Updated date:

A Beginner's Course to French

Author:

Zoe is a high school student who has been studying French since 7th grade.

An Introduction

Hello, and welcome! This will be a series where we will work together through breaking French down, and what better way than starting at the very basics? Hopefully this will be a useful learning aid and help clear up any problems you have with French. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and I will reply as soon as I can. So, if you're ready, let's begin!

a-beginners-course-to-french

Why French?

French is a Romance Language, make it very similar to languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan. Learning French provides a basis and foundation to learn these other languages, which share many characteristics. As you may know, there are many French words that are adopted into English, such as , silhouette and souvenir. With saying that, there are many English words found in French, such as T-shirt, and week-end. For some, learning a new language allows people to reinvent themselves and create a new reality for themselves.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his languages, that goes to his heart.

— Nelson Mandela

Vocabulary table

FrenchEnglish

Bonjour

Hello

Salut

Hi

Au revoir

Good bye

À bientôt

See you soon

Moi

Me

Je suis

I am

Je m'appelle...

My name is...

J'habite...

I live...

Toi

You

Tu t'appelles comment?

What's your name

Tu habites où?

Where do you live?

Madame

Madam/Ms/Mrs.

Monsieur

Sir/Mister

Et

And

Mais

But

Oui

Yes

Non

No

Merci

Thanks

Alors

So, then

Where

Ici

Here

Là-bas

Over there

(Au) numéro

(at) number

(La) rue

(the) road

Ça va?

How are you?

Ça va

I'm fine

Ça ne va pas

I'm not okay

Aïe!

Ouch!

Oh là là!

Oh my goodness!

Idiot(e)

Idiot

Oh pardon!

Sorry!

Je suis désolé(e)!

I'm sorry

Ah bon?

Is it? Really?

Ils sont

They are

C'est cool

It's/that's cool

Ma tante

My aunt

Mon oncle

My uncle

Mes parents

My parents

Avec

With

Comprehension Task

Eloise steps out from her apartment block and accidentally knocks Arthur over.


Eloise: Oh là là! Ça va?

Arthur: Ça ne va pas. Aïe!

Eloise: Je suis une idiote et je suis désolée. Tu t'appelles comment?

Arthur: Je m'appelle Arthur. Et toi?

Eloise: Je m'appelle Eloise. Tu habites où? Ici?

Arthur: Non, j'habite là-bas, la rue Martin au numéro neuf. Alors, tu habites où?

Eloise: Moi? J'habite ici.

Arthur: Avec monsieur et madame Dubois?

Eloise: Mais ils ne sont pas mes parents. Ils sont ma tante et mon oncle.

Arthur: Ah bon? C'est cool!

*la porte s'ouvre (the door opens)*

Madame Dubois: Salut! Ça va?

Arthur: Bonjour Madame. Oui, ça va.

Eloise: Alors, au revoir Arthur!

Arthur: À bientôt Eloise!

a-beginners-course-to-french

Gender Agreement

In French, different nouns have different ways of expressing the word 'the' or 'a'. This is because in French, nouns have genders and are either male or female. If the noun is male, it is described as being masculine. If the noun is female, it is described as being feminine. 'Le' is used for masculine nouns, 'La' is used for feminine nouns, and 'Les' means the noun is plural.

Example 1

Le citron - the lemon (masc.)

La tarte - the pie (fem.)

Les citrons - the lemons (masc. plural)

Les tartes - the pies (fem. plural)


The same goes for saying 'a/an/some' - 'un' is for masculine nouns, 'une' is used for feminine nouns and 'des' is used for plural nouns.

Example 2

Un citron - a lemon (masc.)

Une tarte - a pie (fem.)

Des citrons - some lemons (masc. plural)

Des tartes - some pies (fem. plural)

In the story, we saw possesive determiners used, are used to say 'my', 'your', 'their', 'his' and 'her', but we will explore this later. To say 'my', a similar pattern follows - 'mon' for masculine nouns, 'ma' for feminine nouns and 'mes' is used for plural nouns.

Example 3

Mon oncle - my uncle (masc.)

Ma tante - my aunt (fem.)

Mes parents - my parents (masc. plural)

It is important to remember the gender of different nouns as it can be used for pronouns. Nouns cannot use one pronoun, such as 'it' but rather uses 'he' or 'she' because of their genders. However, this will be discussed at a later point.

a-beginners-course-to-french

Introducing Être and conjugation

The verb être means 'to be'. It is crucial to describe yourself, others and how something is, e.g. 'I am sorry' uses the verb 'to be'. The reason 'I am' comes from 'to be' is because it describes your being - what you essentially are.

Être is one of the 4 key irregular verbs. This means when the verb is conjugated, it does not share or follow a pattern with other verbs.

Conjugation is when you make the verb make sense with the subject. The subject is the person who is doing the verb (I, you, he, she, we, you, they).

e.g.

You don't say 'I to be happy', you say, 'I am happy'. 'Am' is the conjugated form of 'to be' which fits with the subject of 'I'.

This means that according to different subjects, the verb changes accordingly.

e.g.

'To be' works differently with the subject 'I', and 'you'.

'I am' is different to 'you are' - you wouldn't say 'you am' or 'I are'.

Another example is that 'you are' is used differently to 'he/she is', because you wouldn't say 'you is' or 'he/she are' - it is incorrect and doesn't make any sense.

Therefore, we need different conjugations in French as well. In the story above, we saw 'je suis' and 'ils sont' both of which are conjugated forms of être. You can see the conjugated forms of être in the verb table below.

Verb Table for Être

SubjectÊtre conjugationEnglish

Je

Suis

I am

Tu

Es

You are

Il/Elle/On

Est

He/She is

Nous

Sommes

We are

Vous

Êtes

You are (plural or formal)

Ils/Elles

Sont

They are

© 2018 Zoe S

Comments

ann on July 06, 2018:

nice! great for basics and the foundation to such a complex language - the vocab table is definitely helpful! amazing posts!

Related Articles