Apprendre la langue Française (Part Six) – classes of words, parts of speech

Source: Berlitz French Grammar Handbook

Each part of speech is defined by what it does – what it refers to and its function and position in the sentence.

Four classes of word (the content words) contain most of the meaning of the sentence. These are:

1. les verbes (Verbs)

J’apprends le français; je parle, je lis, j’écris la langue.

I am learning French; I speak, read and write the language.

2. les substantifs (Nouns)

J’aime la France, sa culture, sa langue, ses paysages, ses villes, et son peuple.

I like France, its culture, its language, its scenary, its towns, and its people.

3. les adjectifs (Adjectives)

La France est un pays riche, cultivé, varié, et progressif.

France is a rich, cultured, diverse and progressive country.

4. les adverbes (Adverbs)

On trouve facilement des journaux français à New York, et je vois souvent des films français.

You can easily find French newspapers in New York, and I often see French movies.

Structure words, on the other, do add to the meaning, but they do it mainly by the way they relate to the content words:

1. les verbes auxillaires (Auxillary Verbs)

The verbs avoir and être are used with other verbs to create a range of compound tenses.

J’ai été deux fois à Marseille. J’y suis allé pour le première fois en 1970.

I’ve been to Marseille twice. I went there for the first time in 1970.

2. les pronoms (Pronouns)

Pronouns substitues for nouns, often to avoid unnecessary repetitions.

Je compte beaucoup de Français parmi mes amis. Je leur écris, et je vois souvent ceux qui habitent Los Angeles. On se parle souvent au téléphone.

I number a lot of French people among my friends. I write to them, and I often see those who live in Los Angeles. We often talk on the telephone.

3. les déterminants (Determiners)

Determiners include some of the most common words in any language, such as the articles (un, une, des, le, la, les), the demonstratives (ce, cette, ces), and the possessives (mon, ma, mes, son, sa, ses, etc.).

4. les prépositions (Prepositions)

Prepositions are connecting words placed in front of nouns or their equivalent. They include words like pour (for), devant (in front of), avec (with), dans (in).

5. les conjonctions (Conjunctions)

Conjunctions are used to join clauses, phrases, or words. The most common ones are et (and), mais (but), ou (or).

6. les exclamations (Exclamations)

Exclamations express sudden and strong emotions of all sorts in a single word or phrase such as:

Quel dommage!

Mon dieu!

Flûte, alors!


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