Tag Archive | Grammar

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

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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

Adverbial Phrases

Now that we’ve gone over adverbs the last few weeks, we’ll be wrapping it up this week with different types of adverbial phrases.

Prepositional phrases often function as adverbs of time, place, and manner. The preposition dès and the compound preposition à partir de combine with time words to tell when something happened.

  • dès le matin – from the morning on
  • dès le débout – from the beginning
  • dès mon retour – as soon as I get back
  • à partir d’aujourd’hui – from today on
  • à partir de demain – from tomorrow on
  • à partir d’hier – starting yesterday

Adverbial phrases of time with the prepositions dans and en:

  • dans l’avenir/dans le passé – in the future/in the past
  • dans un mois – in a month
  • dans un moment – in a moment
  • en ce moment – at this time
  • dans cinq minutes – in five minutes (five minutes from now)
  • en cinq minutes – in five minutes (time it takes to do something)
  • d’aujourd’hui en huit – a week from today
  • en avance – early (relative to a point in time)
  • en retard – late (relative to a point in time)

Adverbial phrases beginning with the preposition à:

Phrases of time

  • à l’heure – on time
  • à temps – in time
  • à l’époque – at the time, at that time
  • à l’époque où nous sommes – in this day and age
  • à leur arrivée – when they arrived
  • à leur retour – when they returned

Phrases of place

  • à trois kilomètres de la ville – three kilometers from the city
  • à trois heures de Paris – three hours from Paris
  • à droite/à gauche – to, on the right/to, on the left

Phrases of manner

  • à merveille – wonderfully
  • à pied – on foot
  • à cheval – on horseback
  • à la hâte – hastily, in a rush
  • à peine – hardly

Adverbial phrases beginning with the preposition de:

  • d’habitude, d’ordinaire – usually
  • de temps en temps – from time to time
  • du matin au soir – from morning to night
  • de bonne heure – early
  • de mois en mois/de jour en jour – from month to month/from day to day
  • marcher d’un bon pas – to walk at a good pace

Adverbial phrases with the preposition en:

  • en avant – in front, ahead
  • en arrière – in back
  • en face – across the way
  • en tout cas – in any case
  • en plus – moreover
  • en train/autobus/avion/voiture – by train/bus/plane/car
  • en désordre, en pagaille – in a mess
  • en groupe – in a group

Adverbial phrases with the preposition par:

  • par hasard – by chance
  • par la force – by force
  • par écrit – in writing
  • par terre – on the ground
  • par ici/là – this way/that way
  • par conséquent – consequently
  • par intervalles – intermittently
  • payer par chèque – to pay by check
  • par la poste – through the mail, by mail

The preposition sur has idiomatic uses in phrases of time:

  • sur les 3 heures – at about 3 o’clock
  • sur le moment – at first
  • sur une année – over (over the period of) a year
  • un jour sur deux – every other day

The following are miscellaneous phrases with sans that are often translated by English adverbs:

  • sans but – aimlessly
  • sans chaussures – barefoot
  • sans doute – doubtlessly
  • sans faute – without fail
  • sans mal – without any trouble. without difficulty

Have a great week, everyone! And please let me know in the comments if there is anything you’d like to see in future posts.

A bientôt !

Courtney

Adverbs of Place

Adverbs of place tell where something happens.

ailleurs – elsewhere, somewhere else ici – here
autour – around – there
d’ailleurs – besides là-bas – over there
dedans – inside loin – far away
dehors – outside n’importe où – anywhere
derrière – behind nulle part – nowhere
dessous – below nulle part ailleurs – nowhere else
dessus – above partout – everywhere
devant – in front partout ailleurs – everywhere else
en bas – down, downstairs près – near
en haut – up, upstairs quelque part – somewhere

In everyday language, both spoken and written, ici is often replaced by .

  • Je regrette, mais Mme Chartier n’est pas .
  • I’m sorry, but Mrs. Chartier is not here.

Là- can be added to some of the above adverbs of place.

  • là-dedans – in there
  • là-dessous – underneath there
  • là-dessus – on top of it, on it
  • là-haut – up there

I hope you all enjoyed this short lesson for this week. Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Adverbs of Time

Adverbs of time tell when or in what order something happens.

actuellement – at present enfin – at last, finally
alors – then ensuite – next, following that
après – after, afterwards hier – yesterday
après-demain – the day after tomorrow jamais – never
aujourd’hui – today longtemps – for a long time
auparavant – previously, beforehand maintenant – now
aussitôt – immediately n’importe quand – anytime
autrefois – formerly, in the past parfois – sometimes
avant – before précédemment – previously
avant-hier – the day before yesterday quelquefois – sometimes
bientôt – soon rarement – rarely, seldom
d’abord – at first récemment – recently
de bonne heure – early souvent – often
déjà – already, ever tard – late
demain – tomorrow tôt – early
dernièrement – lately toujours – always
désormais – from now on tout à l’heure – a short while ago, very soon
encore – still, yet, again tout de suite – immediately
encore une fois – again

Adverbs of time usually follow the verb, but they often occur at the beginning of sentences.

  • Je vais quelquefois au théâtre. → Quelquefois je vais au théâtre.
  • Il travaillait auparavant à Lyon. → Auparavant il travaillait à Lyon.

Many phrases expressing points in time function as adverbial phrases.

  • le week-end
  • en semaine – during the week
  • la semaine dernière/prochaine – last week/next week
  • toute la journée
  • tous les ans
  • tous les mois
  • toutes les semaines
  • le lendemain – the day after
  • la veille – the evening before
  • le matin/l’après-midi
  • le soir/la nuit
  • tous les jours
  • une fois, deux fois, etc.
  • une/deux fois par semaine/mois
  • mardi
  • le mardi
  • mardi prochain
  • mardi dernier

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

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