Belajar Bahasa Perancis(part two)

karena part one nya belum selesai…

nah, kita lanjutkan part two nya,….
LET’S GO!!!!!


Lesson 6 – The Family

Some sound files of this lesson are not available yet but I thought that it was worth releasing this lesson because I know how eager to learn French you are. The missing sound files will be added very soon.

Lesson plan :




  • appeler (to call)
  • habiter (to live)


Following is a short text describing the Dupont family … in French off course !

headphoneMonsieur et Madame Dupont ont deux enfants
Mr. and Mrs. Dupont have two children

headphoneIls ont un garçon et une fille
They have a boy and a girl

headphoneLe garçon s’appelle Pierre.
The boy is called Pierre

headphoneLa soeur de Pierre s’appelle Caroline
Pierre’s sister is called Caroline


L’institutrice : headphoneComment t’appelles-tu ?
The teacher : What’s your name (literally: How are you called ?)

Pierre : headphone
Pierre : My name is Pierre (literally: I am called Pierre)

L’institutrice : headphoneQuel âge as-tu ?
The teacher : How old are you ?

Pierre : headphoneJ’ai dix ans
Pierre : I am ten

L’institutrice : headphoneEst-ce que tu as des frères et soeurs ?
The teacher : Do you have any brother or sister ?

Pierre : headphoneOui. J’ai une soeur.
Pierre : Yes, I have one sister

L’institutrice : headphoneQuel âge a-t-elle ?
The teacher : How old is she ?

Pierre : headphoneElle a huit ans.
Piere : She is eight

L’institutrice : headphoneQuel est ton nom de famille ?
The teacher :What’s your family name ?

Pierre :Dupont
Pierre : Dupont

L’institutrice : headphoneOù est-ce que tu habites ?
The teacher : Where do you live ?

Pierre : headphoneJ’habite à Toulouse
Pierre : I live in Toulouse

Notes on Pronunciation

  1. One of the major characteristics of French pronunciation is the usage of what we call in French liaisons. Liaisons are links between words. As mentioned in the first lesson (“Guidelines for French Pronunciation”), most of the time, the final character of a word is not pronounced. This rule is generally true but its scope is limited to separate words. When words are assembled in a sentence, this rule is no longer applicable. Consider two words, for instance trois (three) andenfant (child). Each separate word is pronounced like this : headphone trois, headphone enfant. When put side by side (trois enfants), both words are pronounced as if they were linked together in only one word like this headphone trois_enfants [troisenfan]. That’s what we call a liaison. In the next lessons, liaisons will be indicated by an underscore “_”, but keep in mind that the words linked by a liaison are two separate words.
    You cannot use liaison between all words. A liaison takes place only when the first word terminates with a consonant and when the second word begins with a vowel. For example there is no liaison between trois (three) and voiture(car). In addition, some consonants do not sound a normal way when pronounced in a liaison.

  2. x sounds as z e.g. headphonedeux_enfants [deuzenfan] (two children),
    Unfortunately, as any good rule, the liaison rules have lots of exceptions. In particular, some liaisons don’t sound good or sound very weird to a French ear and must be avoided. No logic can help non French speaking people know whether a liaison must or must not be done. I suggest you to rely on the indications I am going to add in the further lessons, as mentioned above (underscore character). To get liaison instructions for the conversation above, click here.

    1. The consonant combination llis very frequent in French. The way you heave to pronounce it depends on the character that precedes “ll” :
      • when preceded by a i , “ll” is pronounced the same way as in Spanish, i.e. like a “y”.
      • when preceded by a e, “ll” is pronounced like a “l” but changes the sound of the “e” to “è”.
      • when preceded by any other vowel (i.e. a, o, u), “ll” is pronounced like a single “l”.
  3. Let’s apply this rule to some words introduced in this lesson :
  • When you went through the above conversation you may have noticed a new strange and weird character : ç. “ç” is called c cédille [ssédiye] and is pronounced like two “s”. Therefore garçon is pronounced [garsson]. Some other usual words have a ç like : ça (this),
  • The word fils (son) is pronounced as if the “l” was absent [fiss].

Notes on Vocabulary

  1. French people have a prénom and a nom . The prénom is the first name (USA) or given name (UK) while the nom is the last name (USA) or surname (UK). The Pierre’s prénom is Pierre. His nom is Dupont. The last name (or surname) is also referred to as nom de famille (family name).
  2. To express the age of people, French people don’t use the verb être (to be) as English people do but the verb avoir (to have)instead. Thus, we say :
    • J’ai vingt ans (I am twenty)
    • Tu as vingt ans (you are twenty)
    • Il/elle a vingt ans (He/she/it is twenty)
    • Nous avons vingt ans (We are twenty)
    • Vous avez vingt ans (You are twenty)
    • Ils/elles ont vingt ans (They are twenty)
  3. Note that in French, one asks the age of people using the following form : quel &acircge as-tu ? (literally : what age do you have ?).


The conversation above illustrates two grammatical points : the usage of the genitive and the possessive pronouns


What is genitive ? Genitive is the grammatical name of something very simple, in fact. Genitive denotes the ownership. In English the ownership is indicated by adding ‘s to the owner when it is a human being, or by using of when the owner is a thing. For example :

  • Mr Dupont has two children, Pierre and Caroline. We can say that Pierre and Caroline are Mr Dupont’s children .
  • When talking about the wheels which belong to a car we say : the wheels of the car (and not the car’s wheels).

In English, ‘s and of are used to denote the genitive form. In French, the genitive form is indicated by de in the same way as the English of . For instance :

  • Monsieur Dupont a deux enfants, Pierre et Caroline (Mr Dupont has two children, Pierre and Caroline). Pierre et Caroline sont les enfants de Monsieur Dupont (Pierre and Caroline are Mr Dupont’s children).
  • Les roues de la voiture (the wheels of the acr).

In French, de is used to express ownership for either persons and things (or animals).

Possessive Pronouns

In English possessive pronouns are : my, your, his/her/its, our, your, their. Their French counterpart are more complex because they depend on the gender and the number of the object owned by the owner. For example, when I talk about my bicycle (vélo in French) I say mon vélo because vélo is a masculine singular noun. When talking about my car (voiture in French) I say ma voiture because voiture is a feminine singular noun. When talking about my shoes (chaussures in French) I say mes chaussures because chaussures is a plural noun. The following table shows how the possessive pronouns vary according to the gender and the number. Note that when plural, the possessive pronoun is the same whatever the gender.

Possessive   masculine  feminine  plural
Pronoun      singular   singular
my           mon        ma        mes
your         ton        ta        tes
his/her/its  son        sa        ses
our          notre      notre     nos
your         votre      votre     vos
their        leur       leur      leurs

Note that as opposed to English, the French possessive pronouns don’t depend on the gender of the owner. Consider the Mr and Mrs Dupont’s car. Both Mr and Mrs Dupont say, when talking about their car : ma voiture .

In addition, let’s review the sentences structure. The above conversation contains two kinds of sentence structure : normal and interrogative.

  • normal sentence : Monsieur et Madame Dupont ont deux enfants. The components are : the subject (Monsieur et Madame Dupont), the verb (ont) and the accusative or complément d’objet direct, thus following the general pattern : SUBJECT + VERB + ACCUSATIVE
  • interrogative sentence : Où est-ce que tu habites ? Where the subject is “tu”, the verb is “habites” and the interrogative conjunction is “où”. The sentence pattern is CONJUNCTION + est-ce que + VERB + SUBJECT ? Note that the teacher could have used the other interrogative sentence pattern : Où habites-tu ? (CONJUNCTION + VERB + SUBJECT).

Liaisons Guidelines

Monsieur et Madame Dupont ont deux_enfants
Ils_ont un garçon et une fille
Le garçon s’appelle Pierre.
La soeur de Pierre s’appelle Caroline
L’institutrice : Comment t’appelles-tu ?
Pierre : Je m’appelle Pierre
L’institutrice : Quel_âge as-tu ?
Pierre : J’ai dix_ans
L’institutrice : Est-ce que tu as des frères et soeurs ?
Pierre : Oui. J’ai une soeur.
L’institutrice : Quel_âge a-t-elle ?
Pierre : Elle a huit_ans.
L’institutrice : Quel est ton nom de famille ?
Pierre :Dupont
L’institutrice : Où est-ce que tu habites ?
Pierre : J’habite à Toulouse

Lesson 7 – D’où viens-tu (Where do you come from)

Some sound files of this lesson are not available yet but I thought that it was worth releasing this lesson because I know how eager to learn French you are. The missing sound files will be added very soon.

Lesson plan :

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Conversation
  3. Notes on Vocabulary
  4. Liaisons Guidelines


Noms (Nouns)

  • ici (here)
  • là (there)
  • un pays (country)
  • une ville (city, town)
  • la citoyenneté (citizenship)
  • une destination (destination)
  • une origine (origin)

Verbes (Verbs)

  • headphonevenir (to come)
  • headphonealler (to go)
  • aller à (to go to)
  • venir de (to come from)
  • voyager (to travel)
  • être né (to be born)

Adjectifs (Adjectives)

  • loin (far)
  • près (close)

Prépositions (Prepositions)

  • de (from)
  • à (to)

Conjonctions (Conjunctions)

  • quel/quelle/quels (what)

2. Conversation

La famille Dupont a de nouveaux voisins. Pierre rencontre le fils de ses voisins.
The Dupont Family has new neighbours. Pierre meets the son of his neighbours.

Pierre : Bonjour. Je m’appelle Pierre. Comment t’appelles-tu ?
Pierre : Hello, my name is Pierre. What is your name ?

Peter : Je m’appelle Peter
Peter : My name is Peter.

Pierre : D’où est-ce que tu viens ?
Pierre : Where do you come from ?

Peter : Je viens d’Angleterre. Mes parents sont anglais.
Peter : I come from England. My parents are english.

Pierre : Super ! Est-ce que tu viens de Londres ?
Pierre : Wonderful ! Do you come from London ?

Peter : Oui. Je suis né à Londres.
Peter : Yes. I was born in London.

Pierre : Tu parles bien français. Moi, je ne parle pas anglais.
Pierre : You speak French very well. As far as I am concerned, I don’t speak English.

3. Notes on Vocabulary

Countries and Citizenship

In French, as in English, the first character of country names must be uppercase, while the uppercase is not required for the citizenship. Example (refer to the ” additional vocabulary ” section for more country names) :

Country                       Citizenship
France                        français (French)
Belgique (Belgium)            belge (Belgian)
Suisse (Switzerland)          suisse (Swiss)
Angleterre (England)          anglais (English)
Allemagne (Germany)           allemand (German)
Italie (Italy)                italien (Italian)
Espagne (Spain)               espagnol (Spanish)
Irlande (Ireland)             irlandais (Irish)
Russie (Russia)               russe (russian)
États Unis d'Amérique (USA)   américain (American)
Canada (Canada)               canadien (Canadian)
Québec (Quebec)               québécois (Quebecer)
Chine (China)                 chinois (Chinese)
Japon (Japan)                 japonnais (Japanese)

Note that, as opposed to English, the citizenship cannot be easily derived from the country name. Citizenship is similar to an adjectif [je suis français (I am French)]. Consequently, citizenship must be in accordance with the gender and the number of the people considered. Example :

  • Elle est anglaise (She is English)
  • Mes amis sont américains (My friends are American)
  • Les chinois et les chinoises ne sont pas grands (Chinese men and women are not tall)

As same as citizenship, the way French people call the inhabitants of a city is not straight forward. The list below provides some examples :

City                      Inhabitant
Paris                     parisien
Marseilles                marseillais
Lyon                      lyonnais
Lille                     lillois
Toulouse                  toulousain
Bruxelles                 bruxellois
Genève (Geneva)           genèvois
Rome                      romain
Londres (London)          londonien
Berlin                    berlinois
New York                  new-yorkais
Pékin (Beijing)           pékinois

There are some striking irregular examples :

City                      Inhabitant
Saint Étienne             stéphanois
Saint Malo                malouin
Bordeaux                  bordelais
Madrid                    madrilène
Moscou                    moscovite

Prepositions de and à

When used with verbs expressing a movement, the preposition de means from, while à means to. Therefore, they are both key prepositions in French language. Examples :

  • venir de (to come from)
  • aller à (to go to)

More precisely, de and à refer to locations and not to movements. de refers to the origine of the movement and à refers to the destination. To illustrate that, consider the following expression : d’ici à là [d'ici is the contraction of de ici] which means from here to there (ici = here, là = there).

Note that de and à have both different meanings depending on the verb they are associated with or their role in the sentence. For instance, we have already mentioned (see lesson 6) that de is used to express the genitive relationship between two words.

4. Liaisons Guidelines

Pierre : Bonjour. Je m’appelle Pierre. Comment t’appelles-tu ?

Peter : Je m’appelle Peter

Pierre : D’où est-ce que tu viens ?

Peter : Je viens d’Angleterre. Mes parents sont anglais.

Pierre : Super ! Est-ce que tu viens de Londres ?

Peter : Oui. Je suis né à Londres.

Pierre : Tu parles bien français. Moi, je ne parle pas_anglais.

Lesson 8 – Comparer (Comparing)

Some sound files of this lesson are not available yet but I thought that it was worth releasing this lesson because I know how eager to learn French you are. The missing sound files will be added very soon.

Lesson plan :

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Conversation
  3. Notes on Vocabulary
  4. Grammar
  5. Liaisons Guidelines
  6. Ordinal Numbers


Noms (Nouns)

  • un collègue (a colleague)
  • un travail (a job, a work)
  • un restaurant (a restaurant)
  • une voiture (a car)
  • une idée (an idea)
  • un litre (a liter)
  • un kilomètre (a kilometer)
  • un mètre (a meter)
  • un mètre carré (a square meter)
  • un mètre cube (a cubic meter)
  • une garantie (a warranty)

Verbes (Verbs)

  • rencontrer (to meet)
  • acheter (to buy)
  • vendre (to sell)
  • coûter (to cost)
  • avoir envie de (
  • changer (to replace, to change)
  • devoir (must, to have to)
  • aimer (to like, to love)
  • trouver (to find)
  • consommer (to consume)
  • vouloir (to want)
  • avoir raison (to be right)
  • avoir tort (to be wrong)

Adjectifs (Adjectives)

  • nouveau (m.s.), nouvelle (f.s.), nouveaux (m.p) (new)
  • vieux (m), vieille (f) (old)
  • superbe (superb)
  • cher (m), chère (f) (expensive)
  • bon marché (cheap)
  • beau (m), belle (f), beaux (m.p.) (nice, beautiful)
  • actuel (m), actuelle (f) (current, present)
  • puissant (m), puissante (f) (powerful)
  • performant (m), performante (f) (performant)

Prépositions (Prepositions)

Conjonctions (Conjunctions)

  • pourquoi (why)
  • parce que (because)
  • combien (how much, how many)
  • trop + adjectif (too + adjective)
  • beaucoup (too much)

2. Conversation

Monsieur Dupont rencontre un collègue de travail au restaurant.
Mister Dupont meets a colleague in a restaurant.

M. Dupont : J’ai envie d’acheter une nouvelle voiture.
M. Dupont : I’d like to buy a new car.

Le collègue : Pourquoi ?
The colleague : Why ?

M. Dupont : Parce que ma voiture est trop vieille. Je dois la changer.
M. Dupont : Because my car is too old. I must replace it.

Le collègue : Est-ce que tu as une idée de ce que tu veux acheter ?
The colleague : Do you have an idea of what you want to buy ?

M. Dupont : Oui. J’aimerais acheter la nouvelle Renault. Elle est superbe.
M. Dupont : Yes. I’d like to buy the new Renault. It is superb.

Le collègue : Oui, mais elle doit coûter cher, n’est-ce pas ?.
The colleague : Yes but it must be expensive, isn’t it ?

M. Dupont : En effet, elle coûte cher, mais elle est moins cher que la nouvelle Peugeot. C’est la plus performante et elle a la meilleure garantie.
M. Dupont : Indeed it is expensive but is less expensive than the new Peugeot. It is the most performant and it has the best warranty.

Le collègue : Combien consomme-t-elle ?
The colleague : How much gas does it consume ?

M. Dupont : Sept litres au cent. Ce n’est pas beaucoup. C’est beaucoup moins que ma voiture actuelle. En plus, elle est plus puissante.
M. Dupont : Seven litres every one hundred kilometers. It is . It is far less than my current car. In addition, it is more powerful.

Le collègue : Tu as raison. Tu fais une bonne affaire.
The colleague : You’re right.

3. Notes on Vocabulary

To be right / to be wrong

The French counterparts of the English to be right and to be wrong are avoir raison and avoir tort. While in English one uses the verb to be in French one uses avoir (to have).

Emphasizing Questions

Consider the following question : Is this car expensive ? You ask this question because you don’t have any idea of the price of the car being considered. You expect that the person we are talking to tells you the price of the car. Now, imagine you already know the price of the car, and it is really expensive. You surely don’t ask your question the same way. You would probably say : This car is expensive. Isn’t it ?

In French it is possible to emphasize your questions the same way. The normal interrogative form is : Est-ce que cette voiture est chère ? But, if you already know that it is expensive and emphasize the fact that it is expensive you could say : Cette voiture est chère. N’est-ce pas ? In the latter sentence, n’est-ce pas plays exactly the same role as the English isn’t it. There is, however, a difference between the English and the French form.

It is …

The expression it is is translated in French by Cela est or more currently by the contracted form C’est. To some extent, cela or c’ plays a similar role as it. However, cela must not be considered as the impersonal pronoun. There is no impersonal pronoun in French (it in English) because things and animals are either masculine or feminine.

Examples :

  • C’est une belle voiturre (It is a nice car)
  • C’est une grande maison (it is a big house)
  • C’est un homme agréable (He is a pleasant man. Literrally : It is a pleasant man).

4. Grammar

Comparative and Superlative Forms

Comparatives are used to compare things. A comparison can express a superiority, an inferiority or an equality relationship. In English the comparisons are expressed as follows :


My car is more performant than yours.

My car is nicer than yours.


Your car is less performant than mine.

Your car is less nice than mine.


Your car is as performant as mine.

My car is as nice as yours.

In French, there is only one superiority comparison form built as follows, regardless the length of the adjective :

plus + adjective + que

As we can notice, plus is equivalent to more, and que is equivalent to than.

Examples :

  • Ma voiture est plus performante que la tienne. (note that la tienne means yours)
  • Ma voiture est plus belle que la tienne.

The inferiority form is composed like this :

moins + adjective + que

where moins plays the same role as less and que the same role as than.

Examples :

  • Ta voiture est moins performante que la mienne. (note that la mienne means mine)
  • Ta voiture est moins belle que la mienne.

The equality comparison is formed as follows :

assi + adjective + que

where assi plays the same role as as and que the same role as as.

Examples :

  • Ma voiture est aussi performante que la tienne.
  • Ta voiture est aussi belle que la mienne.

Note that, the adjectuve must respect the concordance rules with the gender and the number.

Superlatives are used to denote the highest degree of an adjective (or an adverb). In English, superlatives are built up by appending an adjective with the termination -est or by adding most before. In French, the superlaive form of an adjective is derived by adding plus before. Note that plus plays a similar role as most in English. However, while in English, the superlative is preceded by the definte article the, in French, the definte article must be in accordance with the gender and the number of the noun(s) it refers to.

Examples :

  • Ma voiture est la plus performante.
  • Ma voiture est la plus belle.

Examples :

  • Ta voiture est la moins performante.
  • Ma voiture est la moins belle.

These rules are very simple and apply to almost every adjective. Unfortunately there are a few exceptions, as in English !

  • bon (good)
    • superiority comparative : mieux que
    • inferiority comparative : moins bon/bonne que
    • equality comparative : aussi bon/bonne que
    • superiority superlative : le/la meilleur/meilleure
    • inferiority superlative : le/la moins bon
  • mauvais (bad)
    • superiority comparative : pire que or plus mauvais que (both are correct)
    • inferiority comparative : moins mauvais/mauvaise que
    • equality comparative : aussi mauvais/mauvaise que
    • superiority superlative : le/la pire or le/la plus mauvais/mauvaise
    • inferiority superlative : le/la moins mauvais/mauvaise

Expressing a wish

In French, people express a wish by using the conditional tense. It is pretty the same as in English.

The conditional present conjugation for aimer (to like) and vouloir (to want) is listed below.


Tu aimerais
Il/elle aimerait
Nous aimerions
Vous aimeriez
Ils/elles aimeraient


Je voudrais
Tu voudrais
Il/elle voudrait
Nous voudrions
Vous voudriez
Ils/elles voudraient

Conjugation Pattern :


Irregular conjugation

Vouloir (to want)
Je veux
Tu veux
Il/elle veut
Nous voulons
Vous voulez
Ils/elles veulent

Devoir (must)

Je dois
Tu dois
Il/elle doit
Nous devons
Vous devez
Ils/elles doivent

Vendre(to sell)

Je vends
Tu vends
Il/elle vend
Nous vendons
Vous vendez
Ils/elles vendent

5. Liaisons Guidelines

M. Dupont : J’ai envie d’acheter une nouvelle voiture.

Le collègue : Pourquoi ?

M. Dupont : Parce que ma voiture est trop vieille. Je dois la changer.

Le collègue : Est-ce que tu as un_ idée de ce que tu veux acheter ?

M. Dupont : Oui. J’aimerais acheter la nouvelle Renault. Elle est superbe.

Le collègue : Oui, mais_elle doit coûter cher, n’est-ce pas ?.

M. Dupont : En effet elle coûte cher, mais_elle est moins cher que la nouvelle Peugeot et je la trouve plus belle.

Le collègue : Combien consomme-t-elle ?

M. Dupont : Sept litres au cent. Ce n’est pas beaucoup. C’est beaucoup moins que ma voiture_actuelle. En plus, elle est plus puissante.

Le collègue : Tu as raison. Tu fais une bonne_affaire.

6. Ordinal Numbers

In French, ordinal numbers are directly derived from the numbers by appending ième. There is only one exception : the French counterpart of first is not unième but premier.


  1. there are some irregular numbers which result in a minor alteration of the spelling (e.g. ninth is neuvième instead of neufième, fifth is cinquième instead of cinqième).
  2. 21st, 31st, 41st, etc. are translated by vingt-et-unième, trente-et-unième, quarante-et-unième, etc. and not vingt-premier, trente-premier, quarante-premier, etc. as in English !
  • premier (first)
  • deuxième or second (second)
  • troisième (third)
  • quatrième (fourth)
  • cinquième (fifth)
  • sixième (sixth)
  • septième (seventh)
  • huitième (eighth)
  • neuvième (ninth)
  • dixième (tenth)
  • onzième (eleventh)
  • douzième (twelveth)
  • treizième (thirteenth)
  • quatortzième (forteenth)
  • quinzième (fifteenth)
  • seizième (sixteenth)
  • dix-septième (seventeenth)
  • dix-huitième (eighteenth)
  • dix-neuvième (nineteenth)
  • vingtième (twentieth)
  • vingt-et-unième (twenty first)
  • centième (hendredth)
  • millième (thousandth)

The abbreviated notation of the ordinal numbers is : 1er (1st), 2ième (2nd), 3ième (3rd), 4ième (4th), 21ième (21st), 31ième (31st), 100ième (100th), 101ième (101st), etc.

Lesson 9 – Le temps (Time)

Whether time is the fourth dimension of the Universe – as suggested by modern physics – or a bio-physical process which makes events irreversible, it is a reality which nobody can reject ! As a matter of fact, the way people apprehend time is strongly reflected in the human languages. In the Western European languages (these are the only languages I can talk about) time is basically composed of two concepts : the instant and the duration. The languages try to address these two basic concepts with an arsenal of verb tenses. Although the main principles are the same, there are sound and subtle differencies between languages in the way they express time. First, let’s talk about the common concepts.

Time can be thought as a one-dimension rule where events occur. A point, or a specific position on the rule is an instant while the space between two instants is a duration. I am sure that you are very familiar with these definitions. The time – the position on the time rule – of our conscience is the reference point : it is present time. Before it is the past and after, the future. In the Western European languages, the basic verb tenses directly reflect this partition of time : they make provision of present, past and future tenses. However, present, past and future depict only the position - the instants – of events relative to the reference point (our conscience). Expressing the duration is subtler and vary very strongly from one language to an other one.

Lesson plan :



  • aujourd’hui (today)
  • hier (yesterday)
  • demain (tomorrow)
  • un matin (a morning)
  • midi (noon)
  • une après-midi (an afternoon)
  • un soir (an evening)
  • une nuit (a night)
  • le présent (the present)
  • le passé (the past)
  • le futur (the future)
  • un jour (a day)
  • une semaine (a week)
  • un mois (a month)
  • une année (a year)
  • une heure (a hour)
  • une minute (a minute)
  • une seconde (a second)


  • prochain / prochaine (next)
  • dernier / dernière (last)

Conjunctions & Adverbs

  • tôt (early)
  • tard (late)
  • avant (before)
  • après (after)


In French, there are 4 past tenses :

  • l’imparfait,
  • le passé simple,
  • le passé composé,
  • le plus-que-parfait.

The passé simple won’t be addressed in this lesson for it is not used in the spoken language (today, the passé simple is exclusively employed in literrary works such as novels). The three other past tenses are commonly used in both the spoken and the written language. The most popular of them is the passé composé. So, let’s start with it.

1. The passé composé

The passé composé is the most popular but not the simpler past tense. As suggested by its name (passé composé means composed past), the passé composé is built up using an auxiliary verb. In French, as opposed to English and Germanic languages, there are two possible auxiliary verbs : avoir (to have) and être (to be). Basically, the passé composé is constructed following the pattern below :

auxiliary verb conjugated in the present tense + verb in past participle

Examples :

manger (past participle : mangé) :

  • j’ai mangé
  • tu as mangé
  • il/elle a mangé
  • nous avons mangé
  • vous avez mangé
  • ils/elles ont mangé

aller (past participle : allé) :

  • je suis allé(e)
  • tu es allé(e)
  • il/elle est allé/allée
  • nous sommes allés (es)
  • vous êtes allés (es)
  • ils/elles sont allés/allées

Notes :

  1. In French, the past participle of the 1st group verbs (verbs ending with -er) is derived from the infinitive tense by replacing the infinitive ending (-er) by -é. This rule is always applicable … for the 1st group verbs only !
  2. When conjugated with the auxiliary avoir the past participle remains unchanged whatever the subject is (mangé in case of the verb manger) while when the auxiliary être is required, the past participle changes in accordance with the gender and the number of the subject, as shown in the example above. We’re going back to this remarks later on.
  3. There is, unfortunately, no rule to help people determine whether a verb conjougates with the auxiliary avoir or être. There are some hints but no rigourous rule. We’re going through them later on.

The Passé Composé Usage

The passé composé is used to express actions which took place in the past and are completed. In addition, to some extent, there may be a link, or a relationship between this past action and the present. For instance, the past action may have consequences in the present, or the past action took place in a period which is not completed yet – though the action itself is completed – (such a period can be an hour, a day, a week, the duration of a special event, etc.). In general, the passé composé does not bear any duration information by itself : the action may have been very long or very short. The duration information – if required – must be added explicitly (see 5th example below).

  • Hier, j’ai déjeuné à 1 heure (Yesterday, I lunched at one o’clock) : the lunch is now finished ! (the action of lunching is completed)
  • L’année dernière, elle a visité le Canada (Last year, she visited Canada) : the action of visiting Canada is now finished.
  • L’avion est arrivé à 11 heures (The airplane has arrived at 11 o’clock) : the airplane is now arrived (the action of arriving is completed)
  • Hier, j’ai mangé avec mon meilleur ami (Yesterday, I ate with my best friend) : the action of eating is now completed
  • J’ai attendu le bus pendant vingt minutes (I’ve waited for the bus for twenty minutes) : the action of waiting is now completed.
  • Ce matin, j’ai lu un livre (This morning, I read a book) : the book is now read (the action of reading is completed) and, in addition, the period of time (the current day in this example) is not completed.
  • J’ai apprécié ton cadeau (I have appreciated your present) : the action of appreciating is completed but the resulting feeling (good appreciation) is still alive in the present time.

The Past Participle in French

Basically, past participle is fairly simple in French but there are lots of irregular verbs which make it more complicated than it seems at the first look. Remember the 3rd lesson dedicated to verbs : there are three verb groups in French.

  • the 1st group : verbs ending with -er (aller, parler, manger, chanter, etc.),
  • the 2nd group : verbs ending with -ir (finir, courrir, bâtir, etc.),
  • the 3rd group : verbs ending with -re (vendre, boire, rire, etc.).

The past participle for the 1st verb group is built by replacing the infinitive ending by . e.g. :

Infinitive Past Participle
manger (to eat) mangé
chanter (to sing) chanté
aller (to go) allé
jouer (to play) joué

The past participle for the 2nd verb group is built by replacing the infinitive ending by -i. e.g. :

Infinitive Past Participle
finir (to finish) fini
grandir (to grow) grandi
choisir (to choose) choisi
sortir (to go out) sorti
partir (to leave) parti

But there some major exceptions such as :

Infinitive Past Participle
courir (to run) couru
couvrir (to cover) couvert

The 3nd group verbs are strongly irregular. However, in many cases, the past participle is obtained by replacing the infinitive ending by -u. e.g. :

Infinitive Past Participle
vendre (to sell) vendu
boire (to drink) bu
prendre (to take) pris
voire (to see) vu
entendre (to hear) entendu
vivre (to live) vécu
mettre (to put) mis

The past participles for the verbs être and avoir are :

  • être (to be) : été (been)
  • avoir (to have) : eu (had)

You’ll find a list of past participles at the end of this lesson.

The Past Participle Concordance rules

The past participle concordance rules are certainly one of the most complicated aspects of the written French. There are two basic rules :

  • the concordance rule for the verbs which conjugate with the auxiliary être,
  • the concordance rule for the verbs which conjugate with the auxiliary avoir.

Let’s startwith the simplest one :

Concordance rule for the verbs which conjugate with the auxiliary être

Rule : the past participle ot the verbs which conjugate with the auxiliary être is in concordance with the gender and the number of the subject of the verb. The concordance complies with the adjective concordance rules (the feminine is formed by appending a -e and the plural by appending a -s). e.g.:

  • Ils sont allés en Amérique l’année dernière (They went to America last year) : ” ils ” is masculine plural.
  • Elle est arrivée en retard à l’école (literally : she arrived late at school. She was late at school) : Elle is feminine.
  • Le camion et la voiture sont arrivés à l’heure (the truck and the car arrived on time) : there are two items (the truck and the car) so that the subject is plural. One of the item is masculine (le camion) then the concordance rule applied is the macho rule (the masculine wins over the feminine).

Concordance rule for the verbs which conjugate with the auxiliary avoir

Rule : the past participle of the verbs which conjugate with the auxiliary avoir is in concordance with the gender and the number of the complément d’objet if it is placed before the verb (!!!) otherwise, the past participle remains unchanged. The concordance complies with the adjective concordance rules (the feminine is formed by appending a -e and the plural by appending a -s). e.g.:

  • Elle a mangé des oranges (She has eaten oranges) : the complément d’objet is ornages. It is placed after the verb, so that the past participle is not in concordance with it.
  • Les oranges qu’elle a mangées sont bonnes (The oranges she has eaten are good) : the complément d’objet is oranges. It is placed before the verb, so that the past participle is in concordance with the gender (orange is feminine in French) and number (oranges is plural) of the complément d’objet.

Determining the right auxiliary

Most of the verbs conjugate in passé composé with the auxiliray avoir. However, the number of verbs which require the auxiliary être is not negligable. There is no reliable rule to determine whether a verb conjugate with the auxiliary être or avoir. Nevertheless, there are some hints which can help you use the right auxiliary. The verbs which conjugate with the auxiliary être are :

  1. the ” pronominal ” verbs (verbes pronominaux),
  2. the ” intransitive ” verbs (verbes intransitifs) which express a movement or a change of state

The concepts of pronominal and intransitive verbs will be discussed in detail later on this course. However, to clarify the previous rules, let’s give the following definition :

  • a pronominal verb is reflexive i.e., it directly applies to the subject. In English, the pronominal verbs are those which require myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, themselves. e.g. : I wash myself, you watch yourself in the mirror, he kills himself, etc. In French, the pronominal verbs are distinguished by se in front of them in the infinitive form. e.g. se laver (to wash oneself), se regerder (to watch oneself), se tuer (to kill oneself), se promener (to walk), s’habiller (to wear), etc. As you see, some verbs are transitive in French and not in English.
  • a intransitive verb is a verb wich does not require a complément d’objet (an accusative). Conversely, the verbs which require a complément d’objet are called transitive. e.g.
transitive verbs conjugation example
manger (to eat) je mange un bon repas (I am eating a good meal)
chanter (to sing) Je chante une chanson (I am singing a song)
boire (to drink) je bois un verre de vin (I’m drinking a glass of wine)
intransitive verbs conjugation example
aller (to go) je vais à l’école (I’m going to school)
voler (to fly) l’avion vole (the airplane flies)
rouler (to run) la voiture roule (the car runs)

So, the main intranstive verbs which must be conjugated with the auxiliary être are :

  • aller (to go)
  • arriver (to arrive)
  • devenir (to become)
  • entrer (to get in, to get into)
  • mourrir (to die)
  • naître (to be born)
  • partir (to leave)
  • rester (to stay)
  • sortir (to get off, te get out of)
  • tomber (to fall)
  • venir (to come)

2. The Imparfait

The imparfait is the second most popular past tense in French. As opposed to passé composé,it is very easy to conjugate for it does not need any auxiliary verb. The imparfait conjugation pattern is similar to the present tense one with some alterations.

Conjugation of the 1st group verbs

chanter (to sing)

  • je chantais
  • tu chantais
  • il/elle chantait
  • nous chantions
  • vous chantiez
  • ils/elles chantaient

parler (to speak, to talk)

  • je parlais
  • tu parlais
  • il/elle parlait
  • nous parlions
  • vous parliez
  • ils/elles parlaient

écouter (to listen to)

  • j’écoutais
  • tu écoutais
  • il/elle écoutait
  • nous écoutions
  • vous écoutiez
  • ils/elles écoutaient

You can clearly see the conjugation pattern applying to the the termination of the 1st group verbs.

  • 1st person singular : -ais
  • 2nd person singular : -ais
  • 3rd person singular : -ait
  • 1st person plural : -ions
  • 2nd person plural : -iez
  • 3rd person plural : -aient

Now, let’s try ” aller ” which irregular in present tense :

  • j’allais
  • tu allais
  • il/elle allait
  • nous allions
  • vous alliez
  • ils/elles allaient

In the imparfait, ” aller ” is no longer irregular. That’s a good news !

Conjugation of the 2nd group verbs

finir (to finish)

  • je finissais
  • tu finissais
  • il/elle finissait
  • nous finissions
  • vous finissiez
  • ils/elles finissaient

venir (to come)

  • je venais
  • tu venais
  • il/elle venait
  • nous venions
  • vous veniez
  • ils/elles venaient

vouloir (to want)

  • je voulais
  • tu voulais
  • il/elle voulait
  • nous voulions
  • vous vouliez
  • ils/elles voulaient

Once again, the conjugation of 2nd group verbs respect some kind of termination pattern, however, less obvious than in the 1st group. Some of the 2nd group verbs conjugate like ” finir ” (termination pattern : -ssais, -ssais, -ssait, -ssions, -ssiez, -ssaient) and others, like ” venir “conjugate as the 1st group verbs. Once again, you may have noticed that the imparfait conjugation is less irregular than the present tense.

Conjugation of the 3rd group verbs

boire (to drink)

  • je buvais
  • tu buvais
  • il/elle buvait
  • nous buvions
  • vous buviez
  • ils/elles buvaient

vendre (to sell)

  • je vendais
  • tu vendais
  • il/elle vendait
  • nous vendions
  • vous vendiez
  • ils/elles vendaient

vivre (to live)

  • je vivais
  • tu vivais
  • il/elle vivait
  • nous vivions
  • vous viviez
  • ils/elles vivaient

The 3rd group is still a mess but less than in the present tense.They respect the same termination pattern as the 1st group verbs (-ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient) but might be subject to some alteration. However, in most cases, the alteration is very simple : the infinitive termination -re is dropped and replaced by the conjugation termination.

” être ” (to be) and ” avoir ” (to have)

The auxiliary verbs être and avoir are as irregular in imparfait as in the present tense. Let’s take a close look at them.

être (to be)

  • j’étais
  • tu étais
  • il/elle était
  • nous étions
  • vous étiez
  • ils/elles étaient

avoir (to have)

  • j’avais
  • tu avais
  • il/elle avait
  • nous avions
  • vous aviez
  • ils/elles avaient

Imparfait Usage

Basically, the imparfait tense is used to express actions which were in progress in a past portion of time, whithout specifying with precision when they began and when they completed. In general, the imparfait is used when the action has taken a certain amount of time, i.e. it was not an instant action. Examples :

  • Je marchais silencieusement dans la rue (I was silently walking on the street)
  • A cette époque, je vivais pauvrement (At this time, I was living poorly)

Most of the time, the imparfait is employed in French in place of the progressive past (progressive preterit) in English. This rule works very well.

Time on the Clock

The common way to ask for the time in French is :

Quelle heure est-il ? (What time is it ? literally : what hour is it)

The answer is :

Il est deux heures (it is two o’clock)

Il est trois heures (it is three o’clock)

Il est trois heures cinq (it is five past three)

Il est trois heures dix (it is ten past three)

Il est trois heures et quart (it is a quarter past three)

Il est trois heures vingt (it is twenty past three)

Il est trois heures vingt-cinq (it is twenty five past three)

Il est trois heures et demi (it is half past three)

Il est quatre heures moins vingt-cinq (it is twenty five to four)

Il est quatre heures moins vingt (it is twenty to four)

Il est quatre heures moins le quart (it is a quarter to four)

Il est quatre heures moins dix (it is ten to four)

Il est quatre heures moins cinq (it is five to four)

Il est midi (it is noon, 12:00 am) or

Il est minuit (it is midnight, 12:00 pm)

As you see, French people express the time in a way similar to English people. There are some – minor differencies however :

  1. for the first half hour : il est cinq heures vingt could be literally translated as it is five hours plus twenty minutes.
  2. for the second half hour : il est cinq heures moins dix could be literally translated by it is five hours minus ten minutes.

The French counterparts of quarter and half are respectively quart and demi.

To distinguish the time in the morning and in the afternoon, English people use the abbreviations a.m. (ante meridiem) and p.m.(post meridiem). French people don’t use these abbreviations. In French, the time in the morning and in the afternoon are specified by respectively adding du matin (in the morning) or de l’après-midi (in the afternoon) after the time. Examples :

  • trois heures du matin = 3:00 am
  • cin heures et demi de l’après-di = 5:30 pm

In addition, there is a more formal way to make this distinction which works like this :

Time on the clock French time
1:00 am une heure
1:00 pm treize heures (13:00)
2:00 am deux heures
2:00 pm quatorze heures (14:00)
2:15 am deux heures quinze
2:15 pm quatorze heures quinze (14:15)
2:30 am deux heures trente
2:30 pm quatorze heures trente (14:30)
2:45 am deux heures quarante cinq
2:45 pm quatorze heures quarante cinq (14:45)
2:50 am deux heures cinquante
2:50 pm quatorze heures cinquante (14:50)
12:00 am douze heures or midi
12:00 pm minuit

This way of expressing the time is utilized in the train stations, the airports, at work, in any sort of time-tables. But in the day-to-day life, people prefer to say trois heures de l’après-midi rather than quinze heures.

continued in part three……

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