French Classroom: The Basics

Les Articles


Les Articles Définis Definite Articles
In French, nouns (substantives m.) are either masculine (m.) or feminine (f.). Each gender has its own article.
le jour m. the day
la nuit  f. the night
Les is the plural article for both masculine and feminine nouns.
les hommes m. plural the men
les femmes f. plural the women
When the noun begins with a vowel or a silent ‘h’, the le or la simply becomes l’.
l’ombre m. the shade
l’abeille f. the bee
l’hôtel m. the hotel
Les Articles Indéfinis Indefinite Articles
un bâtiment  m. a building
une maison   f. a house
des choix  m. some choices
des filles  f. some girls/daughters
Le Genre Gender
Guessing the gender of people nouns is easy. If you’re referring to a male, it’s masculine, otherwise it’s feminine.
le gosse the kid (male)
la gosse the kid (female)
French Grammar Many people nouns have both masculine and femine forms.
le fermier farmer (male)
la fermière farmer (female)
le vendeur salesperson (male)
la vendeuse salesperson (female)
Some people nouns are always either masculine or feminine, regardless of whether it refers to a guy or a girl.
la vedette star
le savant wise person
le pilote pilot
le professeur teacher (high school or university)
Guessing the gender of inanimate nouns can be a bit tricky. Consonant ending nouns are usually masculine and e ending nouns are usually feminine but there are tons of exceptions. There are some rather complicated rules that can be used.

Les Pronoms Personnels Sujets

Subject Pronouns

Je suis le professeur. I am the teacher.
Tu es un élève. You are a student.
Il est Français. He is French.
Elle est Française. She is French.
Nous sommes des élèves. We are students.
Ils sont de France. They are from France.
Elles sont de Paris. They (women) are from Paris.
When je is followed by a word that begins with a vowel, it becomes simply j’.
J‘arrive ! I‘m coming!
Vous is the formal ‘you’ form. Using it shows respect and social distance. It should always be used when addressing strangers except for in certain environments like school where students normally use tu with each other. Permission should be asked before using tu, but you normally shouldn’t ask if someone is significantly older than you. It should always be employed when addressing people of authority like your teachers or the police.
Excusez-moi. Vous parlez francais ? Excuse me. Do you speak French?
Normally, the final consonant of a word ending in s isn’t pronounced. when followed by a vowel ending word or a word that begins with silent h, this final consonant is pronounced. This is called liaison.
les enfants the children
Je suis heureuse. I am happy (f.).
Vous is also used for plural you.
Vous êtes fous. You (all) are crazy.
Vous êtes des élèves. You (all) are students..
French Class

Les Conjugaisons


Notice that the verb form changes whenever the subject changes. These different verb forms are known as conjugations. They indicate the subject (I, you, he/she/it, we, you formal, and they) and tense (ie. present, past, or future). The conjugations of regular verbs (verbes réguliers m.) follow easy to predict patterns while irregular verbs (verbes irréguliers m.) don’t. Être, the verb on this page, is one of the irregulars. Two other important irregular verbs are aller (to go) and pouvoir (can).
je suis
tu es
il / elle est
nous sommes
vous êtes
ils / elles sont
je vais
tu vas
il / elle va
nous allons
vous allez
ils / elles vont
je peux
tu peux
il / elle peut
nous pouvons
vous pouvez
ils / elles peuvent
Je peux ! I can!
The infinitive (l’infinitif) is displayed at the top of each verb’s conjugation table. Besides serving to identify a verb, it is employed whenever the tense or the person need not be indicated. This is the case when verbs are strung together. The first verb marks the tense and person.
Elle va être ici. She’s going to be here. Je peux aller. I can go.
  The infinitive is also used when a verb follows a preposition.
Il va aller là-bas. He’s going to go over there.
La Négation Negation
To negate something surround the verb with ne and pas.
Je ne peux pas. I can’t.
Ils ne vont pas. They’re not going.
Ne, like je, drops it’s vowel when it comes before a vowel. This is called élision.
Il n’est pas français. He isn’t french.
In casual speech, the ne is often dropped.
Je peux pas. I can’t

-Er Ending Verbs

je parle
tu parles
il/elle parle
nous parlons
vous parlez
ils/elles parlent
j’ écoute
tu écoutes
il/elle écoute
nous écoutons
vous écoutez
ils/elles écoutent
For the following verbs , the e remains in the nous form .
changer ** to change
manger ** to eat
nager ** to swim
partager ** to share
Nous mangeons. We eat. Nous partageons. We share.
Verbs of this type
aimer ** to like to love
commencer ** to begin
donner ** to give
écouter ** to listen to
emprunter ** to borrow
étudier ** to study
fermer ** to close
goûter ** to taste
laver ** to wash
marcher ** to walk
rester ** to stay
sauter ** to jump
prêter ** to lend
parler ** to talk
travailler ** to work

-Ir Ending Verbs

je choisis
tu choisis
il/elle choisit
nous choisissons
vous choisissez
ils/elles choisissent
je finis
tu finis
il/elle finit
nous finissons
vous finissez
ils/elles finissent
Verbs of this type
accomplir ** to accomplish
bâtir ** to build
choisir ** to choose
embellir ** to make beautiful
envahir ** to invade
finir ** to finish
grandir ** to grow up
obéir ** to obey
punir ** to punish
remplir ** to fill
réunir ** to reunite
réussir ** to succeed
saisir ** to seize

-Re Ending Verbs

j’ entends
tu entends
il/ elle entend
nous entendons
vous entendez
ils/elles entendent
je vends
tu vends
il/ elle vend
nous vendons
vous vendez
ils/elles vendent
Verbs of this type
attendre  to wait
défendre  to defend
descendre  to descend
entendre  to hear
étendre ** to stretch; to spread out
fendre **  to split
fondre **  to melt
pendre **  to hang
pondre **  to lay an egg
perdre **  to lose
rendre **  to render
répandre **  to spread
répondre **  to answer
tendre **  to tighten
vendre **  to sell

Almost Regular

These verbs are essentially regular with slight changes.
In the following verbs, the second to the last vowel becomes è for all conjugations except the nous and vous forms.
j’ espère
tu espères
il/ elle espère
nous espérons
vous espérez
ils/elles espèrent
Verbs of this type
céder ** to yield, to cede
célébrer ** to celebrate
compléter ** to complete
considérer ** to consider
espérer ** to hope
posséder ** to possess
préférer ** to prefer
protéger ** to protect
répéter ** to repeat
j’ achète
tu achètes
il/ elle achète
nous achetons
vous achetez
ils/elles achètent
Verbs of this type
acheter ** to buy
amener ** to bring, to lead toward
élever ** to raise
emmener ** to take, to lead away
enlever ** to lift
geler ** to freeze
lever ** to raise
mener ** to lead
peser ** to weigh
promener ** to take a walk

Here, the final consonant is doubled except for the nous and vous forms
j’ appelle
tu appelles
il/ elle appelle
nous appelons
vous appelez
ils/elles appellent
Verbs of this type
appeler ** to call
jeter ** to throw (away)
rejeter ** to reject
And here, the y is sometimes converted to i.
j’ envoie
tu envoies
il/ elle envoie
nous envoyons
vous envoyez
ils/elles envoient
Essayer and payer have two forms of conjugations – each is pronounced differently. One uses an i and the other a y.
j’ essaie
tu essaies
il/ elle essaie
nous essayons
vous essayez
ils/elles essaient
j’ essaye
tu essayes
il/ elle essaye
nous essayons
vous essayez
ils/elles essayent
Verbs of this type
employer ** to use
ennuyer ** to bore
envoyer ** to send
essayer ** to try
essuyer ** to wipe
nettoyer ** to clean
payer ** to pay (for)
French Coaching
La Possession Possession
Masculine Feminine* Masculine & Feminine plural
mon pays
my country
ma ville
my city/town
mes amis
my friends
ton père
your father
ta mère
your mother
tes parents
our parents
son fils
his/her son
sa fille
his/her daughter
ses enfants m.
his/her children
notre pays
our country
notre ville
our village
nos voisins f.
our neighbors
votre pain
your (formal) bread
votre nourriture
your (formal) food
vos pommes f.
your (formal) apples
leur ami
their friend
leur maison
their house
leurs noms m.
their name
*Whenever a feminine noun begins with a vowel, the masculine forms are used- mon, ton, and son.
son argent f. his/her money son amitié f. his/her friendship

la sœur de Bruno Bruno’s sister (the sister of Bruno) la voiture de monsieur Jospin Mr. Jospin’s car (the car of Mr. Jospin) les clés de mon frère my brother’s keys (the key’s of my brother)
Spoken French
Les Adjectifs Adjectives
Usually adjectives come in masculine and feminine flavors and reflect the gender of the noun they modify. Normally masculine adjectives end in a consonant and feminine adjectives end in an e.
un homme fort a strong soldier une femme forte a strong woman
Adjectives are a diverse lot though. You’ll find many kinds of masculine and feminine forms including invariable adjectives.
un maillon faible a weak link une voix faible a weak voice
Here are some adjectives in masculine feminine pairs unless invariable.
chaud / chaude hot lourd / lourde heavy difficile difficult
froid / froide cold léger / légère light facile easy
plein / pleine full rapide fast propre clean
vide empty lent / lente slow sale dirty
épais / épaisse thick longue long haut / haute high
fin / fine thin court / courte short bas / basse low
dur / dure hard mouillé / mouillée wet
doux / douce soft sec / sèche dry
sûr / sûre sure/safe compliqué / compliquée complicated
dangereux / dangereuse dangerous simple simple
Subject pronouns can refer to objects as well as persons.
Il est doux. He/It is soft.
Elle est douce. She/It (feminine) is soft.
More commonly though, ce or another demonstrative is used with objects and things. Ce is only used with the verb être and becomes c’when the être verb form begins with an e. When an adjective describes ce, it is always masculine, even if a feminine object is being referred to.
C’est doux. It / That is soft.
C’est dangereux. It / That is dangerous.
Most color adjectives are invariable. There are only a few that aren’t.
blanc / blanche white noir / noire black gris / grise gray
vert / verte green
Les Pluriels Plurals
When an adjective modifies a plural noun, an s should be is added to the end however this s is never pronounced.
des vents froids m. cold winds
des mains froides f. cold hands
Whenever an adjective describes both a male and female noun, the masculine form is used.
Monsieur Martin et sa femme sont gentils. Mr Martin and his wife are nice.
Le Placement Placement
Normally adjectives follow the noun they modify, however this isn’t the case for all adjectives.
la grande ville the large city le petit général the small general
le bon curé the good priest une jolie femme a pretty woman
le mauvais Dr. Moreau the evil Dr. Moreau les hauts murs the high walls
le gros morceau de gâteau
the big/fat piece of cake
Sometimes the meaning of an adjective changes depending on it’s placement.
un ancien élève a former student ma propre cuisine my own kitchen
un village ancien an old village ma cuisine propre my clean kitchen
ma chère mère my dear mother le pauvre homme the unfortunate man
un légume cher an expensive vegetable l’homme pauvre the poor man (money-wise)
The following adjectives are all irregular. The archaic masculine form is now only used in front of masculine nouns that begin with a vowel or silent h.
Masculine un beau livre a beautiful book le nouveau conseil the new advise un vieux piège an old trap
Archaic Masculine le bel oiseau the beautiful bird un nouvel échec a new failure le bon vieux temps the good old days
Feminine la belle montagne the beautiful mountain la nouvelle année the new year une vieille plaie an old wound
French Lessons
 Object (l’objet m.)
L’artiste peint un chef d’œuvre.
Subject (le Sujet)
The artist is painting a masterpiece.
Les Pronoms d’object directs Direct Object Pronouns
The direct object pronouns are placed in front of the verb.
Il me comprend. He understands me.
Je te comprends. I understand you.
Tu le comprends. You understand him/it.
Nous la comprenons. We understand her/it.
Tu nous comprends. You understand us.
Je vous comprends. I understand you (formal)/you (plural).
Elles les comprennent. They (feminine) understand them.
When followed by a vowel or silent ‘h’, me, te, la and le experience elision.
Elle t‘aime. She loves you.
Il m‘envoie une lettre. He is sending me a letter.
Je l’ai. I have him/her/it.
Le Partitif Partitive

When you refer to a piece of something – not the entire thing – use the partitive article which is de placed in front of the article and noun.

Je veux le pain. I want the bread.
Je veux l’argent. I want the money
Don’t be so food greedy (gourmand) or money greedy (avide)!
Je veux du pain. I want some bread.
Tu veux m’emprunter de l’argent ? Would you like to lend me some money?

French Basic


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