Module 4 Grammar Questions

CalliW

CalliW

Salut-
I am currently going thorough Module 4 of the French course.
I have some questions regarding the grammar used throughout the lessons:

My first few questions deal with 'de' and articles before nouns. I can't seem to grasp when 'de' is necessary, or when to use an article or when to not use an article before a noun.

1. 'Oui, un paquet de‍‍ bonbons‍.' (Yes, a bag of candy.)- 4.1
Why is an article not necessary for 'bonbons'? Why is it 'de' and not 'des' or 'les'

2. 'Je mange des gâteaux. I am eating cakes.' - 4.1
Why is it ‘des’ and not ‘les’? Why is an article even necessary when it translates to 'cakes' and not 'some cakes' or 'the cakes'?

3. des poireaux, du beurre, des œufs... some leeks, some butter, some eggs- 4.1
Could they say ‘les’ if they wanted to? And have the translation be 'leeks, butter, and eggs'.

4. On a besoin d'un kilo de farine, bien sûr! (We need one kilo of flour, of course!)
Why is there no 'la' before farine?

5. Rapide vs. Vite- 4.7
When do I use rapide? When do I use vite? Is 'vite' only used as an adverb?

6. Soir vs. Soirée- 4.7
I thought that evening was 'le soir', but 'la soirée' is 'the evening, the evening time'. What is the difference between the two?

7. Mal vs. Méchamment- 4.7
When do I use which or are these words interchangeable? Since both are adverbs that mean 'badly'.

Any help is greatly appreciated! Merci beaucoup!
-Calli 
 
Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour CalliW,

I will do my best to answer your questions, and I think a few of them we can bunch together. 

 

Q1 & Q4: ‘de’ is used here to modify the preceding noun and can be translated as ‘of’. So, the example sentences read:

  1. un paquet de‍‍ bonbons‍ (a bag of candy)
  2. un kilo de farine (a kilo of flour)

In both sentences, ‘de’ performs exactly the same function as the English ‘of’, i.e. it is describing the contents of the bag and kilo. This use should be the clearest as it is essentially the same as the English use.

 

Q2 & Q3: ‘des' = ‘de’ + ‘les’ This is a contraction of ‘of’ and ‘the’. In English, we do not use a contraction but have a separate word i.e. ‘some’. The difference between ‘the’ and ‘some’ is a question of certainty and how definitive you want to be. Let's look at the example sentences again:

  • Je mange des gâteaux (I am eating cakes). You could also translate this as, ‘I am eating some cakes’. In English, we can omit the word ‘some’ and still maintain the same meaning i.e. we don't know what cakes they are, we just know the speaker is eating some. This vagueness is easier to understand if we contrast it with the following example.
  • Je mange les gâteaux (I am eating the cakes). In this case we cannot omit ‘the’ (in English) because it is used to refer to cakes we already know about, or to clarify that it is the cakes that are being eaten and not something else. Here, we are referring to specific cake, whereas in the first example, we don't necessarily know which cakes we are talking about.

If you apply that same logic to your question 3 then the answer becomes clear. 

  • des poireaux, du beurre, des œufs (some leeks, some butter, some eggs). This means that Claire needs some leeks, some butter and some eggs but she isn't specifying how much exactly.
  • les poireaux, le beurre, les œufs (the leeks, the butter, the eggs). If Claire were to ask like this, then this implies more specificity. For example, imagine a parcel of produce on the kitchen bench and she asks Paul to pass the leeks, the butter and the eggs from that bundle of produce. That means that he passes all of those products in their entirety. If we were to use the word ‘some’ in this context, then Paul would pass her an uncertain amount of those products.

Q5. Rapide is an adjective only, rapidement is the adverb. Vite is both an adjective and an adverb. Their meaning is more or less interchangeable. 

 

Q6. Soir vs. Soirée: Both mean evening but there is a slight difference. The simplest distinction is that soir is just a unit of time, whereas soirée is more qualitative refers more often to a duration of time. For example:

  •  Qu'est-ce que tu fais ce soir? (What are you doing this evening?) No mention of duration, simply stating the unit of time that is ‘the evening’.
  • Qu'est-ce que tu as fait pendant la soirée? (What did you do during the evening?) Here, there is an understanding of a duration of time during the evening.

7. Mal vs. Méchamment: Mal is a generic term for ‘bad’ or ‘badly’ which is commonly used. Méchamment means ‘spitefully’ or ‘maliciously’, but colloquially it can be used to mean ‘badly’. If in doubt, use mal.

 

I hope this helps et `a la prochaine!

 

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell-
Merci, beaucoup! That clears up my questions! I especially appreciate your detailed explanation of the difference between 'les' and 'des', the concept was really messing with me.

If I could have a bit more clarification on Q1&Q4-
If the statements were instead written as:
Un paquet du bonbons; Un kilo de la farine..would these translate to... a packet of the candy; a kilo of the flour? Does adding the article make it more specific? Similar to what you described in Q2&Q3?
I think I'm confused because I've noticed that in French, articles always have to be used before nouns?

Lastly, 'des' means 'some', but it can also be used to show possession correct?


Thanks again!
-Calli
Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

Essentially yes, although it would be:

“Un paquet des bonbons” (des i.e. de + les because bonbons is plural). “Un kilo de la farine” is fine, however for both of these forms to make sense, we would require some context. For example, if you were baking something that required 2 kilos of flour, and the recipes asks you to mix in one kilo of the flour first and save the other for kneading etc. In this case, that would make sense because there is context, however they would make little sense on there own.

 

If they were to stand alone, then we need: “un paquet de bonbons" and ”un kilo de farine".

I would say the confusion lies in the fact that these are two separate grammar structures, but because they use the same articles in different forms, the uses sometimes seem unclear.

 

Finally, the note on possession. Not that I can think of off the top of my head but feel free to send through a specific example you may have come across.

 

I hope this helps!

   -   Mitchell 

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell-

Thank you for your clarification!

Regarding ‘des’ meaning possession- I meant that in the sentence, ‘Le chat des filles est gentil', ‘des’ represents ‘of the’. So the girls' cat is friendly. Is this correct?

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour,

If I may, there's one thing that I've found helpful that has not been mentioned in the broad discussion of Calli's first question. Sometime ago, I read somewhere, that when a noun is modifying another noun, you don't include the article. You just use de. (i.e., a paquet de farine). In my experience, it seems an accurate rule of thumb.

Is there an expert opinion on this?

Merci

Robert

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

Yes, that is correct. It can be used whenever, but more common when there is confusion over the possessive pronouns and we want some clarification.

 

@ RobertC

 

Yes, that is an accurate rule of thumb and generally the best option to go with, if in doubt. The articles add specificity to the conversation and it works much the same as in English, as with the examples mentioned above. ‘Un kilo de farine’ is simply ‘a kilo of flour’ and from that we cannot glean any more information. However, ‘un kilo de la farine’ or ‘a kilo of the flour’ insinuates that perhaps we have 2 kilos of flour and we need one kilo of that flour.

 

This is a structure that works much the same as in English, so if in doubt, I would suggest to translate it and see how it sounds.

 

I hope this help!

 

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell & Robert-

Thank you for both of your comments, they are very much appreciated.

I think it is safe to say that I now have a clearer understanding of when to use an article before a noun.

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

CalliW

CalliW

Salut-

Not surprisingly, have some more grammar/vocab questions relating to material found in Module 4.

 

8. Invités

In 4.12 the sentence, ‘Nous ne sommes plus invités chez-eux,' comes up. Invités- I don't recognize this specific conjugation of inviter. Is this being used as a verb or another part of speech?

 

9. ‘Cela’ masculine form?

Lesson 4.4 states that ‘Cela’ is a slightly more specific form of ‘Ca’, it also clarifies ‘Cela’ as feminine. What is the masculine form?

 

10. Je ne mangerai plus jamais de chocolat !(I will never eat chocolate again!)- 4.12

Does ‘plus’ have to proceed ‘jamais’? Could another word be used instead of either ‘jamais’ or ‘plus’, perhaps in another location in the sentence? In other words, can you please explain this sentence structure to me?

 

11. Je connais le chemin pour aller à Londres. (I know the way to London.)- 4.6

Is there another way to write this sentence while keeping the meaning? I feel like it's too wordy. When I first saw the English sentence, without looking at the French, I wrote down ‘Je connais la passage à Londrès.’ I'm assuming that doesn't work here?

 

12. Neuf- 4.9, 4.13

Up until this point, I thought the only words for new were ‘nouveau, nouveaux, nouvelle, nouvelle’. In 4.9, the sentence 'Je m'achète des vêtements neufs ! (I am buying myself some new clothes!)' shows up. In chapter 4.13, I saw the word ‘neuf’ again, but this time in the forms of ‘plus neuf(s) & plus neuve(s)’ both translating to ‘newer’. Please explain the role of neuf, as well as how it compares to ‘nouveau’, etc.

 

14. ne pas avoir d'énergie & ne plus avoir d'énergie- 4.12

Why do ‘ne…pas' and ‘ne…plus’ not hug avoir?

 

I look forward to someone sharing their knowledge!

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

 

 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour, Calli.

Two possible explanations for your first question:

 

Past participles are very often used a adjectives (i.e., invité), in which case, it's modified to agree with the plural subject.

 

However, I have also seen inviter conjugated with être, (i.e., être invité) which would be the passive voice, (i.e., the action being referred to by the verb is done to the subject, rather than by the subject). This involves the proper conjugation of être and the past participle, which, again, agrees in gender and number with the noun to which it refers. So, we invite = nous  invitons (active voice) vs. we are invited = nous sommes invités (passive voice).

 

Same result in either case.

 

Hope this helps, and isn't too confusing nor too far off base.

Robert

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour,

 

Merci Robert, you are correct!

 

8. Invités - consider this an adjective

Just to reiterate, ‘invités’ is the past participle which is being used as an adjective to describe the state of being ‘invited’. As an adjective it must agree with the subject which is ‘us’; so one ‘e’ because it is masculine and an ‘s’ because us is plural.

 

9. ‘Cela’ masculine form? - don't think about gender.

I see what you mean about the lesson, but it is not to do with gender, I will have a chat with the team about changing it. These are called indefinite demonstrative pronouns and by definition (indefinite) they tend to represent more abstract situations or concepts. There are four of them: ce, ceci, cela and ça.

  1. Ce: can mean it, this, that, these or those. It is usually used with être, for example: “C'est le moment ou jamais!” (it's now or never!) or, “Ce sont mes couleurs préférées.” (These are my favourite colours.)
  2. Ceci & cela: mean this and that respectively. Ceci = ce + ici (i.e. this here) and cela = ce + là (i.e. that there). They are used as direct and indirect objects. So, in lesson 4.4 "Je prendrai cela" means more ‘I will have that there’ - gender not involved because ceci is usually replaced by cela UNLESS the disctinction between ‘this’ and ‘that’ is really important. Ceci and cela are used in writing and formal speech, otherwise we replace both of them with:
  3. Ça: is a contraction of cela.

 

10. plus jamais - think of this as a set phrase, don't separate

Plus jamais means never again and it is best just to think of it as such. There are other words that you can pair with plus in the negative, such as plus que (only), plus rien (no more) etc. but again, these should be considered set phrases. These are used in exactly the same was as ne … pas, it is just that ‘pas’ is replaced by ‘plus jamais’. For example

  • Je ne mangerai pas de chocolat! (I will not eat chocolate!)
  • Je ne mangerai plus jamais de chocolat! (I will never again eat chocolate!)

 

11. Je connais le chemin pour aller à Londres. - it's simply convention in French

There are many ways of expressing the above sentence, but if you are explicitly referring to ‘connaître le chemin’, then it is convention to add ‘pour aller à’. In English, we can simply say, “I know the way to London” and we don't any after ‘the way’ but in French we do. We can say, “je connais le chemin jusqu'à Londres” (I know the way as far as London), but that obviously suggests that you are planning on going further and are not sure of the way past London.

 

12. Neuf - brand new (objective) & Nouveau - new to me (subjective)

Neuf is used for something that is brand new, new to the world or never used, i.e.

  • J’ai trouvé un restaurant neuf. - I found a new restaurant (it just opened)
  • C’est un livre neuf. - It's a brand-new book (I'm the first owner or it's just published)

Nouveau is used for things new to the speaker such as a new possession, “new to me,” different to its predecessor, i.e.

  • J’ai trouvé un nouveau restaurant. - I found a new restaurant (I've never been before)
  • C’est un nouveau livre d’occasion. - It's a new (to me) used book.

 

14. Check whether it is conjugated or not

This is simply because they give you the expression in its infinitive form, i.e. it is not conjugated or put into a sentence. If we were to put it in a sentence then it must hug ‘avoir’.

  • ne pas avoir d'énergie - to not have any energy
  • Je n'ai pas d'énergie. - I don't have any energy.

 

I hope this helps!

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Robert & Mitchell-

Merci, beaucoup!

To clarify, I had a few follow-up questions:

8. Could you give me a couple more examples/sentences where a past participle is being used as an adjective?

 

9. How does ‘ceci’ compare to ceux-ci, celle-ci, celui-ci, and celles-ci? How does ‘cela’ compare to ceux-la, etc.? Are they just abbreviations or used as lesser-specific pronouns?

 

10. To confirm ‘ne…plus que’, ‘ne…plus rien, and ‘ne…plus jamais’ are used exactly like ‘ne…pas’? In other words, ‘ne’ must always hug the other side of the verb?

 

12. 

a. So ‘plus neuf(s)’ and ‘plus neuve(s)’ mean newer, but so can ‘plus nouveau(x)’ and ‘plus nouvelle(s)'?

b. Why can ‘nouveau/nouvelle’ proceed the noun but ‘neuf/neuve’ can't?

 

Merci,

Calli 

 

 

 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour Calli,

 

la porte n'est pas fermée (the door isn't closed) from fermer

c'est un achat vérifié (it is a verified purchase) from vérifier

elle est aimée (she is loved) from aimer

l'enfant est très gâté (the child is very spoiled) from gâter

      interesting resemblance to gâteau (cake)

 

Robert

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli et Robert,

 

8. Invités

Merci Robert, these are great examples! I'll add a couple more just for more example, and to not be lazy!

  • Il y a une voiture arrêtée au carrefour. (There's a stopped car at the intersection.)
  • Les enfants sont assis dans le salon. (The kids are sitting in the living room.)
  • Les devoirs sont faits. (The homework is done.)

 

9. ‘Cela’ masculine form? - don't think about gender.

As noted above: ce, ceci, cela and ça are indefinite demonstrative pronouns, so they are use to represent abstract situations or concepts. Celui (sm), celle (sf), ceux (plm) and celles (plf) are definite demonstrative pronouns, that's to say that they replace a specific object that has already been mentioned. The cannot stand by themselves like ce, ceci, cela and ça can. For example:

  • J’ai acheté deux cafés; celui-ci est décaféiné. (I bought two coffees; this one is decaffeinated) - Celui-ci (this one here) is referring to the coffee, or one of the coffees.
  •  Je ne peux pas décider entre cette voiture et celle-là. (I can’t decide between this car and that one.) - Celle-là (that one there) is referring to another car, over there so that we don't have to say the word ‘voiture’ again.

The suffixes -ci (here/nearby) and -là (there/far away) are used to add specificity. This is often needed because they often refer to one of several items.

 

10. plus jamais - Yes, think of these as the same as ne … pas

 

12. Neuf - brand new (objective) & Nouveau - new to me (subjective)

  1. That's correct, both mean newer.
  2. ‘Neuf’ is considered a ‘normal’ adjective, that's to say it follows the noun. This is how the majority of adjectives work. However, ‘nouveau’ is part of a group of movable adjectives which can appear before or after the noun. Their placement changes their meaning, i.e. before they noun they are usually subjective or figurative, whereas after the noun they are usually literal. 

 

I hope this helps!

   -   Mitchell

 

 

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell & Robert-

Merci, beaucoup!

8. Those are great examples! Now I think I will be able to recognize which this situation arises. I've already thought back to things I've learned, without fully realizing what they were at the time. For example: Describing a door as opened- now I know why ‘ouverte’ looks the way it does!

9. Mitchell- When you say, ‘they cannot stand by themselves like ce, ceci, cela and ça can,' what exactly do you mean? Besides that, I think I finally understand. Now it's just a matter of not getting them confused. 

10. I'm going back to something you said before you latest post with this question- If ‘ne… plus jamais’ means 'never again' and ‘ne…jamais’ means ‘never’ (according to lesson 4.12), what's even the point? ‘Plus’ doesn't change the meaning (or at least it doesn't to me). It also seems to be a similar situation to ‘ne..rien’= nothing & ‘ne…plus rien’= no more.

 

Once again, merci Mitchell & Robert!

-Calli

 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Bonjour Callie.

 

8. Here's a neat expression (hence the missing ‘ne’) 

C'est pas donné !   (It's not cheap!)

Lit.  It's not given! or They don't give it away!

The p.p., donné = given, as an adjective, seemed odd until I thought of the numerous ways in which it's used in English.

 

10. The difference is there, Calli. You're just not recognizing it. I haven't reviewed the lesson you're referring to, so I don't know if there's an element there that's confusing you, but in regards to your examples, try these:

 

Je ne mangerai jamais de gâteau.  (I will never eat cake.)

Sounds like I've never tried cake once.

 

Je ne mangerai plus jamais de gâteau.  (I will never eat cake again.)

Sounds like I've had more than enough cake.

 

They're clearly different, and both are also different from:

Je ne mangerai pas de gâteau!  (I will not eat cake.)

Maybe I'm just not going to eat cake until everyone else goes to bed.

 

il n'y a rien a manger.  (there is nothing to eat.)

Sounds like we are going to bed hungry.

 

il n'y a plus rien à manger.  (there is nothing more to eat.)

Sounds like there was definitely food at some point, but it's all gone now!

 

Robert 

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour!

 

9. Celui (sm), celle (sf), ceux (plm) and celles (plf) - they replace nouns.

What I mean by this is that these pronouns are used to replace nouns, so that we don't have to say them again or repeat ourselves too much when comparing objects, things etc. That means that you have to have already mentioned the object, before you then replace it with one of the above pronouns, and therefore it cannot stand alone in a sentence without content. 

On the flip-side, the indefinite pronouns we discussed (ce, ceci, cela and ça) can stand alone, without any context, because they don't replace a noun. For example:

  • C’est le moment ou jamais! (It's now or never!) - Ce in ‘c’est' doesn't replace a noun, it is an abstract ‘it’ and it doesn't need context.

 

10. plus jamais - these do have different meanings

Robert covered this very well, but I will just add a couple more example for the sake of clarity.

  • Je ne veux pas de vin. (I don't want wine.) I just don't want wine right now
  • Je ne veux plus de vin. (I don't want any more wine.) I've had some wine, but i don't want any more right now.
  • Je ne veux jamais de vin. (I never want wine.) as a general rule, I don't drink/want wine
  • Je ne veux plus jamais de vin. (I never want wine again.) I've had wine before, but will never have it again. 
  • Je ne veux rien. (I don't want anything.) right now, I don't want anything
  • Je ne veux plus rien. (I don't want any more.) I've already had something, someone may be offering me more but I don't want any more

 

I hope this clears things up and thanks for the examples Robert!

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Mitchell & Robert-

Thank you so much for your time, patience, and examples!

I definitely understand the difference between ‘ne…plus jamais', ‘ne…jamais’, ‘ne…rien’, ‘ne…plus rien’. It's quite obvious. Clearly I didn't try hard enough to understand. 

& Mitchell- Thank you for your detailed explanation of indefinite demonstrative and definite demonstrative adjectives! I finally understand. I don't think there's a chance I'll mix them up now.

 

À la prochaine fois,

Calli 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour Calli,

 

No problem whatsoever. No need to say you didn't try hard enough or something like that. We all approach language with a different set of goggles that are tinted based on our mother tongue, previous language experience and understanding of grammar. That unique set of goggles also usually requires a unique approach to removing them and fully understanding a concept as it is. I have been stuck on many different grammar structure and concepts for years at a time before a tiny trick helped me ‘see the light’.

 

À la prochaine,

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Bonjour, I am still working my way through Module 4, regrettably. 

Hopefully this is my last set of grammar/vocab questions until Module 5:

 

13. Nous devons aussi acheter. (We also need to buy.)- 4.1

Why is it not ‘On a aussi besoin d’acheter’? I don't understand why ‘devoir’ is used; every other example in the lesson uses the ‘besoin’ phrase when discussing a ‘need' to do something. 

 

14. Quel est votre nom, s'il vous plaît ? (What's your (last) name, please)? -4.3

Why is it "‘Quel est’ votre nom" and not “‘Qu’est-ce que’ votre nom”? I think it's great it's been shortened, but why is it possible?

 

15. Avez-vous un numéro de téléphone où l'on peut vous joindre ? (Do you have a telephone number where one can contact you?)- 4.3

What does the ‘l’ in 'l’on’ represent here?

 

16. Son énorme ventre ! Il aime énormément sa nourriture. (His enormous stomach! He likes his food enormously.)- 4.7

Why does ‘énormément’ not come after ‘sa nourriture’? Is 'énormé' the feminine form of ‘énorme’?

 

17. Tu te connais bien ? Tu choisis ce qui est bon pour toi. (You know yourself well ? You are choosing what's good for you.) - 4.9

Does the second sentence literally mean: You are choosing that which is good for you? (I'm trying to determine what ‘ce’ represents here.)

 

18. Cette voiture est moins grande que la nôtre. (This car is less big than ours.)- 4.13

Does ‘la’ represent ‘car’?

 

19. ‘Qu’ Pronunciation- 4.13

19a. Il fait plus chaud aujourd'hui qu'hier. (It is hotter today than yesterday.)

19b. Nous sommes plus grands qu'eux. (We are bigger than them.)

Why does the ‘qu’ sound different in these two sentences? ‘Hier’ and ‘eux’ both start with vowel sounds.

 

Merci beaucoup,

 

 

 

 

 

 

RobertC106

RobertC106

13.  To me, avoir besoin de suggests a need for something. Devoir suggests that one must do something. It's easy to imagine overlap, but consider, I need to brush my hair before I go in there (avoir besoin de), vs. I must buy a ticket before I go in there (devoir). Devoir suggests requirement or obligation (consistent with devoir also meaning to owe). So, I believe which way it's said depends upon how it's meant.

 

14. I see quel used when the question anticipates an answer coming from a list of finite possibilities, such as, Quel est votre nom or Quelle heure est-il  or Quel âge avez-vous. Whereas, Qu’est-ce que allows for the possibility that the answer could take any form. There's probably a more robust answer on the way.

 

15. Good question!  

EDIT: Hold the presses! I think I remember now! The “l” is inserted only for pronounceability (I think). Otherwise, it would be où on (yuck).

Just like the “t” in   y a-t-il.  Means nothing, but makes it flow better.

 

 

16. énormément is an adverb (notice the suffix, as well as, the obvious translation) modifying the verb, aime ; not an adjective, modifying the noun. (i.e., in what manner does he like …  ? - enourmously)

 

17. I think you are absolutely correct in your translation.

 

18. Yes. Mitchell will provide us with the robust answer.

 

19. I think you must be attributing at least some of the pronunciation of the second word in each case to qu. The difference is clearly associated with hier vs eux. Qu is just the “first click” in each case. Wait till you get to the Survival Kit and you hear 25 different pronunciations for the word, vingt, in one lesson. Arrrgh!

 

Keep up the hard work, Calli!

 

Robert

 

 

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

 

Bonjour CalliW,

 

13. Nous devons aussi acheter. (We also need to buy.) - pay attention to the conjugations

There are several examples of both ‘devoir’ and ‘avoir besoin de’ in the lesson. I'll list out some of them below and you can go back and revisit.

  • Est-ce que tu as besoin de quelque chose? (Do you need anything?) ‘avoir besoin de’ + noun
  • On doit aussi acheter des pommes de terre et des oignons. (We must also buy some potatoes and some onions.) ‘devoir’ + verb
  • J'ai besoin de boire quelque chose. (I need to drink something.) ‘avoir besoin de’ + verb
  • Est-ce que tu as besoin d'une salle de bain privée? (Do you need a private bathroom.) ‘avoir besoin de’ + noun
  • Je dois me rendre à l'hôtel. (I must go to the hotel.) ‘devoir’ + verb
  • Est-ce que je dois acheter un billet? (Do I have to buy a ticket?) ‘devoir’ + verb

Note that conjugations of ‘devoir' vary quite a lot compared to regular verbs and is always followed by verbs. I hope this clears things up.

 

14. Quel est votre nom, s'il vous plaît? (What's your (last) name, please)? - que and quel are different

Quick note: ‘Qu’est-ce que votre nom' is not a sentence and does not make sense. ‘Qu’est-ce que' is like ‘que’, and in spoken French ‘que’ is often replaced with ‘qu’est-ce que'. So, I think it might make sense to compare rather ‘que’ and ‘quel’.

Que

‘Que’ is a direct object pronoun meaning ‘what’ and we can use either ‘que’ + inversion or ‘qu’est-ce que'. 

Quel

Quel  is an interrogative (question) adjective meaning ‘what’ or ‘which’ and can appear as quel, quelle (singular m + f), quels or quelles (plural m + f).

The differences between the two are great and I don't think it is efficient to break it all down here for this question; suffice to say that ‘que’ is usually followed by an active verb, and ‘quel’ is followed by être or a noun. For example:

  • Qu'est-ce que vous faites? (What are you doing?) - ‘qu’est-ce que' + active verb
  • Que faites-vous? (What are you doing?) - ‘que’ + active verb
  • Quel est votre nom? (What is your name?) - ‘quel’ + être + noun - ‘quel’ agrees with nom which is masculine and singular.

 

15. Avez-vous un numéro de téléphone où l'on peut vous joindre? (Do you have a telephone number where one can contact you?) - this is why French sounds so good.

This is done for euphony, so that the language sounds harmonious and flows well. French doesn't like the pause between two adjacent vowel sounds; it cuts the flow. For example, true saying the following sentences and separate the adjacent vowel in the incorrect sentences.

  • Avez-vous un numéro de téléphone où on peut vous joindre? - wrong
  • Avez-vous un numéro de téléphone où l'on peut vous joindre? - correct
  • Je ai besoin de faire les courses. - wrong
  • J'ai besoin de faire les courses. - correct

 

16. Son énorme ventre! Il aime énormément sa nourriture. (His enormous stomach! He likes his food enormously.) - As an adverb, it should follow the verb.

´Énormément is an adverb, therefore it modifies the verb in the sentence which is ‘aimer’. Generally speaking, the adverb follows the verb, because it is there precisely to add to the meaning of that verb. If there is more than one verb in the sentence then the adverb usually follows the first verb. For example:

  • Je travaille beaucoup. (I work a lot.)
  • J’ai beaucoup travaillé. (I worked a lot.)
  • Je dois beaucoup travailler. (I have to work a lot.)

There are some exceptions to this rule which are based on where a writer or speaker wants the emphasis to fall, but by and large the above rule stands. Finally, énorme does not change, this is how it looks both in the masculine and feminine form.

 

17. Tu te connais bien? Tu choisis ce qui est bon pour toi. (You know yourself well ? You are choosing what's good for you.) - Yes, that's it.

I'm just going to a word for word, vertical translation for clarity.

Tuteconnaisbien?Tuchoisiscequiestbonpourtoi.
Youyourselfknowwell?Youchosethatwhichisgoodforyou.
You know yourself well?You're choosing what's good for you.

 

18. Cette voiture est moins grande que la nôtre. (This car is less big than ours.) - Again, correct.

This is a possessive pronoun and in French it require two words, where as in English we only use one. In English, we just have mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours and theirs (7), but in French their are 21 which must agree with the object (number and gender) and the owner. Here is a table:

 SingularPlural
 MasculineFeminineMasculineFeminine
minele mienla mienneles miensles miennes
yours (tu)le tienla tienneles tiensles tiennes
his, hers, itsle sienla sienneles siensles siennes
oursle nôtrela nôtreles nôtresles nôtres
your (vous)le vôtrela vôtreles vôtresles vôtres
theirsle leurla leurles leursles leurs

Circling back to the example sentence la nôtre should be considered a single structure referring both to the car (la) and it being ours (nôtre).

 

19. ‘Qu’ Pronunciation - refer to number 15.

This is to do with making the language flow nicely. If you say ‘que’ by itself then ‘hier’ or ‘eux’, then it doesn't sound very nice. Merging them together makes the sentence flow better and just sounds better.

 

I hope this helps!

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Merci Robert & Mitchell!

A couple of follow up questions/ comments:

 

13. It caught my attention that ‘Nous devons aussi acheter’ translated to ‘We also need to buy’ instead of ‘We must also buy’ since ‘avoir besoin de’ was not used. But, as Robert probably correctly stated, they are somewhat interchangeable depending on the context.

 

14. That definitely helps. I guess I never thought as ‘Que’ as a specific part of speech, much less a direct object pronoun. I will watch out for that from now on.

 

18. This is not something I've studied yet, but while we're in the general area, what role do ‘moi’ and ‘toi’ play in the French language? What part of speech are they?

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour!

 

13. Nous devons aussi acheter. (We also need to buy.)

Yes, we can translate them either way really; the English versions are more versatile than the French so I wouldn't get caught up too much on the translation. The most important distinction to make is how they are used, or really what follows them. Personally, I would perhaps translate it more as, ‘we also have to buy…’, simply because we are more used to using that expression in spoken English than ‘must’.

 

18. Moi & toi

Moi (me) and toi (you) are personal pronouns that have many functions in French; they can be used to act as the subject, after 'c'est', for emphasis, with imperatives, after a preposition and after ‘que’, among others. Again, their use is too wide to explain in one go (that would be information overload), it's something you will just have to absorb as you come across the different structures. However, just to whet the appetite, I'll list a few example sentences:

  • C'est moi qui l'ai fait. (I did it - or - It is I who did it.) - after c'est
  • Je n'en sais rien, moi. (I don't know.) - to repeat the subject / for emphasis
  • Calme-toi. (Calm down.) - with imperatives  *informal imperative here
  • Je veux aller avec toi. (I want to go with you.) - after prepositions

I hope this helps!

   -   Mitchell

RobertC106

RobertC106

Mitchell, I'd go a little further for the benefit of people like Calli and I (is it I or me? oh, well) who can easily get confused trying to keep all the different pronouns straight.

 

Calli, they are called stress pronouns, which is helpful to know so you don't confuse them with the subject pronouns that we normally associate with verb conjugation. Stress pronouns are never used as subjects. However, they are counterparts to subject pronouns as follows:

moi (me)  toi (you)  lui/elle (him/her)  nous (us)  vous (you)  eux/elles (them)

as opposed to,

je (I)  tu (you) il/elle (he/she)  nous (we)  vous (you)  ils/elles (they)

there is also soi which goes with on, and would translate to oneself.

 

Otherwise, I would've said precisely what Mitchell suggested. There are numerous instances in which they're used, but the most common ones are the ones that are easiest to relate to English, such as c'est moi and je voyage toujours avec lui. Just recognize them for what they are, and how they translate and learn to use them as you encounter them and you should be set.

 

Robert

 

RobertC106

RobertC106

Calli, I'm in the process of reviewing Level 1, so for my information, I went through and picked out the unique examples of the stressed (also known as disjunctive) pronouns that you have seen, or will see, in the lessons. It's a pretty good, although not exhaustive, illustration of the various uses, and also, the differences in translation depending upon use. Comments are certainly welcome, although Mitchell politely (and wisely) excused himself from this bowl of French spaghetti grammar. For now, anyway.

1.0
Bien, merci. Et toi ?
Well, thanks. And you?

2.2
Moi aussi, c'est marrant.
Me too, it is funny.

2.3
Oui, la valise bleue est à moi.
Yes, the blue suitcase is mine.

Avez-vous fait votre valise vous-même ?
Have you packed your suitcase yourself?

2.6
Attendez-moi !
Wait for me!

4.1
Je viens avec toi.
I am coming with you.

4.12
Nous ne sommes pas invités chez eux.
We are not invited to their place.

Moi non plus.
Me neither.

5.1
Je ferai une exception pour vous.
I will make an exception for you.

5.6
d'après toi
according to you

5.9
croire en soi
to believe in oneself

----

I don't believe the following instances of lui are illustrations of this type of pronoun.
These are indirect object pronouns, which, along with leur for plural, are used to replace nouns - but only with certain verbs. i.e., verbs usually followed by à. Another can of worms.

6.1
Nous lui achetons un bouquet de fleurs ?
Are we buying her a bouquet of flowers?
(Lit. we buy for her)

6.4
Ça lui ferait plaisir d'entendre ça.
She would be very pleased to hear that.
(Lit. it would please her to hear that)

 

Robert

 

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour!

 

My absence might be best chalked up to my being in a different time zone and normally I would excuse myself from this bowl of French spaghetti grammar … However, the pronouns we are discusses and the examples that we have pulled are not all stress pronouns. I will do my best to make my case. Let's start with the ones that are and then I'll explain the ones that aren't:

Stress pronouns

  • Moi aussi, c'est marrant. (Me too, it is funny.) - acting as the subject
  • Oui, la valise bleue est à moi. (Yes, the blue suitcase is mine.) - to indicate possession
  • Je viens avec toi. (I'm coming with you.) - object of a preposition
  • C'est moi qui l'ai fait. (I did it) - after c'est
  • Toi, tu dois partir! (You (yes, you) need to leave! - to repeat the subject pronoun * a note made above - stress pronouns are not used as subject pronouns, but can be used to repeat them, for emphasis (as the name suggests).

 

Imperative (Positive not Negative Commands)

The reflexive, direct and indirect object pronouns of me and te become moi and toi in the imperative. Often these are just lumped in with stress pronouns because they use the same form, but that doesn't mean they have the same function. They maintain their reflexive, direct and indirect object functions even in the imperative, so to lump them in with stress pronouns confuses their use. This appears to be done more for the flow of the language; note that if you use the normal pronouns, it sound horrible, so that is likely the reason for the change. It may also be a hangover from old French when declensions were more common. Let's look at some examples:

  • Est-ce que vous allez m'attender? (Are you going to wait for me?) * m' is me here - direct object pronoun
  • Attendez-moi! (What for me!) * This is exactly the same verb used in the imperative, just the pronoun changes.
  • Tu vas me le donner ou pas? (Are you going to give it to me or not?) *indirect object pronoun
  • Donne-le-moi. (Give it to me.)
  • Quand est-ce que tu vas te coucher? (When are you going to bed?) * reflexive
  • Couche-toi! (Go to bed!) 

 

I was hoping to keep it simple, but unfortunately that's not French. I hope this clarifies the difference between stress pronouns and reflexive/direct object/indirect object pronouns which take stress forms.

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Bonjour Mitchell & Robert-

Okay so I've read through this bowl of French spaghetti grammar 5-6 times, I think I'm starting to understand.

To confirm:

Moi and Toi can be stress pronouns but they can also be reflexive, direct, and indirect pronouns?

In the following examples- me, te, moi, toi, are reflexive, indirect, and direct object pronouns. The imperative sentence use moi and toi, because me & te sounds bad, correct?

  • Est-ce que vous allez m'attender? (Are you going to wait for me?) * m' is me here - direct object pronoun
  • Attendez-moi! (What for me!) * This is exactly the same verb used in the imperative, just the pronoun changes.
  • Tu vas me le donner ou pas? (Are you going to give it to me or not?) *indirect object pronoun
  • Donne-le-moi. (Give it to me.)
  • Quand est-ce que tu vas te coucher? (When are you going to bed?) * reflexive
  • Couche-toi! (Go to bed!)

 

Am I correct that it can be hard to tell when moi & toi are being used as stress pronouns versus direct, indirect, and reflexive object pronouns?

 

Merci beaucoup,

Calli 

RobertC106

RobertC106

I came up with a bowl of French spaghetti grammar when it occurred to me that you'd starve to death if you had to be able to tell where the other end of a strand of spaghetti was before you could eat it. Instead, you twirl some up on your fork and you eat what sticks and don't worry about what falls off. With practice, you become a graceful and efficient spaghetti eater.

 

Robert

 

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour!

 

I was worried this might over-complicate things … whoops. Let's try and boil it down.

Stress pronouns are exactly as they sound, they are used for emphasis. See the examples I listed above and take note of what it is they are stressing and that none of them are commands/ imperatives. Moi and toi are stress pronouns; once again, they are used to provide stress or emphasis. 

However, the stress pronoun FORM is used in another grammar structure. That is the imperative when the verb requires a personal pronoun (i.e. in reflexive, direct object or indirect object). Note that in this case, the imperative simply borrows the stress pronoun form for fluidity, it is not technically a stress pronoun.

The use of one versus the other should be clear. It is either the imperative, or something else (i.e stress pronoun). The problem is that these two distinct, grammatical function are often lumped together and the causes confusion, the imperative simply employs the use of the stress pronoun form. 

I hope this has cleared it up for you. If not let me know and I'll do my best to try again.

   -   Mitchell

 

CalliW

CalliW

So, moi and toi are stress pronouns.

BUT, the imperative also uses the forms of moi and toi, instead of me, te, etc., because it sounds way better.

Oui?

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Mitchell-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Bonjour!

Oui, c'est ça! 

   -   Mitchell

CalliW

CalliW

Merci beaucoup, Mitchell!

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