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Lesson Transcript

INTRODUCTION
Eric: Eric here. All about season 1, Lesson 3. Painless French Grammar.
Virginie: Bonjour!
Eric: Hello, welcome back to frenchpod101.com, the fastest, easiest and most fun way to learn French. I am joined in the studio by...
Virginie: Hello everyone, Virginie here. Well Eric, I am surprised you didn’t call in sick today.
Eric: Why would I Virginie?
Virginie: Well remember, today is grammar day.
Eric: You sound way too excited. Don’t tell me you like grammar.
Virginie: Are you a grammarophobe?
Eric: I am against any sort of pain, infliction especially in languages.
Virginie: Who said it would be painful?
Eric: Mr. Grammar did.
Virginie: Well I have good news for you. Today our focus is painless grammar.
Eric: I don’t believe you.
Virginie: Well you should. We will try our best to introduce French grammar to our listeners without them feeling any symptoms of depression.
Eric: How you can manage that?
Virginie: We will do our best to avoid any wondering and the troubled waters of the French grammar by…
Eric: Giving as many examples as possible?
Virginie: Yes.
Eric: I love examples.
Virginie: I know.
Eric: I need examples.
Virginie: To make it even more pleasant for you Eric, you are going to be the one who picks the first grammar point we will talk about.
LESSON FOCUS
Eric: You are too kind. What about the structure? How are words put together in a typical French sentence?
Virginie: Very nice. It’s the best way to approach the grammar of any language.
Eric: Is it very different than English?
Virginie: The basic sentence structure is actually the same as in English.
Eric: Okay. So it’s like subject, verb, object. Je mange la pomme. Je, subject, mange, verb, la pomme, object.
Virginie: Je mange une pomme: “Je” is I, “mange” is eat, “une pomme” is an apple, and the verb “manger” means to eat.
Eric: So how would I say that I do not eat an Apple?
Virginie: Easy. Just squeeze your verb “mange” between the two words “ne” and “pas”. Example: Je ne mange pas la pomme.
Eric: I do not eat the Apple. Another example.
Virginie: Of course: Je ne regarde pas la télé.
Eric: I don’t watch television. That’s easy. So you are just putting “regarde” between “ne” and “pas”.
Virginie: Right: Je ne regarde pas la télé. I don’t watch television. Now that we saw the basic structure of French grammar, it’s time to detail a little bit. Let’s start with who in the sentence does the action.
Eric: The subject does the action.
Virginie: Yes the subject or the person. In French, there are six of them, again just like in English.
Eric: Okay. So like in that first sentence, when we say “je mange” we are saying I eat.
Virginie: Yes.
Eric: And then to say you eat, you would say
Virginie: Tu manges.
Eric: And to say he or she eats
Virginie: “il mange” is he eats and “elle mange” is she eats.
Eric: And what about we eat?
Virginie: Nous mangeons.
Eric: And you eat
Virginie: Vous mangez.
Eric: And “vous” in this sense is meaning either plural or the formal subject we are talking to.
Virginie: “Vous mangez” is either you eat formal or you guys eat, plural.
Eric: Got it and what about plural they eat?
Virginie: “Ils mangent” for they eat, masculine and “elles mangent” for they eat, feminine.
Eric: Well okay, well that sounds a little bit more complicated than English conjugations.
Virginie: Yeah it is actually. That’s because the verb form changes depending on which person leads the action like “nous mangeons” is different than “vous mangez” whereas in English, it’s I eat, you eat, it’s the same thing.
Eric: So it’s like the words have these relationships.
Virginie: Yeah they do. Verbs depend on their subject. Without a subject or a person, the verb is nothing.
Eric: Just like me without you. So wait! The verb was “manger” to eat. Are all the verbs similar in French?
Virginie: No there are actually three different groups of verbs in French. We call them the first group, the second group and the third group. That’s pretty straightforward but really all you need to know is that all the verbs that end with “er” will be similarly conjugated.
Eric: And all the verbs that end with...
Virginie: Ir will be conjugated the same way.
Eric: Okay and then, I think I’ve heard the last group is the “re” verbs?
Virginie: Yeah.
Eric: Okay and then there is these irregular verbs too.
Virginie: Right. So the third group is a mix of “re” verbs and all the others are irregular.
Eric: Okay. So I guess we better start practicing.
Virginie: Right. I think the best way to learn grammar is to observe carefully and to listen carefully. You will see that you will quickly even be able to deduct a rule, a pattern by yourself just by hearing people speak and just by reading French etcetera. It’s not that hard.
Eric: Okay what about – I hear that there is a lot of like exceptions and stuff. You mentioned irregular verbs.
Virginie: Right but there are not as many exceptions as you would expect. Pretty much, everything is there for a reason. I don’t believe in the statement that says, oh it’s this way because it just is, right?
Eric: But sometimes that is the case.
Virginie: Nah yeah! But again not as much as people think. There is so much prejudice against French grammar these days.
Eric: Okay well we don’t want to be prejudiced now. Let’s move on to our next exciting grammar matter, the verb modes.
Virginie: First of all, a quick reminder of what a verb mode is.
Eric: It’s an indicator of which way the verb expresses something.
Virginie: Absolutely. For example, if the speech is factual, the mode will be the indicative. That’s the name of the mode, indicative.
Eric: What do you mean factual?
Virginie: Well the indicative mode expresses that the speech and therefore the verb is set in a real actual context that the action happened is happening or will be happening for sure.
Eric: Okay. So you are indicating something.
Virginie: Right.
Eric: So when I say “je viens” which means “I am coming”, I am using the indicative mode.
Virginie: You see, you are really getting into grammar.
Eric: And I am a genius. What about “Je vais venir” I will come?
Virginie: Yeah “Je vais venir.” I will come. Same thing, it’s again the indicative mode. The indicative is the mode we use the most.
Eric: So what other modes are there in French?
Virginie: Like in English, we have the imperative mode.
Eric: Ah okay, I know this one very well. This is to express an order.
Virginie: It’s true. You are so bossy, I am sure you know. Do you have an example for the use of the imperative mode?
Eric: Viens ici!
Virginie: Viens ici! Yeah which means “come here”, “viens ici”. Are you actually telling me that or….
Eric: No, not at all.
Virginie: Are you giving me orders, okay, okay.
Eric: I wouldn’t dream of doing that. I give really good examples.
Virginie: That’s a nice example. So the third mode is the conditional and it exists in English too. Could you tell us Eric what kind of action it expresses?
Eric: I guess that would be something that would depend on another event to occur. So this might occur if….
Virginie: Right exactly.
Eric: So again, this is like “would” in English. I would do my homework if you ask me to.
Virginie: Right.
Eric: Okay so there is one mode that I really have a lot of fear of, the subjunctive.
Virginie: It’s a hard one. It’s hard to figure out how to use it actually and I feel guilty all of a sudden.
Eric: Don’t feel guilty. Just can you explain a little bit?
Virginie: Okay. Let’s see in which cases we would use it. When the speaker expresses an emotion, a judgment, fear or a necessity, these are the four main usages for the subjunctive.
Eric: Okay so for example, if I want to say, I am disappointed you are going to movies without me.
Virginie: Which is an emotion.
Eric: I would say: Je suis déçu que tu ailles au cinéma sans moi.
Virginie: Yeah right. You guys out there don’t need to know what this sentence means exactly. You just need to know that we just use the subjunctive because he expressed an emotion, a regret.
Eric: I guess the difficulty lies in that the subjunctive sounds very different from the other verbs.
Virginie: Yes we will have a lesson dedicated to the subjunctive soon I promise. For now, we are just over viewing the basics.
Eric: Okay. So let’s do a quick recap.
Virginie: Okay the French sentence structure is subject, verb, object, SVO. The verbs have three different modalities of expression which are called the modes.
Eric: Okay and those are the indicative which is the most common, the imperative and the subjunctive.
Virginie: And to wrap up this verb oriented conversation, I would just say that each of these modes contain tenses.
Eric: And those are going to be used to express the past, the present or the future.
Virginie: Right. Now to get more familiar with the French tenses, I would highly recommend the lesson notes related to this lesson.
Eric: Yes and you will find an explanation for every single tense that’s used in French.
Virginie: How to use them and how to conjugate them.
Eric: I remember when I don’t know how to speak French back in the day, I was really proud of when I got the tenses.
Virginie: And people could finally see that you weren’t born yesterday?
Eric: Ah yes.
Virginie: Now, let’s take a quick look at the French article.
Eric: So what are the articles for?
Virginie: Well remember how we said that all the words are related to each other in a sentence.
Eric: Right, okay I do.
Virginie: Well the articles are related to the noun attached to them.
Eric: Okay. So if we go back to our first example: Je mange la pomme. The article is “la” as in “la pomme”.
Virginie: Right “je mange la pomme” yes and the noun “pomme” needs this little word to fully exist in the sentence.
Eric: Okay. So this is the same as in English where there are articles also.
Virginie: Yes there is one big difference though.
Eric: Yeah.
Virginie: Not only the articles in French introduce the word attached to them, they are also a great indicator of the gender of the word because remember in French, we have genders.
Eric: Male and female objects, hah! Okay so let’s talk about the two main types of articles. There is the definite and the indefinite article right?
Virginie: Right.
Eric: And this is like an English “the” as in the Apple.
Virginie: The is “le” l-e “le” and “la”, l-a. So “le” is male and “la” is female.
Eric: So that will be: Je mange la pomme.
Virginie: And an apple is female in French. So je mange la pomme.
Eric: What – So apples are women?
Virginie: That’s funny. Okay but it’s always funny to discover more and more words with their genders, right. You always end up trying to figure out why this is female and why that is male.
Eric: So what about the other case? What if we want to say an Apple?
Virginie: Then you would say “une pomme” the indefinite article which is in English. In French, it will be “une” u-n-e for female and “un” u-n for masculine, male.
Eric: I would be saying: Je mange une pomme.
Virginie: Je mange une pomme. Yes u-n-e.
Eric: So it sounds kind of difficult knowing which gender to use, is it a male or is it a female. Is there some kind of trick?
Virginie: Yeah I can give you a hint for example. All the words that end with “tion” which is spelt t-i-o-n are all female.
Eric: Wow, really okay.
Virginie: Like for instance, “institution” institution is female.
Eric: Or for example “disparition” as in the disappearing.
Virginie: Right exactly.
Eric: Or “rotation” as in rotating.
Virginie: Uhoo. Now we should see how to say the plural article in French.
Eric: Okay great and how do you do it?
Virginie: The plural article, the definite plural article is “les”. L-e-s.
Eric: So you would say: Je mange les pommes.
Virginie: If you want to say, I eat the apples, you would say: Je mange les pommes.
Eric: Okay. So you really, really need to love apples or else this lesson is kind of useless.
OUTRO
Virginie: Right yeah and I think we are going to stop now for today yeah. I think enough.
Eric: Enough of the Apples, right.
Virginie: Yeah right.
Eric: Okay well thanks a lot for Virginie. This is a great lesson.
Virginie: Thank you for listening and have a great day.
Eric: Take care everyone.
Virginie: Bye bye, au revoir.

31 Comments

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FrenchPod101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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Which French grammar aspect drives you crazy?

FrenchPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 11:13 am
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And about adverbs:

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2008/07/16/beginner-lesson-12-cute-your-brother/

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2014/09/22/lower-beginner-s2-12-how-fast-is-your-french/

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2014/07/21/lower-beginner-s2-3-whats-your-daily-routine-in-france/


Let us know if you have any further questions.

Cheers,

Lena

Team FrenchPod101.com

FrenchPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 11:13 am
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About pronouns:

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2016/01/29/absolute-beginner-questions-answered-by-candice-3-reflexive-pronouns/

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2016/02/12/absolute-beginner-questions-answered-by-candice-4-direct-and-indirect-object-pronouns/

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2008/07/30/beginner-lesson-14-crap-he-likes-her/


Team FrenchPod101.com

FrenchPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 11:12 am
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About prepositions:

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2012/03/27/upper-beginner-7-dodging-train-strikes-in-france/

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2010/03/03/intermediate-lesson-9-lamour-a-la-francaise-what-can-these-french-films-teach-you-about-love/

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2008/08/13/beginner-lesson-16-which-day-is-this/


Team FrenchPod101.com

FrenchPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 11:11 am
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Hello Winston and jjjas,


Thank you for your question.

Please check the Lesson Note PDFs of these lessons:


- conjunctions:

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2010/06/09/intermediate-lesson-23-i-refuse-to-admit-anything-in-french/

https://www.frenchpod101.com/2010/03/17/intermediate-lesson-11-do-you-find-french-jokes-about-blondes-funny/


Team FrenchPod101.com

jjjas
Friday at 2:05 am
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I have a same question than Winstone below.. where is grammar at all?

Winston
Wednesday at 12:35 am
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where can i find these lessons? :


conjunctions

prepositions

pronouns

adverbs.


search for them but nothing showed up? Please assist.

FrenchPod101.comVerified
Sunday at 9:03 pm
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Bonjour Jane !


Merci pour votre commentaire !

Vous avez raison, c'est tout à fait ça. Votre phrase est juste !


Bonne journée et à bientôt !

Marie Alice

Team FrenchPod101.com

Jane J
Monday at 3:23 pm
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J'ai mal à la tête! (My head hurts!)

FrenchPod101.comVerified
Saturday at 3:09 am
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Bonjour Ann Tintera,


Merci pour votre gentil commentaire !

Thank you for your nice comment !


A bientôt !

Marie Alice

Team FrenchPod101.com

Ann Tintera
Sunday at 5:42 am
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Bonjour,


This is a great lesson, very well put together, and presented.


Merci