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La Grammaire Française

Although not intended to be a conclusive overview, this is a basic review of key grammar concepts that you will encounter in French 1, 2, or 3. Use this as a review, or to brush up on your accuracy.

  • Regular Verbs
  • Irregular Verbs
  • Tenses
  • Prepositions
  • Locations
  • Negatives
  • Articles
  • Ordinal Numbers
  • Pronouns
  • Questions
  • Adjectives & Adverbs
  • Comparisons
  • Possession
  • Pronunciation Lessons
  • Overview

Les Verbes

pdf Verb Review Sheet

Verbs are action words. In this section and the next you will learn th patterns of verbs in French. You will see that verbs follow patterns. You will also notice how verbs change when you change the subject (he, she, I, you, etc.). The regular verb section shows verbs that follow a fairly regular pattern. The irregular verbs have a more bizarre pattern or sometimes no pattern at all. Both of these sections focus on the verbs in the present tense. To see how the verbs change when you are talking in the past or future, look at the section on tenses. I have also included videos and practice materials to help with memorizing the verbs.

ER Verbs

In French, you change the form according to the subject. Most of the verbs in this unit are regular -ER verbs. Here is the pattern to conjugate them:

practice

AIDER

j'aide

nous aidons

tu aides

vous aidez

il/elle/on aide

ils/elles aident

 

Almost Regular

There are many verbs that are almost regular. They may add an extra letter or an accent to certain forms. Look at the following link to learn more about these almost regular verbs and to practice.

IR Verbs

There is another set of regular verbs that end in -IR. Here is the pattern to conjugate them:

practice ir

CHOISIR

je choisis

nous choisissons

tu choisis

vous choisissez

il/elle/on choisit

ils/elles choisissent

 

RE Verbs

There is another set of regular verbs that end in -RE. Here is the pattern to conjugate them:

practice re

RENDRE

je rends

nous rendons

tu rends

vous rendez

il/elle rend

ils/elles rendent

 

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Out of this world verbs

Some verbs are so different you just have to memorize how they are formed. Below is a list of some of the most common ones, but follow this link to learn about other out of this world verbs and practice them.

The verb être (to be)

The verb être is an irregular verb in the present tense. Watch the video below and listen carefully to its forms in the present. Do you hear the liaison or linking in the pronunciation of the -s in the vous form? It is pronounced as a /z/ to link with the vowel ê in êtes.

être to be

je suis

I am

nous sommes

we are

*tu es

you are

vous êtes

you are

il/elle/on est

he/she/one is

ils/elles sont

they are


Tu es de Nice? Are you from Nice?
Je suis de Paris. I'm from Paris.
Vous êtes de Marseilles? Are you from Strasbourg?
Je ne suis pas d'Afrique. Je suis français. I am not from Africa. I am French.

Now it's your turn to practice writing the verb to be. Click on the link. Scroll to the Fill in the blank activity. Answer the questions with the correct form of the verb to be. Try not to look. Do both the fill in the blank as well as the listening comprehension activity. When you are finished, say the sentences out loud to your partner.

Conjugate the verb être below with the correct subjects:

  1. Julie et Andrea espagnoles.

  2. Vous chinois?

  3. Oui, je chinois.

  4. Tu japonaise?

  5. Non je ne pas japonaise.

  6. Thomas et Andrew américains.

  7. Alain belge.

  8. Stéphanie canadienne.

  9. Nous mexicains.

  10. Nous français.

Faire - to do

FAIRE

je fais

nous faison

tu fais

vous faites

il/elle/on fait

ils/elles font


Voir - to see

VOIR

je vois

nous voyons

tu vois

vous voyez

il/elle/on voit

ils/elles voient

Aller - to go

ALLER

je vais

nous allons

tu vas

vous allez

il/elle/on va

ils/elles vont


Avoir - to have

AVOIR

j'ai

nous avons

tu as

vous avez

il/elle/on a

ils/elles ont


  • j'ai un crayon rouge - i have a red pencil
  • tu as une règle jaune - you have a yellow ruler
  • il a une gomme blanche - he has a white erasor
  • le garçon a un pupitre vert - the boy has a purple desk
  • la fille a un livre marron - the girl has a brown book
  • nous avons un stylo bleu - we have a blue pen
  • vous avez un cahier noir - you have a black notebook
  • elles ont des trousses - they have pencil cases
  • les élèves ont une image - the students have a picture
  • les filles ont un ordinateur - the girls have a computer

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There are many tenses in French. This is not meant to be a full report of all tenses, but rather a brief overview of most of the tenses you will encounter in French 1, 2, and 3. If you would like to study more tenses, I would encourage you to check out the links below. Otherwise, this unit will emphasize:

The basic past tenses | The future tenses | Conditional | Basic Subjunctive

French Verb Conjugations

french verbs

The Past Tense

In French there are several tenses (les temps) that make up the past tense. We can skip passé simple, since it is a literary text and people don't talk using it. The plus-que-parfait is also rarely used in normal conversation. That leaves the passé composé and the imparfait, which are both widely used.

Passé Composé

pdf Preterit Review Sheet

This tense is easy to recognize because the verb has two parts. The first is avoir or être conjugated and then a helping verb. This is different from present tense, which only has the one verb form (j'aime, tu joues, il finit, etc.).

French passé composé conjugations

 

 

 

 

 

AIMER (auxiliary verb is avoir)

j'

ai aimé

 

nous

avons aimé

tu

as aimé

 

vous

avez aimé

il,
elle 

a aimé

 

ils,
elles 

ont aimé

 

 

 

 

 

DEVENIR (être verb)

je

suis devenu(e)

 

nous

sommes devenu(e)s

tu

es devenu(e)

 

vous

êtes devenu(e)(s)

il

est devenu

 

ils

sont devenus

elle 

est devenue

 

elles

sont devenues

 

 

 

 

 

SE LAVER (pronominal verb)

je

me suis lavé(e)

 

nous

nous sommes lavé(e)s

tu

t'es lavé(e)

 

vous

vous êtes lavé(e)(s)

il

s'est lavé

 

ils

se sont lavés

elle 

s'est lavée

 

elles

se sont lavées

Only use être with the following 17 verbs and reflexive verbs!!!

Imparfait

pdf Imperfect Review Sheet

The imparfait is also different from present tense because of the endings. You will always here the common sound [ɛ] at the end of each verb.

French imperfect conjugations

Here are the imperfect endings and conjugations for the regular verbs parler (to speak) and finir (to finish), the -ier verb étudier (to study), the spelling change verb manger (to eat), and the irregular verb être (to be):

Pronoun

Ending

parler
> parl-

finir
> finiss-

 je (j')

 -ais

parlais

finissais

 tu

 -ais

parlais

finissais

 il

 -ait

parlait

finissait

 nous

 -ions

parlions

finissions

 vous

 -iez

parliez

finissiez

 ils

 -aient 

parlaient 

finissaient 

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Future Tense

pdf Future Review Sheet

There are two future tenses in French, the simple future and the near future (le futur proche). The futur proche is usually translated into English as going + infinitive (e.g., going to eat, going to drink, going to talk). The futur proche is characteristic of spoken French but may be used in informal writing. It is formed with the verb aller (to go) conjugated in the present tense followed by an infinitive. 

Corey: Je vais aller à Barton Springs. J'adore l'eau. Je vais nager. Tu viens avec moi, Bette?

Bette: Tu es fou! Il fait trop froid! Je ne vais pas nager!

Simple Future

The 'simple' future (le futur) is so-named because it is a one-word tense. In other words, its formation is simple because there is no auxiliary. 

The endings for the simple future are: -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont. The future stem for -er and -ir verbs is the infinitive. For regular -re verbs, the stem is the infinitive minus the final e. In all cases, the future stem ends in -r: this sound characterizes the future and the conditional.The French simple future tense is generally translated into English with the modal auxiliary 'will.'

nager to swim

je nagerai

I will swim

nous nagerons

we will swim

tu nageras

you will swim

vous nagerez

you will swim

il/elle/on nagera

he/she/one will swim

ils/elles nageront

they will swim

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Conditional

pdf Conditional Review Sheet

The conditional is used to refer to hypothetical events. It occurs in polite requests and most frequently with ifclauses. In French, it is called le conditionnel and is most often translated by would in English. 

regarder to look at

je regarderais

I would look at

nous regarderions

we would look at

tu regarderais

you would look at

vous regarderiez

you would look at

il/elle/on regarderait

he/she/one would look at

ils/elles regarderaient

they would look at

 

The difference in sound between the ai [e] and ais [ɛ] is slight. The ai sound is shorter.

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Future and Conditional Irregular Stems

There are irregular stems that are identical in both the future and conditional. Remember that although the stems are the same, the endings will be different. Use the correct future or conditional ending depending on what you want to say. Are you saying you will do something or you may do something?

infinitive

stem

future

conditional

aller

ir-

j'irai

j'irais

courir

courr-

je courrai

je courrais

devoir

devr-

je devrai

je devrais

envoyer

enverr-

j'enverrai

j'enverrais

faire

fer-

je ferai

je ferais

falloir

faudr-

il faudra

il faudrait

mourir

mourr-

je mourrai

je mourrais

obtenir

obtiendr-

j'obtiendrai

j'obtiendrais

pleuvoir

pleuvr-

il pleuvra

il pleuvrait

pouvoir

pourr-

je pourrai

je pourrais

recevoir

recevr-

je recevrai

je recevrais

savoir

saur-

je saurai

je saurais

tenir

tiendr-

je tiendrai

je tiendrais

venir

viendr-

je viendrai

je viendrais

voir

verr-

je verrai

je verrais

vouloir

voudr-

je voudrai

je voudrais

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Subjunctive

pdf Subjunctive Review Sheet

The subjunctive is one of four moods in French (indicative, imperative, subjunctive and conditional). A mood is a grammatical term which helps categorize verb tenses. The subjunctive mood is used more frequently in French than in English. It has two tenses: present and past. It expresses several concepts, such as a wish, hope, or doubt, as well as an obligation or a necessity. One such expression which is always followed by the subjunctive is il faut que (it is necessary that ...). As you will see, regular verbs are very similar in present tense and subjunctive.

parler  'to speak'

... que je parle

... que nous parlions

... que tu parles

... que vous parliez

... qu'il/elle/on parle

... qu'ils/elles parlent

 

finir  'to finish'

... que je finisse

... que nous finissions

... que tu finisses

... que vous finissiez

... qu'il/elle/on finisse

... qu'ils/elles finissent

 

attendre  'to wait for'

... que j'attende

... que nous attendions

... que tu attendes

... que vous attendiez

... qu'il/elle/on attende

... qu'ils/elles attendent

 

The trick is to remember that subjunctive is required because of your choice of expressions. If you don't use an expression that would indicate the concepts of hope, doubt, obligation, or necessity, then use the regular present or past tenses.

Here is a link to irregular subjunctive forms.

Here is a list of the types of expressions that must be followed by the subjunctive.

  • il est important que, it is important that
  • il est nécessaire que, it is necessary that
  • il vaut mieux que, it is better that
  • il est préférable que, it is preferable that
  • il est possible que, it is possible that
  • il est douteux que, it is doubtful that
  • il est n'est pas certain que, it is not certain that
  • désirer que, to desire that
  • vouloir que, to want that
  • être content(e) que, to be happy that
  • être triste que, to be sad that
  • avoir peur que, to fear that
  • il est urgent que, it is urgent that

Here is a link for more subjunctive practice

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Prepositions

pdf Preposition Review Sheet

A preposition is a word used to establish relationships between nouns, between nouns and verbs and between different parts of a sentence. Prepositions usually have spatial or temporal meanings (e.g. beneath, between, in front of, before, after, during, etc). Prepositions are invariable, that is, they have one form with the exception of à and de which contract with the definite articles (le, la, les). 

Translating prepositions is notoriously tricky. Never assume that French will use the same preposition as English to express a particular meaning. In fact, there are many cases where one language requires a preposition where the other does not. This is particularly problematic with infinitives followed by prepositions. In general, it is best to treat prepositions as vocabulary items requiring memorization. 

http://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/pre1a.html UT Austin does a great job identifying the major prepositions. This is where I get a ton of my content. Here are the major ones you need to use in French.

  • à - to , which also sometimes looks like: au and aux
  • à côté de - beside
  • à droite de - to the right of
  • à gauche de - to the left of
  • après - after
  • au mileu de - in the middle of
  • avant - before
  • avec - with
  • chez - at one's house or place (chez Pierre).
  • contre - against
  • dans - in, inside
  • de - of, from, which also sometimes looks like: du and des
  • derrière - behind
  • devant - in front of
  • en - in
  • en bas de - at the bottom of
  • en face de - in front of
  • en haut de - at the top of
  • entre - between
  • hors de - outside of
  • jusqu'à - until
  • loin de - far from
  • pendant - during
  • pour - for, in favor of
  • près de - close to
  • sans - without
  • sauf - except
  • sous - under
  • sur - on, on top of
  • vers - towards

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Les Endroits

There are many places (les endroits), where one can be at or go to. Once you have the vocabulary down, it isn't that hard. There are some basic rules to it, if you're interested read abou it. Otherwise, just memorize the places on the list. La France

  • ici
  • là-bas
  • en classe
  • en vacances
  • au café
  • à la maison
  • au restaurant
  • au cinéma
  • à + city (ville)
  • au or en + state (état)
  • aux États-Unis

Rules of places

There are several prepositions that are used to express "to" and "at" in French. The way to know is to think about a couple things. First, consider if you are describing a city, state, or other?

City

Unlike most geographical names, the gender of an island (whether it's a state, province, or country) or a city does not affect which preposition must be used.

The prepositions à and de (or d') are always used with cities and singular islands, while aux and des are used with plural islands.

To / In

From

city or singular island

à

de / d'

plural islands

aux

des

Examples:

City

Singular Island 

Plural Islands

J'habite à Paris.
Je suis de Paris.

Je vais à Hawaï.
Je suis d'Hawaï.

Je vais aux Îles Cook.
Je suis des Îles Cook.

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Countries & Continents

When trying to determine which preposition to use with a country or continent, the only difficulty is in knowing its gender.

Nearly all countries that end in e are feminine and the rest are masculine. There are just a few exceptions:

  • le Belize
  • le Cambodge
  • le Mexique
  • le Mozambique
  • le Zaïre
  • le Zimbabwe

All continents end in e and all are feminine.

Once you know the gender, it is a simple matter to decide which preposition to use.*

  1. Masculine and plural countries take à or de plus the appropriate definite article.
    *Except for masculine countries that begin with a vowel, which take en to mean to/in.
     
  2. Feminine countries and continents take en or de with no article.

Country is:

To or In

From

masculine and starts with consonant

au

du

masculine and starts with vowel

en

de l'

feminine

en

de / d'

plural

aux

des

Examples:

Masculine country

Feminine country

Plural country

Continent

Je vais au Togo.

Elle va en Chine.

Il va aux Fidji.

Tu vas en Asie.

Je suis au Togo.

Elle est en Chine.

Il est aux Fidji.

Tu es en Asie.

Je suis du Togo.

Elle est de Chine.

Il est des Fidji. 

Tu es d'Asie.


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States & Provinces (Canada)

In order to decide which preposition to use with an American state or Canadian province, you must first determine its gender, which is a matter of memorization: all but nine states and five provinces/territories are masculine (see the list of states and list of provinces to find out which are feminine).

  1. Masculine states and provinces can be preceded by either dans le or au to mean to/in, and du to mean from unless they start with a vowel (see 2, below).
      
    Exceptions: dans/de l'état de New York, dans/de l'état de Washington: these are said this way to distinguish between the cities and the states by the same name.
      
  2. Masculine states/provinces that start with a vowel can take either en or dans l' for to/in, and d' or de l' to mean from.
      
  3. All feminine states/provinces take en (to, in) and de or de la (from).
     

 

Meaning

State/Province is: 

To or In

From

masculine and starts with consonant

dans le / au

du

masculine and starts with vowel

dans l' / en

de l' / d'

feminine

en

de

 Examples:

Masculine

Feminine

Exceptions

Je vais dans le Nevada.

Je suis en Floride.

Je travaille dans l'état de New York.

Il est du Québec.

Elle est de Géorgie.

Il est de l'état de Washington.

Nous sommes en Illinois.

 

Es-tu d'Arizona ?

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La construction négative

pdf Negation Review Sheet

The expression "never" in French, or "ne...jamais" functions very much like "ne...pas" in that the "ne" always precedes the verb and the "pas" or "jamais" always comes after it. You may have also noticed that "ne" can change to "n'" before a vowel.

  • Nous n'allons pas au cinéma.
  • Nous n'étudiions pas le dimanche.
  • Elle ne fait jamais de foot le lundi.

The expression never

Et vous? Qu'est-ce que vous ne faites jamais?

The other important lesson to learn with negatives in French involves the "from expressions." Whenever you have du, de la, or des in a positive sentence, they will become de or d' when you make the sentence negative.

Philippe achète des CDs --> Philippe n'achète jamais de CDs.

Julie fait du hockey --> Julie ne fait jamais de hocky.

Marc et Sophie font du foot --> Ils ne font pas de foot.

Je fais de la natation --> Je ne fais jamais de natation.

mais...

Claude aime faire de l'équitation. --> Claude n'aime pas faire de l'équitation.

Other negative expressions

ne ... jamais

never, not ever

ne ... pas encore

not yet

ne ... rien

nothing, not anything

ne ... personne

nobody, no one, not anybody

ne ... plus

no more, not any longer

ne ... pas du tout

not at all

 

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Definite & Indefinite Articles, Partitive Articles

pdf Articles Review Sheet

This is one of the hardest thing for Americans. Here is a good worksheet that you can do for extra practice. Also, check out the following website for review of noun gender.

The French definite article corresponds to "the" in English. There are four forms of the French definite article:

  1. le   masculine singular
  2. la   feminine singular
  3. l'    m or f in front of a vowel or h muet
  4. les  m or f plural

Which definite article to use depends on three things: the noun's gender, number, and first letter:

  • If the noun is plural, use les
  • If it's a singular noun starting with a vowel or h muet, use l'
  • If it's singular and starts with a consonant or h aspiré, use le for a masculine noun and la for a feminine noun

Meaning and usage of the French definite article

The definite article indicates a specific noun.

   Je vais à la banque.
   I'm going to the bank.

   Voici le livre que j'ai lu.
   Here is the book I read.

The definite article is also used in French to indicate the general sense of a noun. This can be confusing, as definite articles are not used in this way in English.

   J'aime la glace.
   I like ice cream.

   C'est la vie !
   That's life!

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The singular indefinite articles in French correspond to "a," "an," or "one" in English, while the plural corresponds to "some." There are three forms of the French indefinite article.

  1. un    masculine
  2. une   feminine
  3. des   m or f plural

Note that the plural indefinite article is the same for all nouns, whereas the singular has different forms for masculine and feminine.

Meaning and usage of the French indefinite article

The indefinite article usually refers to an unspecified person or thing.

   J'ai trouvé un livre.
   I found a book.

   Il veut une pomme.
   He wants an apple.

The indefinite article can also refer to just one of something:

   Il y a un étudiant dans la salle.
   There is one student in the room.

   J'ai une sœur.
   I have one sister.

The plural indefinite article means "some":

   J'ai acheté des pommes.
   I bought some apples.

   Veux-tu acheter des livres ?
   Do you want to buy some books?

When referring to a person's profession or religion, the indefinite is not used in French, although it is used in English. I know, I know, the exceptions never end. :-(

   Je suis professeur.
   I am a teacher.

   Il va être médecin.
   He's going to be a doctor.

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Definite and Indefinite Articles Quiz

  1. There are how many definite articles in French?

  2. What do the definite articles mean in English?

  3. There are how many indefinite articles in French?

  4. What do these indefinite articles mean in English?

  5. Which types of articles, definite or indefinite, are more specific?

  6. How do we recognize a feminine noun in French?

  7. How do we recognize a masculine noun in French?

  8. How do we recognize a plural noun in French?

  9. What are some of the exceptions to the masculine/feminine gender rules?

Definite Articles Practice Quiz

More Definite Articles

Indefinite Articles

Le Partitif

Look carefully at the pictures below:

The picture on the left represents the whole item: a whole chicken, a whole melon, a whole head of lettuce, a whole pie. The nouns are introduced by INDEFINITE articles: un, une.

The picture on the right represents a part or some quantity of these items: a serving of chicken, a piece of melon, some leaves of lettuce, a slice of pie. The nouns are introduced by PARTITIVE articles: du, de la, de l'.

Voici...

Voilà...

Un pouletun poulet

Du pouletdu poulet

Un melonun melon

Du melondu melon

Une saladeune salade

De la Saladede la salade

Une tarteune tarte

De la tartede la tarte


While the words some and any are often omitted in English, you can never omit the partitive articles in French.

You do NOT use the partitive when expression your likes & dislikes about food.

  • J'adore la tarte.
  • Je n'aime pas les fraises.

You do NOT use the partitive when using an expression of quantity.

  • Je veux un kilo de pommes.
  • Il me faut deux boîtes de céréales.
  • Je voudrais une carafe d'eau minérale.

Finally, in the negative, note that the partitive articles change to de or d'.

  • Tu veux du pain --> Non, je ne veux pas de pain.
  • Tu bois du café? --> Non, je ne bois pas de café.
  • Il y a de l'eau? --> Non, il n'y a pas d'eau.

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Ordinal numbers First - Twelfth

pdf Numbers Review Sheet

Ordinal numbers

 

 

Fractions

first

premier
première 

1st

1er
1re  

 

 

second

deuxième

2nd

2e

half

une moitié

third

troisième

3rd

3e

1/3

un tiers

fourth

quatrième

4th

4e

1/4

un quart

fifth

cinquième

5th

5e

1/5

un cinquième

sixth

sixième

6th

6e

1/6

un sixième

seventh 

septième

7th

7e

1/7

un septième

eighth

huitième

8th

8e

1/8

un huitième

ninth

neuvième

9th

9e

1/9

un neuvième

tenth

dixième

10th 

10e

1/10

un dixième

 

Practice Quiz

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Pronouns

pdf Pronoun Review Sheet

A pronoun is a word used to replace a noun. It is commonly used to avoid repeating a previously mentioned noun known as the antecedent. In the following example, pronouns in bold face are used to replace the underlined antecedents. 

These are the different types of pronouns:

subject pronouns

  • je, tu, il, elle, on, nous, vous, ils, elles
  • I, you, he, she, one, we, you, they (m), they (f)

direct object pronouns

  • me, te, le, la nous, vous, les
  • me, you, him / it, her / it us, you, them (m) / (f)

indirect object pronouns

  • me, te, lui nous, vous, leur
  • to me, to you, to him / her to us, to you, to them (m) / (f)

the pronouns y and en

  • y en
  • there (replaces preposition + location) some, any, not any (replaces 'de' + noun)

disjunctive pronouns

  • moi, toi, lui, elle, soi nous, vous, eux, elles
  • me, you, he, she, one we, you, them (m), them (f)

reflexive pronouns

  • me, te, se nous, vous, se
  • myself, yourself, himself, herself ourselves, yourselves, themselves

interrogative pronouns

  • qui que
  • who what

demonstrative pronouns

  • celui, celle ceux
  • this one / that one (m,f) these, those

relative pronouns

  • qui, que lequel, laquelle
  • who, whom, which which

indefinite pronouns

  • quelqu'un quelque chose
  • someone something

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Asking Questions

pdf Question Review Sheet

In French there are 4 ways of asking a question to get a yes or noanswer, and they are the following:

-Verb + pronoun:  A-t-elle du temps libre? (Does she have free time?)

-Pronounverb: Only the intonation makes the sentence interrogative: Elle a du temps libre? (Does she have free time?)

-The way closest to the English formulation (do or does) Est-ce qu’elle a du temps ? (Does she have free time?)

-Finally you can also make a question by adding a tag questionto the end of a statement. Ella Elle a du temps libre, non ?

Elle a du temps libre, n’est-ce pas ? (She has free time, doesn’t she)

Questions

how?

comment?

what?

quoi? que?

who?

qui?

why?

pourquoi?

where?

où?

how much?

combien?

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Adjectives

pdf Adjective Review Sheet

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. The major differences between adjectives in French and English concern agreement and placement. In French, an adjective is usually placed after the noun it modifies and must agree in gender and number with the noun. In English, an adjective usually comes before the noun it modifies and is invariable, that is, it does not agree. Here is a handout on adjectives.

Most adjectives follow the general rule below, which is that the adjective agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies. So if you are describing a plural object, the adjective ends with "s", or if it is a feminine object, the adjective ends in "e".

masculine
singular

feminine
singular

masculine
plural

feminine
plural

petit

petite

petits

petites

 

There are of course exceptions. For instance some adjectives end with an "e", like russe, belge, calme, etc. For these adjectives, there are just two forms.

singular

plural

belge

belges

 

Then there are some adjectives that are made plural by adding an "x" instead of an "s". For these adjectives, it would look something like this.

masculine
singular

feminine
singular

masculine
plural

feminine
plural

heureux

heureuse

heureux

heureuses

 

Notice how the masculine forms are the same with these types of adjectives, and the feminine forms are different, and made plural by simply adding the "s".

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Placement

In French, most adjectives follow the noun, unlike in English, where the the adjective precedes the noun. Here are some examples of adjectives following the noun:

  • Il a les cheveux bruns et les yeux bleus.
  • Elle a trouvé une jolie chemise jaune à rayures pour la danse.

There are a few that come before or precede the noun (like in English). Here is a good list of these adjectives. I call these the BAGS (Beauty, Age, Goodness, Size) adjectives.

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Irregular Adjectives

Feel free to look up more irregular adjectives and practice here.

masculine

feminine

translation

doux

douce

soft

faux

fausse

false

favori

favorite

favorite

frais

fraîche

fresh

long

longue

long

public

publique

public

 

masculine ending

feminine ending

french

english

-el

-elle

cruel • cruelle

cruel

-eil

-eille

pareil • pareille

similar

-il

-ille

gentil • gentille

kind, nice

-on

-onne

mignon • mignonne

cute

-s

-sse

gros • grosse

big, fat

-en

-enne

ancien • ancienne

old

-et

-ète

secret • secrète

secretive

-er

-ère

cher • chère

dear, expensive

-eux

-euse

heureux • heureuse

happy

-eur

-euse

trompeur • trompeuse

deceptive

-teur

-trice

créateur • créatrice

creative

-f

-ve

actif • active

active

-c

-che

franc • franche

frank

-ou

-olle

fou • folle

crazy

 

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Adverbs

pdf Adverb Review Sheet

An adverb is a word that qualifies the action of the verb, that is, it specifies how or when the action is performed. In English, many adverbs are indicated by the -ly ending. In French, most adverbs end in -ment. Consider how adjverbs and adjectives are different.

  • Tex écrit bien. (adverb modifies verb) Tex writes well.
  • La poésie de Tex est bonne. (adjective modifies noun) Tex's poetry is good.

Here is a list of some adverbs you should be familiar with:

  • bien - well
  • mal - poorly
  • vite - quickly
  • souvent - often
  • quelquefois - sometimes
  • toujours - always
  • jamais - never
  • dehors - outside
  • tôt - early
  • tard - late
  • aujourd'hui - today
  • maintenant - now
  • hier - yesterday
  • - there
  • ici - here
  • beaucoup - a lot
  • très - very
  • trop - too
  • déjà - already
  • demain - tomorrow
  • assez - enough
  • peu - little
  • peut-être - maybe
  • d'abord - first
  • puis - then
  • alors - so
  • enfin - finally
  • donc - thus, so

Many adverbs can be formed by adding -ment to the feminine adjective form. Here are a couple examples:

lent -- lentement (slowly)

patient -- patiemment (patiently)

actif -- activement (actively)

*Note: this is not true of all adjectives. Plus d'infos.

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Le Comparatif

pdf Comparative and Superlative Review Sheet

Comparisons are used to describe the similarities or differences between to people, places, or things. To do this in French is very simple and easy to follow. With an object, you might say you have more of something than someone.J'ai plus de crayons que Marc. The word plus means more, de crayons - of pencils, que - than, and the person.You will also see the words autant de and aussi which mean as much as or the same as. The word moins refers to less.

Below are some examples of the comparative:

 

COMPARATIF

AVEC UN NOM

Je mange

plus de

moins de

autant de

pommes que Stéphanie.

AVEC UN VERBE

Je travaille

plus

moins

autant

que Jacques.

AVEC UN ADJECTIF

Je suis

plus

moins

aussi

intelligent que toi.

AVEC UN ADVERBE

Je conduis

plus

moins

aussi

vite que Robert

The exceptions

In the context of comparing people with adjectives, the expressions better and worse can create an issue.

In French, as in English, you can't say plus bon (more good). You say meilleur (better). However, unlike English, it is okay to say in French plus mauvais (more bad). You can also say pire (worse).

In the context of comparing actions, a similar rule applies.

You couldn't say that the car works more well than the truck (la voiture marche plus bien que le camion). You have to say it works better than it, same in French. La voiture marche mieux que le camion. Again, saying more poorly is okay. Il travaille plus mal. It works more poorly.

Le Superlatif

A superlative is a term that does not compare. It implies the best, the fastest, the smartest, the cutest, etc. Just as in English, you need that article the (le,la,les) to form it. We also won't use the word aussi because you can't be the same and super.

Hillary est la plus gentille au monde - Hillary is the nicest in the world.

Jean est le moins intelligent dans la classe - John is the least intelligent in the class.

Note: the same exception of better applies here, but this time it means BEST!!!

Nous sommes les meilleurs! - We are the best!

Nous avons les meilleurs profs! - We have the best teachers!

Possession

pdf Possession Review Sheet

There exists a few ways of dealing with possession in French. One critical thing to remember is the French NEVER use ('s or s') to show possession. You have to change how you say things.

With "de"

This is the easiest way. You switch the possessor to follow the object being possessed and stick the preposition "de" which means "of" in the middle. Sometimes the (de) will change to (d') in front of a vowel or (des) if the object is plural.

le livre de Jean - John's book
la chambre des filles - the girls' room

Also note that (de) will contract with (le) as well to form du.

le livre du professeur - the professor's book
la chambre du garçon - the boy's room

With adjectives

Possessive adjectives are the words used in place of articles to indicate to whom or to what something belongs. The English equivalents are my, your, his, her, its, our, and their. Look at the following examples:

Mon numéro de téléphone est le 768-3120.
Mon stylo est rouge.
Mon classeur est blanc.
Ma chaise est rouge.
Ma poubelle est noire.
Ma main est sur ma tête.
Mes cheveux sont bruns.
Mes yeux sont verts.
Mes ciseaux sont roses.
Mes bonbons sont bons.

My phone number is 768-3120.
My pen is red.
My binder is white.
My chair is red.
My trashcan is black.
My hand is on my head.
My hairs are brown.
My eyes are green.
My scissors are pink.
My candies are good.

Mon, Ma, Mes - Song from Étienne

Instead of one "my", the French have three. Mon is used for masculine singular words or words that begin with a vowel (i.e. mon amie). Ma is used for feminine singular words. Mes is used for masculine and feminine plural words.

There are also other forms of "your, his, her, its, our, and their".

Pronom

masculine
singular

feminine
singular

plural

My

mon

ma

mes

Your

ton

ta

tes

His/Her

son

sa

ses

Our

notre

nos

Your

votre

vos

Their

leur

leurs

Some more things to remember:

1) When describing two or more nouns in French, a possessive adjective must be used in front of each one:

   son frère et sa sœur
   his brother and sister

   notre tante et notre oncle
   our aunt and uncle

2) The possessive adjective is almost never used with body parts in French. You can't say "my hand" or "my hair." Instead, the French use pronominal verbs to show possession with body parts:

   Je me suis cassé la jambe
   I broke my leg (literally, I broke the leg of myself).

   Il se lave les cheveux
   He's washing his hair (literally, He washes the hair of himself).

3) An important difference between French and English is that in French it is the gender of the noun that determines which form to use, not the gender of the subject. A man would saymon livre when talking about a book, and a woman would also say mon livre - the book is masculine, and therefore so is the possessive adjective, no matter who the book belongs to. Likewise, both men and women would say ma maison, because house is feminine in French - it doesn't matter whether the owner of the house is male or female.

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