Page name: The Basics of French [Logged in view] [RSS]
2010-11-21 00:35:22
Last author: Akayume
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The Basics of French

As taught by [Akayume].


So you want to learn some basic French. Well, you've certainly come to the right place, as I would be more than happy to help you out. (: We'll start with the very basics, so I'll give you some basic information, some basic phrases, and some basics knowledge. You'll be speaking French in no time!


Step one: I, You, He, She

I - Je
You (informal) - Tu
He/She/(One) - Il/Elle/On
We - Nous
Ya'll/You (formal) - Vous
They - Ils/Elles

There are some important things to note here. First: <<On>> is like saying "one" in English. For example: "One must brush one's teeth everyday to be of good health." It sounds sort of pretentious and odd in English, but it's used very commonly in French. For instance, <<On va au café aujourd'hui?>> It's used to ask questions or to make suggestions mostly. The second thing to note is the difference between <<vous>> and <<tu>>. Both mean "you", but are used in different ways. For instance if you were asking a friend if they had a cat you'd say, <<Est-ce que tu as un chat ?>> But if you were asking a teacher or an elder you'd say, instead, <<Est-ce que vous avez un chat ?>> <<Vous>> is for formality, and <<tu>> is familiar. You'd <<vousvoyez>> (as it's called) your professor, any elder, a distant older relative, or in a very strict family maybe even your parents or grandparents. You'd <<tutoyer>> a friend, your parents, close relatives, or people who are under you (for instance if you are a teacher you'd <<tutoyer>> a student).The third thing that you must understand is that the form of "they" you use is important. If it is a group of girls, and only girls, you use <<elles>>. For example: <<Elles sont arrivées plus tard aujourd'hui.>> However, if one boy (or more, but it only takes one) is in the group, you must use <<ils>>. So the same sentence would now be <<Ils sont arrivés plus tard aujourd'hui>> instead. Yes, it seems sexist and like a silly rule, but it is something to note.


Step two: Basic Phrases

Les Salutations
Bonjour !
Salut !
Ça va ?
Les Adieux
Bonsoir !
Ciao !
Au revoir !
Salut !
Bonne Nuit !
À demain !
À tout à l'heure !
À bientôt !

Les Questions
Comment ça va ?
Ça marche ?
Où est la/le/les... ?
Quoi de neuf ?
Comment vous appelez-vous ? ou
Tu t'appelles comment ?
Les Réponses
Ça va.
Très bien !
Ça va bien.
Pas mal.
Comme ci comme ça.
Bien, et toi/vous ?
Je vais bien.
Il est/C'est...
Rien de nouveau.
Pas grand-chose.
Je m'appelle...

Here are some basics things: hellos/good-byes and questions/answers. <<Bonsoir>> and <<Bonne nuit>> both mean "good night" (although bonsoir is closer to good evening), and you can use them interchangeably. The last three good-byes are all about seeing someone later. The first means "See you tomorrow!" And the last two roughly mean "See you later!".
The questions start by asking "How are you?" You could have several responses to that, my favorite being <<bof>>. It's more of a sound, and it's like a sigh/grunt in English. It's indifferent, yet not in a happy way (it fits my mood most mornings). The third question is the shell for "Where is...?", in case you need to ask where to find something. <<Je m'appelle...>> Is "My name is..." And the appropriate question goes with it. All of these sounds be fairly useful when speaking basic French, either with friends or in France itself!


Step three: Easy as A B C ... Numbers!

One: Un
Two: Deux
Three: Trois
Four: Quatre
Five: Cinq
Six: Six
Seven: Sept
Eight: Huit
Nine: Neuf
Ten: Dix
Eleven: Onze
Twelve: Douze
Thirteen: Treize
Fourteen: Quatorze
Fifteen: Quinze
Sixteen: Seize
Seventeen: Dix-Sept
Eighteen: Dix-Huit
Nineteen: Dix-Neuf
Twenty: Vingt

This section's pretty easy, so I don't have much to add! The only thing I will add is a little tidbit about the euro. The sign is €​, and it's used similarly to the $ (dollar) sign in English.


Step Four: Practice!

How do you say hello?
How do you ask someone's name?
If there are 5 girls and 1 boy, how do you say "they"?
What is the number ten?
Bonjour ! ou Salut !
Tu t'appelles comment?

Voilà ! You have learned some of the basics of the French language! To get really good you'll have to practice, practice, practice, but it will all be worth it in the end. So don't give up hope! You can do it! :D




Bonne Chance !

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2010-11-19 [SilverFire]: Question: so all singular 'you's are automatically informal, and all plurals automatically formal? Do you use the plural 'you' even to refer to singular if you're being polite? And is there an informal 'you' plural?

2010-11-19 [Akayume]: The plural form of <<vous>> is completely separate from it being also the formal version of <<tu>>.

So you could say, <<Avez-vous un stylo ?>> (Do you have a pen?) And that would be the sing. form. version of it. You could also say <<As-tu un stylo ?>> And it'd be the same thing minus the formal part.

So you can use vous as a sing. form. version, OR you can use it in what I'd call the "ya'll" sense (that's how all my profs have explained it. ^-^'') It would be used for instance if a teacher was asking her whole class something (or addressing the whole class). Par exemple, <<Asseyez-vous !>> (Sit down!). (:

Does that help at all? DX

2010-11-19 [SilverFire]: Cool, same as German. I thought so. :) But your table makes it look like it's only for plural use, since it's only listed on the plural side. :) (remembar, in British English, there is no 'y'all', so the 'y'all/you' there reads to me just like American/British terms for the same thing - you pl. :P)

2010-11-19 [Akayume]: Ah, I see I see. I understand that. I used that table because it's the one most commonly used when showing the conjugation of verbs (So you'd have je - ai for example, so on and so forth).

I really can't think of any other quick way to explain it than ya'll. XP My old high school Spanish teacher used it too, but I can't remember a lick of Spanish. :(

2010-11-19 [SilverFire]: Yes, it's used here too. (I would rather suspect it's used *everywhar*) But we just write 'You plural' (or pl.) in our books. :P

I've studied Greek, Latin and German, you don't need to explain a conjugation table to me. :P

2010-11-19 [Akayume]: Pardon moi. XP Calme toi calme toi.

Ancient or Modern Greek? I want to get into Ancient (and perhaps even Latin) someday.

2010-11-19 [SilverFire]: Ancient. (I'm doing an MA in Classics, Ancient is far more useful to me than modern :P) Most people start with Latin, then move on to Greek. Latin is felt to be the easier one to start with. Not that it really matters, if you're more interested in Greek material than Latin then it makes more sense to do Greek, obviously. :P

2010-11-19 [Akayume]: That's awesome.(: I'm getting a minor in CNEA (Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology), and if they weren't phasing out the major I would have gone for that, and it requires four semesters of Latin, Greek, or Hebrew. (:

For me the problem is trying to fit it all into my schedule. X.x I prefer Greek to Latin, but maybe one day both? I am adventurous when it comes to languages. (:

2010-11-19 [SilverFire]: I think that's a common problem for most people who love to learn. :P At the moment I take Greek and German, next semester it will be Latin and German. Hopefully next year it will be all three. (I still read Latin outside the classes, but, y'know... classes are useful for grammar, syntax and scansion.)

2010-11-19 [Akayume]: I understand. I would try and teach myself some Greek, but for some reason it's really hard for me to teach myself things. I can get the basics, but I feel as if I don't know as much. :/

I'm sort of thinking along the lines of me not graduating in for years now. XP I want to take so many classes! And then grad school for sure.

I got really interesting in Greek because of Linear B. I think I'm the only person in my CNES 1002 World of Greece class who actually gets anything out of it. DX

2010-11-19 [SilverFire]: I find teaching myself almost easier than learning in class. Some things I just don't get, and definitely need someone to help me with (scansion. *headdesk**headdesk**headdesk*) but in terms of learning vocab and verb/noun etc tables, I tend to do better without classes. Though the classes provide useful motivation, of course.

2010-11-19 [SilverFire]: Addition: I think it probably depends a lot on the books you have to teach yourself with. Some are definitely better than others.

2010-11-19 [Akayume]: I think that's my problem too: motivation. I mean, I want to do all these things, but there are so many and I can't balance them all. DX Ahhh. The atrocities.
So I almost need a class to make me do the work I need to do. X3

2010-11-19 [Akayume]: I would agree with that.

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