Posts Tagged ‘French’

Somebody told me

A nice song by Carla Bruni. Heard it watching 500 Days of Summer (a great movie BTW 🙂 )

Enjoy the lyrics!

On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose,
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses.
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos chagrins il s’en fait des manteaux
Pourtant quelqu’un m’a dit…

Que tu m’aimais encore,
C’est quelqu’un qui m’a dit que tu m’aimais encore.
Serait-ce possible alors ?

On me dit que le destin se moque bien de nous
Qu’il ne nous donne rien et qu’il nous promet tout
Parait qu’le bonheur estĂ  portĂ©e de main,

Alors on tend la main et on se retrouve fou
Pourtant quelqu’un m’a dit …

(au refrain)

Mais qui est-ce qui m’a dit que toujours tu m’aimais?
Je ne me souviens plus c’Ă©tait tard dans la nuit,
J’entends encore la voix, mais je ne vois plus les traits
“Il vous aime, c’est secret, lui dites pas que j’vous l’ai dit”
Tu vois quelqu’un m’a dit…

Que tu m’aimais encore, me l’a-t-on vraiment dit…
Que tu m’aimais encore, serait-ce possible alors ?

On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose,
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos tristesses il s’en fait des manteaux,
Pourtant quelqu’un m’a dit que…

Isn’t it beautiful!

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Des vs de

There is this tricky thing in French – des and de with plural.
Almost all the French adjectives go after the noun they denote:

Un livre interessant

So, in plural they are used with plural indefinite ‘des’:
Des livres interessantes
But! when a noun is used with an adjective that precedes it, like:
Une belle femme
In this case the article for plural changes to ‘de’:
De belles femmes

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PassĂ© ComposĂ© and Imparfait

When thinking of difference between passé composé and imparfait, I usually imagine passé composé as a dot (or several dots) and imparfait as a line.

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To build this tense you should drop the -ons ending from the present indicative nous form of the verb and add the imperfect endings:

jeais nous -ions
tu -ais vous –iez
il -ait ils –aient


I. Habitual actions or states of being

Quand j’Ă©tais petit, nous allions Ă  la plage chaque semaine.
When I was young, we used to go to the beach every week.

II. Physical and emotional descriptions: time, weather, age, feelings

Il Ă©tait midi et il faisait beau.
It was noon and the weather was nice.

III. Actions or states of an unspecified duration

Je faisais la queue parce que j’avais besoin de billets.
I stood in line because I needed tickets.

IV. Background information in conjunction with the passé composé

Il Ă©tait Ă  la banque quand il l’a trouvĂ©.
He was at the bank when he found it.

V. Wishes or suggestions

Ah ! Si j’Ă©tais riche !
Oh, if only I were rich!

Si nous sortions ce soir ?
How about going out tonight?

VI. Conditions in si clauses

S’il voulait venir, il trouverait le moyen.
If he wanted to come, he would find a way.

VII. The expressions ĂȘtre en train de and venir de in the past

J’Ă©tais en train de faire la vaisselle.
I was (in the process of) doing the dishes.

Il venait d’arriver.
He had just arrived.

NB! The verb ĂȘtre is an exception for this tense. It’s not formed from nous sommes, but takes the irregular stem Ă©t- and the same endings as others.
AND the vous form is Ă©tieZ

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Passé Composé

To my mind, this tense is one of the easiest to remember:

The formula for it is:
avoir + participe passé
J’ai dĂ©jĂ  mangĂ©.
Il a déjà mangé.
Nous avons déjà mangé.

Être and pronominal verbs:
ĂȘtre + participe passĂ©
Je suis allé.
Il est allé.
Nous sommes allés.

This tense denotes (1) an action completed in the past:

As-tu étudié ce weekend ?
Did you study this weekend?

Ils ont déjà mangé.
They have already eaten.

(2) an action repeated a number of times in the past:

Oui, j’ai mangĂ© cinq fois hier.
Yes, I did eat five times yesterday.

Nous avons visité Paris plusieurs fois.
We’ve visited Paris several times.

(3) a series of actions completed in the past:

Quand je suis arrivĂ©, j’ai vu les fleurs.
When I arrived, I saw the flowers.

Samedi, il a vu sa mÚre, a parlé au médicin et a trouvé un chat.
Saturday he saw his mother, talked to the doctor, and found a cat.

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Être Verbs used with direct object

You may think that ĂȘtre verbs are always used with ĂȘtre (or else why would they have been called like that?) But there is a ‘but’. Six of these verbs can take direct object! (It’s annoying, isn’t it). But to think logically, it’s logical! 🙂

These nasty guys are:
passer (BTW I haven’t included this verb into the previous post)
You will understand everything after looking through examples:
Il est descendu. – He went down(stairs).
Il a descendu l’escalier. – He went down the stairs.
Il a descendu la valise. – He took the suitcase down.


Il est montĂ©. – He went up(stairs).
Il a montĂ© la cĂŽte. – He went up the hill.
Il a montĂ© les livres. – He took the books up.

Je suis passĂ© devant le parc. – I went by the park.
J’ai passĂ© la porte. – I went through the door.
J’ai passĂ© une heure ici. – I spent an hour here.

Je suis rentrĂ©. – I came home.
J’ai rentrĂ© les chaises. – I brought the chairs inside.

Elle est retournĂ©e en France. – She has returned to France.
Elle a retournĂ© le livre. – She returned the book.

Elle est sortie. – She went out.
Elle a sorti la voiture – She took the car out.

So, when you see that an ĂȘtre verb is used with direct object, feel free to use ‘avoir’ instead of ‘ĂȘtre’. Well, actually, you should do this 😉

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Être Verbs

In French, compound tenses are formed with the help of auxiliary ‘avoir’ or ‘ĂȘtre’. So French verbs are classified by which auxiliary verb they take (they are used with one and the same auxiliary in all the compound tenses).
Well, most of the verbs use ‘avoir’, and the short list of those requiring ‘ĂȘtre’ is easy to remember:

All the verbs are intransitive (can’t take direct object) denoting some kind of movement.
NB! Derivatives of these verbs also use ‘ĂȘtre’.
If you find it difficult to remember the verbs, here’s a mnemonics for you (Dr and Mrs Vandertramp):



Though it includes some derivatives, the mnemonics is rather helpful, I think. (If you know a better one – please, share 🙂
And, of course, all pronominal verbs use ĂȘtre (+ ‘s’ in the end (for Pl))
To check your grip on ĂȘtre verbs click here.

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