PDF Handbooks

Phrasebook.pdf

Basics.pdf

Alphabet

Vowels :

 

Describing vowels in french is not an easy task as there are only 5 vowels and 1 semi-vowel ( y ), but much more sounds in speech, and the prononciation is not regular and depends of accentuation, so instead of enumerate the written vowels we will see all the existing sounds and see which vowels are corresponding :

  • a : pronounced as in "hat"  ;  it can be written a or à
  • ã : pronounced as en  in the french "rendez-vous", it is the nazalised form of a  ;  it can be written an, am, en, em
  • ɛ : pronounced as short e in "pet" ; it can be written e, è, ê ( è is always prononced ɛ )
  • ə : pronounced a bit as a in "alone" ; it can be written e, eu
  • e : pronounced as ay in "day" but without the "y sound" ; it can be written e, ai, é, er, es, ez ( ai and é are always prononced e ) ( er, es, ez are always pronounced e at the end of a word )
  •  : pronounced as in in the french word "moulin", it is the nazalised form ofɛ ; it can be written in, ein, ain, un, en
  • u : pronounced as oo in "hook" ; it can be written ou, où
  • û : the french u ! prononced as the german ü ; it can only be written u
  • o : pronounced as o in "dollar" ; it can be written au, o
  • õ : pronounced as on  in the french "bonbon", it is the nazalised form of o  ;  it can be written on or om
  • i : pronounced as in "pit"  ;  it can be written i, ï, y
  • oa : pronounced a bit as wa  in "warrior"  ;  it can only be written oi  

    Consonants :

 

General rules for consonants : Most of consonants are silent at the end of a word, except f, k, l and q ; c is sometimes silent, sometimes pronounced as k

  • B, b : pronounced as b in "bet".
  • C, c : - before a, o or u pronounced as _k_in "koala".
    • before i or e pronounced as s in "sailor".
    • before h, ch is prononced as sh in "sheep"
  • Ç, ç : only before a, o or _u,pronounced as s_ in "sailor".
  • D, d : pronounced as d in "deep".
  • F, f : pronounced as f in "fire".
  • G, g : - before a, o or u  or any consonant pronounced as g in "go".
  • - before i or e pronounced as s in "pleasure".
  • H, h : not pronounced ; silent.
  • J, j : pronounced as s in "pleasure".
  • K, k : pronounced as k in "keep".
  • L, l : pronounced as l in "life" ; sometimes "ille" can be pronounced as y in "yes"
  • M, m : pronounced as m in "milk".
  • N, n : pronounced as n in "no".
  • P, p : pronounced as p in "poo". If followed by h, ph is prononced as f.
  • Q, q : pronounced as k in "keep". It is usually followed by silent _u_.
  • R, r : the french r ! Think to the french word for "red" : "rouge".
  • S, s : pronounced as s in "kiss", except when it is between two vowels, then it is pronounced as z in "zoo". When s is doubled, it is always pronounced as s in "kiss".
  • T, t : pronounced as t in "tea".
  • V, v : pronounced as v in _"very"_.
  • W, w : sometimes pronounced as v in _"very"_, sometimes as w in "water".
  • Y, y : pronounced as y in "yes" or as the vowel i.
  • X, x : pronounced as x in "xylophone".
  • Z, z : pronounced as z in "zero".

Numbers

Here is a table to remember for numbers in french :

10 + .. ...0 ...00 ..000 ..000 000 ..000 000 000
0 zero [zero] dix [dis] tens hundreds thousands millions billions
1 un [ẽ] onze [õz] dix [dis] cent [sã] mille [mil] un million [ẽ miliõ] un milliard [ẽ miliar]
2 deux [də] douze [duz] vingt [vẽt] deux-cent [də-sã] deux mille [də-mil] deux millions [də miliõ] deux milliard [də miliar]
3 trois [troa] treize [trɛz] trente [trãt] trois-cent [troa-sã] trois mille [troa-mil] trois millions [troa miliõ] trois milliard [troa miliar]
4 quatre [katr] quatorze [katorz] quarante [karãt] ... ... ... ...
5 cinq [sẽk] quinze [kẽz] cinquante [sẽkãt] ... ... ... ...
6 six [sis] seize [səz] soixante [soasãt] ... ... ... ...
7 sept [sɛt] dix-sept [disɛt] soixante-dix [soasãt-dis] ... ... ... ...
8 huit [uit] dix-huit [dizuit] quatre-vingt [katr-vẽ] ... ... ... ...
9 neuf [nəf] dix-neuf [diznəf] quatre-vingt-dix [katr-vẽ-dis] ... ... ... ...

 

Then you just have to add numbers one after another, example : 2.748.169.513 : deux milliards, sept cent quarante huit millions, cent soixante neuf mille, cinq cent treize [də miliar, sɛt sã karãt uit miliõ, sã soasãt nəf, sẽk sã trɛz]

Ordinals are produced by the addition of -ième [yɛm] on the number, except of first which is said premier [prəmye], second deuxième [dəzyɛm], third troisième [troazyɛm], etc...

For halfs, you can use et demi [e dəmi] ( and half ) after the number  : un et demi -> one and half ; deux et demi -> two and half ; un demi -> half one

Grammar general rules

Sentence structure :

The sentences in french follow a classical order Subject-Verb-Object, but as in english, in question phrases this order can become Verb-Subject-Object.

Genders :

There are two grammatical genders in french : masculine and feminine, each noun has one of those two genders and adjectives and pronouns are declined according to those genders ; some nouns can be both gender, then most of the time an _-e_will be add to form the feminine noun that will make the last consonant non-silent and change sometimes the pronounciation of the word ;

as dog : chien [shiẽ], in feminine becomes chienne [shiɛn] ;

For most of the noun, there is no way to predict if a noun is feminine or masculine, so you will have to learn for each noun ; in the website, their will be a sign after each noun (m) or (f) to indicate if a noun is either masculine or feminine.

 

Articles :

French uses articles, there are three kind of articles that we will see in detail later : definite articles, like the in english ; indefinite articles, like a in english and partitive articles that is used for uncountable singular noun, ex : I eat cake : je mange du gateau.

 

Négation :

There are two way of negation in french : - the equivalent of the simple no : non [nõ] that is used as answer for a question.

- the equivalent of the english not or do not : ne ... pas [nə...pa], with the verb in between, ex : I don't eat -> je ne mange pas [jə nə mãj pa] ; ne will become n' in front of a vowel. I don't stop -> je n'arrête pas [jə n'arɛt pa]

 

Affirmation :

There are two way of saying yes in french : - the equivalent of the simple yes : oui [ui] that is used as answer for any affirmative question.

Are you eating cake ? Yes I'm eating cake : Manges-tu du gateau ? Oui je mange du gateau.

- si [si] that is used as answer for a negative question.

You are not eating cake ? Yes I'm eating cake : Tu ne manges pas du gateau ? Si je mange du gateau.

Particles

Articles :

As we saw, there are three kinds of articles in french :

Definite article :

Used as the in english, for a defined object or subject :

singular plural
normal contracted*
masculin le [lə] l' [l] les [le]
feminin la [la] l' [l] les [le]

* before vowel ; ex : the animal -> l'animal [l'animal]

 

Undefinite article :

Used as a or an in english, for a undefined object or subject :

singular

plural

normal

masculin

un [ẽ]

des [de]

feminin

une [ûn]

 

Partitive article :

Used as some in english, or where there is no article, for a part of something that you cannot count, like liquids or materials :

undefined

normal

contracted

masculin

du [dû]

de l' [də l']

feminin

de la [də la]

ex : there is sand on the table -> il y a du sable sur la table [il i a dû sabl sûr la tabl]

 

Personals pronouns and possessives pronouns:

Here is a table for personal pronouns ( I, you, he, she, etc... ) in french :

singular | | | plural | | | 1st | 2nd | 3rd | 1st |  2nd | 3rd masculine

feminine

undefined*

masculine

feminine

je [jə]

j'[j']

tu [tû]

il [il]

elle [ɛl]

on [õ]

nous [nu]

vous [vu]

ils [il]

elles [ɛl]

*on is very frequently used in french instead of nous to express _we, _it is conjugate with the 3rd person of singular.

So to say "we go to the beach", you can say "nous allons à la plage [nu alõ a la plaj]", but most people will use "on va à la plage [õ va a la plaj]"

And here are the possessive pronouns (my, your, his, her, etc...), possessive pronouns are declined according to the object and not to the owner.

person

masculine

feminine

plural

singular

1st

mon [mõ]

ma [ma]

mes [me]

2nd

ton [tõ]

ta [ta]

tes [te]

3rd

son [sõ]

sa [sa]

ses [se]

plural

1st

notre [notr]

nos [no]

2nd

votre [votr]

vos [vo]

3rd

leur [lər]

leurs [lər]

By example : - sa table ( "sa" because table is feminine ) means her/his table

- ton chien ( "ton" because chien is masculine ) means your dog

 

Demonstratives pronouns:

The simple equivalent of this/that in english is ça [sa] ( there is also ceci [sesi] and cela [sela] but they are used in more formal speech ).

So if you want to say by example I like this, it will be in french j'aime ça [j'ɛm sa] ;

Used with être ( to be ), it is contracted to form c'est ( this is / it is ).

It is also used to express it, by instance in it cannot be -> ça ne se peut pas [sa nə sə pə pa] , or I don't like it -> je n'aime pas ça [jə n'ɛm pa sa]

But when the demonstrative is followed by a noun, like in "I want this apple", then the demonstrative is declined according to gender and plurality, here is a table for the different demonstratives :

singular

plural

normal

before vowel*

masculin

ce [sə]

cet [sɛt]

ces [se]

feminin

cette [sɛt]

* before a vowel, cet will be used instead of ce : Je veux ce fruit [jə və sə frui] ( I want this fruit ) ; j'aime cet animal [j'ɛm set animal] ( I like this animal )

 

Interrogative pronouns :

One of the most important things to learn in any language are the interrogative pronouns, how to say who, what, where, etc... :

  • quoi [koa] ? qu'est-ce que ? [kɛ sə kə] : what ?
  • comment [komã] ? : how ?
  • combien [kõbiẽ] ? : how much ? / how many ?
  • ? : where ?
  • quand [kã] ? : when ?
  • pourquoi  [purkoa]? : why ?
  • qui [ki] ? : who ?
  • lequel(m)/laquelle(f)/lesquels(p) [(lə/la/le)kɛl] ? : which ?

 

Conjonctions :

These are the main conjonctions in french, there are used in the same way than in english :

  • ou : or
  • et [e] : and
  • mais [me] : but
  • si [si] : if
  • parce que [parsə kə] : because
  • donc [dõk] : then

Prepositions :

These are the main prepositions in french, there are used in the same way than in english :

  • à [a] : to, at, in
  • à côté de [a kote də] : next to, beside
  • chez [she] : at/in home/office of, by
  • dans [dã] : in, inside
  • de [də],d'[d'] : from, of
  • en [ã] : in, on, to
  • entre [ãtr] : between
  • vers [vɛr] : towards
  • sur [sûr] : on
  • sous [su] : under
  • jusque [jûsk] : until
  • par [par] : by, through
  • pendant [pãdã] : while, during
  • pour [pur] : for
  • avec [avɛk] : with
  • sans [sã] : without

 

There is :

There is in french is simply express by il y a [il i a], and for once this is not subject to any declinaison in genders or numbers ; so it express both there is and there are.

Nouns and adjectives

Plurals :

Plurals in french are expressed simply by adding -s at the end of a word, in most of cases this won't affect the pronounciation :

a dog -> un chien [ẽ shiẽ] ; dogs -> des chiens [de shiẽ]

There is however an exception with words ending by -al, where -al in plural becomes -aux : the horse -> le cheval [lə shəval] ; the horses -> les chevaux [le shəvo]

 

Adjectives :

Adjectives in french are usually placed after the noun but there are exceptions and many adjectives are rather situated before the noun :

the red car -> la voiture rouge [la voatûr ruj] ; the big car -> la grande voiture [la grãd voatûr] ; the big red car -> la grande voiture rouge [la grãd voatûr ruj]

 

Comparative and superlative :

Are expressed with plus [plu] ( more ), moins [muẽ] ( less ), le plus [l**ə plû] ( the most ) et le moins [l**ə muẽ]( the less ) and are placed before the adjective :

  • froid [froa] : cold
  • plus froid : colder
  • le plus froid : the coldest
  • moins froid : less cold
  • le moins froid : the less cold

Que [k**ə] ( than ) is used for comparaison, example : il est plus grand que moi [il e plû grã k**ə moa] : he is taller than me.

Comme [kom] is used to express equality, as like or as in english : elle est grosse comme toi [ɛl e gros kom toa] -> she is as big as you

 

Masculine and feminine :

As we said there are two grammatical genders in french, nouns are either masculine or feminine, but for nouns that can be feminine or masculine you just have to add a -e at the end of the word to form the feminine noun, this will most of the time make the final consonant pronouncable, but of course, there are exceptions...

And this work exactly the same for adjectives, adjectives are declined according to the gender of the noun, and you will have to add an -e if it is feminine noun ( adjectives are also declined according to the number, so if the noun is plural a silent -s is added at the end of the adjective ).

Verbs

The verbal system is quite complicate in french, especially compare to english, verbs are conjugate in different way according to the person (I, you, he/she, etc...), you have different tense and aspects and much more declinaisons than in english. But let's start easy :

Auxiliary :

Here is the conjugaison in present tense of among the most useful verbs in french, with their participle past form, as in english, the most useful verbs in french are irregular:

english :

to be

to have

to go

can/ be able

to know

to have to

person

french :

être [ɛtr]

avoir [avoar]

aller [ale]

pouvoir [puvoar]

savoir [savoar]

devoir [dəvoar]

singular

1st

je / j'

suis [sui]

ai [e]

vais [ve]

peux [pə]

sais [se]

dois [doa]

2nd

tu

es [e]

as [a]

vas [va]

peux [pə]

sais [se]

dois [doa]

3rd

il/elle/on

est [e]

a [a]

va [va]

peut [pə]

sait [se]

doit [doa]

plural

1st

nous

sommes [som]

avons [avõ]

allons [alõ]

pouvons [puvõ]

savons [savõ]

devons [dəvõ]

2nd

vous

êtes [ɛt]

avez [ave]

allez [ale]

pouvez [puve]

savez [save]

devez [dəve]

3rd

ils/elles

sont [sõ]

ont [õ]

vont [võ]

peuvent [pəv]

savent[sav]

doivent [doa]

participle past

été [ete]

eu [û]

allé [ale]

pu [pû]

su [sû]

du [pû]

Present tense :

There are 3 groups of verbs in french :

  • verbs whose infinitive ends in -er
  • most of verbs whose infinitive ends in -ir except venir, partir and some others
  • verbs whose infinitive ends in -oir, -re, aller and some others

1st group : Verbs in -er :

first isolate the root by taking off the suffix -er

person

root +

examples :

parler [parle] (speak)

manger [mãje] (eat)

singular

1st

je / j'

e [-]

parle [parl]

mange [mãj]

2nd

tu

es [-]

parles [parl]

manges [mãj]

3rd

il/elle/on

e [-]

parle [parl]

mange [mãj]

plural

1st

nous

ont [õ]

parlont [parlõ]

mangont [mãjõ]

2nd

vous

ez [e]

parlez [parle]

mangez [mãje]

3rd

ils/elles

ent [-]

parlent [parl]

mangent [mãj]

participle past

é [e]

parlé [parle]

mangé [mãje]

 

2nd group : Verbs in -ir :

first isolate the root by taking off the suffix -r

person

root +

examples :

choisir [shoazir] (choose)

finir [finir] (finish)

singular

1st

je / j'

s [-]

choisis [shoazi]

finis [fini]

2nd

tu

s [-]

choisis [shoazi]

finis [fini]

3rd

il/elle/on

t [-]

choisit [shoazi]

finit [fini]

plural

1st

nous

ssont [sõ]

choisissont [shoazisõ]

finissons [finisõ]

2nd

vous

ssez [se]

choisissez [shoazise]

finissez [finise]

3rd

ils/elles

ssent [s]

choisissent [shoazis]

finissent [finis]

participle past

- [-]

choisi [shoazi]

fini [fini]

 

3rd group :

It contains among the most used verbs in french, but it is also the most irregular group of verb, try to follow the pattern of the auxiliary verbs to conjugate verbs of the 3rd group.

Here is the list is the list of terminaisons but stems preceding are very hard to predict and are not constant

person

endings

examples :

apprendre [aprãdr] (learn)

faire [fɛr] (do/make)

singular

1st

je / j'

s [-]

apprends [aprã]

fais [fini]

2nd

tu

s [-]

apprends [aprã]

fais [fini]

3rd

il/elle/on

t [-]

apprend [aprã]

fait [fini]

plural

1st

nous

ont [õ]

apprenons [aprənõ]

faisons [finisõ]

2nd

vous

ez [e]

apprenez [aprəne]

faites [finise]

3rd

ils/elles

ent [-]

apprennent [aprɛn]

font [finis]

 

Participle past tense :

One of the most easy tense to learn, it express past and corresponds to the english tense I have done, I have been, etc... but more used than in english ; you just have to use the verb avoir (have) conjugate in the right person followed by the participle past of the verb, but examples will be more clear :

  • I have written : j'ai écrit [j'e ekri]
  • I have done : j'ai fait [j'e fe]
  • I have been : j'ai été [j'e ete]
  • But there are some exception where you must use être (be) : I have gone -> je suis allé [jə sui ale]

 

near futur tense :

One of the most easy tense to learn, it express futur and express a futur that will happen soon, and may correspond to the english I'm going to ; you just have to use the verb aller (go) conjugate in the right person followed by the infinitive of the verb, but examples will be more clear :

  • I'm going to write / I will write : je vais écrire [jə ve ekrir]
  • I'm going to do / I will do : je vais faire [jə ve fɛr]
  • I'm going to be / I will be : je vais être [jə ve ɛtr]