Apprendre la langue Française (Part Vingt) – les verbes (une introduction)

Source:, Berlitz French Grammar Handbook

Verbs are words that define actions, feelings, or states.

Je voyage beaucoup. I travel a lot.
J’aime mon travail. I like my work.
Je suis représentant. I am a salesman.

In French, verbs have to be conjugated meaning, they have different forms depending on what the subject is. They can have up to 6 conjugations, one for each subject pronoun like I, you, he, etc. In English, there’s only one conjugation and that is for the third person singular of a verb (for example, I sing vis-à-vis he sings); and the verb to be has three conjugations – I am, you are, he is. It’s as simple as that in English.

But wait, there’s even more! French verbs come in many varieties particularly, tenses, voices, and moods. And there are different conjugations for each variety! Computing the probable number of verbs to keep in mind will horrify you definitely. But don’t fret since there are patterns to the conjugations of most verbs. Whew.

All French verbs are classified to 5 categories. The first three categories namely, -ER verbs, -IR verbs, and -RE verbs, are regular verbs. Regular verbs that end in these letters are all conjugated the same way in all of the tenses.

A fourth category is called stem-changing verbs, although these verbs are actually sub-category of -ER verbs. They are all -ER verbs that take the same endings as the regular verbs, but their root changes depending on the subject.

The last category is irregular verbs whose conjugations are unique to them, so these must be memorized separately.

French verbs take simple tense forms, using single words, or compound forms made up with part of the verb avoir or the verb être. For example:

J’ai travaille toute ma vie dans l’eléctronique. I have worked in electronics all my life.
Je suis devenu représentant à l’âge de trente ans. I became a salesman at the age of thirty.
(Here, the verb “suis devenu” is in compound form, but if translated in English, the verb “became” is in single form.)

And when avoir and être are used in this way to created compound forms, they are known then as auxiliary verbs. For example:

J’aurais préféré devenir medecin. I would have preferred to become a doctor.
Si seulement j’avais réussi mes examens. If only I had passed my exams.
Je me serais sérieusement avantagé. I would have given myself a real boost.

Apprendre la langue Française (Part Dix-Neuf) – les adjectifs contraire (vocabulaire)

joyeux , content ≠ triste
happy ≠ sad

bon ≠ méchant , mauvais
good ≠ bad

pauvre ≠ riche
poor ≠ rich

miniscule ≠ énorme
small ≠ big

malade ≠ bien portant
sick ≠ healthy

jeune ≠ vieux
young ≠ old

faux ≠ juste
wrong ≠ right

fort ≠ faible
strong ≠ weak

lourd ≠ léger
heavy ≠ light

froid ≠ chaud
cold ≠ hot

petit ≠ grand
small ≠ tall

beau ≠ laid
beautiful ≠ ugly

cher ≠ bon marché
expensive ≠ cheap

clair ≠ foncé
clear ≠ dark

difficile ≠ facile
difficult ≠ easy

dur ≠ mou
hard ≠ soft

gros ≠ maigre
big ≠ thin

haut ≠ bas
high ≠ short

long ≠ court
long ≠ short

ouvert ≠ fermé
open ≠ close

plein ≠ vide
full ≠ empty

rapide ≠ lent
fast ≠ slow

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part Dix-Huit): les professions (vocabulaire)


teacher, professor


professeur (m) / professeuse (f)

instituteur (m) / institutrice (f)


doctor (House)


médicin/docteur (m) / doctoresse (f)




infirmier (m) / infirmière (f)




plombier (m)




dentist (m) / dentiste (f)




jardinier (m) / jardinière (f)




paintre (m/f)




cuisinier (m) / cuisinière (f)




serveur (m) / serveuse (f)




secrétaire (f)


model (ala Paris Hilton)


mannequin (m)


(vegetable) vendor


vendeur (m) / vendeuse (f)




prêtre (m)




facteur (m) / factrice (f)


transcriptionist, secretary


dactylo (f)




policier/agent de police (m)




concierge (m/f)




agriculteur (m) / agricultrice (f)


(taxi) driver


chaffeur (de taxi) (m/f)




coiffeur (m) / coiffeuse (f)




mécanicien (m) / mécanicienne (f)




opticien (m) / opticienne (f)


(bank) employee


employé (m) / employée (f) (de banque)




pompier (m)


actress, actor


acteur (m) / actrice (f)


business man/woman


homme d’affaires (m) / femme d’affaires (f)


military man


gendarme (m)




pilote (m)


(tennis) player


joueur (m) / joueuse (f) du tennis




chirurgien (m) / chirurgienne (f)




musicien (m) / musicienne (f)

(m) means the noun is in masculine form. (f) means the noun is in feminine form. (m/f) means the noun is in both forms.

Apprendre la langue Française (Part Quinze) – les pronoms subjet

Source: Berlitz French Grammar Handbook

I have already posted a brief note about french pronouns here but this time, let’s check out subject pronouns.

We are all aware that pronouns mean “in place of a noun,” as a way to avoid repetition. All pronouns in French:

  • take their gender (masculine/feminine) and their number (singular/plural) from the noun they refer to; and
  • take their form from their function in the sentence.

Now, personal pronouns simply replace nouns without adding further information. They may refer to the person(s) speaking (first person), the person(s) spoken to (second person), or the person(s) or thing(s) spoken about (third person).

The subject pronouns are:

Singular Plural
First person je (I) nous (we)
Second person tu (you) vous (you)
Third person il (he, it), elle (she, it) ils, elles (they)

Note that Je becomes j’ before a vowel or mute h. For example:

J’habite Douai, j’ai un appartement dans le centre.
I live in Douai. I have an apartment in the town center.

Vous vis-à-vis Tu:
Tu is used when addressing family, close friends, and children, and is a mark of closeness or familiarity. Young people, especially students, increasingly use tu to their peers, whether or not they are in the familiar category.

In other situations, particularly with other acquaintances, strangers, or people who ought to be treated with politeness, vous is generally used. For example:

Tu n’as pas froid, Christine?
Vous n’avez pas froid, madame?
You’re not cold, are you, Christine?
You’re not cold, are you, Madame?

Tu can be used deliberately as a sign of contempt, in situations where normally vous would be expected.

Tu can only be used in singular form, while vous can be singular or plural. For example:

Vous n’avez pas froid, mes enfants?
Vous n’avez pas froid, mesdames?
You’re not cold, are you, children?
You’re not cold, are you, ladies?

Ils vis-à-vis Elles:
Ils is used when referring to masculine nouns in the plural, or to a mixture of masculine and feminine nouns. Elles is used to refer to feminine nouns in the plural. For example:

As-tu vu Brigitte et Paul? Oui, ils sont partis à la piscine.
Have you seen Brigitte and Paul? Yes, they have gone off to the swimming pool.
Mais ils ont oublié leurs serviettes. Elles sont là sur la table.
But they‘ve (referring to Brigitte and Paul) forgotten their towels. They (referring to the towels) are here on the table.

The indefinite pronoun, On:
The subject pronoun on is known as an indefinite pronoun since it is frequently used to make statements about no one in particular.

On peut très facilement faire ce genre d’erreur.
One can very easily make this sort of mistake.

Note that you must not confuse on with un/une to be used as a number. For example:

Un de mes enfants me l’a dit.
One of my children told me.

In French, on is much more widely used than “one” in English. Often, it has no direct correspondence in English, as in these instances:

1. Where a passive form would normally be used in English, by making an indirect object become the subject of a passive construction. This is not possible in French, which therefore uses on as a way of avoiding specifying who did the action. For example:

On m’a recommandé un noveau restaurant japonais.
A new restaurant has been recommended to me.

2. In speech, where it is very commonly used to replace nous. When on is used instead of nous, it is common (though not obligatory) for agreements to be made to match the implied nous. For example:

Alors, ce soir, on va restaurant ou on reste à la maison?
So are we going out to the restaurant this evening, or staying at home?

On est bête, toi et moi, d’avoir peur de manger des choses exotiques.
It is foolish of us to be scared of eating anything exotic.

3. Instead of ils, to convey a generalized “they” (généralité). For example:

On dit que les Japonais mangent plus sainement que nous.
They say the Japanese eat more healthily than we do.

4. Quelqu’un (someone) and n’importe qui (anyone at all) are also used as indefinite forms. For example:

Quelqu’un a sonné il y a cinq minutes.
Someone rang the doorbell five minutes ago.
N’importe qui peut pénétrer dans la maison si tu ne fermes pas la porte.
Anyone can get into the house if you don’t close the door.

Apprendre la langue Française (Part Quatorze) – la pronunciation du français


There are 37 different sounds in French: 19 vowels (voyelles) and 18 consonants (consonnes). There are also 130 different graphemes, where each of which represents an instance of a particular sound.

19 voyelles

Listen here.

4 voyelles antérieures
[i] lit, stylo, île, maïs, meeting
[é] télé, Parler, nez, pied, messieurs, poignée, volontiers
[è] règle, chienne, merci, jouet, mais, mtre, payer, treize, être, Noël, volley
[a] sac, à, femme

4 voyelles centrales
[u] lune, sûr, eu (avoir au passé composé)
[e] je
[E] feu, noeud, jne
[F] fleur, coeur, club

4 voyelles postérieures
[U] poule , gter, football, août
[o] vélo, landau, bateau, drôle
[O] pomme, album, alcool, capharnaüm

[A] pâte

4 voyelles nasales:
[D] un, parfum
[C] lapin, chien, pain, peinture, daim, imparfait, syndicat, sympa
[B] gant, dent, jambe, empereur, paon, Caen
[I] ballon, ombre, punch

3 semi- voyelles :

[J] pied, crayon, sole il, paille, hne, païen
[V] huit, sueur, suave, ennuyeux
[w] doigt, ouate, wallon, équateur, moelle, ple, crt, asseoir (+ nasale : loin)

18 consonnes

Listen here.

(10 occlusives):
[p] pile, appartement
[b] bol, abbaye
[m] mur, flamme
[t] table, datte
[d] dé, addition
[n] noeud, anniversaire
[G] ligne, manière
[k] cadeau, qualité, képi, accord, orchestre, ticket, coq
[g] gâteau, bague, aggraver, second, ghetto
[N] parking

(6 fricatives):
[f] flûte, phare, affaire
[v] valise, wagon
[s] soleil, poisson, citron, garçon, démocratie, science, asthme, six
[z] maison, zoo, deuxième, blizzard
[H] chat, short, schéma, fasciste
[j] jupe, girafe

(2 vibrantes):
[l] lampe, elle
[R] roue, beurre