Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 85): pronom objet neutre – le facultatif


The French pronoun le acts as a neuter object pronoun in certain constructions. Its usage is optional, formal, and most common in written French.

There are four main constructions in which to use the French neuter object pronoun – the bold indicate both the neuter pronoun and what it is referring to – note that English often does not have a translation for this le.

I. To replace or refer to an idea contained in an adjective, noun, or clause

Si tu es satisfait, je le suis aussi.
If you’re satisified, I am too.

– Êtes-vous américain ?   – Oui, je le suis.
– Are you American?   – Yes, I am.

– Il est espion !   – Non, il ne l‘est pas.
– He’s a spy!   – No, he’s not.

Il t‘aime – j’espère que tu le comprends.
He loves you – I hope you understand that.

Je vais me venger – je le jure !
I will get revenge – I swear it!

II. In the second clause of a comparison, after aussi, autre, autrement, comme, plus, moins, mieux… (Note that the ne which shows up in the second clause of many of these examples is also optional)

Il est plus grand que je ne le croyais. He’s taller than I thought.

Cela vaut moins que tu ne le penses. That’s worth less than you think.

Elle est autre qu’il ne l’espérait. She’s different than he hoped.

Il n’est pas aussi stupide qu’on le croit. He’s not as stupid as people think.

Ce n’est pas gentil de parler des autres comme tu le fais. It’s not nice to talk about others like you do.

III. With negative expressions of opinion and desire: ne pas penser, ne pas vouloir, ne pas croire…

– Va-t-il venir ? – Je ne le pense pas.

– Is he going to come? – I don’t think so.

– Allez, viens avec nous !   – Je ne le veux pas.
– Come on, come with us!   – I don’t want to.

IV.With the following verbs: croire, devoir, dire, falloir, oser, penser, pouvoir, savoir, vouloir

Comme vous le dites, ce n’est pas juste. As you say, it’s not fair.

Viens quand tu le pourras. Come when you can.

Il pourrait aider s’il le voulait. He could help if he wanted to.

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 84): complément d’objet direct (COD)


Direct objects are the people or things in a sentence which receive the action of the verb. To find the direct object in a sentence, ask the question Who? or What?

I see Pierre. Je vois Pierre.
Who do I see? Pierre.

I’m eating the bread Je mange le pain.
What am I eating? – Bread.

Direct object pronouns are the words that replace the direct object, so that we don’t say things like “Marie was at the bank today. When I saw Marie I smiled.” It’s much more natural to say “Marie was at the bank today. When I saw her I smiled.” The French direct object pronouns are:

me / m’ me
te / t’ you
le / l’ him, it
la / l’ her, it
nous us
vous you
les them

Me and te change to m’ and t’, respectively, in front of a vowel or mute H. Le and la both change to l’.

Like indirect object pronouns, French direct object pronouns are placed in front of the verb.

I’m eating itJe le mange.
He sees her. Il la voit.
I love you. Je t’aime.
You love meTu m’aimes.

1. When a direct object precedes a verb conjugated into a compound tense such as the passé composé, the past participle has to agree with the direct object.
2. If you’re having trouble deciding between direct and indirect objects, the general rule is that if the person or thing is preceded by a preposition, that person is an indirect object. If it’s not preceded by a preposition, it is a direct object.

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 83): les pronoms adverbiaux


The French adverbial pronouns y and en are so tiny that one might think their role in a sentence is not very important, but in fact quite the opposite is true. They are both extremely important in French.

Y refers to a previously mentioned or implied place; it is normally translated by “there” in English. Y usually replaces a prepositional phrase beginning with something like à, chez, or dans.

Are you going to the bank today? No, I’m going (there) tomorrow.
Tu vas à la banque aujourd’hui ? Non, j’y vais demain.

We’re going to the store. Do you want to go (there)?
Nous allons au magasin. Tu veux y aller ?

He was at Jean’s house. He was there.
Il était chez Jean. Il y était.

Note that “there” can often be omitted in English, but y can never be omitted in French. Je vais (I’m going) is not a complete sentence in French; if you don’t follow the verb with a place, you have to say J’y vais.

Y can also replace à + a noun that is not a person,* such as with verbs that need à. Note that in French, you must include either à + something or its replacement y, even though the equivalent may be optional in English. You cannot replace the noun with an object pronoun.

I’m responding to a letter. I’m responding (to it).
Je réponds à une lettre. J’y réponds.
Wrong: Je réponds, Je la réponds.

He’s thinking about our trip. He’s thinking about it.
Il pense à notre voyage. Il y pense.
Wrong: Il pense, Il le pense.

You have to obey the law. You have to obey it.
Tu dois obéir à la loi. Tu dois y obéir.
Wrong: Tu dois obéir, Tu dois l’obéir.

Yes, I attended the meeting. Yes, I attended (it).
Oui, j’ai assisté à la réunion. Oui, j’y ai assisté.
Wrong: Oui, j’ai assisté, Oui, je l’ai assisté.

I’m going to think about your proposal. I’m going to think about it.
Je vais réfléchir à votre proposition. Je vais y réfléchir.
Wrong: Je vais réfléchir, Je vais la réfléchir.

*In most cases, à + person may only be replaced by an indirect object. However, in the case of verbs that don’t allow preceding indirect object pronouns, you can use y, for example:

Pay attention to him.
Fais attention à lui, Fais-y attention.
Wrong: Fais-lui attention.

Note that y usually cannot replace à + verb.

I hesitate to tell the truth. I hesitate to tell it.
J’hésite à dire la vérité. J’hésite à la dire.
Wrong: J’y hésite.

I continue to read Balzac. I continue to read him.
Je continue à lire Balzac. Je continue à le lire.
Wrong: J’y continue.

Y is also found in the expression il y a.



En replaces the partitive article + noun or de + indefinite article + noun. It is equivalent to “some,” “any,” or “one” in English.

Do you have any bread? Yes, I have some.
As-tu du pain ? Oui, j’en ai.

He wants an apple. He wants one.
Il a envie d’une pomme. Il en a envie.

I don’t need an assistant. I don’t need one.
Je n’ai pas besoin d’un aide. Je n’en ai pas besoin.

In a sentence with a modifier, such as an adverb of quantity or a number, plus noun, en replaces the noun and the modifier or number is placed at the end of the sentence. Note that “of it” and “of them” are usually optional in English, but en is required in French.

There are a lot of rooms. There are a lot (of them).
Il y a beaucoup de chambres. Il y en a beaucoup.

I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough (of it).
Je n’ai pas assez d’argent. Je n’en ai pas assez.

I’d like two books. I’d like two (of them).
Je voudrais deux livres. J’en voudrais deux.

We bought 10 notebooks. We bought 10 (of them).
Nous avons acheté 10 cahiers. Nous en avons acheté 10.

En also replaces de + noun with verbs and expressions that need de. Again, in French, you must include either de + something or its replacement en, even though “about/of it” is usually optional in English.

What do you think about my idea? What do you think (about it)?
Que penses-tu de mon idée ? Qu’en penses-tu ?
Wrong: Que penses-tu ?

What are the consequences of this decision? What are the consequences (of it)?
Quelles sont les conséquences de cette décision ? Quelles en sont les conséquences ?
Wrong: Quelles sont les conséquences ?

Note that en usually cannot replace de + verb.

I decided to accept his offer. I decided to accept it.
J’ai décidé d’accepter son offre. J’ai décidé de l’accepter.
Wrong: J’en ai décidé.

I forgot to wash the car. I forgot to wash it.
J’ai oublié de laver la voiture. J’ai oublié de la laver.
Wrong: J’en ai oublié.

Note that en is also a preposition.

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 82): communication et savoir-faire, les sommaires (premiere partie)

I have shared quite a lot of notes about French here at my apprendre la langue francaise series. We learned about the grammar, the phonetics, the verb conjugations, some vocabularies, several expressions, among others.  Yet it’s also equally important to understand how we can apply all these, and I’ll try my best, as I am no expert, to demonstrate it here and likewise, share my personal observations and insights as I learn the language while living in Geneva, where my French connection begins.

1) Saluer
Whether the person is someone you are familiar with or not, greeting others seems to be a common gesture for French-speaking people.  There are numerous expressions you can use depending on the situation (read: les usages – la politesse part un and part deux). To come in handy nevertheless, these are amongst the most common French salutations used:

Bonjour (Monsieur/Madame/Madamoiselle)!
It specifically means “Good morning” and this expression can be used as soon as the morning starts (6AM) until the afternoon (6PM). The expression, Bonsoir, is then used in the evening (6PM onwards); and another expression is used, Bonne nuit, most likely before someone goes to bed, or if it’s midnight.

I do hear Bon apres-midi and Bon midi for quite a few occasions, and I heard these mostly from old folks around, so I personally think that these two expressions are seldom used at this time and age.

I also observe that most people greet Bonjour to each other even if it’s way past evening. Later I did learn that Bonjour is also a rather formal way to say “Hello” to a stranger, regardless of time.

I find this rather interesting because this salutation could either mean “Hello” or “Goodbye.” So when you quickly meet someone halfway, you’d say Salut! two times? That’d sound technically right but totally weird. So no, not really. One Salut will be just fine (and quickly walk away if you may).

This expression is particularly used to informally greet a person you are closely associated with like family members, friends, work colleagues, etc. Well, when a stranger says Salut! to you, be very afraid…

These days, Salut! is more regularly used as “Hi” than as “Bye!” Because there’s another (and I’d say, better) way to say goodbye in French.

One more thing, this is neither associated with the word, “salute” nor it is pronounced similarly as well. Very French (c’est chic!), you won’t pronounce the letter T at the end (it’s /sah-lyoo/).

Au revoir (Monsieur/Madame/Madamoiselle)!
More of a formal expression, this exactly means “Goodbye.” What is good about this expression is that, this is not time-bound – and perhaps not even to how closely related you are with the other person (you can say Au revoir to a classmate, for instance). This is quite a handy expression I ought to know!

Again, very French, there’s a different way to pronounce it (read: la pronunciation du français), and it’s /aw-vwah/.

Bon journée!
This is also a formal expression of saying goodbye, but this time, it is time-bound. If we have Bonjour to say hello, we have Bon journée to say goodbye in the morning until afternoon; if we have Bonsoir, there’s Bon soirée.

If we have Salut! for “Hi!” we have Tchao! for “Bye!” Sounds familiar but yes, it is an Italian expression adapted into the French language, so as not to use Salut as a way to say good-bye, I guess…

À bientot. À demain.  À lundi. À week-end…
Apart from Au revoir, Tchao, Bon journee, and Bon soiree, you can also greet the person with salutations like À bientot or À demain.These two expressions mean “See you soon!” and “See you tomorrow!” respectively. When you are about to meet the other person on any days of the week, you can say À lundi (read: 12 mois et 7 jours) or on weekends, À week-end. This also goes to show that you are eager to be with the person soon.

2) S’excuser
Expressing apologies, requests, or gratitude is a common thing to do and here’s how to say it in French:

  • Excusez-moi means “Excuse me.”
  • S’il vous/te plaît? is normally added after saying a request or plea, and this phrase simply means “please.” Vous is used when you speak to more than one person, or when you have to speak formally to the other. Te (changed form of the pronoun, tu) is used when you speak to one person informally.
  • In saying sorry, you can say Pardon or (Je suis) désolé.
  • In thanking someone, you can say Merci (beaucoup). And in saying “You’re welcome,” you can either say: De rien which also means “It’s nothing;” or Je vous en prie which means “It was my pleasure” (or Je t’en prie for someone you are familiar with).

3) Se présenter / Présenter quelqu’un / Demander à quelqu’un de se presenter
Geneva is a melting pot of different nationalities. Hispanics, Africans, Middle Easterners, Asians, Americans, Europeans, it seems likely that each country of the world is well-represented in the city.  So apart from introducing myself whenever I meet new people, it is no longer surprising as well to tell them that I am a Filipino. Everyone does ask; we’re equally curious to know.

When people ask my name (le nom), they’d say, Vous vous appelez comment? (or Tu t’appelles comment? when informal), which literally means “How are you called?” And I’d respond, Je m’appelle (votre nom) and this literally means “I call myself (your name)” but of course, it equally means “My name is…” or “I am…”. Or informally, you can say, C’est (votre nom), which means “It’s (your name)” (read: les expressions – c’est vis-a-vis il est). Then people ask a few more information about you like (read: l’interrogation (adverbes interrogatifs) and l’interrogation (que, quoi ou quel?)):

age (l’age)
(Vous/Tu avez/as) quel age? What is your age?
J’ai vingt-huit (28) ans. I am 28 years (old).

where you live
Vous/Tu habitez/habites où? Where do you live?
J’habite à Geneve en Suisse. I live at Geneva in Switzerland.

nationality (la nationalité)
Quelle est votre nationalité? What is your nationality?
Je suis philippin. I am Filipina.

A quick note, in French, nationalities are treated as adjectives, not nouns. This also means that adjectives of nationalities have genders and the spellings differ to identify which one is for male and the other female (read: les adjectifs de nationalité).

In presenting someone, use pronoun, Il, if you introduce a male, and Elle, female. Note that there’s a different conjugation assigned for these pronouns (read: les verbes -être, s’appeler, et  avoir (conjugaison au présent)).

Il s’appelle Ben. Il est tunisien et il habite en France. Il a 30 ans. He is called Ben. He is (a) Tunisian and he lives in France. He is 30 years (old).

Elle s’appelle Marie. Elle est tunisienne. Elle a 20 ans. Elle habite à Zurich en Suisse. She is Marie. She is (a) Tunisian. She is 20 years (old). She lives at Zurich in Switzerland.

Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 33): le nom – masculin ou féminin?


There are some patterns in suffixes and word endings – certain endings tend to indicate masculine nouns, while other endings favor feminine nouns. These gender patterns are not fool-proof, but they can help you to figure out the gender of many French nouns.

Here are some suffixes that usually indicate masculine nouns, as well as some important exemptions.

1. -age
exceptions: la cage, une image, la nage, la page, la plage, la rage

2. -b

3. -ble
exceptions: une cible, une étable, une fable, une table

4. -c
exceptions: la fac (apocope, or short version for, la faculté)

5. -cle
exceptions: une boucle

6. -d

7. -de
exceptions: la bride, la merde, la méthode, la pinède; -ade, -nde, -ude endings

exceptions: la clé, la psyché; -se, -te, -tié endings

9. -eau
exceptions: l’eau, la pleau

10. -ège
exceptions: la Norvège

11. -et

12. -eur
Note: this applies mainly to names of professions and mechanic/scientifical things; also see -eur on the feminine endings.

13. -f
exceptions: la soif, la clef, la nef

14. -i
exceptions: la foi, la fourmi, la loi, la paroi

15. -ing

16. -isme

17. -k

18. -l

19. -m
exceptions: la faim

20. -me
exceptions: une alarme, une âme, une arme, la cime, la coutume, la crème, l’écume, une énigme, une estime, une ferme, une firme, une forme, une larme, une plume, une rame, une rime; -mme ending

21. -ment
exceptions: une jument

22. -n
exceptions: la façon, la fin, la leçon, la main, la maman, la rançon; -son and -ion endings

23. -o
exceptions: la dactylo, la dynamo, la libido, la météo, la moto, la steno (most of these are apocopes of longer feminine words)

24. -oir

25. -one

26. -ou

27. -p

28. -r
exceptions: la chair, la cour, la cuiller, la mer, la tour (see feminine -eur)

29. -s
exceptions: la brebis, la fois, une oasis, la souris, la vis

30. -ste
exceptions: la liste, la modiste, la piste; names for people like un(e) artise, un(e) nudiste, etc.

31. -t
exceptions: la dent, la dot, la forêt, la jument, la mort, la nuit, la part, la plupart

32. -tre
exceptions: la fenêtre, une huître, la lettre, la montre, la rencontre, la vitre

33. -u
exceptions: l’eau, la peau, la tribu, la vertu

34. -x
exceptions: la croix, la noix, la paix, la toux, la voix

Here are some suffixes that usually indicate feminine nouns, as well as some important exemptions.

1. -ace

2. -ade
exceptions: le grade, le jade, le stade

3. -ale
exceptions: un châle, un pêtale, un scandale

4. -ance

5. -be
exceptions: un cube, un globe, un microbe, un tube, un verbe

6. -ce
exceptions: un artifice, un armistice, un appendice, le bénéfice, le caprice, le commerce, le dentifrice, le divorce, un exercice, un office, un orifice, un précipice, un prince, un sacrifice, un service, le silence, le supplice, un vice

7. -cé
exceptions: un crustacé

8. -e
exceptions: most countries and names that end in -e are feminine.

9. -ee
exceptions: un pedigree

10. -ée
exceptions: un apogée, un lycée, un musée, un périgée, un trophée

11. -esse

12. -eur
Note: This applies mainly to abstract qualities and emotions, except le bonheur, l’extérieur, l’honneur, l’intérieur, le malheur, le meilleur. Also see -eur on the masculine endings.

13. -fe
exceptions: le golfe

14. -ie
exceptions: un incendie, le foie, le génie, le parapluie, le sosie

15. -ine
exceptions: le capitaine, le domaine, le moine, le magazine, le patrimoine

16. -ion
exceptions: un avion, un bastion, un billion, un camion, un cation, un dominion, un espion, un ion, un lampion, un lion, un million, un scion, un scorpion, un trillion

17. -ique
exceptions: un graphique, un périphérie

18. -ire
exceptions: un auditoire, un commentaire, un dictionnaire, un directoire, un horaire, un itinéraire, l’ivoire, un laboratoire, un navire, un pourboire, le purgatoire, le répetoire, le salaire, le sommaire, le sourire, le territoire, le vocabulaire

19. -ise

20. -ite
exceptions: l’anthracite, un ermite, le granite, le mérite, l’opposite, le plébiscite, un rite, un satellite, un site, un termite

21. -lle
exceptions: le braille, un gorille, un intervalle, un mille, un portefeuille, le vaudeville, le vermicelle, le violoncelle

22. -mme
exceptions: un dilemme, un gramme, un programme

23. -nde
exceptions: le monde

24. -nne

25. -ole
exceptions: le contrôle, le monopole, le rôle, le symbole

26. -rre
exceptions: le beurre, le parterre, le tonnerre, le verre

27. -se
exceptions: un carosse, un colosse, le gypse, l’inverse, un malaise, un pamplemousse, un parebrise, le suspense

28. -sé
exceptions: un exposé, un opposé

29. -sion

30. -son
exceptions: un blason, un blouson

31. -té
exceptions: un arrête, le comité, le côté, un été, le pâté, le traité

32. -tié

33. -tion
exceptions: le bastion

34. -ude
exceptions: le coude, un interlude, le prélude

35. -ue
exceptions: un abaque

36. -ule
exceptions: le préambule, le scrupule, le tentacule, le testicule, le véhicule, le ventricule, le vestibule

37. -ure
exceptions: le centaure, le cyanure, le dinosaure, le murmure

Note: Obscure exceptions are not listed. To avoid, confusion, dual-gender nouns are not listed.