Tag Archive | Intermediate French

Expressions with “Tomber”

Tomber amoureux

  • suddenly become in love

Tomber à pic

  • to arrive at the right moment

Tomber à l’eau

  • to fail, not succeed (as in a project or school)

Tomber dans les bras de Morphée

  • to fall asleep (Morphée/Morpheus is the god of dreams)

Tomber dans le panneau

  • to be too gullible and to be trapped

Tomber au champ d’honneur

  • to die for one’s country on the battlefield

Tomber des cordes / des hallebardes

  • to rain very hard

Tomber des nues / de la lune

  • to be amazed, to be very astonished

Have a fantastic week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Expressions with “Tout”

Tout à coup

  • Soudainement, brusquement
    • English translation: suddenly

Tout à fait

  • Absolument, exactement conforme à sa pensée
    • English translation: absolutely

Tout à l’heure

  • à l’instant, aussitôt, dans un instant, tout de suite
    • English translation: just now

Tout comme

  • de la même façon que
    • English translation: just like

Tout court

  • sans rien ajouter après
    • English translation: just, plain, simply, plainly

Tout un chacun

  • n’importe qui, sans distinction
    • English translation: every one of us/you/them

Tout d’abord

  • en priorité, avant toute chose
    • English translation: first, in the first place

Tout de même

  • malgré tout, néanmoins, cependant
    • English translation: all the same

Tout de suite

  • immédiatement, en ce moment
    • English translation: immediately

Would it be interesting for my readers if we read some news articles? It wouldn’t be all the time and it would take the place of a weekly lesson. Let me know! Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Agreement of the Past Participle with Avoir

The participles of verbs conjugated with avoir in the passé composé agree with the direct object, but only when the direct object precedes the verb. This occurs most often with a direct object pronoun.

  • Est-que tu a trouvé les clés ? | Did you find the keys?
    • The direct object les clés follows the verb; the past participle does not agree.
  • Oui, je les ai trouvées au sous-sol. | Yes I found them in the basement.
    • The direct object pronoun les precedes the verb, and the past participle agrees with the feminine plural direct object pronoun.
  • J’ai acheté une nouvelle cravate en soie. | I bought a new silk tie.
    • The direct object une nouvelle cravate follows the verb; the past participle does not agree.
  • Alors, pourquoi est-ce que tu ne l’a pas mise ? | So then, why didn’t you put it on?
    • The direct object pronoun la precedes the verb, and the past participle agrees with the feminine singular direct object pronoun.

The indirect object pronoun lui and leur do not cause the past participle to agree.

  • Nicole m’a envoyé un e-mail, mais je ne lui ai pas encore répondu. | Nicole sent me an email, but I haven’t answered her yet.
  • Je leur ai offert un cédé. | I gave them a give.

The other case where direct objects precede the verb is the relative clause.

  • Est-ce qu’il a découvert une solution ? | Has he come up with a solution?
    • The direct object une solution follows the verb; the past participle does not agree.
  • Oui, mais je n’aime pas la solution qu’il a découverte. | Yes, but I don’t like the solution that he came up with.
    • The que of the relative clause (elided to qu’) precedes the verb, and the past participle agrees with the feminine singular relative pronoun, which replaces la solution.
  • Tu savais que j’ai écrit cette histoire ? | Did you know that I wrote this story?
    • The direct object cette histoire follows the verb; the past participle does not agree.
  • Prête-la-moi. Je veux lire l’histoire que tu as écrite. | Lend it to me. I want to read the story  that you wrote.
    • The que of the relative clause precedes the verb, and the past participle agrees with the feminine singular relative pronoun, which replaces l’histoire.

It is the relative pronoun que, not qui, that causes agreement of the past participle. Because the relative pronoun qui is the subject, not the object of its clause, it does not cause agreement of the past participle with verbs conjugated with avoir.

  • Qui est la femme qui a travaillé ici ? | Who’s the woman who worked here?
  • Les étudiants qui ont réussi les examens sont très contents. | The students who passed the exams are very happy.

Expressions of cost (with the verb coûter) and distance are not really direct objects and do not cause agreement of the past participle.

  • les cent euros que le billet a coûté | the one hundred euros the ticket cost
  • les trois kilomètres que tu a couru | the three kilometers you ran

Except for the relatively few past participles ending in a consonant, such as ditfaitmis, prisécritouvert, etc., the agreement of the past participle is a feature of written French only. In spoken French, the agreement is heard only in the feminine singular and plural of participles ending in a consonant.

Have a fantastic week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Sentence Building : The Causative – Faire + Infinitive

French has a special construction to express the idea that one person causes another person to do something. This construction is called “the causative”, which consists of the verb faire followed by an infinitive.

  • Mon ordinateur ne marche pas bien. | My computer isn’t working well.
    • Il faut le faire réparer, alors. | Then you’ve got to have it fixed.
  • Notre bureau n’est pas propre. | Our office isn’t clean.
    • Il faut le faire nettoyer. | We have to have it cleaned.
  • Je ne peux pas faire démarrer la voiture. | I can’t get the car to start.
  • Je crois qu’il faut faire charger la batterie. | I think you have to have the battery charged.

A sentence in the causative may include the person whom you cause to do the work or perform the action. That person usually appears at the end of the sentence if there is no other object present.

  • Il a fait attendre ses clients. | He kept his customers waiting.
  • J’ai fait entrer les invités. | I had the guests come in.

However, if there is another object present, the person who is caused to do something may appear as an agent phrase beginning with par, as in the passive voice, or as an indirect object introduced by the preposition à.

  • J’ai fait réparer ma voiture par le mécanicien.
  • J’ai fait réparer ma voiture au mécanicien.
    • I had the mechanic repair my car.
  • Elle a fait raccourcir ses robes par son tailleur.
  • Elle a fait raccourcir ses robes à son tailleur.
    • She had her tailor shorten her dresses.

One or both of the objects in the previous examples can be replaced by object pronouns. The object pronouns always precede faire in the causative.

  • J’ai fait réparer ma voiture au mécanicien.
    • Je la lui ai fait réparer.
  • Elle a fait raccourcir ses robes à son tailleur.
    • Elle les lui a fait raccourcir.

Note that fait, the past participle of faire, does not agree with a preceding direct object in the causative.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

A la prochaine…


Verbs – Glisser

glisser  – to slide, to slip

  • Attention, ça glisse ce matin, il a gelé pendant la nuit.
    • Be careful, it’s slippery this morning; it froze during the night.
  • Elle a glissé et s’est fait mal à la cheville.
    • She slipped and hurt her ankle.
  • Mathieu glissait des petits mots à Sandrine pendant le cours de latin.
    • Mathieu slipped little notes to Sandrine during Latin class.
  • Elle lui a glissé quelques phrases à l’oreille.
    • She slipped a few words in his ear.

glisser de quelque chose – to slip out of/from something

  • Une photo de Caroline a glissé de son portefeuille.
    • A photo of Caroline slipped out of his wallet.
  • Cette feuille de papier a glissé de votre livre.
    • This sheet of paper slipped out of your book.

glisser quelque chose dans/sous quelque chose – to slip something in/under something

  • Il a glissé l’enveloppe dans ma poche sans que je m’en aperçoive.
    • He slipped the envelope in my pocket without my being aware of it.
  • J’ai glissé la clé sous le paillasson.
    • I slid the key under the doormat.

glisser sur quelque chose – to slip, to slide on something

  • Yannick a glissé sur une plaque de verglas et s’est cassé le poignet.
    • Yannick slipped on a sheet of ice and broke his wrist.
  • Le voilier glissait silencieusement sur une mer d’huile.
    • The sailboat slid silently on a glassy sea.

se glisser (dans/sous quelque chose) – to slip, to slide (in/under something)

  • En se glissant, on doit pouvoir approcher de la scène.
    • One should be able to sneak up closer to the stage.
  • Glissez-vous le long du mur sans vous faire remarquer.
    • Slither along the wall without being noticed.
  • Je me suis glissé dans le lit et je me suis endormi tout de suite.
    • I slipped into bed, and I fell asleep immediately.
  • C’est à ce moment là que le soupçon s’est glissé dans mon esprit.
    • At that precise moment, suspicion crept into my mind.

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


Uses of the Expletive “ne”

There are a number of occasions in French when what is apparently a positive declarative statement requires the inclusion of ne before the verb, at least in formal written style. In such cases, where ne is used without pas or any other negative particle, and without making the meaning of the clause negative, this is called the expletive ne – terms which imply that the ne is superfluous in that it does not contribute to the sense. It is therefore not surprising that the expletive ne is often omitted in informal and especially spoken French. However, in correct written French, it should be included. Note that if any of these constructions is used to express a true negative, ne…pas is required in the standard way.

An expletive ne is commonly required in the following circumstances.

After the following subordinating conjunctions:

  • avant que | before
  • à moins que | unless
    • Pourriez-vous contacter Marc, à moins qu’il ne soit en vacances ? | Could you contact Marc, unless he’s on vacation?
  • de peur que/de crainte que | lest/for fear that

After verbs and expressions of fearing. For example, avoir peur que, craindre que:

  • Je crains que vous ne soyez déçu. | I’m afraid that you may be disappointed.

After several other expressions, particularly:

  • empêcher que | to prevent
  • éviter que | to avoid
    • Nous avons évité que la situation ne se reproduise. | We have avoided a recurrence of the situation.
  • peu s’en falloir que | very nearly (to do)
  • prendre garde que | the take care of
    • Prenez garde que vous ne tombiez dans l’escalier ! | Take care that you don’t fall down the stairs!

After douter used in the negative or interrogative, and after ne pas nier que + subjunctive:

  • Il ne doutait pas qu’elle ne préférât son rival. | He did not doubt that she preferred his rival.
  • Vous ne niez pas que ce ne soit en échec ? | You don’t deny that it’s a failure?

After depuis que/il y a … que/voici … que/voilà … que + que perfect or pluperfect, referring to the period of time, or point in time, when something last happened:

  • Beaucoup de choses ont changé depuis que je ne l’ai vu. | Many things have changed since I last saw him.
  • Voici six semaines qu’on ne s’est pas parlé en fait. | It’s been six weeks since we last talked.

In the second half of a comparison – i.e. after que – which is implicitly negative:

  • Cette actrice danse mieux qu’elle ne chante. | This actress is better at dancing than singing.
  • Nous avons plus de candidats que je ne l’aurais cru. | We have more candidates than I would have thought.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

A bientôt !


Verbal Opposites

Verbal Opposites

Je monte l’escalier → je descends

  • I go up the stairs → I go down [the stairs]

Je m’habille → je me déshabille

  • I dress myself → I undress myself

Le soleil se lève → il se couche

  • The sun rises → The [sun] sets

Je décolle le papier peint → Je colle le papier peint

  • I take off the wallpaper → I stick on/adhere/paste/glue the wallpaper

Je crie → Je chuchote, je murmure

  • I shout → I whisper, I murmur

Je plie la serviette → Je déplie

  • I fold the napkin → I unfold

Je nettoie → Je salis

  • I clean up → I get dirty

J’ouvre → Je ferme

  • I open → I close

J’allume → J’éteins

  • I light up → I turn off

Je mouille → Je sèche

  • I dampen → I dry up

J’ai perdu des billes → J’ai gagné des billes

  • I lost some marbles → I got/won some marbles.

J’ai fini → j’ai commencé, J’ai débuté

  • I finished → I started, I began

Je vide la bouteille → Je remplis

  • I emptied the bottle → I refilled

J’obéis → Je désobéis

  • I obey → I disobey

J’offre un cadeau → Je reçois

  • I offer a gift → I receive

Il me plait → il me déplait

  • I like it → I don’t like it

Je fais → Je défais

  • I make → I undo

Je déballe le cadeau → J’emballe le cadeau

  • I unwrap the gift → I wrap the gift

Ranger → Déranger

  • I tidy up → I disarrange

This is my 200th blog post! This will be the last post of the year. I’ll be back in January. Stay well, everyone, and enjoy your holidays!

A la prochaine année !