Dialogue - French

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Vocabulary

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je m'appelle My name is
Enchanté(e). Pleased to meet you.
bonjour hello
madame Mrs

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The Focus of This Lesson is Self-Introduction and Basic Greetings in Formal French
Bonjour, Madame.
"Hello, Ma'am."


Bienvenu(e) ("Welcome") to the French language basics. Introducing oneself is inevitable in any situation and is rather easy! Let's start with the word bonjour!

 

Bonjour ("Hello")


For a more classical and frequent greeting, use bonjour, meaning "hello." Its literal meaning is "good day."

 

You can use bonjour anytime during the day in any circumstances. If you are speaking to a friend, an elderly person, or an unknown person in an informal or formal situation, use bonjour. It the safest and most respectable way of greeting a person while in France or another French-speaking country.

If the evening is falling and night is soon to come, use bonsoir, meaning "good evening." Like bonjour, bonsoir is the most common way to greet someone in a safe manner. The only difference is that you can use bonsoir for farewells as well at the end of the day.

Note that a title can follow both bonjour and bonsoir to be a bit more proper, as with bienvenu.

For Example:

Daytime

  1. Bonjour monsieur.
    "Hello, sir."
  2. Bonjour madame.
    "Hello, ma'am."

Evening

  1. Bonsoir monsieur.
    "Hello, sir." or "Good evening, sir."
  2. Bonsoir madame.
    "Hello, ma'am."
    "Good evening, ma'am."

Greeting During the Day

French

French Pronunciation

"English"

Bonjour

Bon-juhrr

"Hello"

Bonjour monsieur

Bon-juhrr muh-si-hoe

"Hello, sir"

Bonjour madame

Bon-juhrr ma-dam

"Hello, ma'am"

Greeting or Farewell in the Evening or at Night

French

French Pronunciation

"English"

Bonsoir

Bon-su-ahrr

"Hello/goodbye"

Bonsoir monsieur

Bon-su-ahrr Muh-si-hoe

"Hello/goodbye sir"

Bonsoir madame

Bon-su-ahrr Ma-dam

"Hello/goodbye ma'am"

Stating a Name


After you're formally greeted in your hotel, someone will certainly ask you about your identity.

 

In many other situations, social or otherwise, to get to know someone or introduce yourself, you will ask or hear the most frequent question: "What is your name?"

To answer it, use:

  1. the personal pronoun je, meaning "I" in English, and
  2. the verb s'appeler conjugated at the correct form

Conjugating the Verb s'appeler ("to be called")


The verb s'appeler means "to be called" and we translate it with the verb "to be" in English when stating a name, as shown in the dialogue translation. The infinitive verb s'appeler ends with the letters -er, telling us it is:

 

  1. a regular verb and
  2. a verb from the first verb group

Its particularity is the presence at its infinitive form of the letter -s followed by an apostrophe. This tells us that this verb (as others with the same feature) is a "reflexive verb," which is also called in French verbes pronominaux.

The letter -s apostrophe is the reflexive part of the verb. Its function is to refer the information following the verb s'appeler-in other words, a name, back to the subject of the sentence.

When conjugating a reflexive verb, you should follow two steps. You need to change the letter -s apostrophe and the verb form according to the subject of the sentence, and therefore, the personal pronoun you use.

Changing the Reflexive Part of the Verb s'appeler


In the sentence Je m'appelle Maxime, the personal pronoun is je, which belongs to the first person singular. As the verb s'appeler is a "reflexive verb" or verbe pronominal, the letter -s needs to change to the letter -m followed by the apostrophe.
You will have m'appeler.

 

Be aware that you only change the letter -m if the information following the verb s'appeler belongs to the person speaking it. If not, if you hear je t'appelle Laurent, it would mean "I call you Laurent" (instead of Mrs. Dubois, for example). In other words, the name stated needs to be the one of the person stating it, as in Je m'appelle Madame Lefebvre Camille. "I'm Mrs. Camille Lefebvre."

Changing the Ending of the Verb s'appeler


To change the ending of the verb form m'appeler previously mentioned, eliminate the letters -er. You'll end up with: m'appel.

Then, to have the correct spelling for this verb, remember to add an extra letter -l to all the forms except for the first and second person plural. You'll have now: m'appell.

 

Finally, as for any verb ending in -er at the infinitive form, add the ending -e corresponding to the first person singular. You will have the final conjugated form: m'appelle.

Of course, to get the final sentence, add in front of it the personal pronoun je and after it your name: Je m'appelle.

French

"English"

Je m'appelle Marie.

"My name is Mary."

Je m'appelle Madame Dupont.

"My name is Mrs. Dupont."

Je m'appelle Madame Dupont Marie.

"My name is Mrs. Mary Dupont."

Cultural Insights

Most and Least Popular Given First Names


For boys, according to the French magazine Femme Actuelle, first names sounding foreign are in regression. They used to be popular, possibly because the names of characters appearing in Hollywood's broadcasted soap operas are dubbed in French. The least popular are Liam and Aaron, as well as Matthieu and Jean, two biblical first names. Another one losing popularity is Loïc, which is short for Alexandre or Alex.

However, the most popular first names in 2008 and 2009, for both boys and girls, will be short ones such as Tom, Zoé, or the traditional Paul and Marie. Another trend is first names ending in the letter -o for boys, such as Enzo, Hugo, Léo, Théo, or Mathéo, and -a for girls, such as Emma, Clara, and Léa, which are the three most popular names. Some other ever-classic first names are Alexandre, Raphaël, and Gabriel for boys and Marie, Inès, and Camille for girls.

 

A very popular book is published every mid-September for parents-to-be called L'Officiel des Prénoms (Official First Names). It is the yearly reference for first names, listing twelve thousand of them with their etymologies and discussing trends in names.

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Virginie: Bonjour!
Eric: Eric here. Basic Bootcamp Season 1, lesson 1 - Self Introduction and Basic Greetings in Formal French.
Eric: Hello, and welcome to the Basic Bootcamp S1 at FrenchPod101.com, where we study modern French in a fun, educational format!
Virginie: So, brush up on the French that you started learning long ago, or start learning today.
Eric: Thank you for being here with us for this lesson. Virginie, how are you today?
Virginie: I’m good, Eric, thank you. OK, now you probably think, Bootcamp, this is going to be painful.
Eric: No, in our bootcamp, There’s no suffering here.
Virginie: We'll be slow, we promise.
Eric: We should have called it BootSpa, actually.
Eric: In this lesson, you will learn how to initiate the first contact with a person in French and how to introduce yourself.
Virginie: This conversation takes place at the reception lobby of a hotel in France.
Eric: And it’s between a receptionist and a tourist.
Virginie: The speakers will be speaking formally.
Eric: OK, so now let's listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

Réceptionniste: Bonjour, Madame. Je m'appelle Maxime.
Mme Lefebvre: Enchantée, Monsieur. Je m'appelle Madame Lefebvre Camille.
Réceptionniste: Enchanté Madame.
Eric: One more time, a little more slowly.
Réceptionniste: Bonjour, Madame. Je m'appelle Maxime.
Mme Lefebvre: Enchantée, Monsieur. Je m'appelle Madame Lefebvre Camille.
Réceptionniste: Enchanté Madame.
Eric: How about in English.
Réceptionniste: Bonjour, Madame. Je m'appelle Maxime.
Eric: Hello, madam. I'm Maxime.
Mme Lefebvre: Enchantée, Monsieur. Je m'appelle Madame Lefebvre Camille.
Eric: Nice to meet you, sir. I'm Mrs. Camille Lefebvre.
Réceptionniste: Enchanté Madame.
Eric: Nice to meet you, Madam.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Eric: Now I noticed that she introduced her name starting with her last name. Is that a usual thing to do?
Virginie: No it's not, here she is giving her name to a receptionist, that's why she is starting with her last name, for him to check her reservation. Usually, when you introduce yourself to someone, you say your first name first.
Eric: And sometimes you only say your first name, right?
Virginie: Yes, most of the time actually. The more formal the situation is, the more formal you will speak. And saying both your name and your last name is very formal.
Eric: You would that in a business context, I assume.
Virginie: Absolutely.
Eric: Now do people in France shake hands when meeting for the first time.
Virginie: At work, when it's your first encounter with your coworkers, then yes you will shake hands.
Eric: No kisses?
Virginie: Kisses come later, once you know people better.
Eric: And outside of a business context?
Virginie: That's different. In casual situations people will kiss each other to introduce themselves. Men with women, women with women.
Eric: What about men with men?
Virginie: well, men tend to shake hands. But when really good friends, they will kiss.
Eric: A kiss on each cheek, correct?
Virginie: Yes, so don't be shy when you go to France, and kiss everybody!!!
Eric: Well, not if it's your boss or a client...
VOCAB LIST
Eric: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
: The first word we shall see is:
Virginie: bonjour [natural native speed]
Eric: hello
Virginie: bonjour [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Virginie: bonjour [natural native speed]
: Next:
Virginie: madame [natural native speed]
Eric: Mrs
Virginie: madame [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Virginie: madame [natural native speed]
: Next:
Virginie: je m'appelle [natural native speed]
Eric: My name is
Virginie: je m'appelle [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Virginie: je m'appelle [natural native speed]
: Next:
Virginie: Enchanté(e). [natural native speed]
Eric: Pleased to meet you.
Virginie: Enchanté(e). [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Virginie: Enchanté(e). [natural native speed]
KEY VOCABULARY AND PHRASES
Eric: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Virginie: The first word we’ll look at is... Bonjour Madame
Eric: This is Hello Miss.
Virginie: Yes, and Bonjour/Hello is used during the day. It literally means Good Day.
Eric: That's right, at night, the French say Bonsoir/good evening.
Virginie: Exactly.
Eric: What else do we have here?
Virginie: We have Bonjour Monsieur.
Eric: Which means Hello Sir.
Virginie: One thing I want you to know is that you won't say bonjour monsieur all the time when you meet someone, you can just say bonjour, that's fine. It is extremely formal.
Eric: I assume I would say it if I met President Obama.
Virginie: Yeah, Eric, if you meet President Obama, maybe you should say Bonjour, Obama, instead of bonjour. But that’s pretty much the only situation when you have to say that.
Eric: If you want to speak to Obama in French, that is.
Eric: OK what do we have next?
Virginie: We have Enchantee.
Eric: Which means "Nice to meet you". What would it be literally? Enchanted?
Virginie: Exactly. I know it's a little over the top. I know.
Eric: It's really nice. And next, we have...
Virginie: Je m'appelle -
Eric: That means my name is...
Virginie: Yes, Je m'appelle Virginie. My name is Virginie.
Eric: Or je m'appelle Eric. What is this verb?
Virginie: It is the verb s'appeler, and it’s spelled appeler.
Eric: Why don’t we introduce ourselves to each other.
Virginie: That’s a good idea.
Eric: Bonjour.
Virginie: Bonjour.
Eric: Je m'appelle Eric.
Virginie: Enchantee, Eric. Je m'appelle Virginie.
Eric: Enchante.
Virginie: Now, you can all introduce yourself in French.
Eric: What if I don’t know the other person’s name. How do I ask someone what his name is?
Virginie: Well, you can ask "Comment vous vous appelez?"
Eric: One more time slowly.
Virginie: Comment vous vous appelez? Literally, how is it that you are name?
Eric: So that's in formal context, right?
Virginie: Yes, actually, if it’s a friend of a friend, you would say Comment tu t'appelles?
Eric: The use of “vous” and “tu” in French are actually pretty hard to get.
Virginie: It is hard to get, because in English, for example, you only have “you.” And in French, you have “tu” when you speak with a friend or a friend of a friend, or someone of same age. But you have “vous” whenever you speak to someone you don’t know, or someone more important in the company you work in.
Eric: So it’s a little bit more of a hierarchy when you’re using “vous” you’re addressing someone more formally.
Virginie: Yes, exactly.
Eric: OK, now let's move on to the focus of this lesson.

Lesson focus

Virginie: Now, you know how to say "je m'appelle" with your name, which means “my name is”. But there are other ways.
Eric: Just to review, je means “I,” and m’appelle means “am called”. So literally, you are saying, “I am called”.
Virginie: Yes. That’s what it means literally.
Eric: And what other ways do you have of saying my name is?
Virginie: Well, you can use the verb être “to be,” and say Je suis Virginie. Je being “I” and suis being “am.”
Eric: Say it one more time for us.
Virginie: Je suis Virginie.
Eric: Okay, and that’s pretty much the same as we would commonly say in English, I am Eric.
Virginie: Absolutely. Just a quick note about the verb s'appeler. S'appeler is the infinitive form of the verb, to be called and it ends with -er. You know, in French, there are three groups of verbs?
Eric: Right.
Virginie: And s'appeler belongs to the first one, the ER verbs but we will see that later on.
Eric: Okay, and there is a whole section of verbs that are going to end in ER.
Virginie: Yes, absolutely.
Eric: Great. Okay, great. So I think that’s enough grammar for today then?
Virginie: Yes I think that’s enough.

Outro

Eric: Then that just about does it for us today. Some of our users already know that the most powerful tool on FrenchPod101.com
Virginie: Is the line by line audio.
Eric: It is the perfect tool for rapidly improving listening comprehension.
Virginie: By listening to lines of the conversation again and again,
Eric: Listen till every word and syllable becomes clear. Basically, we break down the dialogue into comprehensible bitesize sentences.
Virginie: So, you can try the line by line audio in the premium learning center at FrenchPod101.com
Eric: Please take a look. Take care, everyone.
Virginie: Au revoir
Eric: Bye!