French/Lessons/Print version

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Lesson 0.01 - Introduction[edit | edit source]

French (Français, /fʁɑ̃sɛ/) is a Romance language spoken as a first language by around 136 million people worldwide. A total of 500 million speak it as either a first, second, or foreign language. Moreover, some 200 million people learn French as a foreign language. French speaking communities are present in 56 countries and territories. Most native speakers of the language live in France, the rest live essentially in Canada, particularly the province of Quebec, with minorities in the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, and Western Canada, as well as Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco, Luxembourg, and the U.S. states of Louisiana and Maine. Most second-language speakers of French live in Francophone Africa, arguably exceeding the number of native speakers.

French is a descendant of the Latin language of the Roman Empire, as are national languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and Catalan, and minority languages ranging from Occitan to Neapolitan and many more. Its closest relatives however are the other langues d'oïl and French-based creole languages. Its development was also influenced by the native Celtic languages of Roman Gaul and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders.

It is an official language in 29 countries, plus the Vatican City, which form what is called, in French, La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking countries. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. According to the European Union, 129 million (or 26% of the Union's total population), in 27 member states speak French, of which 65 million are native speakers and 69 million claim to speak French either as a second language or as a foreign language, making it the third most spoken second language in the Union, after English and German. Twenty-percent of non-Francophone Europeans know how to speak French, totaling roughly 145.6 million people.

In addition, from the 17th century to the mid 20th century, French served as the pre-eminent international language of diplomacy and international affairs as well as a lingua franca among the educated classes of Europe. The dominant position of French language has only been overshadowed recently by English, since the emergence of the USA as a major power.

As a result of extensive colonial ambitions of France and Belgium, between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to America, Africa, Polynesia, South-East Asia, and the Caribbean.

History[edit | edit source]

During the Roman occupation of Gaul, the Latin language was imposed on the natives. This Latin language (Classic Latin) eventually devolved into what is known as Vulgar Latin, which was still very similar to Latin. Over the centuries, due to Celtic and Germanic influences (particularly the Franks), la langue d'oïl was developed. A dialect of la langue d'oïl known as le francien was the language of the court, and thus became the official language of what was to become the Kingdom of France, and later the Nation-State of France.

From medieval times until the 19th century, French was the dominant language of diplomacy, culture, administration, trade and royal courts across Europe. Due to these factors, French was the lingua franca of this time period.

French has influenced many languages world wide, including English. It is through French (or more precisely Norman, a dialect of la langue d'oïl) that English gets about one third of its vocabulary.

Extent of the language[edit | edit source]

The French language in the world      Regions where French is the main language      Regions where it is an official language      Regions where it is a second language      Regions where it is a minority language

In modern times, French is still a significant diplomatic language: it is an official language of the United Nations, the Olympic Games, and the European Union. It is also the official language of 29 countries and the Vatican City. Spoken in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Haiti, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, the Congo, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Gabon, the Seychelles, Burundi, Chad, Rwanda, Djibouti, Cameroon, Mauritius, and Canada (mostly in the province of Québec where it is the primary language, but it is also used in other parts of the country). All consumer product packages in Canada are required by law to have both English and French labels.

Advice on studying French[edit | edit source]

See also: How to learn a language

French tends to have a reputation among English speakers as hard to learn. While it is true that it poses certain difficulties to native English-speakers, it may be noted that English is also considered 'difficult' to learn, and yet we learned it without the benefit of already knowing a language. In fact, the French language can be learned in only 10 months, if only for the specific purpose of passing a standardized test, such as the Test d'Evaluation de Français. According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, in order to reach the level of 'Independent User' (after completing Level B2), you must complete 400 hours of effective learning (so if you study 4 hours a week, every single week of the year, you would need two years to achieve it). Any way you look at it, learning any new language requires a long-term commitment. Remember, that like any skill, it requires a certain amount of effort. And it is likely that if you do not practice your French regularly, you will begin to forget it. Try to make French practice a part of your routine; even if it's not daily, at least make it regular.

Also remember that you are learning a new skill. Try to master the easier concepts before moving on to the more complex. We all have to add and subtract before we can do calculus. French is a complete language; thus, while this book can teach you to read and write in French, these are only half of the skills that make up fluency. A written document cannot teach much about listening to and speaking French. You must train on all of these skills, and they will then reinforce one another.

The very best way to learn French is to visit France or another French-speaking country. This allows you to start with a clean slate, as babies do. However, since most of us are unwilling or unable to take that step, the next best option is immersion. If you are serious about learning French, a period of immersion (during which you live in a Francophone culture) is a good idea once you have some basic familiarity with the language. If you can't travel to a French-speaking country, then try listening to French-language programs on the radio, TV, or the Internet. Rent or buy French-language movies (many American and U.K. movies have a French language option). Pay attention to pronunciation. Grab a French speaker you meet and talk to him or her in French. Listen, speak, and practice. Read French newspapers and magazines. Google's news page, which links to French-language news stories, is an excellent source that will enrich your vocabulary.

Written versus modern spoken French[edit | edit source]

While the French written language is highly standardized, and hasn’t changed much in over two hundred years, the same cannot be said of the spoken language. This book, like all French training material, is oriented towards the written language. The speaking examples are straight from the standardized written language. If you were to become an expert in this French, you would probably be completely confused when you arrive in a French speaking country. Unlike the written language, the spoken language is very dynamic. The French people would not readily understand you, and you would not understand them. You can picture in your mind, a person learning English from a two hundred year old book, and coming to your town and saying "Hast thou" or "Wherefore art thou."

The reason written French is stressed in learning (Schools and Internet courses), is that you can go from this standardized language to modern spoken French much easier than English to spoken French, and then going backwards to learning written French.

A simple example is: Je ne comprends pas (I don't understand). For a business person (not wanting to sound too plebeian) this would be spoken as: Jeun comprends pas, with the Je ne joined together. But most people on the street simplify this even further. The ne is deemed redundant and falls by the wayside, and the hard Je sound is reduced to a sh sound: shcomprends pas. Another example might be Il ne fait pas … (he/it doesn’t…) resulting in y fay pa … (ee-fay-pah), or Il n'y a pas … becoming yapa … (yah-pah…).

French is a language that is read, spoken, and sung. Each has different rules. Lyric and Poetry have pronunciation rules that are different than the written, and spoken French has no rules in comparison. Learning written French is only step one, and modern spoken French is your step two. This book is for learning written French.

What should I learn first?[edit | edit source]

Many courses of language study assume you are going there for vacation, and so begin their lessons with common survival phrases that people use. There is some of that in this book, but consider that verbs are what makes a language. There are six verbs in French that, when memorized, will give you a head start when moving on to learning sentences.

The distinction between a phrase and a sentence is that a phrase does not have a subject or verb. This is why they are easy to learn, and a main part of vacation-type books. You can't go wrong with a phrase. Unlike a phrase, a sentence is a grammatical unit. You will need nouns, pronouns, adjectives (words that modify nouns), adverbs (words that modify verbs and adjectives), etc. A sentence includes a subject (what/whom the sentence is about), and a predicate (words that tell us about the subject). There are also different types of sentences: declarative (statements), interrogative (questions), exclamative (exclamations), and commandative (commands). The structure of sentences, and not just phrases, must be studied and practiced in order to learn a new language.

The most important thing, at beginning levels, is to get your French face on. This means pronunciation is critical. You do not want to have to unlearn anything when you get to the next level. The textual pronunciation examples here are based on the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and should be used to prepare your mind. The IPA symbols are designed by scientists, and are no match to listening to French people within their own environment. It is important to actually listen to a real French speaker at this stage. Use the example voices contained in the book, but also watch French media on the Internet. You should be cautioned about French songs. It is acceptable for artists to twist a word for style and for rhyme, and they love to embellish endings. You will also find that mutes are pronounced in lyric and poetry. It is often the case that a singer or poem recitation will say "ewnuh" for une and "veeuh" for vie. You may also note, to prevent boredom, a lyric may be "veeuh" on one verse, and "vee" on the next. Examples, as to why songs and poetry are added experiences in learning and enjoying the French language.

The beginning verbs are:

Être /ɛtʀ/ (ehtr) To be Je suis /ʒə sɥi/ (zhuh sewee) I am
Avoir /a.vwaʀ/ (ah-vwahr) To have J'ai /ʒe/ (zheh) I have
Savoir /sa.vwaʀ/ (sah-vwahr) To know Je sais /ʒə sɛ/ (zhuh seh) I know
Devoir /də.vwaʀ/ (duh-vwahr) Ought to, must Je dois /ʒə dwa/ (zhuh dwah) I must
Pouvoir /pu.vwaʀ/ (poo-vwahr) Able to, can Je peux /ʒə pø/ (zhuh puh) I can
Vouloir /vu.lwaʀ/ (voo-lwahr) Want to Je veux /ʒə vø/ (zhuh vuh) I want

Just as in English, you will use these as a base to create the fourteen (14) French tenses: present, future, conditional, etc. Don't worry about tenses for this exercise. They are complications that will take months and years to master. Generally, only ten (10) tenses are used except for advanced levels of French.

The above verbs must be mastered to even begin. You might think the list is too short, so feel free to add verbs into your flash-card rotation.

The next verb examples, that are important to any language, are the movement-type verbs. While you can "have, know, can, etc." you also need to "go, come, or stay" in many conversations. These verbs are considered basic building blocks.

Aller (/ale/ (ah-lay) To go Je vais /ʒə vɛ/ (zhuh veh) I go
Venir (/və.niʀ/ (vuh-neer) To come Je viens /ʒə vjɛ̃/ (zhuh vyuhah(n)) I come
Sortir (/sɔʀ.tiʀ/ (sohr-teer) To leave, go out Je sors /ʒə sɔʀ/ (zhuh sohr) I go out, I leave
Partir (/paʀ.tiʀ/ (pahr-teer) To depart Je pars /ʒə paʀ/ (zhuh pahr) I depart
Rester (/ʀɛs.te/ (reh-stay) To remain, stay Je reste (/ʒə ʀɛst/ (zhuh rehst) I remain, I stay

Again, feel free to add others to your flash-card rotation.

That brings us to the "Big Seven" French question words. These, like the above will quickly become complicated as well. The following is obviously simplified, but your understanding at this level will quickly get you to the next level.

/u/ (oo) Where est le taxi ? Where's the taxi?
Quel (quels, quelle, quelles) /kɛl/ (kel) Which Quel est le problème ?, What's the problem?
Qui /ki/ (kee) Who Qui a pris mon stylo ? Who took my pen?
Pourquoi /puʀ.kwa/ (poor-kwah) Why Pourquoi êtes-vous ici ? Why are you here?
Quand /kɑ̃/ (kah(n)) When Quand je suis content, je souris. When I'm happy, I smile.
Comment /kɔ.mɑ̃/ (koh-mah(n)) How Comment allons-nous trouver des informations ? How will we find some information?
Combien /kɔ̃bjɛ̃/ (kohm-byuha(n)) How much, how many Combien ça coûte ?", "Combien font six et trois ? How much does it cost? How much is six plus three?

Finally, one word that is very often needed:

ex: "Parce que vous êtes trop vieux pour ça !" (Because you are too old for this!)

Making flash-cards of all the above French words, memorizing them (forward to English/backward to French), will give you a head start in all French language courses.

Impediment of learning by tricks[edit | edit source]

There are many methods for students to learn new subjects, and the first method is to use what are known as "tricks," designed to make it easier (so it would seem). These tricks, in most cases, merely prevent the brain from storing the information for direct lookup. One example is the French word chat. We can form a rule, whereby anytime you see a ch in French, you will substitute a c and voilà - there you go. Others, such as changing -ment to -ly or -ant to -ing are a similar waste of time.

A good example of the damage that can be done by these "tricks", is in learning Morse Code. Many teachers will begin by showing the dit's and dah's visually, and then make the sound using the key following each symbol. So that dah-di-da-dit "-.-." will be stored in the brain as a c, and somehow (magically) retrieved for use later.

Alas, this technique only works up to a certain speed, and then the students brain is so damaged, they have no hope of using the code any faster than 10 Words Per Minute. It was found (in the 1850's), that if you just associate the whole sound with a letter, and ignore the combinations of dit's and dah's, that new students listening to 20 Words Per Minute for several weeks, were able to go to work immediately. A famous Scottish-American named Andrew Carnegie went from a message boy to head telegraph operator by learning to associate sounds with whole words, and not just writing down each character, as the method used by his peers.

The advice offered in this book, is to avoid these tricks, and to associate word and sentence sounds with their meaning. Listen to the new word or sentence, and store the meaning in your brain. Do not try to translate one language into your native language before responding. When someone hands you a stick of / (dee-nah-meet) you should quickly drop it and run, and not stop to translate it into dynamite first. Simply associate the word or sentence, but do not translate it.

When you go shopping, and hear customers saying in English "How much is that?" then you form an association of that sentence to the person wanting to know a price. Similarly, if you hear people in the market asking "Combien ça coûte?" you don't have to translate the sentence, you associate it with people wanting to know a price (or more often wanting to know a lower price while smiling seductively at the assistant). After associating ten things about the word "Combien" the brain will simplify matters for you, much like it pulls the steering wheel with your arm, after the eyes see a pot-hole ahead. Forever more, "Combien" will be associated with a quantity "How much", or "How many" just as pot-holes are associated with "avoid."

Lesson 0.02 - The Alphabet[edit | edit source]

French is based on the Latin alphabet (also called the Roman alphabet), and there are 26 letters. Originally there were 25 letters, with 'W' being added by the mid-nineteenth century. Unlike the English, who call it a "double-u," the French use "double-v" and pronounce it doo-bluh-vay after the 'V' which is pronounced (vay). During the period from Old French to Modern French, the letter 'K' was added. These two letters are used mostly with adopted foreign words. The French alphabet used today is less than 200 years old.

The twenty-six letters are parted into :

  • 20 Consonants (Consonnes): B C D F G H J K L M N P Q R S T V W X Z
  • 6 Vowels (Voyelles): A E I O U Y

In addition, French uses several accents: grave accents (à, è, and ù) and acute accents (é). A circumflex applies to all vowels, except Y (considered as a vowel): â, ê, î, ô, û. A tréma (French for dieresis) is also applied: ë, ï, ü, ÿ. Two combined letters (called orthographic ligatures) are used: æ and œ. Finally, a cedilla is used on the c to make it sound like an English s: ç.

Letters and examples[edit | edit source]

Letter Name in French Pronunciation
Aa Listen /a/ (ah) like a in father
Bb Listen /be/ (bay) like b in maybe
Cc Listen /se/ (say) before e and i: like c in center
before a, o, or u: like c in cat
Dd Listen /de/ (day) like d in dog
Ee Listen /ə/ (uh) approximately like u in burp
Ff Listen /ɛf/ (ehf) like f in fog
Gg Listen /ʒe/ (zhay) before e and i: like s in measure
before a, o, or u: like g in get
Hh Listen /aʃ/ (ahsh) See Supplementary Notes below: never pronounced
Ii Listen /i/ (ee) like ea in team
Jj Listen /ʒi/ (zhee) like s in measure
Kk Listen /ka/ (kah) like k in kite
Ll Listen /ɛl/ (ehl) like l in lemon
Mm Listen /ɛm/ (ehm) like m in minute
Nn Listen /ɛn/ (ehn) like n in note
Oo Listen /o/ (oh) closed: approximately like u in nut
open: like o in nose
Pp Listen /pe/ (pay) like p in pen
Qq Listen /ky/ (kew) like k in kite
Rr Listen /ɛʁ/ (ehr) force air through the back of your throat near the position of gargling, but sounding soft
Ss Listen /ɛs/ (ehs) like s in sister at beginning of word or with two s's or like z in amazing if only one s
Tt Listen /te/ (tay) like t in top
Uu Listen /y/ (ew) say the English letter e, but make your lips say oo
Vv Listen /ve/ (vay) like v in violin
Ww Listen /dubləve/ (doo-bluh-vay) depending on the derivation of the word, like v as in violin, or w in water
Xx Listen /iks/ (eeks) either /ks/ in socks, or /gz/ in exit
Yy Listen /igʁɛk/ (ee-grehk) like ea in leak
Zz Listen /zɛd/ (zehd) like z in zebra

Supplementary orthography · Notes [edit | edit source]

Final consonants[edit | edit source]

In French, certain consonants are silent when they are the final letter of a word. The letters p (as in coup (blow, shock) Listen /ku/ (koo)), s (as in héros (hero) Listen /e.ʁɔ/ (ay-roh)), t (as in chat (cat) Listen /ʃa/ (shah)), d (as in marchand (shopkeeper) Listen /maʁ.ʃɑ̃/ (mahr-shah(n))), and x (as in paresseux (lazy, sloth) Listen /pa.ʁɛ.sø/ (pah-reh-sew)), are generally not pronounced at the end of a word. They are pronounced if there is an e letter after it (coupe (bowl, goblet) Listen /kup/ (koop), chatte (she-cat) Listen /ʃat/ (shaht), marchande (female shopkeeper) /maʁ.ʃɑ̃d/ (mahr-shah(n)d)).

Dental consonants[edit | edit source]

The letters d, l, n, s, t and z are pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth and the middle of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In English, one would pronounce these letters with the tip of the tongue at the roof of one's mouth. It is very difficult to pronounce a word like voudrais /vud.ʁɛ/ properly with the d formed in the English manner.

b and p[edit | edit source]

Unlike English, when you pronounce the letters b and p in French, little to no air should come out of your mouth. In terms of phonetics, the difference in the French b and p and their English counterparts is one of aspiration. Fortunately, in English both aspirated and unaspirated variants (allophones) exist, but only in specific environments. If you're a native speaker, say the word pit and then the word spit out loud. Did you notice the extra puff of air in the first word that doesn't come with the second? The p in 'pit' is aspirated ([pʰ]); the p in 'spit' is not (like the p in any position in French).

q[edit | edit source]

The letter 'q' is always followed by a 'u'. There are only two exceptions, 'cinq' (five) and 'coq' (rooster).

r[edit | edit source]

A final 'r' after 'e' is generally mute, but it is pronounced on words of one syllable 'fer' (iron), 'mer' (sea) and 'hier' (yesterday).

Aspirated and non-aspirated h[edit | edit source]

In French, the letter h can be aspirated (h aspiré), or not aspirated (h non aspiré), depending on which language the word was borrowed from. The h is never pronounced, whether it is aspirated or not aspirated.

For example, the word héros Listen /e.ʁɔ/ has an aspirated h. When a definite article (le, la, l', les) is placed before it, the result is le héros, and both words must be pronounced separately. However, the feminine form of héros, héroïne Listen /eʁɔin/ is a non-aspirated h. Therefore, when you put a definite article in front of it, it becomes l'héroïne, and is pronounced as one word.

The only way to tell if the h at the beginning of a word is aspirated is to look it up in the dictionary. Some dictionaries will place an asterisk (*) in front of the entry word in the French-English H section if the h is aspirated. Other dictionaries will include it in the pronunciation guide after the key word by placing an apostrophe ( ' ) before the pronunciation. In short, the words must be memorized.

Here is a table of some basic h words that are aspirated and not aspirated:

aspirated non-aspirated
héros, hero (le héros) héroïne, heroine (l'héroïne)
haïr, to hate (je hais) habiter, to live (j'habite)
huit, eight (le huit novembre) harmonie, harmony (l'harmonie)

Supplementary orthography · Punctuation · La ponctuation[edit | edit source]

& esperluette, et commercial , virgule {   } accolades ~ tilde
' apostrophe = égal  % pourcent @ arobase, a commercial, arobe
* astérisque $ dollar . point
« » guillemets ! point d'exclamation + plus
\ barre oblique inverse > supérieur à # dièse
[   ] crochets < inférieur à ? point d'interrogation
: deux points - moins, tiret, trait d'union _ soulignement
; point virgule (   ) parenthèses / barre oblique
The punctuation symbols in French operates very similarly to English with the same meaning. The only punctuation symbol not present in French would be the quotation marks; these are replaced by the guillemets shown in the table above. For speech in fiction, no quotation marks are used. The two stroke punctuation marks (such as ;, :, ?, !) may require a non-breaking space before or after the mark in question.

Supplementary orthography · Diacritics [edit | edit source]

Five different kinds of accent marks are used in written French. In many cases, an accent changes the sound of the letter to which it is added. In others, the accent has no effect on pronunciation. Accents in French never indicate stress (which always falls on the last syllable). Accentuated letters are usually never followed by a double consonant (except châssis for instance); moreover on e accent becomes useless because a following double consonant changes its pronunciation (e.g.: jeter ([ə],throw) but je jette (pronounced è, I throw). The following table lists every French accent mark and the letters with which it can be combined:

Accent Letters used Examples
acute accent (accent aigu) é éléphant Listen /e.le.fɑ̃/
grave accent (accent grave) è, à, ù fièvre Listen /fjɛvʁ/, là Listen /la/, où Listen /u/
circumflex (accent circonflexe) â, ê, î, ô, û gâteau Listen /ɡa.tɔ/, être Listen /ɛtʁ/, île Listen /il/, chômage /ʃɔ.maʒ/, dû /dy/
diaeresis (tréma) ë, ï, ü, ÿ Noël /nɔ.ɛl/, maïs Listen /, aigüe /e.ɡy/
cedilla (cédille) ç français Listen /fʁɑ̃.sɛ/

Note that the letter ÿ is only used in very rare words, mostly old town names like L'Haÿ-Les-Roses, a Paris surburb or Aÿ in Champagne region. This letter is pronounced like ï.

Note also that as of the spelling reform of 1990, the diaresis indicating gu is not a digraph on words finishing in guë and is now placed on the u in standard (académie française) French: aigüe and not aiguë; cigüe and not ciguë; ambigüe and not ambiguë. Since this reform is relatively recent and mostly unknown to laypeople, the two spellings can be used interchangeably.

Acute accent · Accent aigu[edit | edit source]

The acute accent is the most common accent used in written French. It is only used with the letter e and is always pronounced /e/ (ay).

One use of the accent aigu is to form the past participle of regular -er verbs.

Infinitive Past participle
aimer (to love) aimé (loved)
regarder (to watch) regardé (watched)

Grave accent · Accent grave[edit | edit source]

à and ù[edit | edit source]

In the case of the letters à and ù, the grave accent is used to graphically distinguish one word from another.

Without accent grave With accent grave
a (3rd pers. sing of avoir, to have) à (preposition, to, at, etc.)
la (definite article for feminine nouns) (there)
ou (conjunction, or) (where)

è[edit | edit source]

Unlike à and ù, è is not used to distinguish words from one another. The è is used for pronunciation. In careful speech, an unaccented e is pronounced like an a on the end of a word in English /ə/, as in "Angela", and in rapid speech is sometimes not pronounced at all. The è is pronounced like the letter e in pet.

Circumflex accent · Accent circonflexe[edit | edit source]

This accent is often called a 'hat' in language and mathematics, and usually indicates the disappearance of the old-French s after the vowel wearing it (the hat) but this s can still be found in a noun or a verb of the same lexical family. Examples are: hospital --> hôpital but hospitalité, maistre --> maître, gâteau from old french gastel, ê is pronounced like è: Fenestre --> fenêtre but défenestrer, forest --> forêt but forestier.

Circumflex accent may be used to have closed-o (la Drôme (French department), un dôme... ô is pronounced [o] like in château, without this accent it would be said like the english word hot ; whereas this pronunciation is not really applied in the south of France.)

In the past participle of devoir (must), a circumflex accent is written to distinguish it from the article du.

According to the spelling reform of 1990 some circumflex accents are no longer compulsory (maître --> maitre, boîte --> boite...)

Cedilla · Cédille[edit | edit source]

The cedilla is used only with the letter c, and is said to make the c soft, making it equivalent to the English and French s.

garçon Listen

Supplementary exercises [edit | edit source]

ExercisePronouncing b and p
  1. Get a loose piece of printer paper or notebook paper.
  2. Hold the piece of paper about one inch (or a couple of centimeters) in front of your face.
  3. Say the words baby, and puppy like you normally would in English. Notice how the paper moved when you said the 'b' and the 'p' respectively.
  4. Now, without making the piece of paper move, say the words belle (the feminine form of beautiful in French, pronounced like the English 'bell.'), and papa (the French equivalent of "Dad").
  • If the paper moved, your pronunciation is slightly off. Concentrate, and try it again.
  • If the paper didn't move, congratulations! You pronounced the words correctly!

ExerciseFinding h words
  1. Grab a French-English dictionary and find at least ten aspirated h words, and ten non-aspirated h words
  2. On a piece of paper, write down the words you find in two columns
  3. Look at it every day and memorize the columns

Lesson 0.03 - Greetings[edit | edit source]

Vocabulary · Greetings · Les salutations[edit | edit source]

Salut Listen / (sah-lew) Hi./Bye. informal
Bonjour Listen /bɔ̃.ʒuʁ/ (boh(n)-zhoor) Hello the normal greeting; all day
Bonsoir Listen /bɔ̃.swaʁ/ (boh(n)-swahr) Good evening, good night, hello after 19h00 (7pm)
Bonne soirée /bɔn swa.ʁe/ (bohn swah-ray) Good evening une soirée can also mean a party
Bonne nuit Listen /bɔn nɥi/ (bohn nooee) Good night the normal farewell after dark
Quoi de neuf ? /kwɑ də nœf/ (kwah duh nuhf) What's up?, How's it going? lit: what's new
Pas grand-chose. /pɑ gʁɑ̃ ʃoz/ (pah grah(n) shohz) Not much. lit: no big-thing

When talking to one's peers or to children, Salut is used as a greeting. Its English equivalents would be hi and hey. Bonjour, literally meaning good day, should be used for anyone else. One way of remembering these greetings, is that they come in masculine/feminine pairs. One is upon arrival, the other upon departure.

jour : bonjour / bonne journée
matin : bonjour / bonne matinée (early in the morning), bonne journée (early or late in the morning)
après-midi : bonjour / bon(ne) après-midi (early in the afternoon), bonne journée (early or late in the afternoon), bonne soirée (late in the afternoon)
soir : bonjour, bonsoir / bonne soirée (early or late in the evening), bonne nuit (very late in the evening)
nuit : bonjour, bonsoir / bonne nuit

The French never say Bon matin, they do use matinée, journée, soirée but never use nuitée.

Vocabulary · Good-bye · Au revoir[edit | edit source]

Salut Listen / (sah-lew) Hi./Bye. informal
Au revoir /o ʁə.vwaʁ/ (oh ruh-vwahr) Good-bye lit: to/until seeing again
À demain /a də.mɛ̃/ (ah duh-ma(n)) See you tomorrow lit: to/until tomorrow
À tout à l'heure /a tu‿ta lœʁ/ (ah too-tah luhr) See you (later today) idiomatic, lit: to all to the hour
À la prochaine /a la proʃɛn/ (ah lah proh-shehn) See you (tomorrow) lit: to/until next time
À bientôt /a bjɛ̃.to/ (ah byuhe(n)-toh) See you soon lit: to/until soon
À plus tard /a ply taʁ/ (ah plew tahr) See you later À plus (short version for "see you")
Ciao /tʃao/ (chow) Bye Italian
Bonne soirée /bɔn swaʁ.e/ (bohn swahr-ay) Have a good evening
Bonne journée /bɔn ʒuʁ.ne/ (bohn zhoor-nay) Have a nice day

In addition to being used as an informal greeting, Salut also means bye. Again, it should only be used among friends. Another informal greeting is ciao, an Italian word commonly used in France. Au revoir is the only formal way to say Good-bye. If you will be meeting someone again soon, use À bientôt or À tout à l'heure. À demain is used if you will be seeing the person the following day.

Vocabulary · Names [edit | edit source]

Tu t'appelles comment ? is used to informally ask someone for his or her name. It is normal to just reply by stating your name, however you may also respond with je m'appelle , meaning I am called....

Jacques Bonsoir, Marie.
Good evening, Marie.
Marie Euh ? Tu t'appelles comment ?
Eh? What's your name?
Jacques Moi, je m'appelle Jacques.
Me, my name is Jacques.
Marie Ah, oui. Quoi de neuf, Jacques ?
Ah, yes. What's new, Jacques?
Jacques Pas grand-chose. Alors, au revoir, à demain, Marie.
Not much. Then, bye, see you tomorrow, Marie.
Marie À la prochaine, Jacques.
See you, Jacques.

Vocabulary · How are you? · Ça va ?[edit | edit source]

Comment allez-vous ? (formal) ,
Comment vas-tu ? (informal) ,
Comment ça va ? / Ça va ? (informal)
About this sound /kɔ.mɑ̃‿tal.e vu/ ,
About this sound /kɔ.mɑ̃ va ty/ ,
About this sound /kɔ.mɑ̃ sa va/
How are you? lit: How do you go?, It goes?
Est-ce que vous allez bien ? About this sound /es.kə vu.z‿al.e bjɛ̃/ Are you well?
Ça va (très) bien About this sound /sa va (tʁɛ) bjɛ̃/ I'm doing (very) well. lit. It's going (very) well
Je vais bien About this sound /ʒə ve bjɛ̃/ I am well.
Ça va
Oui, ça va
About this sound /sa va/
About this sound /wi sa va/
Things are going fine.
Yes, I'm fine.
Très bien, merci About this sound /tʁɛ bjɛ̃ mɛʁ.si/ Very well, thanks.
Pas mal About this sound /pɑ mal/ Not Bad
Pas si bien/pas très bien About this sound /pɑ si (tʁɛ) bjɛ̃/ Not so well
(très) mal About this sound /tʁɛ mal/ (very) bad
Comme ci, comme ça About this sound /kɔm si kɔm sa/ So-so
Désolé(e) About this sound /de.zɔ.le/ Sorry. Désolée if feminine, same pronunciation
Et toi ?
Et vous ?
About this sound /e twɑ/
About this sound /e vu/
And you? (informal)
And you? (formal)

DIALOGUE: Two good friends, Olivier and Luc, are meeting.

Olivier Salut Luc. Ça va ?
Hi Luc. How are you?
Luc Ça va bien, merci. Et toi, ça va ?
I'm well, thanks. And you, how are you?
Olivier Pas mal.
Not bad.
Luc Quoi de neuf ?
What's new?
Olivier Pas grand-chose. Au revoir Luc.
Not much. Goodbye, Luc.
Luc Au revoir, à demain.
Goodbye, see you tomorrow.

Ça va ? is used to ask someone how they are doing. The phrase literally means It goes?, referring to the body and life. A more formal way to say this is Comment allez-vous ?. You can respond by using ça va as a statement; Ça va. in this case is used for I'm fine. The adverb bien /bjɛ̃/ is used to say well, and is often said both alone and as Ça va bien. Bien is preceded by certain adverbs to specify the degree to which you are well. Common phrases are assez bien, meaning rather well, très bien, meaning very well, and vraiment bien, meaning really well. The adverb mal /mal/ is used to say badly. Pasnot /pɑ/ is commonly added to mal to form Pas mal., meaning Not bad. Comme ci, comme ça., literally translating to Like this, like that., is used to say So, so.

To be polite, you can add merci /mɛʁ.si/, meaning thank you, in your responses to the questions e.g., très bien, merci.

Exercises [edit | edit source]


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

Translate from French to English.
Bonne soirée Have a good evening.
À tout à l'heure See you (later today)
Je vais bien. I am well.
Et vous ? And you? (formal)
À demain See you tomorrow
Comment allez-vous ? How are you? (formal)
Salut Hi./Bye.
Très bien, merci. Very well, thanks.
Est-ce que vous allez bien ? Are you well?
Je m'appelle My name is
Bonne nuit Good night
À bientôt See you soon
Pas si bien/pas très bien Not so well
Ça va bien I'm doing well.
Bonjour Hello

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

Translate from English to French.
What's your name? Tu t'appelles comment ?
Have a nice day Bonne journée
Hi./Bye. Salut.
Not much. Pas grand-chose.
Have a good evening Bonne soirée
Your friend François sees you and starts a conversation. How might you respond?
  • François: Salut. Comment vas-tu ?
  • You: _________
  • François: Quoi de neuf ?
  • You: _________
  • François: À la prochaine.
  • You: _________

ExerciseBasic phrases dialogue
Put the following conversation in order:
1. MichelJe ne vais pas très bien.Bonjour, JacquesAu revoirComment ça va?
2. JacquesDésolé.Ça va très bien! Et vous? Allez-vous bien?À demain.Salut, Michel!
1. MichelBonjour, JacquesComment ça va?Je ne vais pas très bien.Au revoir
2. JacquesSalut, Michel!Ça va très bien! Et vous? Allez-vous bien?Désolé.À demain.

Lesson 0.04 - Formal Speech[edit | edit source]

Dialogue · A formal conversation · Une conversation formelle[edit | edit source]

Two people—Monsieur Bernard and Monsieur Lambert—are meeting for the first time:

Monsieur Bernard Bonjour. Comment vous appelez-vous ?
Hello. What's your name?
Monsieur Lambert Je m'appelle Jean-Paul Lambert. Et vous ?
I am Jean-Paul Lambert. And you?
Monsieur Bernard Moi, je suis Marc Bernard. Enchanté.
Me, I am Marc Bernard. Nice to meet you.
Monsieur Lambert Enchanté.
Nice to meet you.

Grammar · Vous vs. tu [edit | edit source]

This is an important difference between French and English today. English no longer distinguishes between the singular, and the plural, formal version of you. The use of thou for the informal singular version faded almost completely by the mid-nineteenth century.

In French, it is important to know when to use vous /vu/ and when to use tu /ty/.

Vous is the plural form of you. This is somewhat equivalent to you all, you guys, all of you, except that it does not carry any familiarity when used with the plural. You would use it to address your friends as well as when talking to the whole government at a press conference.

Vous is also used to refer to single individuals to show respect, to be polite or to be neutral. It is used when talking to someone who is important, someone who is older than you are, or someone with whom you are unfamiliar. This is known as Vouvoiement. Note the conversation between M. Bernard and M. Lambert above as an example of this use.

Conversely, tu is the singular and informal form of vous (you) in French. It is commonly used when referring to a friend or a family member, and is also used between children or when addressing a child. If it is used when speaking to a stranger, it signals disrespect. This is known as Tutoiement. As a rule of thumb, use tu only when you would call that person by his first name, otherwise use vous. French people will make it known when they would like you to refer to them by tu. The use of vous is less common in Quebequois than in French from France.

In sociolinguistics, a T–V distinction describes the situation wherein a language has second-person pronouns that distinguish varying levels of politeness, social distance, courtesy, familiarity, or insult toward the addressee. The expressions T-form (informal) and V-form (formal), with reference to the initial letters of these pronouns in Latin, tu and vos. In Latin, tu was originally the singular, and vos the plural, with no distinction for honorific or familiar. It was only between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries that the norms for the use of T- and V-forms crystallized.

Vocabulary · Courtesy · La politesse[edit | edit source]

Please S'il te plaît (Lit: If it pleases you.)
S'il vous plaît (formal).
Thanks (a lot) Merci (beaucoup)
You're welcome. De rien (Lit: It's nothing.)
Pas de quoi (No problem.)
Je t'en prie I pray you (informal)
Je vous en prie (formal)

Vocabulary · Titles · Les titres[edit | edit source]

Titles · Les titres
French Abbr. Pronunciation English, Usage
Monsieur M. /mə.sjø/ (muh-syuhew) Mr., Sir
Messieurs M. /mesjø/ (maysyuhew) Gentlemen
Madame Mme /ma.dam/ (mah-dahm) Mrs., Ma'am
Mesdames Mme /me.dam/ (may-dahm) Ladies
Mademoiselle Mlle /mad.mwa.zɛl/  (mahd-mwah-zehl) Miss, Young lady
Mesdemoiselles Mlle /med.mwa.zɛl/  (mayd-mwah-zehl) Young ladies
  • It's acceptable to use /mɛ.dam/ or /me.dam/ (meh-dahm) or (may-dahm)
  • Do not forget to liaison if saying Mesdames et Messieurs /me.dam z‿e me.sjø/ (may-dam-zay-maysyuhew).

Vocabulary · Asking for one's name · Demander le nom de quelqu'un[edit | edit source]

Comment vous appelez-vous ?
Quel est votre nom ?
What is your name? (formal)
What is your name?
Tu t'appelles comment ? What is your name? (informal)
Je m'appelle…
Je suis…
Moi, je suis…
My name is…
I am…

Note that with vous, the verb appelez is spelled with one 'l', whereas with tu it has two l's (appelles). This is an irregular conjugation which will be covered more in-depth in a later lesson.

Exercises [edit | edit source]


You are at your first business conference representing your new company, and your manager begins to speak with a colleague you have never met. You want to greet him, tell him your name, and ask him his name.


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

Translate from French to English.
S'il vous plaît Please
Comment vous appelez-vous ? How do you call yourself?
Mesdames Ladies
Je vous en prie. You're welcome.
Merci beaucoup Thanks a lot

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

Translate from English to French.
Gentlemen Messieurs
Miss Mademoiselle
My name is… Je m'appelle…
Please S'il te plaît, S'il vous plaît
ExerciseChoose between tu and vous. Which would you use for the following people?

  1. a teacher
  2. a best friend
  3. someone you just met
  4. a group of your friends
  5. a parent
  6. a sibling
  7. a waiter at a restaurant
  1. vous (to show respect)
  2. tu (familiarity)
  3. vous (unfamiliar)
  4. vous (plural group, even though it is informal)
  5. tu (familiar)
  6. tu (familiar)
  7. vous (likely unfamiliar, but also to show respect and to be polite)

Lesson 0.05 - Numbers[edit | edit source]

Vocabulary · Cardinal numbers [edit | edit source]

zéro About this sound /ze.ʁo/ 0
un(e) About this sound /œ̃/ , About this sound /yn/ 1
deux About this sound /dø/ 2
trois About this sound /tʁwa/ 3
quatre About this sound /katʁ/ 4
cinq About this sound /sɛ̃k/ 5
six About this sound /sis/ 6
sept About this sound /sɛt/ 7
huit About this sound /ɥit/ 8
neuf About this sound /nœf/ 9
dix About this sound /dis/ 10
onze About this sound /ɔ̃z/ 11
douze About this sound /duz/ 12
treize About this sound /tʁɛz/ 13
quatorze About this sound /ka.tɔʁz/ 14
quinze About this sound /kɛ̃z/ 15
seize About this sound /sɛz/ 16
dix-sept About this sound /dis.sɛt/ 17
dix-huit About this sound /dis.ɥit/ 18
dix-neuf About this sound /dis.nœf/ 19
vingt About this sound /vɛ̃/ 20
vingt et un, vingt-et-un About this sound /vɛ̃ -te-œ̃/ 21
vingt-[deux - neuf] 22-29
trente About this sound /tʁɑ̃t/ 30
trente et un, trente-et-un About this sound /tʁɑ̃.t‿e œ̃/ 31
trente-[deux - neuf] 32-39
quarante About this sound /ka.ʁɑ̃t/ 40
cinquante About this sound /sɛ̃.kɑ̃t/ 50
soixante About this sound /swa.sɑ̃t/ 60
soixante-dix About this sound /swa.sɑ̃t.dis/ 70
soixante-et-onze 71
soixante-[douze - dix-neuf] 72-79
quatre-vingt About this sound /kat.ʁvɛ̃t/ 80
quatre-vingt-un About this sound /kat.ʁvɛ̃.œ̃/ 81
quatre-vingt-[deux - neuf] 82-89
quatre-vingt-dix About this sound /kat.ʁvɛ̃.dis/ 90
quatre-vingt-[onze - dix-neuf] 91-99
cent About this sound /sɑ̃(t)/ 100
[deux - neuf] cents 200-900
deux cent un 201
neuf cent un 901
mille About this sound /mil/ 1.000 (103)
(un) million About this sound /mi.ljɔ̃/ 1.000.000 (106)
(un) milliard About this sound /miljaʁ/ (109)

We can remark that 21, 31, 41, 51, 61 and 71 can have et un with or without a hyphen; otherwise this it is simply both words consecutively (vingt-six, trente-trois, etc) with a hyphen in between. For 100-199, cent is added before the rest of the number; this continues up to 1000 and onward. Many speakers of French outside of France refer to the numbers 70 to 99 in the same pattern as the other numbers. For instance, in Switzerland and Belgium, 70 is septante /sɛp.tɑ̃t/, 71 is septante-et-un, 72 is septante-deux, and so on; 90 is nonante /nɔ.nɑ̃t/, 91 is nonante-et-un /nɔ.nɑ̃t.e.œ̃/, 92 is nonante-deux, and so on. In Switzerland, 80 is huitante or octante /ɔk.tɑ̃t/.

Supplementary vocabulary · Collective nouns [edit | edit source]

une unité About this sound / a unity
une huitaine About this sound /ɥi.tɛn/ about eight
une dizaine About this sound /di.zɛn/ about ten
une douzaine About this sound /du.zɛn/ about twelve
une quinzaine About this sound /kɛ̃.zɛn/ about fifteen
une vingtaine About this sound /vɛ̃.tɛn/ about twenty
une trentaine About this sound /tʁɑ̃.tɛn/ about thirty
une quarantaine About this sound /ka.ʁɑ̃.tɛn/ about forty
une cinquantaine About this sound /sɛ̃.kɑ̃.tɛn/ about fifty
une soixantaine About this sound /swa.sɑ̃.tɛn/ about sixty
une centaine About this sound /sɑ̃.tɛn/ one hundred, about a hundred
un millier About this sound /mi.lje/ one thousand, about a thousand

Supplementary vocabulary · Mathematics · Les mathématiques[edit | edit source]

In French, the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are as follows:

un plus un = (égale) deux (the final 's' of 'plus' must be pronounced)
dix moins sept = trois
quatre fois trois = douze
vingt divisé par dix = deux

You may sometimes use un plus un font deux.

Supplementary dialogue · In school · À l'école[edit | edit source]

Toto est un personnage imaginaire qui est un cancre à l'école. Il y a beaucoup d'histoires drôles sur Toto !
Toto is an imaginary character that is a dunce at school. There are a lot of funny stories about Toto!
L'instituteur Bonjour, les enfants! Aujourd'hui c'est mardi, nous allons réviser la table d'addition. Combien font huit plus six ?
Hello, children! Today is Tuesday, we will review the addition table. What is eight plus six?
Toto Treize, monsieur !
Thirteen, sir!
L'instituteur Non Toto tu t'es trompé! Huit plus six égal quatorze. Et combien font cinq plus neuf ?
No Toto you were wrong! Eight plus six equals fourteen. And how much is five plus nine?
Clément Quatorze !
L'instituteur Très bien Clément.
Very good, Clément.

Supplementary vocabulary · Ordinal numbers · Les nombres ordinaux[edit | edit source]

premier, première About this sound /pʁə.mje/ , About this sound /pʁə.mjɛʁ/ first
deuxième About this sound /dø.zjɛm/ second
troisième About this sound /tʁwa.zjɛm/ third
quatrième About this sound /ka.tʁi.jɛm/ fourth
cinquième About this sound /sɛ̃.kjɛm/ fifth
sixième About this sound /si.zjɛm/ sixth
septième About this sound /sɛ.tjɛm/ seventh
huitième About this sound /ɥi.tjɛm/ eighth
neuvième About this sound /nœ.vjɛm/ ninth
dixième About this sound /di.zjɛm/ tenth
onzième About this sound /ɔ̃.zjɛm/ eleventh
douzième About this sound /du.zjɛm/ twelfth
treizième About this sound /tʁɛ.zjɛm/ thirteenth
quatorzième About this sound /ka.tɔʁ.zjɛm/ fourteenth
quinzième About this sound /kɛ̃.zjɛm/ fifteenth
seizième About this sound /sɛ.zjɛm/ sixteenth
dix-septième About this sound /di.sɛ.tjɛm/ seventeenth
dix-huitième About this sound /di.zɥi.tjɛm/ eighteenth
dix-neuvième About this sound /diz.nœ.vjɛm/ nineteenth
vingtième About this sound /vɛ̃.tiɛm/ twentieth
vingt-et-unième About this sound /vɛ̃.te.y.njɛm/ twenty-first
vingt-deuxième About this sound /vɛ̃t.dø.zjɛm/ twenty-second
trentième About this sound /tʁɑ̃.tjɛm/ thirtieth
quarantième About this sound /ka.ʁɑ̃.tjɛm/ fortieth
quarante-et-unième forty-first
cinquantième About this sound /sɛ̀.kɑ̃.tjɛm/ fiftieth
cinquante-et-unième fifty-first
soixantième About this sound /swa.sɑ̃.tjɛm/ sixtieth
soixante-dixième About this sound /swa.sɑ̃t di.zjɛm/ seventieth
quatre-vingtième About this sound /katʁ.vɛ̃.tjɛm/ eightieth
quatre-vingt-dixième About this sound /ka.trə.vɛ̃.di.zjɛm/ ninetieth
centième About this sound /sɑ̃.tjɛm/ hundredth

Exercises [edit | edit source]

ExerciseNumber 1-10

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

Write the number represented by each word.
un 1
huit 8
cinq 5
trois 3
neuf 9
dix 10
deux 2
quatre 4
sept 7
six 6
ExerciseNumbers 11-20

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

Write the number represented by each word.
douze 12
dix-huit 18
quinze 15
treize 13
quatorze 14
dix-neuf 19
seize 16
vingt 20
onze 11
dix-sept 17
ExerciseNumbers 21-100

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

Write the number represented by each word.
soixante-et-onze 71
cinquante 50
trente-et-un 31
quarante-cinq 45
soixante-huit 68
vingt-sept 27
quatre-vingt-un 81
cent 100
cinquante-trois 53
quatre-vingt-dix-neuf 99
soixante-dix 70
vingt-et-un 21
quarante-quatre 44
ExerciseNumber 1-10

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

Write the French word for each number.
7 sept
8 huit
6 six
9 neuf
4 quatre
3 trois
10 dix
1 un
2 deux
5 cinq
ExerciseNumbers 11-20

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

Write the French word for each number.
19 dix-neuf
16 seize
15 quinze
14 quatorze
13 treize
11 onze
12 douze
20 vingt
17 dix-sept
18 dix-huit
ExerciseNumbers 21-100

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

Write the French word for each number.
44 quarante-quatre
50 cinquante
70 soixante-dix
99 quatre-vingt-dix-neuf
68 soixante-huit
71 soixante-et-onze
81 quatre-vingt-un
31 trente-et-un
100 cent
53 cinquante-trois
45 quarante-cinq
21 vingt-et-un
27 vingt-sept

Supplementary exercises [edit | edit source]

ExerciseCollective nouns

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

Translate from French to English.
une vingtaine about twenty
un millier one thousand, about a thousand
une huitaine about eight
une unité a unity
une quarantaine about forty
une soixantaine about sixty
une trentaine about thirty

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

huit plus cinq égal ____ huit plus cinq égal treize
cinq et un égal ____ cinq et un égal six
neuf plus huit égal ____ neuf plus huit égal dix-sept
trente-deux plus quarante-neuf égal ____ trente-deux plus quarante-neuf égal quatre-vingt-un
soixante plus vingt égal ____ soixante plus vingt égal quatre-vingts
cinquante-trois plus douze égal ____ cinquante-trois plus douze égal soixante-cinq
dix-neuf plus cinquante égal ____ dix-neuf plus cinquante égal soixante-neuf
quarante-sept plus vingt-sept égal ____ quarante-sept plus vingt-sept égal soixante-quatorze
Soixante-trois plus trente-deux égal ____ soixante-trois plus trente-deux égal quatre-vingt-quinze
soixante plus trente-deux égal ____ soixante plus trente-deux égal quatre-vingt-douze
ExerciseOrdinal numbers

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

Translate from French to English.
quatorzième fourteenth
trentième thirtieth
neuvième ninth
quatrième fourth
quarante-et-unième forty-first
dixième tenth
vingt-deuxième twenty-second
soixante-dixième seventieth
quatorzième fourteenth
seizième sixthteenth

Lesson 0.06 - The Date[edit | edit source]

Vocabulary · Days · Les jours[edit | edit source]

The days of the week · Les jours de la semaine
French Pronunciation English Origin
lundi /lœ̃di/ (luh(n)-dl and Chantal are talkee) Monday (Moon)
mardi /maʁdi/ (mahr-dee) Tuesday (Mars)
mercredi /mɛʁkʁədi/ (mehr-kruh-dee) Wednesday (Mercury)
jeudi /ʒødi/ (zhew-dee) Thursday (Jupiter)
vendredi /vɑ̃dʁədi/ (vah(n)-druh-dee) Friday (Venus)
samedi /samdi/ (sahm-dee) Saturday (Saturn)
dimanche /dimɑ̃ʃ/ (dee-mah(n)sh) Sunday (Dies Domini)
  • The days of the week are not capitalized in French.
  • The calender starts on Monday, unlike the English Sunday.

Asking for the day · Demander le jour
Aujourd'hui on est quel jour ? /oʒuʁdɥi ɔ̃‿nɛ kɛl ʒuʁ/ (oh-zhoor-dewee oh(n)nay kehl zhoor) Today is what day?
Quel jour sommes-nous aujourd'hui?
Quel jour est-on aujourd'hui?
On est quel jour aujourd'hui?[1]
/kɛl ʒuʁ sɔm nu oʒuʁdɥi/ (kehl zhoor sohm noo oh-zhoor-dewee)
/kɛl ʒuʁ ɛ‿tɔ̃ oʒuʁdɥi/ (kehl zhoor ehtoh(n) oh-zhoor-dewee)
/ɔ̃‿nɛ kɛl ʒuʁ oʒuʁdɥi/ (oh(n)eh kehl zhoor oh-zhoor-dewee)
What day is it today?
Aujourd'hui c'est [jour].
Aujourd'hui on est [jour].
/oʒuʁdɥi sɛ/ (oh-zhoor-dewee seh)
/oʒuʁdɥi ɔ̃‿nɛ/ (oh-zhoor-dewee oh(n)neh)
Today is [day].
C'est [day].
Nous sommes [day].
On est [day].
/sɛ/ (seh)
/nu sɔm/ (noo sohm)
/ɔ̃‿nɛ/ (oh(n)neh)
It is [day].
Demain c'est quel jour ? /dəmɛ̃ sɛ kɛl ʒuʁ/ (duhma(n) seh kehl zhoor) Tomorrow is what day?
Demain c'est [jour]. /dəmɛ̃ sɛ/ (duhma(n) seh) Tomorrow is [day].
  • ^ On est quel jour aujourd'hui? is less formal but more common.

Relative days · Les jours relatifs
avant-hier /avɑ̃‿tjɛʁ/ (ahvah(n)tyuhehr) the day before yesterday
hier /jɛʁ/ (yuhehr) yesterday
aujourd'hui /oʒuʁdɥi/ (oh-zhoor-dewee) today
ce soir /sə swaʁ/ (suh swahr) tonight
demain /dəmɛ̃/ (duhma(n)) tomorrow
après-demain /apʁɛ dəmɛ̃/ (ahpreh duhma(n)) the day after tomorrow
  • Nous sommes... is not used with hier, aujourd’hui, or demain. C'était (past) or C'est (present/future) must be used accordingly.

Vocabulary · Months · Les mois[edit | edit source]

The months of the year · Les mois de l'année
French Pron. English
janvier /ʒɑ̃vje/ (zhah(n)-vyuhay) January
février /fevʁije/, /fevʁje/ (fay-vree-yuhay / fay-vryuhay) February
mars /maʁs/ (mahrs) March
avril /avʁil/ (ahv-reel) April
mai /mɛ/ (meh) May
juin /ʒɥɛ̃/ (zhoo-a(n)) June
juillet /ʒɥijɛ/ (zhoo-ee-yuheh) July
août /ut/, /u/ (oot/oo) August
septembre /sɛptɑ̃bʁ/ (sehp-tah(n)-br) September
octobre /ɔktɔbʁ/ (ohk-toh-br) October
novembre /nɔvɑ̃bʁ/ (noh-vah(n)-br) November
décembre /desɑ̃bʁ/ (day-sah(n)-br) December
  • The months of the year are not capitalized in French.

Asking for the date · Demander la date
Quelle est la date
(d'aujourd'hui) ?
/kɛl ɛ la dat/ (kehl eh lah daht) What is the date
C'est le [#] [month]. /sɛ lə/ (seh lah) It's [month] [#].

On May 5, one would say "C'est le cinq mai." However, the first of the month uses "le premier" (the first): C'est le premier août (August 1).

Dialogue · What day is it? [edit | edit source]

Vocabulary · Seasons · Les saisons[edit | edit source]

The Seasons · Les Saisons
la saison /la sɛ.zɔ̃/ (lah seh-zoh(n)) season
le printemps /lə pʁɛ̃.tɑ̃/ (luh pra(n)-tah(n)) Spring
l'été (m) Listen /le.te/ (lay-tay) Summer
l'automne (m) Listen /lo.tɔn/ (loh-tohn) Autumn
l'hiver (m) Listen /li.vɛʁ/ (lee-vehr) Winter

Vocabulary · Age [edit | edit source]

Quel âge as-tu ? How old are you? lit: You have what age?
J'ai trente ans. I'm thirty (years old). lit: I have thirty years
Quel âge avez vous ? How old are you? (formal)
Quel âge a-t-il ? How old is he?
Quel âge a-t-elle ? How old is she?

Dialogue · How old are you? [edit | edit source]

Marcel and Chantal are talking about how old they are. They are good friends.

  • Chantal - Quel âge as-tu, Marcel ?
  • Marcel - J'ai huit ans. Et toi ?
  • Chantal - J'ai dix ans. Quel âge a-t-elle ?
  • Marcel - Elle a six ans.

Lesson 0.07 - Telling Time[edit | edit source]

Vocabulary · Time · Le temps[edit | edit source]

In French, il est is used to express the time; though it would literally translate as he is, it is actually, in this case, equivalent to it is (impersonal il). Unlike in English, it is always important to use heures (hours) when referring to the time. In English, it is okay to say It’s nine, but this wouldn’t make sense in French.

Quelle heure est-il ? What time is it?
Il est une heure. It is one o’clock.
Il est trois heures. It is three o’clock.
Il est dix heures. It is ten o’clock.
Il est midi. It is noon.
Il est minuit. It is midnight.
Il est quatre heures cinq. It is five past four.
Il est quatre heures et quart. It is a quarter past four.
Il est quatre heures moins le quart It is a quarter till 4.
Il est quatre heures quinze. It is four fifteen.
Il est quatre heures et demie. It is half past four.
Il est quatre heures trente. It is four thirty.
Il est cinq heures moins vingt. It is twenty to five.
Il est quatre heures quarante. It is four forty.

Time is often abbreviated using h for heure(s). For example, 9 o'clock AM would be 9h or 9h00. They also use 24-hour time in this format, so 10 o'clock PM would be 22h.

Supplementary vocabulary · More time expressions [edit | edit source]

une heure 1:00
deux heures cinq 2:05
trois heures dix 3:10
quatre heures et quart 4:15
cinq heures vingt 5:20
six heures vingt-cinq 6:25
sept heures et demie 7:30
huit heures moins vingt-cinq 7:35
neuf heures moins vingt 8:40
dix heures moins le quart 9:45
onze heures moins dix 10:50
midi (minuit) moins cinq 11:55
minuit midnight
midi noon

Vocabulary · Times of day · L'heure relative[edit | edit source]

le lever du jour daybreak lit: the rise of the day
le lever du soleil sunrise lit: the rise of the sun
le soleil levant rising sun
le matin morning
...du matin A.M. lit: of the morning
hier matin yesterday morning
le midi noon, midday
le minuit midnight
l'après-midi (m) afternoon
le soir evening, in the evening
...du soir P.M. lit: of the evening
la nuit night
le coucher du soleil sunset

Dialogue · What time is it? [edit | edit source]

  • Jean-Quelle heure est-il?
  • Paul-Il est midi.
  • Jean -Quelle heure est-il?
  • Paul-Il est deux heures du matin.

Supplementary dialogue · The director · Le directeur[edit | edit source]

Daniel (frappe à la porte : toc toc toc)
(knocks on the door: knock knock knock)
Le directeur Entrez !
Daniel Bonjour, monsieur le directeur. Est-ce que vous allez bien ?
Hello, Mr. Director. Are you well?
Le directeur Je vais bien merci. Et vous, comment allez-vous ?
I am well, thank you. And you, how are you?
Daniel Je vais bien. Je veux vous demander s'il est possible d'organiser une fête pour mon anniversaire. Je l'organiserais le 3 mars vers 14 h.
I'm well. I want to ask you if it is possible to organize a party for my birthday. I would organize it on the third of March around 02:00 PM.
Le directeur Et vous voulez l'organiser où ?
And where do you want to organise it?
Daniel Dans la grande salle de réunion au deuxième étage. On en aurait besoin jusqu'à 16 h, le temps de tout nettoyer.
In the large conference room on the second floor. We would need it until 04:00 PM, the time of cleaning everything.
Le directeur Entendu ! J' espère que je serais invité ?
Agreed! I hope that I would be invited?
Daniel Bien sûr ! Merci Beaucoup !
Of course! Thanks a lot!
Le directeur Au revoir !
Daniel Au revoir et encore merci !
Good-bye and thanks again.

Lesson 0 - Review[edit | edit source]

G: The French alphabet[edit | edit source]

The French Alphabet · L'alphabet français
Characters Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mm
Pronunciation ah bay say day uh ehf zhay ahsh ee zhee kah ehl ehm
Characters Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv Ww Xx Yy Zz
Pronunciation ehn oh pay kew ehr ehs tay ew vay doo-bluh-vay eeks ee-grehk zehd

In addition, French uses several accents which are worth understanding. These are: à, è, ù, (grave accents) and é (acute accent). A circumflex applies to all vowels: â, ê, î, ô, û. A tréma (French for dieresis) is also applied: ä, ë, ï, ö, ü, ÿ. Two combined letters are used: æ and œ, and a cedilla is used on the c to make it sound like an English s: ç.

V: Basic phrases[edit | edit source]

Basic Phrases · Les expressions de base
bonjour, salut hello (formal), hi (informal)
Comment allez-vous ? (formal),
Comment vas-tu ? (informal),
Comment ça va ? / Ça va ? (informal)
(lit: How you go/How it goes?)
ça va (très) bien I'm doing (very) well (lit. It goes (very) well)
merci thank you
et toi ? et vous ? and you? (informal) and you? (formal)
pas mal not bad
bien well
pas si bien/pas très bien not so well
comme ci, comme ça so-so
Désolé(e) I'm sorry.
quoi de neuf ? what's up with you? (lit. what's new)
pas grand-chose not much (lit. no big-thing)
au revoir bye
à demain see you tomorrow (lit. at tomorrow)
à plus tard see you later
Au revoir, à demain. Bye, see you tomorrow

V: Numbers[edit | edit source]

Numbers · Les nombres
un 1 une unité (a unity)
deux 2  
trois 3  
quatre 4  
cinq 5  
six 6  
sept 7  
huit 8  
neuf 9  
dix 10 une dizaine (one ten)
onze 11  
douze 12 une douzaine (one dozen)
treize 13  
quatorze 14  
quinze 15  
seize 16  
dix-sept 17  
dix-huit 18  
dix-neuf 19  
vingt 20  
vingt et un 21  
vingt [deux - neuf] 22-29
trente 30  
trente et un 31  
trente [deux - neuf] 32-39  
quarante 40  
cinquante 50  
soixante 60  
soixante-dix 70  
soixante et onze 71  
soixante-[douze - dix-neuf] 72-79  
quatre-vingts 80  
quatre-vingt-un 81  
quatre-vingt-[deux - neuf] 82-89  
quatre-vingt-dix 90  
quatre-vingt-[onze - dix-neuf] 91-99  
cent 100 une centaine (one hundred)
[deux - neuf] cents 200-900  
deux cent un 201  
neuf cent un 901  
mille 1.000 un millier (one thousand)
(un) million 1.000.000  
(un) milliard  
(un) billion  

Things of note about numbers[edit | edit source]

  • For 70-79, it builds upon "soixante" but past that it builds upon a combination of terms for 80-99
  • Only the first (21,31,41,51,61 and 71, but not 81 nor 91) have "et un" without a hyphen; but past this it is simply both words consecutively (vingt-six, trente-trois, etc.) with a hyphen in between.
  • For 100-199, it looks much like this list already save that "cent" is added before the rest of the number; this continues up to 1000 and onward.

V: Asking for the day/date/time[edit | edit source]

Asking For The Day, Date, Time · Demander le jour, la date, le temps
Asking for the day.
1a Aujourd'hui c'est quel jour? Today is what day? (oh-zhur-dewee seh kehl zhoor)
1b Aujourd'hui c'est [jour]. Today is [day].
2a Demain c'est quel jour Tomorrow is what day? (duh-ma(n) seh kehl zhoor)
2b Demain c'est [jour]. Tomorrow is [day].
Asking for the date.
3a Quelle est la date
What is the date
(kehl eh lah daht)
3b C'est le [#] [month]. It's [month] [#].
Asking for the time.
4a Quelle heure est-il? What hour/time is it? (kehl ewr eh-teel)
4b Il est quelle heure? (eel eh kehl ewr)
5 Il est [nombre] heure(s). It is [number] hours. (eel eh [nombre] ewr)

V: Time[edit | edit source]

In French, “il est” is used to express the time; though it would literally translate as “he is”, it is actually, in this case, equivalent to “it is” (unpersonal "il"). Unlike in English, it is always important to use “heures” (“hours”) when referring to the time. In English, it is OK to say, “It’s nine,” but this wouldn’t make sense in French. The French time system traditionally uses a 24-hour scale. Shorthand for writing times in French follows the format "17h30", which would represent 5:30PM in English.

Time · Le temps
Quelle heure est-il ? What time is it?
Il est une heure. It is one o’clock.
Il est trois heures. It is three o’clock.
Il est dix heures. It is ten o’clock.
Il est midi. It is noon.
Il est minuit. It is midnight.
Il est quatre heures cinq. It is five past four.
Il est quatre heures et quart. It is a quarter past four.
Il est quatre heures quinze. It is four fifteen.
Il est quatre heures et demie. It is half past four.
Il est dix-neuf heures moins le quart. It is a quarter to seven, or six forty-five.
Il est quatre heures trente. It is four thirty.
Il est cinq heures moins vingt. It is twenty to five.
Il est quatre heures quarante. It is four forty.

V: The days of the week.[edit | edit source]

The days of the week · Les jours de la semaine
French Pronunciation English Origin
lundi /lœ̃di/ (luh(n)-dee) Monday (Moon)
mardi /maʁdi/ (mahr-dee) Tuesday (Mars)
mercredi /mɛʁkʁədi/ (mehr-kruh-dee) Wednesday (Mercury)
jeudi /ʒødi/ (zhur-dee) Thursday (Jupiter)
vendredi /vɑ̃dʁədi/ (vah(n)-druh-dee) Friday (Venus)
samedi /samdi/ (sahm-dee) Saturday (Saturn)
dimanche /dimɑ̃ʃ/ (dee-mah(n)sh) Sunday (Dies Domini)
  • The days of the week are not capitalized in French.
  • For phrases relating to the day of the week, see the phrasebook.


  • What day is it today? is equivalent to Quel jour sommes-nous ?.
  • Quel jour sommes-nous ? can be answered with Nous sommes..., C'est... or On est... (last two are less formal).
  • Nous sommes... is not used with hier, aujourd’hui, or demain. C'était (past) or C'est (present/future) must be used accordingly.

V: The months of the year[edit | edit source]

The months of the year · Les mois de l'année
French Pron. English
janvier /ʒɑ̃vje/ (zhah(n)-vyay) January
février /fevʁije/ (fay-vree-yay) February
mars /maʁs/ (mahrs) March
avril /avʁil/ (ahv-reel) April
mai /mɛ/ (meh) May
juin /ʒɥɛ̃/ (zhoo-a(n)) June
juillet /ʒɥijɛ/ (zhoo-ee-yeh) July
août /ut/, /u/ (oot/oo) August
septembre /sɛptɑ̃bʁ/ (sehp-tah(n)-br) September
octobre /ɔktɔbʁ/ (ohk-toh-br) October
novembre /nɔvɑ̃bʁ/ (noh-vah(n)-br) November
décembre /desɑ̃bʁ/ (day-sah(n)-br) December

V: Relative date and time[edit | edit source]

Relative Date and Time · Date et heure relatives
Times of Day
le lever du jour daybreak
lit:the rise of the day
le lever du soleil sunrise
lit: the rise of the sun
le soleil levant rising sun.
le matin morning
...du matin A.M., lit: of the mornng
hier matin yesterday morning
le midi noon, midday
l'après-midi (m) afternoon
le soir evening, in the evening
...du soir P.M. lit: of the evening
le coucher du soleil sunset
la nuit night
Relative Days
avant-hier the day before yesterday
hier yesterday
aujourd'hui today
ce soir tonight
demain tomorrow
après-demain the day after tomorrow

V: Seasons[edit | edit source]

The Seasons · Les Saisons
la saison /la sɛ.zɔ̃/ (lah seh-zoh(n)) season
le printemps Listen /lə pʁɛ̃.tɑ̃/ (luh pra(n)-taw(n)) Spring
l'été (m) /le.te/ (lay-tay) Summer
l'automne (m) /lo.tɔn/ (loh-tawn) Autumn
l'hiver (m) /li.vɛʁ/ (lee-vehr) Winter

Dialogue · A conversation between friends · Une conversation entre amis[edit | edit source]

Daniel Bonjour Hervé. Comment vas-tu ?
Hello, Hervé. How are you?
Hervé Je vais bien, merci. Et toi ça va ?
I'm good,1 thank you. And you, it goes (fine)?
Daniel Ça va bien. Est-ce que2 tu viens à mon anniversaire ? J'organise une petite fête.
It goes well. You're coming to my party? I'm organizing a little party.
Hervé C'est quand ?
When is it?
Daniel Le 3 mars à 20h.
March 3 at 08:00 PM.
Hervé Le 3 mars, entendu. Tu fais ça chez toi3 ?
March 3, agreed. You're having it at your place?
Daniel Oui c'est chez moi. J'ai invité une vingtaine d'amis. On va danser toute la nuit.
Yes, it's at my place. I have invited (a set of) twenty friends. We4 are going to dance all night.
Hervé C'est très gentil de m'inviter, merci. A bientôt.
It's very nice to invite me, thank you. So long.
Daniel A demain, bonne journée.
Until tomorrow, good day.

^1 Bien... is an adverb meaning well. Its adjective equivalent is bon(ne), which means good. Since je vais, meaning I go, uses an action verb,
the adverb bien is used. In English, I'm good, which uses the linking verb am, is followed by an adjective rather than an adverb.

^2 Est-ce que... doesn't mean anything (like the Spanish upside down question mark) and is used to start a question.
This can be used in a similar manner to do in English. Instead of You want it?, one can say Do you want it?

^3 chez... is a preposition meaning at the house of.... Chez moi is used to say at my place. Chez [name] is used to say at [name's] place.

^4 on... can mean we or one.

Lesson 0 - Test[edit | edit source]

The following test will confirm your progress in the French introduction. Try to answer the questions to the best of your ability without turning to the previous chapters or consulting the test answers.

Grammar[edit | edit source]

Verb forms[edit | edit source]

Name the verb forms for the subject and infinitive specified. (1 point each)

Translating[edit | edit source]

English to French[edit | edit source]

Translate the following phrases and sentences into French. (2 points each)

  1. What day is today?
  2. How are you?
  3. What is your name?

French to English[edit | edit source]

Translate this dialogue between Henri and Jacques into English. Each phrase is worth 1 points. (11 points total)

  1. Bonjour! Quel est ton nom?
  2. Je m'appelle Jacques. Comment vous-appelez vous?
  3. Je m'appelle Henri. Comment ça va?
  4. Pas mal. Et toi, comment ça va?
  5. Trés bien, merci. À demain Jacques!
  6. À demain Henri.

Reading comprehension[edit | edit source]

Fill in the blank[edit | edit source]

Fill in the blanks in these conversations. Note: Every blank is one word. (1 point each)

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

Matching[edit | edit source]

Match the French words with their English definitions. (1 point each)

Level one
[edit | edit source]

Lesson 1.01 - Basic Grammar[edit | edit source]

By the end of this lesson, you should understand:
Qu’est-ce que c’est ? C'est une colombe.
Voici les deux garçons !

Grammar · Gender of nouns · Genre des noms[edit | edit source]

Nouns are words that represent something perceived or conceived, like an apple or a thought. In French, all nouns have a grammatical gender; that is, they are either masculine (m) or feminine (f).

Most nouns that express people or animals have both a masculine and a feminine form. For example, the two words for the cat in French are le chat (m) and la chatte (f).

However, there are some nouns that talk about people or animals whose gender is fixed, regardless of the actual gender of the person or animal. For example, la personnethe person is always feminine, even when it's talking about your uncle; le professeurthe teacher is always masculine, even when it's talking about your female professor or teacher.

The nouns that express things without an obvious gender (e.g., objects and abstract concepts) have only one form. This form can be masculine or feminine. For example, la voiturethe car can only be feminine; le stylothe pen can only be masculine.

Supplementary grammar · Common endings [edit | edit source]

Masculine nouns
-age le fromage the cheese
-d le pied the foot
-g le rang the rank
-isme le matérialisme materialism
-ment le mouvement the movement
-n le ballon the balloon
-r le professeur the teacher
-t le chat the cat
Feminine nouns
-ce la grâce the grace
-che la touche the touch
-ée la durée the duration
-ie la boulangerie the bakery
-ion la nation the nation
-ite/-ité la stabilité stability
-lle la fille the girl
-nce la balance the scales
-nne la personne the person
-ure la figure the figure

Exceptions[edit | edit source]

There are many exceptions to gender rules in French which can only be learned. There are even words that are spelled the same, but have a different meaning when masculine or feminine; for example, le livre means the book, but la livre means the pound. Some words that appear to be masculine (such as la photo, which should be masculine but is not because it is actually short for la photographie) are in fact feminine, and vice versa. Then there are some that just don't make sense; la foi is feminine and means faith or belief, whereas le foie is masculine and means liver.

Vocabulary · Example nouns [edit | edit source]

Masculine nouns
le cheval About this sound /ʃəval/ the horse
le chien About this sound /ʃjɛ̃/ the dog
le livre About this sound /livʁ/ the book
le bruit About this sound /bʁɥi/ the noise
Feminine nouns
la colombe About this sound /kɔlɔ̃b/ the dove
la chemise About this sound /ʃə.miz/ the shirt
la maison About this sound /mɛ.zɔ̃/ the house
la liberté About this sound /li.bɛʁ.te/ the liberty

Grammar · Articles [edit | edit source]

The definite article · L'article défini[edit | edit source]

In English, the definite article is always the.

In French, the definite article is changed depending on the noun's:

  1. gender
  2. number
  3. first letter

There are three definite articles and an abbreviation. Le is used for masculine nouns, La is used for feminine nouns, Les is used for plural nouns (both masculine or feminine), and L' is used when the noun is singular and begins with a vowel or silent h (both masculine or feminine). It is similar to English, where a changes to an before a vowel.

singular feminine la Listen /la/ (lah) la fille (lah fee-yuh) the daughter
masculine le Listen /lə/ (luh) le fils (luh fees) the son
singular, starting with a vowel sound l’ /l/ l’enfant (lah(n)-fah(n)) the child
plural les Listen /le/ (lay) les filles (lay fee-yuh) the daughters
les fils (lay fees) the sons
les enfants (lay-zah(n)-fah(n)) the children

Unlike English, the definite article is used to talk about something in a general sense, a general statement or feeling about an idea or thing.

Elision[edit | edit source]

Elision refers to the suppression of a final unstressed vowel immediately before another word beginning with a vowel. The definite articles le and la are shortened to l’ when they come before a noun that begins with a vowel or silent h. When pronounced, the vowel sound is dropped.

(le) ami l'ami (lah-mee) the (male) friend
(la) amie l'amie (lah-mee) the (female) friend
(le) élève l'élève (lay-lehv) the pupil
(la) heure l'heure (lewr) the hour, the time

Elision does not occur on an aspired h:

(le) héros: le hérosthe hero

In addition to the definite article, elision will also occur with other words, such as que, je, le, ce, ne, and de. The details on these words will be covered in later sections of the book.

The indefinite article · L'article indéfini[edit | edit source]

In English, the indefinite articles are a and an. Some is used as a plural article in English.

Again, indefinite articles in French take different forms depending on gender and number. The articles un and une literally mean one in French.

singular feminine une /yn/ (ewn) une fille[2] a daughter
masculine un /œ̃/ (uh(n)) un fils a son
plural des /dɛ/ (deh) des filles some daughters
des fils[3] some sons

^ une is often (more often than not) pronounced (ewnuh) in poetry and lyric.
^ Des fils does mean some sons, but is a homograph: it can also mean some threads (when pronounced like About this sound /fil/ ).

Some[edit | edit source]

Note that des, like les, is used in French before plural nouns when no article is used in English. For example, you are looking at photographs in an album. The English statement I am looking at photographs. cannot be translated to French as Je regarde photographies. because an article is required to tell which photographs are being looked at. If it is a set of specific pictures, the French statement should be Je regarde les photographies.I am looking at the photographs. On the other hand, if the person is just browsing the album, the French translation is Je regarde des photographies.I am looking at some photographs.

Plurality, pronunciation, and exceptions[edit | edit source]

The plural of most nouns is formed by adding an -s. However, the -s ending is not pronounced. It is the article that tells the listener whether the noun is singular or plural.

Most singular nouns do not end in -s. The -s is added for the plural form of the noun. Fils is one exception. Whenever the singular form of a noun ends in -s, there is no change in the plural form.

le fils
the son
les fils
the sons
un fils
a son
des fils
(some) sons
le cours
the course
les cours
the courses
un cours
a course
des cours
(some) courses

The final consonant is almost always not pronounced unless followed by an -e (or another vowel). Fils /fis/ is also an exception to this rule.

Liaison[edit | edit source]

Remember that the last consonant of a word is typically not pronounced unless followed by a vowel. When a word ending in a consonant is followed by a word beginning with a vowel sound (or silent h), the consonant often becomes pronounced. This is a process called liaison. When a vowel goes directly after un, the normally unpronounced n sound becomes pronounced.

(un) ami unnami About this sound /ɶ̃‿na.mi/ a (male) friend
(un) élève unnélève About this sound /ɶ̃‿ne.lɛv/ a pupil

Compare the pronunciation to words without liaison:

un garçon /ɶ̃ gaʁsɔ̃/

Une is unaffected by liaison.

Liaison also occurs with les and des.

(les) amis leszamis About this sound /le‿za.mi/ (some) (male) friends
(des) amis deszamis About this sound /dɛ‿za.mi/ (some) (male) friends
(des) amies deszamies About this sound /dɛ‿za.mi/ (some) (female) friends

As with elision, an aspired h isn't liaised:

(les) hangars: les hangars le æŋgəʁ

Vocabulary · People · Les personnes[edit | edit source]

la personne About this sound /la pɛʁ.sɔn/ person
Gender and age
l'homme (m) About this sound /lɔm/ man
la femme About this sound /la fam/ woman
le garçon About this sound /lə gaʁ.sɔ̃/ boy
la fille About this sound /la fi.j/ girl
la fillette About this sound /la fi.jɛt/ little girl
l'ami (m)
le copain
About this sound /la.mi/
About this sound /lə kɔ.pɛ̃/
male friend
l'amie (f)
la copine
About this sound /la.mi/
About this sound /la kɔ.pin/
female friend

Vocabulary · Expressions [edit | edit source]

Qu’est-ce que c’est ?[edit | edit source]

To say What is it? or What is that? in French, Qu’est-ce que c’est ? /kɛs kə sɛ/ is used.

Qu'est-ce que…?What is it that ? is used often to say What…? at the beginning of sentences.

To respond to this question, you say C’est un(e) [nom]., meaning It is a [noun]:

C'est un livre.It's a book.

Remember that the indefinite article (un or une) must agree with the noun it modifies:

C'est une chemise.It's a shirt.

Il y a[edit | edit source]

Il y a /il.ja/ is used to say there is or there are. Il y a expresses the existence of the noun it introduces.

Il y a une pomme.There is an apple.

The phrase is used for both singular and plural nouns. Unlike in English (isare), il y a does not change form.

Il y a des pommes.There are (some) apples.

The -s at the end of the most pluralised nouns tells you that the phrase is there are instead of there is. In spoken French, when both the singular and plural forms almost always sound the same, the article (and perhaps other adjectives modifying the noun) is used to distinguish between singular and plural versions.

A is the present third person singular form of the verb to have, and y is a pronoun meaning there. The phrase il y a, then, literally translates to he has there. This phrase is used in all French tenses. It is important to remember that verb stays as a form of have and not be.

Voici and voilà[edit | edit source]

Like in English, il y a… is not often used to point out an object. To point out an object to the listener, use voici /, meaning over here is/are or right here is/are, and voilà /, meaning over there is/are, or there you have it.

Voici les deux garçons !Here are the two boys!

Examples[edit | edit source]

C'est un chien. It's a dog.
Il y a un problème. There is a problem.
Il y a deux personnes ici. There are two people here.
Il y a deux tables dans le salon. There are two tables in the lounge.
Il n’y a pas de chat. There is no cat.
il n’y a pas que toi. You are not the only one.
Voici le fromage. Here's the cheese.
Voila une pomme There's an apple.

Exercises [edit | edit source]

ExerciseRespond according to the pictures.
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
C'est ….
Apple red delicius stalk.jpg
Satisfied cat.jpg
Labrador jeune chienne assise.JPG
C'est une pomme
C'est une poire
C'est un chat
C'est un chien
Match each noun with its corresponding image.
une colombe
des livres
une chemise
des chevaux
une maison
Shirt.jpg Go-home-2.svg Nuvola apps bookcase pastel.png Rock dove - natures pics.jpg Nokota Horses cropped.jpg
une chemise
une maison
des livres
une colombe
des chevaux

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

the boy le garçon
the female friend l'amie, la copine
the man l'homme
the little girl la fillette
the woman la femme
the person la personne
the girl la fille
the male friend l'ami, le copain

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

l'amie the female friend
la fillette the little girl
la personne the person
la femme the woman
l'ami the male friend
la copine the female friend
le garçon the boy
la fille the girl
le copain the male friend
l'homme the man

Supplementary exercises [edit | edit source]


(Highlight or hover over a line to show the answer.) Classify each noun as masculine or feminine based on its ending.

rapidité feminine
mutisme masculine
récréation feminine
bricolage masculine
paille feminine
découpage masculine
grenouille feminine
gallicisme masculine
robinet masculine
différence feminine
rondelle feminine
optimisme masculine
question feminine
modernisme masculine
vaisselle feminine
paysage masculine
ambulance feminine
originalité feminine
famille feminine
sévérité feminine
couronne feminine
particularité feminine
anarchisme masculine
feuille feminine
mobilité feminine
télévision feminine
oreille feminine
panne feminine
frite feminine
ordonnance feminine
professionnalisme masculine
sincérité feminine
invitation feminine
passage masculine
abeille feminine
résolubilité feminine
canne feminine
attention feminine
validité feminine
bagage masculine
coquillage masculine
créativité feminine
chance feminine
monolinguisme masculine
village masculine

Lesson 1.02 - To Be[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/To be

Lesson 1.03 - Description[edit | edit source]


Lesson 1.04 - Family[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Family Template:Newpage

Lesson 1.05 - Recreation[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Recreation Template:Newpage

Lesson 1.06 - The House[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/The house Template:Newpage

Lesson 1.07 - Weather[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Weather Template:Newpage

Lesson 1.08 - Travel[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Travel Template:Newpage

Lesson 1.09 - Art[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Art Template:Newpage

Lesson 1.10 - Science[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Science Template:Newpage

Level two
[edit | edit source]


Lesson 2.01 - School[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/School Template:Newpage

Lesson 2.02 - Culture[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Culture Template:Newpage

Lesson 2.03 - Shopping[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Shopping Template:Newpage

Lesson 2.04 - Going Out[edit | edit source]

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Lesson 2.05 - Transportation[edit | edit source]

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Lesson 2.06 - Everyday Life[edit | edit source]

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Lesson 2.07 - Rural Life[edit | edit source]

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Lesson 2.08 - Food and Drink[edit | edit source]

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Lesson 2.09 - Dining[edit | edit source]

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Lesson 2.10 - Communication[edit | edit source]

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Level three
[edit | edit source]


Lesson 3.01 - Vacations[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Vacations Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.02 - Work[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Work Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.03 - Health[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Health Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.04 - Money[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Money Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.05 - Youth[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Youth Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.06 - Adolescence[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Adolescence Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.07 - Ancient History[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/History Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.08 - Revolution![edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Revolution! Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.09 - Modern France[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Modern France Template:Newpage

Lesson 3.10 - Current Events[edit | edit source]

French/Lessons/Current events Template:Newpage