French › Level two lessons › School · L'école

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Dialogue [edit]

Culture · Education in France [edit]

Vocabulary · School and students [edit]

l'école (f) About this sound /ekɔl/ school
l'élève (m) About this sound /e.lɛv/ pupil
l'étudiant (m)
l'étudiante (f)
About this sound /etydjɑ̃/
About this sound /etydjɑ̃t/
student
le collège (classes 6-4) About this sound /kɔ.lɛʒ/ jr. high school (grades 6-9)
le collégien
la collégienne
About this sound /kɔ.le.ʒjɛ̃/
About this sound /kɔ.le.ʒjɛn/
jr. high school student
le lycée (classes 3-terminale) About this sound /li.se/ high school (grades 10-12)
le lycéen
la lycéenne
About this sound /li.se.ɛ̃/
About this sound /li.se.ɛn/
high school student
l'université (f)
la fac(ulté)
About this sound /y.ni.vɛʁ.si.te/
About this sound /fak/
About this sound /fa.kyl.te/
university
l'enseignement supérieur higher education
graduate school

Grammar · Present perfect with regular verbs [edit]

The passé composépresent perfect is a compound tense, and is therefore composed of an auxiliary verb and a past participle. With most verbs, that auxiliary verb is avoir.

Meaning[edit]

In English, verbs conjugated in the passé composé literally mean have/has ____ed. While there is a simple past tense in French, it is almost always only used in formal writing, so verbs conjugated in the passé composé can also be used to mean the English simple tense.

For example, the passé composé forms of parlerto speak , [avoir] parlé, literally mean has/have spoken, but also means spoke.

Basic formation[edit]

To conjugate a verb in the passé composé, the helping verb, usually avoir, is conjugated in the present indicative and the past participle is then added.

Auxiliary verb - avoir[edit]

Conjugate avoir in the present indicative.

j'ai I have nous avons we have
tu as you have vous avez you have
il a he has ils ont they have
elle a she has elles ont they have

Past participle[edit]

  • -er verbs: replace -er with é
  • -ir verbs: replace -ir with i
  • -re verbs: replace -re with u
  • irregular verbs: varied; must be memorized
Formation of the past participle
Verb Group Infinitive Stem Past Participle
-er verbs jouer jou joué
-ir verbs finir fin fini
-re verbs répondre répond répondu

Avoir + past participle[edit]

J'ai joué I have played Nous avons joué We have played
Tu as joué You have played Vous avez joué You have played
Il a joué He has played Ils ont joué They have played
Elle a joué She has played Elles ont joué They have played

Please also note:

Fem. Subject or Person (Elles, Elle, Nous, On etc.)- Add another e with no aigu or grave to end of word- if a female person is partaking in the group.

Plural Subject (On, Nous, Tu, Vous etc.)- Add another "s" to end of word.

Finally, some verbs are irregular for the past participle, such as aller (to go), instead of using avoir to form the past participle, they will use être (to be) to form the past participle.

Always check the verb's irregularities before using to form past participle. Some "past participle" irregulars are regular verbs when forming other tenses.

Examples[edit]

Vocabulary · At school · À l'école[edit]

le professeur[1]
la prof
About this sound /pʁɔ.fɛ.sœʁ/
About this sound /pʁɔf/
teacher, professor
la bourse About this sound /buʁs/ scholarship
le diplôme (professionnel) About this sound /di.plom/ diploma
le bac(calauréat) About this sound /bak/
About this sound /bakalɔʀea/
high school exit exam
la bibliothèque About this sound /bi.bli.jɔ.tɛk/ library
la note About this sound /nɔt/ grade, mark (as on a test)
les cours About this sound /kuʁ/ classes or courses
la classe About this sound /klas/ grade (e.g. 6th Grade)
en cours de [...] in [...] class
Pendant les cours
le tableau About this sound /ta.blɔ/ chalkboard
la craie About this sound /kʁɛ/ chalk
le pupitre About this sound /pypitʁ/ school desk
l'examen (m) About this sound /ɛɡzamɛ̃/ exam, test
les devoirs About this sound /dǝ.vwaʁ/ homework
la classe About this sound /klas/ class
la cantine About this sound /kɑ̃.tin/ cafeteria
la récréation
la cour
About this sound /ʁe.kʁe.a.sjɔ̃/
About this sound /kuʁ/
recess
courtyard
Describing teachers and students
intelligent(e) About this sound /ɛ̃teliʒɑ̃/
About this sound /ɛ̃teliʒɑ̃t/
intelligent
strict(e) About this sound /stʁikt/ strict

^ The word professeur is considered masculine at all times, even if the teacher is female. The only case when "professeur" can be preceded by feminine determinant is either when contracting it in colloquial language "la prof", or when adding a few words before : "madame/mademoiselle la/le professeur".

Vocabulary · Actions [edit]

passer un examen to take a test
étudier About this sound /e.ty.dje/ to study Il étudie nuit et jour. He studied night and day.
écrire About this sound /e.kʁiʁ/ to write
lever (la main) to raise (your hand)
poser (une question) to ask (a question)
répondre (à) About this sound /re.pɔ̃dʁ/ to answer, to reply (to) Il a répondu à toutes les questions. He answered all of the questions.
parler About this sound /paʁle/ to speak Ils ont parlé plusieurs heures avant d'aller se coucher. They talked for several hours before bedtime.
écouter About this sound /ekute/ to listen (to) J’écoute la radio. I listen to the radio.
entendre About this sound /ɑ̃.tɑ̃dʁ/ to hear (of) Elle entend des voix. She hears voices.
regarder About this sound /ʁǝ.ɡaʁ.de/ to watch
déjeuner About this sound /de.ʒœ.ne/ to (eat) lunch Déjeunez- vous á onze heure? You (formal) eat lunch at eleven O'clock?

In French, you do not "own" body parts. While in English, you would say my hand or your hand, the definite article is almost always used in French:

la mainmy hand
la jambemy leg
le brasmy arm

To and of are part of the verbs écouter and entendre respectively. It is not necessary to add a preposition to the verb. Other verbs, such as répondre (à), meaning to respond (to), are almost always followed by a preposition.

Supplementary examples [edit]

C’est un auteur que j’ai peu étudié. He is an author that I have little studied.
On ne devient pas savant sans étudier. You do not become learned without studying.
Ce pianiste étudie plusieurs heures par jour. This pianist exercises several hours a day.
Il étudie l’écriture sainte. He studies scripture.
Elle parle couramment le français. She speaks French fluently.
Ne parlez pas si haut. Do not talk so loud.
Écoutez, j’ai quelque chose à vous dire. Listen, I have something to say to you.
J'ai entendu plusieurs fois ce chanteur à la Scala. I heard this singer several times at La Scala.
Tu dois répondre aux questions que je te pose. You must answer the questions I ask you.
Il répond à toutes les lettres qu’il reçoit. He responds to all the letters that he receives.

Supplementary usage notes · Entendre [edit]

Grammar · To write and to read · Écrire et lire[edit]

Écrire[edit]

Écrire is an irregular French verb, meaning to write. It varies from other -re verbs in the plural conjugation, by adding a v. Its past particple, écrit, is also irregular.

écrire Listen /e.kʁiʁ/ to write
j'écris /e.kʁi/ I write
tu écris /e.kʁi/ you write
il écrit Listen /e.kʁi/ he writes
nous écrivons /e.kʁi.vɔ̃/) we write
vous écrivez /e.kʁi.ve/ you write
ils écrivent /e.kʁiv/ they write
écrit Listen /e.kʁi/ written

The verb coécrireto co-write /ko.e.kʁiʁ/ is conjugated the same way. The nouns écriture /e.kʁi.tyʁ/, meaning writing or handwriting, and écrivain /e.kʁi.vɛ̃/, meaning writer, are derived from écrire.

Lire[edit]

Lire is an irregular French verb, meaning to read. It's plural conjugation adds an s, and its past participle is lu.

lire Listen /liʁ/ to read
je lis Listen /'li/ I read
tu lis Listen /'li/ you read
il lit Listen /'li/ he reads
nous lisons /li.zɔ̃/ we read
vous lisez /li.ze/ you read
ils lisent /liz/ they read
lu /ly/ read

The verbs élireto elect /e.liʁ/ and relireto reread /ʁǝ.liʁ/ are conjugated the same way. The adjective lisible /lizibl/, meaning readable or legible, is derived from lire.

Examples[edit]

Mon père écrit des poèmes pour ma mère. My father writes poems for my mother.
As-tu écrit ce slogan sur le mur ? Have you written that slogan on the wall?
Il a une mauvaise écriture. He has bad handwriting.
Jean lit très souvent. John reads very often.
Il faut lire et relire les auteurs de l’antiquité. You must read and reread the authors of antiquity.
On a relu le projet de loi. We have reviewed the bill.
Sa écriture n’est pas belle, mais elle est lisible. His writing is not beautiful, but it is readable.

Supplementary vocabulary · School supplies · Les fournitures scolaires[edit]

la craie About this sound /kʁɛ/ chalk J'ai écrit au tableau avec de la craie. I wrote on the blackboard with chalk.
le tableau About this sound /ta.blɔ/ the board
le stylo (stylo à bille) About this sound /stil.o/ (ballpoint) pen
le crayon About this sound /kʀɛ.jɔ̃/ pencil
la calculatrice About this sound /kal.ky.la.tʁis/ calculator
le livre About this sound /livʁ/ book une livre is a pound
le bouquin About this sound /bu.kɛ̃/ book colloquial; also rabbit J'ai commencé un nouveau bouquin hier. I started a new book yesterday.
le cahier About this sound /ka.je/ notebook
le papier
la feuille de papier
About this sound /pa.pje/ paper
sheet of paper
le bloc-notes About this sound /blɔk.nɔt/ notepad
le sac à dos About this sound /sak.a.dɔ/ backpack
la gomme About this sound Fr-gomme.ogg eraser
la règle About this sound /ʁɛɡl/ ruler
le feutre About this sound /føtʁ/ marker
le cartable backpack

Supplementary vocabulary · School subjects · Les matières d'enseignement[edit]

l'informatique (f) About this sound /ɛ̃.fɔʁ.ma.tik/ computer science
la littérature About this sound /li.te.ʁa.tyʁ/ literature
la musique About this sound /myzik/ music
les langues
l'anglais About this sound /ɑ̃.ɡlɛ/ English
le français About this sound /fʁɑ̃.sɛ/ French Il parle très bien français. He speaks French very well.
l'espagnol (m) About this sound /ɛs.pa.ɲɔl/ Spanish
l'allemand (m) About this sound /al.mɑ̃/ German L’allemand est une langue germanique.
Mon stagiaire parle un allemand impeccable.
German is a Germanic language.
My trainee speaks perfect German.
le russe About this sound /ʁys/ Russian
l'italien (m) About this sound /i.ta.ljɛ̃/ Italian
les sciences naturelles
la biologie About this sound /bjɔ.lo.ʒi/ biology
la chimie About this sound /ʃi.mi/ chemistry
la physique About this sound /fi.zik/ physics Ses matières préférées sont la chimie et la physique. His preferred subjects are chemistry and physics.
les mathématiques
l'algèbre (f) About this sound /al.ʒɛbʁ/ algebra
le calcul About this sound /kal.kyl/ calculus
la géométrie About this sound /ʒe.ɔ.me.tʁi/ geometry
les sciences sociales
l'économie (f) About this sound /e.kɔ.nɔ.mi/ economics
la géographie About this sound /ʒe.ɔ.ɡʁa.fi/ geography
l'histoire (f) About this sound /is.twaʁ/ history

Supplementary vocabulary · Classes/grades [edit]

The way that grades are numbered in France is opposite the way they are in the US. Whereas American grade numbers increase as you approach your senior year, they descend in France.

Classe Terminale 12th Grade
1ère (la première classe) 11th Grade
2ème (la deuxième classe) 10th Grade
3ème (la troisième classe) 9th Grade
4ème (la quatrième classe) 8th Grade
5ème (la cinquième classe) 7th Grade
6ème (la sixième classe) 6th Grade
CM2 (CM = cours moyen) 5th Grade
CM1 4th Grade
CE2 (CE = cours élémentaire) 3rd Grade
CE1 2nd Grade
CP1 (CP = cours préparatoire) 1st Grade

Text [edit]

Exercises [edit]

ExercisePresent perfect translation

(Highlight or hover over a line to show the answer.) Translate each phrase.

I finished. (finir) J'ai fini.
I have listened. (écouter) J'ai écouté.
We played. (jouer) Nous avons joué.
Jacques has waited. (attendre) Jacques a attendu.
We finished. (finir) Nous avons fini.
He studied. (étudier) Il a étudié.
They watched. (regarder) Ils ont regardé.
We studied. (étudier) Nous avons étudié.
They listened. (écouter) Ils ont écouté.
ExercisePresent perfect

(Highlight or hover over a line to show the answer.) Rewrite each phrase in the present perfect.

Je regarde J'ai regardé
Vous jouez Vous avez joué
Elle écoute Elle a écouté
Elles finissent Elles ont fini
Ils regardent Ils ont regardé
Nous entendons Nous avons entendu
Elle joue Elle a joué
Je finis J'ai fini