Tag Archive | Intermediate French

Sentence Building – Indirect Objects

The idea or action expressed by the verb may affect or be directed at a person or thing – the object of the verb. If the object follows the verb directly without a preposition, it is called a direct object. In French, direct objects may be either persons or things.

In the following sentences, the direct object is highlighted in bold.

  • Je vois mon amie Aurélie. | I see my friend Aurélie.
  • Tu connais notre collègue ? | Do you know our coworker?
  • Où achetez-vous vos vêtements ? | Where do you buy your clothing?
  • Elle finit le compte-rendu. | She finishes the report.

Indirect objects in French are usually animate nouns – nouns referring to living beings. Indirect objects are joined to the verb by the preposition à. In the following sentences, the indirect object is highlighted in bold. Note that the meaning in English often includes the notion of the English word to.

  • Il téléphone à sa petite amie. | He phones his girlfriend.
  • Vous écrivez à vos cousins. | You write to your cousins.
  • Le vendeur répond au client. | The clerk answers the customer.

Indirect objects most often occur with an inanimate direct object. In the following sentences, the direct object is highlighted in bold, and the indirect object is underlined and bold.

  • Il donne un cadeau à son frère. | He gives his brother a gift.
  • Je montre les photos à mes amis. | I show my friends the pictures.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

Merci à vous !



Comparisons of Adjectives and Adverbs

How to Form the Comparative of Adjectives and Adverbs

In English, we have two ways of changing adjectives and adverbs from positive to comparative degree. Many of our most common adjectives and adverbs are changed by adding -er to them; i.e.: rich → richer; soon → sooner. Other adjectives and adverbs are made comparative by placing the words “more” (or “less”) in front of them, i.e.: beautiful → more beautiful; slowly → more/less slowly.

In French, comparatives are formed by placing plus (or moins) in front of the adjective or adverb, i.e.: riche → plus riche; vite → plus/moins vite.

How to Use the Comparative in French

  • Elle est plus jolie que sa sœur. | She is prettier than her sister.
  • Vous parlez plus vite que lui. | You speak faster than he does.
  • Ce village est moins intéressant que celui que nous avons visité la semaine dernière. | This village is less interesting than the one we visited last week.
  • Jean est aussi intelligent que son frère. | Jean is as intelligent as his brother.
  • Parlez aussi lentement que moi. | Speak as slowly as I do.

Observations on the uses of the comparative:

  1. In comparatives, “than” is translated by que
  2. In French, a comparison of equality (as…as) is expressed by aussi… que.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Future and Future Perfect

Going further on the topic of the future perfect.

Forms of the future and future perfect

The future tense of regular verbs is formed from the infinitive (dropping the final -e in the case of -dre conjugation) + the endings -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont.

The future perfect of all verbs is formed from the future of the auxiliary verb (avoir or être) + the past participle.

Uses of the future and future perfect tenses

The use of the future and future perfect tenses is broadly similar to the use of the future (I shall / You will do) and future perfect (I shall have done / You will have done) in English.

In addition, the future/future perfect must be used in French in a time clause which is dependent upon a main clause in the future tense. This “logical” or “disguised” future replaces the use of the present or perfect in English.

  • Quand vous viendrez à Paris, on pourra visiter le Musée d’Orsay.
    • When you come to Paris (literally: when you will come), we’ll be able to visit the Musée d’Orsay.
  • Tu pourras sortir quand tu auras fini tes devoirs.
    • You’ll be able to go out when you have finished (literally: when you will have finished) your homework.

Note that this use of the disguised or logical future does not apply after avant que and jusqu’à ce que – both of which require the subjunctive – or after si.

One particular use of the future in French is as a formal but polite alternative to the imperative. This is associated with giving a person advice or instructions.

  • Quand vous arriverez au premier carrefour, vous tournerez à gauche, et ensuite vous prendrez la deuxième rue à droite.
    • When you get to the crossroads, turn left and take the second road on the right.

The future can also be used to express a hypothesis of which you are confident. This can be used to translate the English “must be” in supposition.

  • Quelqu’un veut me parler. Ce sera mon frère.
    • Someone wants to talk to me. It must be my brother.

See you all next week!

Merci à vous !


Uses of the Imperfect

The French imperfect corresponds to the English form “was/were doing”. It is used, like the English form, to describe a continuous state in the past.

  • Le soleil brillait et la mer était très calme.
  • The sun was shining and the sea was very calm.

It is also used to record an action which “was happening” at the same time as another action, or when another action intervened.

  • Nous prenions un café alors qu’on a frappé à la port.
  • We were having a coffee when someone knocked on the door.

Since the imperfect conveys this idea of simultaneity, it is used after conjunctions such as comme, or pendant que (even where English uses the simple past).

  • Comme il fermait le robinet il remarqua une fuite d’eau.
  • As he turned off/was turning off the tap, he noticed water dripping.

A second use of the imperfect is to record repeated or habitual actions in the past. This corresponds to the English form “used to” (or “would”).

  • Quand je faisais mes études, je me couchais assez tard.
  • When I was studying, I used to/would go to bed quite late.

I hope you all have a great week!

A bientôt !


Highlighting the Direct Object of the Sentence

The tense  of the introductory c’est construction of a cleft sentence varies according to meaning.

  • C’était lui qui le lui a dit. | He was the one who called her.
  • Ce sera moi qui le ferai. | I’ll be the one who will do that.

The present tense form c’est can be used in the following cases:

  • C’est lui qui le leur a dit. | He told them.
  • C’est moi qui le ferai. | I will do that.

The direct object (as well as the subject) of the verb may be highlighted in a cleft sentence construction by means of c’est X que. The direct object is placed after c’est, and the rest of the sentence is converted into a relative clause. In formal style, c’est is replaced by ce sont before a plural noun or a third-person plural pronoun.

  • C’est le CD qu’il cherche, pas la cassette. | He’s looking for the CD, not the cassette.
  • C’est cette boutique que tu dois visiter. | You ought to visit this store.
  • C’est (Ce sontnos placements qu’il faut protéger. | It’s necessary to protect our investments.

When the clause following c’est X que is in the passé composé or another compound tense, the past participle agrees with the direct object noun preceding que, because the direct object now precedes the past participle.

  • Nous avons acheté les billets.
  • C’est les billets que nous avons achetés.
    • We bought the tickets.
  • Vous l’aviez appelée.
  • C’est elle que vous aviez appelée.
    • You had called her.
  • Le prof a grondé ces filles.
  • C’est (Ce sont) ces filles que le prof a grondées.
    • The teacher scolded these girls.
  • Le chef a licencié ces trois employés.
  • C’est (Ce sont) ces trois employés que le chef a licenciés.
    • The boss fired these three employees.
  • Je les aurais aidés.
  • C’est (Ce sont) eux que j’aurais aidés.
    • I would have helped them.

A bientôt !


Modified Infinitive Forms in the Future Tense

Several verbs have modified infinitive forms in the future tense. These verbs have the same endings as the verbs shown in this post. The je form is given as a model for the entire conjugation except in the case of pleuvoir, which is used only in third-person form.

Verbs ending in -oir lose the oi in the future tense.

  • recevoir – je recevrai
  • décevoir – je décevrai
  • devoir – je devrai
  • pleuvoir – il pleuvra

Howeverprévoir (to foresee) and pourvoir (to supply) have the future forms je prévoirai and je pourvoirai. the future of s’asseoir is je m’assiérai.

Avoir and savoir lose the oi of the infinitive, and the final v of their stems changes to u.

  • avoir – j’aurai
  • savoir – je saurai

The future of il y a is il y aura (there will be).

Vouloir loses the oi of the infinitive, and the final l of the stem changes to d.

  • vouloir – je voudrai

Valoir (to be worth) and falloir (must) also lose the oi of the infinitive and modify the stem.

  • valoir – je vaudrai
  • falloir – il faudra

Tenir and venir change their stem vowels to ie, and the i of the infinitive changes to d.

  • tenir – je tiendrai
  • venir – je viendrai

Several verbs have rr in the future tense, sometimes with a modified stem.

  • acquérir – j’acquérrai
  • courir – je courrai
  • envoyer – j’enverrai
  • mourir – je mourrai
  • pouvoir – je pourrai
  • voir – je verrai

Three verbs have irregular stems in the future.

  • aller – j’irai
  • être – je serai
  • faire – je ferai

Most compounds of verbs that are irregular in the future show the same irregularities.

  • défaire (to undo) – je déferai
  • devenir (to become) – je deviendrai
  • revenir (to come back) – je reviendrai
  • soutenir (to support) – je soutiendrai

Have a fabulous week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Object Pronouns with the Imperative

In negative commands, object pronouns have their usual position before the verb.

  • Ce programme antivirus n’est pas bon. Ne le télécharge pas. | That antivirus program is no good. Don’t download it.
  • Cette carte de crédit n’est pas valable. Ne l’accepte pas. | That credit card isn’t valid. Don’t accept it.
  • Ces données sont très importantes. Ne les perdons pas. | This data is very important. Let’s not lose it.

In affirmative commands, however, object pronouns follow the command form and are joined to it in writing by a hyphen.

  • Ce chapeau est jolie. Essaie-le. | This hat is pretty. Try it on.
  • Cette assiette est sale. Lave-la. | This plate is dirty. Wash it.
  • Ces fichiers sont importants. Sauvegardons-les. | These files are important. Let’s save them.
  • Si vous voulez ce meuble, commandez-le. | If you want this piece of furniture, order it.
  • Hélène et Marie veulent rentrer. Raccompagnez-les. | Hélène and Marie want to go home. Walk them home.
  • Dites-lui que nous sommes en retard. | Tell him that we’re late.
  • Il faut les mettre au courant. Téléphonez-leur. | We have to inform them. Phone them.

The object pronouns me and te (as both direct and indirect object pronouns) become moi and toi when they follow affirmative commands.

  • Aide-moi, s’il te plaît. | Help me, please.
  • Envoyez-moi un e-mail pour me tenir au courant. | Send me an email to keep me informed.

Toi as an object pronoun appears only with reflexive verbs.

  • Lave-toi. | Wash up.
  • Brosse-toi les dents. | Brush your teeth.

Have a great week, everyone!

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