samedi 30 avril 2011

Lesson 17: Asking Questions II

More common question words for you to learn:

Qui ? (Who?)
Quoi ? (What?)
Quand ? (When?)
Où ? (Where?)
Pourquoi ? (Why?)

Qui mange ma pizza ? Who's eating my pizza?

Quoi ? Est-ce que c'est vrai ? What? Is it true? (Literally: is it that it's true?)

Quand est la fête ? When is the party?

est votre maison ? Where is your house?

Pourquoi est-ce que vous me posez tant de questions ? Why are you asking me so many questions? (Literally: why is it that you ask me so many questions?)


La pizza (pizza)
La fête (party)
La question (question)
Vrai (true)
Poser (to pose/to ask)

Lesson 16: Asking Questions I


Okay, so you're sitting in a restaurant and you want to ask your waiter for a croque-monsieur (it's like a grilled cheese with ham). Except that you can't because you don't know how to ask questions in French.

At least you didn't, until now.

Est-ce que. Learn this phrase. Right now. It sounds like ess-kuh when you say it.

Est-ce que je peux avoir un croque-monsieur ? Où est-ce que j'ai mis mes clés ? Qu'est-ce que vous avez dit ?*

Est-ce que means, literally, is it that...

If we were translating it we would replace it with the words do/does/did...

*Can I have a croque-monsieur? Where did I put my keys? What did you say?
(Literally: Is it that I can have a croque-monsieur? Where is it that I put my keys? What is it that you said?)

Next lesson I'll hook you up with more question-words.

Lesson 15: Venir

This is the last in the very irregular verb series. Before you move on to the following lessons, I would urge you to go back and memorize the conjugations for the very irregular verbs... they're widely used and knowing them will serve you well.

Venir (to come)

Je viens
Tu viens
Il/elle/on vient
Nous venons
Vous venez
Ils/elles viennent

mardi 26 avril 2011

Lesson 14: être

être (to be)

A lot of English speakers get confused about the verb to be, probably because this verb is irregular in English as well as in French. So first I'll give you the conjugation in English:

To Be

I am
You are
He/She is
We are
They are

In French:

Je suis
Tu es
Il/Elle/On est
Nous sommes
Vous êtes
Ils/Elles sont

Je suis une fille. (I am a girl.)
Il est un garçon. (He is a boy.)

mardi 19 avril 2011

Lesson 13: Faire

I'm sorry -- I didn't have a lot of time to write a lesson today so I'll leave you with another very irregular verb conjugation: faire (to make/to do). You might be getting sick of verb conjugations but don't worry, there are only a couple very irregular verbs left to learn and then it'll get easier. So...


Je fais
Tu fais
Il/elle/on fait
Nous faisons
Vous faites
Ils/elles font

Examples of sentences with the verb faire:

Je fais un gâteau. (I make a cake.)
Tu fais tes devoirs. (You do your homework.)
Elle fait un dessin. (She does a drawing.)
Ils font du sport. (They do sports.)

Les devoirs = homework
Le dessin = drawing
Le sport = sports

I wanted to mention, if you have any questions about the lessons you can feel free to leave a comment!

dimanche 17 avril 2011

Lesson 12: Comment ça va ?

When you greet somebody it's polite to ask them how they're doing. In order to ask "how are you?" you would use the phrase "comment ça va?, or simply ça va?" You could also say: "comment vas-tu?" or "comment allez-vous?" (depending on whether you're using the formal or informal "you").

Some appropriate responses to the question: comment ça va? would be:

Ca va. (I'm fine)
Je vais bien. (I'm good/I'm doing well)
Je vais très bien. (I'm doing very well)
Je ne vais pas bien. (I'm not doing well)
Je vais mal. (I'm not doing well)
Je vais très mal. (I'm not doing well at all)

After responding to the question comment ça va? you could return the question by saying: et vous? (and you?, formal) or et toi? (informal).

If you want to ask how another person is doing (your friend's mom, for example), you would say: comment va (insert person's name)?

A conversation could look like this:

Bonjour Brigitte.
Bonjour Linda.
Comment ça va?
Je vais bien. Et toi?
Je vais bien aussi.
Comment va ta* maman?
Elle va tres bien, merci.

*ta = your (we'll talk more about possessive pronouns in a later lesson)

Lesson 11: Aller

Aller -- which means to go -- is another irregular verb that has no conjugation pattern. However, like the verb avoir, it would be very difficult to have a conversation in French without knowing this verb.

The conjugation that you'll have to memorize for the verb aller is:

Je vais
Tu vas
Il/elle/on va
Nous allons
Vous allez
Ils/Elles vont

Now that you know the conjugation for aller you can say things like:

Je vais à la plage. (I go to the beach.)
Il va à l'école chaque jour. (He goes to school every day.)
Nous allons au café ensemble. (We're going to the café together.)

La plage = the beach
Chaque = every
Le jour = day
Le café = the café
Ensemble = together

Lesson 10: Negations

It's important to know how to say no. Otherwise you could end up doing a lot of things that you never really wanted to do.

Grammatically speaking, we would call this a negation.

Do you want to go to the beach today?
No, I do not want to go to the beach today.

Do you like this chocolate cake?
No, I do not like the chocolate cake.

May I borrow your dress for the party tonight?
No, you may not borrow my dress.


In French we form negations by using the following fomula:

Ne + Verb + Pas

Let's use the following example: Je marche avec ma mère. I walk with my mother.

To turn this sentence into a negation you would first find your verb which in this case is "marche," a conjugation of the verb "marcher." You plug the verb into the formula and it turns into "ne marche pas." Put it back in the sentence and you end up with: Je ne marche pas avec ma mère. I don't walk with my mother.

Est-ce que tu manges le gâteau ? (Are you eating the cake?)
Non, je ne mange pas le gâteau. (No, I'm not eating the cake).

Est-ce que tu donnes le livre à ton professeur? (Are you giving the book to your teacher?)
Non, je ne donne pas le livre à mon professeur. (No, I'm not giving the book to my teacher.)

Avec = with
le gâteau (plural: les gâteaux) = cake
le professeur = teacher

samedi 16 avril 2011

Lesson 9: Avoir

Avoir -- which means to have -- is an irregular verb, and it's one of the most important verbs that you will learn.  Not only will you need it for the obvious reason of saying "I have" but you'll need it later in order to form sentences in the past tense.

Since avoir is a decidedly irregular verb, it doesn't have a conjugation pattern to follow.  You'll just have to memorize the conjugations.

Tu as
Il/elle/on a
Nous avons
Vous avez
Ils/elles ont

*The reason that we say "j'ai" as opposed to "je ai" is that in French you often can't have two vowels next to each other.  Since "je" ends with a vowel and "ai" begins with a vowel, the "e" in "je" has to be replaced with an apostrophe.  It's the same reason that we say "l'école" as opposed to "le école."

Now that you know the verb for "to have," you can make sentences such as:

J'ai un frère.  I have a brother.

Tu as un livre.  You have a book.

Il a un chat qui s'appelle Fluffy.  He has a cat named fluffy.

jeudi 14 avril 2011

Lesson 8: à

The French word à is a little word that gets a lot of use. It means to, although the rules for using it aren't quite the same as they are in English.

In some cases you can use the word à as it is, with no modification. For example, you could say:

Je donne le livre à mon frère.
I give the book to my brother.

If, however, the word à is followed by the article le, l'a, les, or l' followed by a vowel, you'll need to modify it so that it will agree with the noun.

à + le = au*
à + la = à la
à + les = aux*
à + l' (followed by a vowel) = à + l' (followed by a vowe

*note that the terms à le and à les do not exist in French -- they have to be modified.

So, for example:

Je marche au musée.
I walk to the museum.

Je marche à la bibliothèque.
I walk to the library.

Je marche aux maisons.
I walk to the houses.

Je marche à l'école.
I walk to school.

Le musée = the museum
La bibliothèque = the library
La maison = the house
L'école (f) = the school

mercredi 13 avril 2011

Lesson 7: Je m'appelle

It's time for you to learn how to introduce yourself in French.

The verb s'appeler means to be called.

If you want to say "my name is" you would say je mappelle... plus your name. (Literally, this translates to: "I call myself...")

If you want to ask what somebody's name is, you have to first think: should I use the formal version or the informal version?

Unless you're talking to a child, you'll probably want to use the formal version in this case.

Formal: Comment vous appelez-vous?

Informal: Comment t'appelles-tu?

If you want to ask what somebody's name is, you would say: Il s'appelle comment ? (masculine form), or Elle s'appelle comment ?

Then, to respond to this question, you would say: Il s'appelle... or elle s'appelle...

Finally, if you want to say "pleased to meet you," you would simply say: enchanté (if you are a male) or enchantée (if you are a female).

So a conversation could look like:

Bonjour !
Bonjour !
Comment vous-appelez vous ?
Je m'appelle Isabelle. Et vous ? Comment vous-appelez vous ?
Je m'appelle Brigitte.
Enchantée !
Et ton ami? Il s'appelle comment ?
Il s'appelle Jean.

mardi 12 avril 2011

Lesson 6: Verb Conjugations, Present Tense

Have you ever heard the term "verb conjugations?" Do you know what it means?

Don't feel bad if you don't -- it's something that we hardly pay attention to in English. We pretty much only conjugate verbs in the 3rd person. (I eat, you eat, we eat, but he eats.)

The French, however, are a bit more picky about their subject-verb agreements. They have a different conjugation for every one of their pronouns.

Conjugating regular verbs is actually quite simple. You take the infinitive form of a regular verb (see lesson 5) and remove the -er ending.

Marcher (to walk) becomes March- This is called the root of the verb.

Then you add an ending depending on the subject. The conjugation pattern for regular verbs is:

Vous ...........-ez
Ils/elles .......-ent

So the formula is: Subject + Root + Ending

Say you want to say I walk. In this case your subject is "I." By looking at your pronoun list you can see that the the subject "I" goes with the ending "-e."

Je + march- + -e, right?

Je marche. I walk.

In case you want to see what a present-tense conjugated verb looks like:

Marcher (to walk)

Je marche (I walk)
Tu marches (you walk, informal)
Il / elle / on marche (he/she/one walks)
Nous marchons (we walk)
Vous marchez (you walk, plural, formal)
Ils / elles marchent (they walk, m/f)

Lesson 5: Regular Verbs

This may seem like a quick transition from last lesson's pronouns but you'll see how it ties in.

I'd like to introduce to you the French Regular Verb.

Now, in French there is only one form of a regular verb -- almost any verb whose infinitive ends in -er. If you've never heard of regular verbs:

Regular verbs, as opposed to irregular verbs, have a predictable conjugation pattern that applies to almost all verbs ending in -er (I can only think of one verb -- aller -- that ends in -er and doesn't fit this pattern). All you have to do is memorize the conjugation pattern and add it to the end of the verb. I'll explain this more in detail later.

For now, I'm going to give you a list of common regular verbs and I want you to notice how the endings are all the same.

Aimer = to love/to like
Chanter = to sing
Commencer = to begin
Cuisiner = to cook
Danser = to dance
Dessiner = to draw (pictures)
Manger = to eat
Marcher = to walk
Parler = to talk

These verbs are all shown in what is called the infinitive form. That is, they haven't been conjugated yet. If you were to look up a verb in the dictionary, this is the form you would see.

dimanche 10 avril 2011

Lesson 4: Pronouns III

Any English speaker will obviously be able to tell you that there is a difference between the pronouns "he" and "she." But what about the pronoun "they?"

In French there are two words to express the concept of "they:" "ils" and "elles." The former is the masculine form of the word, which means that it would be used when one is referring to either a group of males or, since the masculine form is dominant, any group of people that includes a male. "Elles," on the other hand, refers to any group that is comprised of females.

So, the rule is:

a group of men = ils
a group of men and women = ils
a group of women = elles

vendredi 8 avril 2011

Lesson 3: Pronouns II

You might have noticed that in French there are two different words for "you:" tu, and vous.

The difference is that tu is known as the "informal, singular you." That is to say, it would be used to address either a single person whom the speaker knows very well (family or close friends), a young child, or an animal.

vous, on the other hand, is the formal version. It would be used to address a stranger or an acquaintance, a person of authority (e.g. a teacher), a person older than oneself (if one is a child), in general anybody that the speaker doesn't know well.

In addition, vous can be the plural form of you. It's used any time more than one person is being addressed, even if the people would normally fall under the informal tu category. Thus, both a group of strangers and a group of close friends would be addressed as vous.

Lesson 2: Pronouns I

You may know that in English we have three different types of pronouns: 1st person (I), 2nd person (you), and third person (he/she/one). We also have plural forms of these pronouns: we, you, and they.
In French, it's the same. Thus, we have:

Je (I)
Tu (you, informal)
Il/Elle/On (he/she/one)
Nous (we)
Vous (you, formal)
Ils/Elles (they, m/f)

It's worth memorizing this list to the point where you can name all the pronouns in order without hesitation. In the next lesson I will give a more in-depth explanation of some of the pronouns.

dimanche 3 avril 2011

Lesson 1: Articles

One of the first things that you should know about the French language is that every noun is defined by one of two articles: the feminine "la" or the masculine "le." In addition, there is a plural form, "les," that encompasses both masculine and feminine nouns.

Whenever you're learning new vocabulary you should be sure that you pay attention to the articles of your nouns... not only will your sentence structure depend on whether the noun is masculine or feminine, but the French will be taken aback (and a bit offended in some cases) if you assign the wrong article to a word.

Sometimes you will be able to guess the gender of the noun based on whether the word is referring to a male or a female. For example:

le père / le papa (father/dad)
l'homme [m] (man)
le mari (husband)
le garçon (boy)
le fils (son)
le grand-père (grandfather)


la mère / la maman (mother/mom)
la femme (woman/wife)
la fille (girl/daughter)
la grand-mère (grandmother)

In other cases, however, the gender of the word isn't as obvious and the article will simply have to be memorized as part of the noun. For example:

le chat (cat)
le chien (dog)
l'arbre [m] (tree)
la maison (house)
l'école [f] (school)
la rue (street)

If you wanted to use the article "a" instead of the article "the," you would use une (feminine form) or un (masculine form). So la mère would be une mère and le père would be un père. The plural form is des: les femmes would change to des femmes (translated as "some women.")

Bienvenue !

After some deliberation I've decided to create a blog to provide online French lessons to anybody who is interested. My reasoning is simple: more people should speak French. Granted, learning a language online isn't the same as learning with a teacher but on the upside you can always go back into a blog's archives and look up something that you might have missed or forgotten.
All the best!