’appliquer à)

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

Idioms & Expressions with Negative & Indefinite Words

It’s been awhile since I did an idioms post. Here’s one that is specific with negative and indefinite words.

Expressions with jamais:

  • jamais deux sans trois | Misfortunes always come in threes
  • à jamais | forever
  • à tout jamais | forever and ever
  • jamais de la vie ! | Not on your life!
  • il n’en manque jamais une ! | He’s always blundering/He always puts his foot in it

Expressions with quelque(s):

  • Il est trois heures et quelques | It’s a little past three
  • Je suis quelque peu déçu | I’m a little disappointed

Expressions with ni … ni:

  • Cette histoire n’a ni queue ni tête | This story doesn’t make any sense at all
  • Cela ne me fait ni chaud ni froid | It’s all the same to me/I don’t feel strongly

Expressions with rien:

  • de rien | you’re welcome
  • ça ne fait rien | it doesn’t matter/that’s ok (A response to “Pardon”.)
  • comme si de rien n’était | as if nothing had happened
  • si cela ne vous fait rien | if you don’t mind
  • Rien qu’à le voir, on sait qu’il est gentil | Just by looking at him you know he’s nice
  • Je veux te parler, rien que cinq minutes | I want to talk to you, just five minutes
  • rien ne sert de pleurer | it’s no use crying

Expressions with chacun:

  • chacun son goût/chacun ses goûts | everyone to his own taste/to each their own
  • chacun pour soi | every man for himself
  • chacun à son tour | each one in his turn

Expressions with certain:

  • d’un certain âge | middle-aged
  • elle a un certain charme | she has a certain charm

Expressions with ailleurs:

  • il est ailleurs/il a l’esprit ailleurs | he’s miles away (not paying attention)
  • d’ailleurs | moreover, besides
  • partout ailleurs | everywhere else

I’m hoping to post at least one idioms post every month. Have a wonderful week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Verbs of Perception

Verbs of perception, such as voirregarderentendre, and écouter, and the verb laisser (to leave, let) are followed directly by the infinitive. The direct object of these verbs is the subject of the infinitive. If it is a noun, it can be placed either before or after the infinitive.

Nous voyons les enfants jouer.

Nous voyons jouer les enfants.

We see the children play.


On va entendre les trains siffler.

On va entendre siffler les trains.

We’ll hear the trains whistle.


Elle a laissé les étudiants entrer.

Elle a laissé entrer les étudiants.

She let the students come in.


When a direct object noun is replaced by a direct object pronoun in sentences with verbs of perception laisser, it must stand before the verb of perception or laisser.

Nous les voyons jouer. | We see them play.


On va les entendre siffler. | We’ll hear them whistle.


Elle les a laissé entrer. | She let them come in.


Verbs of perception and laisser may appear in sentences with two direct objects – a direct object of the verb of perception together with a direct object of the infinitive.

J’ai regardé les ouvriers construire le pont. | I saw the workers building the bridge.


Nous écoutons les musiciens jouer  le morceau. | We are listening to the musicians play  the piece.


J’ai laissé ma fille manger ce dessert. | I let my daughter eat that dessert.


In general, the past participles of verbs of perception and laisser agree with a preceding direct object pronoun.

Je les ai vus construire le pont. | I saw them build the bridge.


Je l‘ai laissé manger ce dessert. | I let her eat that dessert.


Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

The Use and Position of Adverbs of Manner

Adverbs of manner ending in -ment and the adverbs bienmalmieuxpis, and vite usually directly follow the verb they modify. In compound tenses, short adverbs usually follow the auxiliary verb, and the longer verbs usually follow the past participle.

  • Julie et Eric se disputent constammant. | Julie and Eric argue constantly.
  • Après le dîner, ils se sont disputés amèrement et Julie a vite quitté le salon. | After dinner, they argued bitterly, and Julie quickly left the living room.

When the adverb modifies an adjective or another adverb, it precedes the word it modifies.

  • Cette lettre est très importante. | This letter is very important.
  • Les spectateurs étaient profondément émus. | The audience was deeply moved.

Adverbs of manner ending in -ment can be replaced by avec plus the corresponding noun.

  • joyeusement → avec joie
  • discrètement → avec discrétion
  • violemment → avec violence
  • amèrement → avec amertume

Sans + noun is often the equivalent of English adverbs ending in -lessly or English adverbs formed from negative adjectives.

  • sans espoir – hopelessly
  • sans hésitation – unhesitatingly
  • sans honte – shamelessly
  • sans succès – unsuccessfully

D’une façond’une manièred’un ton, or d’un air plus an adjective may be used in place of an adverb or when no adverb exists.

  • d’une façon compétente – completely
  • d’un ton moqueur – mockingly
  • d’une manière compatible – compatibly
  • d’un aire indécis – indecisively

Wishing you all a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Position of Adverbs

Going back to basics this week in terms of grammar.

Adverbs Qualifying Verbs

An adverb qualifying a verb in one of the simple tenses, ex.: the present, future, imperfect, or present conditional, should follow the verb.

  • Ils s’arrêtèrent brièvement. | They stopped briefly.
  • Ils arriveront inévitablement en retard. | They will inevitably arrive late.

Adverbs of place and other longer adverbs qualifying a verb in one of the compound tenses, ex.: the perfect, pluperfect, future perfect, or conditional perfect, follow the past participle.

  • Nous sommes restés ailleurs. | We stayed elsewhere.
  • Mon frère l’aurait écrit lisiblement. | My brother would have written it legibly.

Other, shorter adverbs usually come immediately before the past participle in compound tenses.

  • Je n’aurais jamais bien compris. | I should never have understood properly.
  • L’avait-elle déjà oublié ? | Hd she already forgotten it?

In all these cases, the adverb must not separate the subject and verb/auxiliary verb.

  • Nous avons demandé l’addition aussitôt. | We immediately asked for the bill.

Adverbs such as apparemment, assurément, heureusement, malheureusement, naturellement, peut-être, probablement may occur either in the regular position in relation to the verb, or (for emphasis) at the beginning of the sentence + que.

  • Il ne m’a rien dit, naturellement. | He said nothing to me, naturally.
  • Naturellement qu’il ne m’a dit rien.

Adverbs Qualifying Adjectives, Other Adverbs or Adverbial Phrases

Adverbs usually immediately precede the adjectives, other adverbs or adverbial phrases which they qualify.

  • Vous êtes parfaitement conscient de ce que vous faites ? | Are you perfectly well aware of what you are doing?
  • La voiture démarra très lentement. | The car started up very slowly.
  • Il faut revoir les chiffres, surtout à court terme. | We must review the figures, especially in the short term.

Adverbs Introducing or Qualifying a Whole Sentence

An adverb usually stands at the beginning of a sentence if it introduces or qualifies the whole sentence. This position adds emphasis to the adverb.

  • Malheureusement, je n’avais pas vérifié son adresse. | Unfortunately, I hadn’t checked his/her address.
  • Surtout, il faut se garder de réagir trop vite. | Above all, we must take care not to react too hastily.

Similarly, an adverb which provides a link with the previous statement will normally occur at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Le nouveau curé était très apprécié. Pourtant, il y avait des détracteurs. | The new priest was very well thought of. However, there were those who criticized him.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney