Forum Rocket French French Grammar Miscellaneous Questions- French Level 1

Miscellaneous Questions- French Level 1

CalliW

CalliW

Bonjour!
Sometimes I would like clarification on phrases or concepts that don't necessarily fit into a lesson. This will be my forum post dedicated to hopefully getting my random questions answered. Any and all help is truly appreciated!

1. Ça te dit?
What is the 'logic' behind 'Ça te dit' meaning 'What do you think'?

2. Se rendre compte- 4.8
Why does this mean ‘to realize’? I am familiar with reflexive verbs and 'rendre', but how do these words tie together to mean 'to realize'?

3. Se mettre en colère vs se fâcher. 
Se mettre en colère (to lose one’s temper) & se fâcher (to get angry)  have similar meanings. When should I use one over the other?

4. Chemin
Okay, does 'chemin' mean 'dirt road' or 'path/way'? Or both?

5. Time- 2.5 & 2.6
5a. Is it 'moins le quart' or 'moins quart'?

When trying to say 'quarter to'.
5b. Order of 'time of day' & 'halves and quarters'
For instance, if I wanted to write that 'It is 2:30 in the afternoon'. Would it be written as 'Il est deux heures et demie de l'àprès-midi.'
5c. '12 hour clock' & 'halves and quarters'
Lesson 2.5 states that moins le quart, et quart, and et demie, should only be used 'with the 12-hour clock'.
So, 'Il est dix-sept heures et quart' would not be following proper grammar rules, correct? Would I have to say 'Il est dix-sept heures quinze'?
5d. De la Nuit?
Instead of saying 'du soir' when describing the later hours of the day, could you use 'de la nuit'? Or is is only acceptable to use 'du soir'?

6. tarte/ quiche aux
Why do tarte and quiche use 'aux' instead of 'des' when describing what type they are?

7. On a besoin de quels autres ingrédients ? (What other ingredients do we need?)- 4.2
Could you also say- Quels autres ingrédients est-ce qu’on doit?
Is there another way to ask this question starting with Qu’est-ce que?

8. À quelle heure est-ce qu'on arrive à la Bastille ? (At what time we will arrive at the Bastille?)- 4.3
Can you form this question using the future form of 'arriver'?

9. Elle connaît son amie très bien. (She knows her friend very well.)- 4.6
Why is it ‘son’ and not ‘sa’?

10. S'entendre
Is there any logic behind 's’entendre' meaning ‘to get along well’? I know that 'entendre' means 'to hear'.

I know this is a lot; as I previously stated, any help is much appreciated!
Merci beaucoup,
Calli 
 
Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

1. Ça te dit?

Best not to think about it in terms of ‘logic’ because this is just a typical French expression and it can be dangerous to compare ‘logic’ behind expressions, idioms etc. between languages. To simplify the comparison, just remember that in English we are used to using the verb ‘to sound’ i.e. “how does that sound (to you)?”, whereas in French, they prefer to use the verb ‘to say’ i.e. “(what does) that to you say?”

 

2. Se rendre compte

‘Se rendre’ can be translated as ‘to become’ or ‘to make oneself’, while ‘compte’ can be translated as ‘aware’ or ‘awareness’. So, ‘to become aware’ is often reduced to ‘to realise’.

 

3. Se mettre en colère vs se fâcher

Essentially, these are just synonyms. There are no obvious context in which you can use one over the other.

 

4. Chemin

Chemin is simply one of the older words for ‘path’, ‘way’, ‘track’ etc. As for your above question, it refers more to tracks we walk on, but when using it to describe a road then we can imagine that it means a dirt road or a back road.

 

5. Time

  1. Moins le quart’ is the official, contemporary version, while ‘moins quart’ is just more colloquial. 
  2. This is the same as English, we would say the numerical time, followed by the broader time of day, i.e. 2:30 in the afternoon. Not the other way around.
  3. If you are using the 24 hour clock then the convention is to say the entire time as is, i.e. '18:40 - dix-huit heures quarante'. Only when we use the 12 hour clock or am/pm can we use quarters, halves etc. 
  4. Soir’ is used more for the evening or night when we are still awake, while ‘nuit’ refers more to either when we are asleep, or very late at night/early hours of the morning. ‘Soir’ cannot however, be used after midnight.

 

6. Tarte aux fraises

This is stylistic. The convention in cuisine when describing a meal, recipe, flavour, etc. is to use ‘à’ rather than ‘de’.

 

7. On a besoin de quels autres ingrédients?

  1. Doit’ or ‘devoir’ is followed by a verb, not a noun. For example, ‘je dois aller au magasin’ (I must go to the shop). 
  2. Qu’est-ce que' means ‘what’ essentially, but the question we are asking is (or should be in proper English) “which other ingredient do we need?”, so ‘qu’est-ce que' doesn't work here. We could ask the question in this way, “quels sont les autres ingrédients dont on a besoin?” (which are the other ingredients that we need?)

 

8. À quelle heure est-ce qu'on arrive à la Bastille? 

You can use the future, but we would have to change the order of the sentence otherwise it sounds a bit odd (grammatically fine, just doesn't sound like native/natural French). So, you could say, “on va arriver / on arrivera `a quelle heure `a la Bastille?

 

9. Elle connaît son amie très bien.

We know that the friend is female because of the ‘e’ on the end of ‘amie’ and you are correct in assuming that the pronoun should be ‘sa’. However, when ‘sa’ is followed by a noun that begins with a vowel, then it changes to ‘son’ which helps the flow of the sentence. “Elle connaît sa amie” doesn't sound good. 

 

10. S'entendre

Entendre’ means ‘to hear’ and the pronoun ‘se’ makes it reflexive, so literally we could translate it as ‘to hear each other’. However, ‘entendre' also comes from an older word meaning ‘tender towards’, therefore you could literally translate ‘s’entendre' as ‘to be tender towards each other’ which obviously closer to the contemporary meaning of ‘to get along with sb'.

 

I hope this helps!

 

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell-

Thank you for all your answers; you are always so thorough.

After reading everything through a couple times, I have some follow-up questions, if that is okay.

 

2. Se rendre compte

When conjugating, ‘compte’ does not change, correct? Also, how does ‘se rendre' compare to ‘devenir'. Since they both translate to ‘become’

 

7. Devoir

Just to confirm, in all cases, ‘devoir’ is always followed by a verb, not a noun?

 

8. On va arriver/On arrivera a quelle heure à la Bastille?

Is it a standard grammar French rule, that when using the future tense of a verb, the verb and it's subject, precede the rest of the sentence?

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

Mais de rien, c'est avec plaisir!

 

2. Se rendre compte

  1. That is correct, ‘compte’ does not change, we only conjugate the verb.
  2. ‘Devenir’ is active and ‘se rendre’ is more passive and you can think of ‘se rendre’ as more ‘to make of soembody’. For example: a) elle est devenue célèbre (she became famous) - active, i.e. she became famous herself. b) les ragots l'ont rendue célèbre (the gossip made her famous) - passive, i.e. she became famous because of the gossip.

 

7. Devoir

No, that was in reference to the above context. 

  1. Devoir + verb = must, i.e. tu dois apprendre tes leçons (you must learn your lessons), but
  2. Devoir + person + noun = to owe somebody something, i.e. tu me dois dix euros (you owe me ten euros).

 


8. On va arriver/On arrivera à quelle heure à la Bastille?

No, there are many ways to ask the same question in French, the above example is simply more colloquial. You could also say, “à quelle heure va-t-on arriver à la Bastille?”, however this is perhaps more formal.

 

I hope this help!

 

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell-

Merci beaucoup, thanks for clearing those up!

 

À la prochaine fois,

Calli 

CalliW

CalliW

Salut-

I have some more miscellaneous questions, if someone would be so kind to answer them.

 

11. Croire (to believe) & Penser (to think)

Is there a rule indicating when one should be used over the other?

 

12. Eux

Can ‘Eux’ mean they, them, or their, depending on the context in which it is used? 

 

13. Adjective Placement

I have had it explained to me that quantitative adjectives go before the noun they describe, and qualitative adjectives go after.

15a. Why do I see ‘nouveau/nouvelle’ and ‘beau/belle’ before their nouns?

15b. What is the rule with ‘prochain/prochaine'?

15c. What is the rule with ‘dernier/dernière’?

Any and all advice on the subject of ‘adjectives’ is welcome.

 

Merci beaucoup!

-Calli 

 

 

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

11. Croire et Penser

The difference is essentially the same as in English. ‘To believe’ indicates a certainty that something is true or that what somebody is telling you is true. ‘To think’ is similar, but not the same level of deep certainty as with ‘to believe’.

 

12. Eux

‘Eux’ is a pronoun that means ‘them’, ‘theirs’ or ‘they’ but it is only used after a preposition. For example: avec eux (with them), entre eux (between them).

 

13 Adjective Placement

Let's try and simplify things. Broadly speaking, adjectives in French go after the noun. However, French is the language of exceptions, so unfortunately there are just some adjectives which go before the noun and you will just have to remember them. There are also a few nouns which change meaning based on the placement, i.e. before and after. Take a look at this link which lays everything out quite clearly, https://grammar.collinsdictionary.com/french-easy-learning/word-order-with-adjectives

 

I hope this helps!

 

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell-

Salut!

I promise I did not forget about my other forum post and your response, but I believe it is best to tackle one at a time so my brain isn't overloaded.

Although, shocking as it may be, I do not have have any follow-up questions to your replies! Seriously, it is shocking, I know.

 

Merci beaucoup & à la prochaine fois,

Calli 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour Calli.

 

If you follow the link provided by Mitchell for the word order of adjectives, I think you'll find that the types of adjectives that commonly precede nouns is fairly consistent with the acronym, BANGS. Beauty-Age-Newness-Goodness-Size. It might make it a little easier to remember who's who.

 

Robert

 

CalliW

CalliW

Merci Robert, I have come across that expression before, its reassuring to hear someone else say it is quite accurate.

 

A couple more questions for anyone interested in answering:

14. Faire les magasins vs faire les courses

This has been explained somewhere before, but what is the difference? I believe one has more to do with errands?

 

15. Remettre en état

What does ‘état’ mean? I originally thought it was a conjugated form of a verb, but I can't find any evidence of that. 

16. Remettre à neuf

If the object being ‘restored’ was feminine, would I change it to ‘neuve’? Could you use this term in a sentence please?

 

Merci,

Calli 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour encore Calli.

 

14. Yes, it's my understanding that faire les courses refers to the obligatory shopping/errands - mainly groceries, but also other essential shopping. Whereas, faire les magasins refers more to leisurely shopping, non-essential shopping, cruising the mall …  .

 

15. You can recognize état from États Unis (United States). I can't recall the context in our lessons, but, to me, remettre en état means “return/restore to a previous *state*”. A similar double meaning as in English.

 

16. I don't think it would change, but we will soon find out!

 

Thanks for sharing your questions on the forum, Calli. They are often thought provoking, and I learn a lot from them, as well as, Mitchell's answers.

 

Robert

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour!

 

Yes, Robert you are correct on all accounts and thanks for answering the other threads, sorry I didn't mention you in my reply, I didn't see it until I posted mine. I'm going to elaborate on the above sentences just for the sake of understanding or a different perspective.

 

14. Faire les magasins vs faire les courses

Here are the French definitions of these phrase which align perfectly with Robert's answer.

  • Faire les magasins: to browse shops and look for things to buy, usually referring to clothes shopping.
  • Faire les courses: to buy your daily necessities.

 

15. Remettre en état

‘Remettre en état’ is a contraction of ‘remettre en état de fonctionner/marche’. Here, the verb ‘remettre’ means ‘to put again’, so we get a full, literal translation of ‘to put again in a functioning/working state’. 

As a definition, French dictionaries give,'to return something to a usable state which was previously damaged'.

 

16. Remettre à neuf

No, ‘neuf’ doesn't change because this is a fixed expression, therefore regardless of the gender or number of objects being restored, the expression should remain constant.

 

I hope this helps and hear from you soon!

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Merci Robert & Mitchell- thank you once again for your timely and thorough explanations. 

Robert- I am glad someone else is enjoying learning from my posts. As you can see, I am relentless in my question asking. When I'm learning something, I have to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Sometimes I'll be half asleep and I'll be thinking about something I don't understand in French, and I have to look it up that second, it's absurd. And might I mention, I am learning this language for pleasure. I'm sure y'all can only imagine what I am like in my personal & professional life haha.

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

CalliW

CalliW

Salut-

I have a question. What is the difference between ‘Alors’ and ‘Donc'? When should I use one over the other?

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

 

 

 

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour CalliW,

 

I'm going to define each one separately and then try to point out the differences.

 

ALORS:

Alors is actually a composition of à (at, to, in) and lors (while, then). This is a time-related adverb which most purely means 'at the time of (in the past or future). However, it has since taken on the meaning of introducing consequence or causality.

 

DONC:

Donc is a conjunction and is used to mark the conclusion of reasoning or an argument, or the direct result/consequence of something.

 

So what's the difference?

Alors is more related to time and the position of something taking place in the timeline. Therefore, it is only by the passing of time or two consecutive events that it can carry the sense of causality. Donc on the other hand is used expressly to indicate that something is the direct result of something else.

 

Here are some example sentences that may highlight some differences:

  • Alors, nous habitions Paris. (We were living in Paris then.) - Cannot use donc because this is strictly related to time.
  • Si tu sais conduire, alors tu peux prendre la voiture. (If you can drive, then you can take the car.) - This implies that you first must know/learn how to drive, then you take the car. - Here we can use donc IF we remove ‘si’.
  • Je n'ai rien vu, donc je peux rien dire. (I didn't see anything, so I can't say anything.) - This is cause and effect, not the passing of events. Because I saw nothing, therefore I cannot comment. If we used alors, then the implication would change:
  • Je n'ai rien vu, alors j'ai pu rien dire. (I didn't see anything, then I couldn't say anything.) - This implies causality, but not inherently, only because one happens after the other.
  • Ils partirent donc secrètement. (They left therefore secretly.) - This implies they left due to a specific reason, however if we were to use ‘alors', then it would simply imply that ‘they left afterwards/then secretly’ which is implied (by time) not inherent causality.

 

This is a distinction which is not always obvious because implied and inherent causality are often very similar and colloquially, people would rather use ‘alors’ because it doesn't sound so formal.

 

I hope this helps!

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Bonjour Mitchell-

That helps a lot, merci beaucoup!

If you could, can you please define ‘inherent causality' please? 

 

Merci,

Calli 

CalliW

CalliW

Bonjour-

Sometimes when I look up verbs, following the definition, there will be an ‘NP:’ with another definition.

Example:

S'endormir

To fall asleep (NP: to put to sleep)

What does the ‘NP’ mean?

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour Calli.

Some verbs have different meanings when used in a reflexive form. In that case they're referred to as idiomatic pronominal verbs. In your example, To fall asleep, is the meaning of the pronomial/reflexive form, s'endormir. The alternative meaning you see in ( ) is for the non-pronomial  (NP) form, endormir (w/o the se). In case you're wondering what the difference is in this case, endormir refers to say, putting the baby to sleep, or perhaps, anesthetizing (not nec. the baby!). S'endormir would refer to falling asleep (at the wheel, or otherwise).

 

Usually the reflexive meaning follows logically from the NP meaning, but not always. Entendre (NP: to hear) vs S'entendre (to get along) is an example of the latter.

 

Robert

 

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

1. Inherent causality

Sorry if there was any confusion here, I was finding it difficult to explain the distinction between the two. Donc inherently indicates cause and effect, which is what I meant by ‘inherent causality’. Alors on the other hand indicates a sequence of events and can imply causality, but it is not inherently contained within the meaning of the word.

 

2. Non-Pronominal (NP) Form

I'm not sure if I can explain it any better that Robert here, but pronominal simply means pronoun and that the verb in question is used with a reflexive pronoun; a long-winded way of saying it is reflexive. If it is non-pronominal, then the verb is not reflexive. 

 

I hope this helps, let me know if anything is still unclear.

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Merci Robert & Mitchell! That clears it up perfectly.

À la prochaine fois,

Calli 

CalliW

CalliW

Bonjour, a few questions:

  1. French Homographs (I think this is the proper term)
  • I was doing some random browsing recently and discovered that ‘recouvrir’ & ‘recouvrer’ share the same present and imperfect forms, but have different meanings. Are there any very common verbs or nouns that are homographs?

2. Indefinite and Definite Demonstrative Pronouns vs. Ce, Cet, Cette, Ces

  • This is going way back to something we previously discussed in a Module 4 Forum post. We talked about the difference between 'ce, ceci, cela, ca' and ‘celui, celle, ceux, and celles’. How do this pronouns compare to ‘ce, cet, cette, ces’?

3. Jusqu'à/Jusque

  • What do these mean? How are they used?

4. Gras(se)(s)

  • What is the meaning of this adjective? I can't nail it down. I've seen it in a couple phrases. 

5. Débouchonner vs. Déboucher

  • Is this the same verb, just two different spellings?

6. Écouler vs. S'écouler

  • What do these verbs mean?

Merci beaucoup!

-Calli 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

Homographs (homographes)

There are many in French, some which share the same pronunciation and some which don't. The majority of homographs come from words with the same root meaning, however it will appear several times as a noun, verb, adjective and/or adverb in a single sentence. The list is long and somewhat pointless to learn, but here are a couple of examples:

  • Rose arrose la rose rose. (Rose waters the pink rose.)
  • Un avocat mange un acovat. (A lawyer eats an avocado.)
  • Il est né à l'est. (He was born in the East) - different pronunciation

 

Demonstrative pronouns and adjectives

I'm going to try and do this as concisely as possible, but if it needs more explanation, perhaps another thread or question would be more appropriate. 

  1. Ce, cet, cette, ces - demonstrative adjectives (this, that, these, those) are used to indicate a specific noun or thing (this pen, those dogs)
  2. Celui, celle, ceux, celles - demonstrative pronouns (this one, that one, these ones, those ones) are used to replace a specific noun that was previously mentioned
  3. Ce, ça, ceci, cela - indefinite demonstrative pronouns (it, this, that, these, those) are used to replace abstract, unnamed or unspecific nouns.

 

Jusque and jusqu'à

These are largely the same meaning ‘until’, ‘to’, ‘up to’, ‘to the point that’. They carry the meaning that something is happening up to a certain point. The majority of the time jusque comes with the preposition à.

  • Il y a deux kilomètres jusqu'à la banque. (There are two kilometres to the bank.)
  • Tu dois attendre jusqu'aux Pâques pour les revoir. (You have to wait until Easter to see them again.)
  • Il va travailler jusqu'à la mort. (He is going to work until he dies/to death.)

 

Gras

This means ‘fatty’, ‘greasy’ or ‘oily’ but I would need more context to translate it with any more accuracy. 

 

Débouchonner vs. Déboucher

Yes, these are synonyms. I would say that déboucher is more commonly used. Their etymologies are slightly different: débouchonner comes from the word bouchon (meaning ‘cork’) and (mean ‘un-’ or ‘undo’) while déboucher comes from the word boucher (meaning 'to block') and (mean ‘un-’ or ‘undo’).

 

Écouler vs. S'écouler

Écouler comes from the word couler which means ‘to run’, ‘to flow’, ‘to pour’, ‘to trickle’ and prefix ‘é-’ which means ‘to remove’ or ‘to replace’. 

Écouler as is stands, means ‘to sell’, ‘to move (product)’, ‘to unload (product)’. This is a transitive verb meaning that someone has to be moving or pushing the product out. This is more figurative than literal, original meaning. S'écouler in its pronominal form means ‘to flow’, ‘to pass’, ‘to elapse’ and is more reflective of the original meaning.

 

I hope this helps!

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Merci beaucoup Mitchell, that all makes sense!

À la prochaine fois,

Calli 

CalliW

CalliW

Bonjour-

Mitchell, I actually did have a couple follow-up questions regarding our previous conversation. I brought up the meaning of ‘gras’ because I had come across the term ‘faire la grasse matinée’ meaning ‘to sleep in/to sleep late’.

  1. Does this mean ‘to make the morning fat/lazy’? (In a none literal sense).
  2. Why does ‘grasse’ come before ‘matinée’? It is not on my list of adjectives that proceed their noun.

One further question- I was reviewing another one of our previous conversations. Is ‘habituer' ever used in it's non-reflexive form? I think I've only seen ‘s’habituer' used. 

 

As always, merci beaucoup,

Calli 

 

Merci, beaucoup!

CalliW

CalliW

My apologies, one more-

Retrouver appears to have several meanings, most of which are similar to other verbs (trouver, revoir, reconnaîre, rejoinde).

Is there an instance when ‘retrouver' should be used specifically?

Why does ‘retrouver' exist when it seems to mean nearly the same as ‘trouver’?

What's with all these verbs that begin with ‘re’ overlapping in meaning?

 

I'm mostly just thinking out loud here. Any comments or information is greatly appreciated!

-Calli 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour Calli.

 

Trouver  is to find and retrouver  is to refind, or find something that you previously had. You would like to trouver  a buried treasure or the nearest liquor store. You would like to retrouver  your car keys.

 

Robert

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour!

 

1. Grasse Matinée

Literally this could be translated as fat/grease morning and the exact origin of the term is somewhat contested. The immediate answer most come to is that a ‘lie in’ or ‘sleep in’ is inactive and therefore generates fat (or at least doesn't burn fat). 

However, this is a really old expression dating back to the 16th century when the verb used wasn't ‘faire’ but rather ‘dormir’.  ‘Gras’ could be associated with something ‘soft’, like a bed in which you lounge for a long time, or another theory is that it comes from the Latin ‘crassus’, meaning ‘thick’ and used to describe a morning that is longer than usual. I prefer that last one, as the other two seem a little too literal given the history of the phrase.

As for the word order, this is such an old expression that it could be counted as a fixed phrase, so it's best not to include it in your list of adjective exceptions. 

 

2. Habituer

Rarely is it used in non-reflexive form. The most common example you will see is when the past participle is used as an adjective to described somebody being accustomed to something:

  • Je suis habitué à voyager en avion. (I'm used to travelling by plane.)

Other than that you may also see this verb used in the sense of conditioning somebody to something. For example:

  • J'habitue mon chat à la nouvelle maison. (I'm conditioning my cat to the new house.)

Of course, you could also say ‘getting my cat used to…’ but the meaning is essentially the same.

 

3. Retrouver vs trouver

The confusion here might be the fact that in English we don't distinguish the meaning of these two verbs quite so clearly, or if we do, then it is not via the verb (refind) but rather with the addition of ‘again’. These verbs have many different meanings from literal to figurative but I'm just going to concentrate on their most basic meaning to differentiate the two.

Retrouver means to find something/someone you have been separated from, lost or forgotten. Here, the suffix RE- indicates that you are coming back into contact with the object or person. Trouver simply means to find something/someone you are looking for and there is no indication that you have been separated from it, or lost it. Most likely the speaker is looking for something new, or is in a new situation.

In general, the prefix RE- links a verb to previous context. It can be used to indicate a reaction to something, a return to a previous point or state, reciprocity etc. This is not an exhaustive list, so take it more on a case by case basis. 

 

I hope this helps,

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Merci beaucoup Mitchell & Robert!

À la prochaine fois,

Calli 

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