Dialogue - French

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Vocabulary

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vraiment really
seul alone, sole, single, lonely, only
être to be
fille girl, daughter
devant in front, ahead
très very
beau (masc.) / belle (fem.) beautiful, handsome, pretty
aussi too, also
comme as, like
toi you
et and
déjà already

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The Focus of This Lesson Is the Verb "to Be," Être.
Tu es amoureux?
"You're in love?"


In French, the verb "to be" is être. It's probably the most common French verb, so it's important to learn it right from the beginning; unfortunately, it's also the most irregular. We will look at the present tense conjugation of the verb. Make sure you also learn all of the personal pronouns.

French

"English"

je suis

"I am"

tu es

"you are" (informal singular)

il est/elle est

"he is"/"she is"

nous sommes

"we are"

vous êtes

"you are" (polite or plural)

ils sont/elles sont

"they are" (ils is masculine; elles is feminine)


Pronunciation: Although the verb has a different form for every person, tu es and il est sound the same. Note also how we pronounce the silent s of vous as a [-z] in front of êtes. You may know this phenomenon as liaison, when a silent consonant is pronounced before a vowel.

Usage: We use être in pretty much the same way we use "to be" in English. One notable exception is that people don't introduce themselves by saying je suis and their name. They use the expression je m'appelle, which we will introduce in the next lesson. Following are some examples of how you can use être.

For Example:

  1. Jacques est devant moi.
    "Jacques is in front of me."
  2. Vous êtes belle.
    "You are beautiful." (formal singular, feminine)
  3. Ils sont seuls.
    "They are alone."

Pronunciation: Subject pronouns, like je, tu, and il, are stuck to the verb, and there should be no pause between the two. You should pronounce il est as if it were a single two-syllable word: i-lè.

The adjective that follows the verb "to be" agrees in number and gender with the subject. That's why we have vous êtes belle, where belle is feminine singular because vous refers to a woman. We say ils sont seuls where seuls is masculine plural like the subject.

 

Toi, Moi


In the lesson, Marcel says comme toi, "like you," and Jacques says moi, je suis amoureux, "I'm in love." We call moi and toi strong pronouns. They have the same meaning as je and tu, except that we use them away from the verb, such as with a preposition (devant toi, "in front of you"). Also, to put emphasis on the subject, English will stress the pronoun ("I am alone"); to achieve this in French, we add a strong pronoun: moi, je suis seul. That's why you might sometimes hear French speakers say "Me, I'm...".

For Example:

  1. Moi, je suis seul.
    "I'm alone."
  2. Toi, tu es belle.
    "You are pretty."
  3. Elle est devant moi.
    "She is in front of me."

Cultural Insights

Cognates


There is no doubt that learning a second language is a difficult endeavor, but English speakers learning French have one major advantage: cognates. These are words that are similar in both languages, either because one language borrowed it from the other or because they both borrowed it from the same source. At the beginning of the previous millennium, a large number of French words entered the English language. Although the words have evolved separately for over 1,000 years, many words are still easily recognizable. In this lesson, we had seul ("sole"), amoureux ("amorous"), and more recent borrowings like beau, belle and déjà as in déjà-vu ("already seen" or "seen before"). While you need to pay attention to the French pronunciation of these words, you should definitely use these cognates to your advantage!

 

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Greg: Hello everyone, I’m Greg, and welcome to FrenchPod101.com. This is Lower Beginner, Season 1, Lesson 1 - Love at First Sight in France. Thanks for joining us for this series!
Mailys: Bonjour à tous. This is Mailys. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to say the verb “to be” in French, ‘être’.
Greg: Two guys, Jacques and his friend Marcel, are sitting in a café and notice a beautiful girl.
Mailys: They are good friends, so they will be using informal French.
Greg: Let’s listen to the conversation!

Lesson conversation

Jacques Marcel, la fille devant est vraiment belle.
Marcel Ah oui, elle est très belle.
Jacques Elle est seule aussi.
Marcel Oui, comme toi.
Jacques Elle est belle, elle est seule et moi, je suis… je suis… amoureux!
Marcel Tu es amoureux?! Déjà?!
Gerg: Let’s hear the conversation one time slowly.
Jacques Marcel, la fille devant est vraiment belle.
Marcel Ah oui, elle est très belle.
Jacques Elle est seule aussi.
Marcel Oui, comme toi.
Jacques Elle est belle, elle est seule et moi, je suis… je suis… amoureux!
Marcel Tu es amoureux?! Déjà?!
Gerg: Now let’s hear it with the English translation.
Jacques Marcel, la fille devant est vraiment belle.
Greg: Marcel, the girl in front is really pretty.
Marcel Ah oui, elle est très belle.
Greg: Oh yes, she's very pretty.
Jacques Elle est seule aussi.
Greg: She's alone, too.
Marcel Oui, comme toi.
Greg: Yes, like you.
Jacques Elle est belle, elle est seule et moi, je suis… je suis… amoureux!
Greg: She's pretty, she's single and I'm… I'm… in love!
Marcel Tu es amoureux?! Déjà?!
Greg: You’re in love?! Already?!
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Greg: So, Mailys... learning a second language takes a lot of time and effort, but English speakers learning French have one major advantage - cognates.
Mailys: Definitely! These are words that are similar in both languages.
Greg: Right. Over 1000 years ago, a large number of French words entered the English language. Although these words have evolved separately for a long time, many words are still easily recognizable.
Mailys: For example, in this lesson, we had ‘seul’
Greg: which means “sole”, as in “single”
Mailys: ‘amoureux’
Greg: meaning “amorous”
Greg: or more recent borrowings like ‘beau’, ‘belle’ and ‘déjà’ as in déjà-vu
Mailys: which means “already seen” or “seen before”.
Greg: While you need to pay attention to the French pronunciation of these words, you should definitely use these cognates to your advantage! Ok, let’s move on to the vocabulary.
VOCAB LIST
Greg: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first word we shall see is:
Mailys: fille [natural native speed]
Greg: girl, daughter
Mailys: fille [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: fille [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: devant [natural native speed]
Greg: in front, ahead
Mailys: devant [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: devant [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: vraiment [natural native speed]
Greg: really
Mailys: vraiment [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: vraiment [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: être [natural native speed]
Greg: to be
Mailys: être [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: être [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: très [natural native speed]
Greg: very
Mailys: très [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: très [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: beau, belle [natural native speed]
Greg: beautiful, handsome, pretty
Mailys: beau, belle [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: beau, belle [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: seul [natural native speed]
Greg: alone, sole, single, lonely, only
Mailys: seul [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: seul [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: aussi [natural native speed]
Greg: too, also
Mailys: aussi [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: aussi [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: comme [natural native speed]
Greg: as, like
Mailys: comme [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: comme [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: toi [natural native speed]
Greg: you
Mailys: toi [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: toi [natural native speed]
Next:
Mailys: et [natural native speed]
Greg: and
Mailys: et [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: et [natural native speed]
Last:
Mailys: déjà [natural native speed]
Greg: already
Mailys: déjà [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mailys: déjà [natural native speed]
KEY VOCABULARY AND PHRASES
Greg: Let’s take a closer look at the usage of some of the words and phrases from this lesson. Let’s start with ‘seul’.
Mailys: ‘Seul’ has a lot of meanings in French.
Greg: It does, but they all revolve around the concept of “only one”.
Mailys: Yes, ‘Jacques est seul’ can mean that Jacques is “alone”, “single” or “lonely”.
Greg: This may seem confusing, but the meaning is usually clear from the context.
Mailys: In the dialogue, when Jacques and Marcel say about the girl “elle est seule”, they don’t know if she is single or lonely, so they mean that she is alone.
Greg: ‘Seul’ is a typical French adjective - to make it feminine, simply add ‘-e’ at the end of the word. However, this ‘-e’ is not pronounced. We distinguish the masculine and feminine forms in writing, but spoken, they sound the same
Mailys: ‘il est seul,’
Greg: “He is single”
Mailys: ‘elle est seule’
Greg: “she is single”
Greg: Let’s now look at another adjective, ‘beau’, which means good-looking.
Mailys: ‘Jacques est beau’ means “Jacques is handsome.” You have the word ‘beau’ in English so it’s easy to remember. What about the feminine form?
Greg: Beau has an irregular feminine form, ‘belle’, meaning “pretty” or “beautiful”. So “Mireille is beautiful” becomes…
Mailys: ‘Mireille est belle.’
Greg: Exactly. So if I want to say “I’m handsome”, I’d say ‘je suis beau’.
Mailys: And I’d say ‘je suis belle!’
Greg: Let's now look at the adverb ‘vraiment’, meaning “really” or “truly”.
Mailys: In English, adverbs are constructed by adding “-ly” to adjectives, but in French, we add ‘ment’.
Greg: ‘Vraiment’ is made from ‘vrai’, meaning “true”, and “you” ‘-ment’.
Mailys: ‘Elle est vraiment belle …’
Greg: means “she is really pretty.” You can also turn other adjectives into adverbs.
Mailys: If you take ‘seul’ and you add ‘ment’ you get ‘seulement’, meaning “only”.
Greg: And don’t forget - French adverbs go after the verb! Ok, let’s move on to the grammar.

Lesson focus

Greg: In this lesson, you’ll learn about the verb “to be” in French.
Mailys: ‘être’.
Greg: It’s probably the most common verb in French, so it’s really important to learn it right from the beginning. Let’s look at the present tense conjugation.
Mailys: je suis
Greg: I am
Mailys: tu es
Greg: you are (informal singular)
Mailys: il est /elle est
Greg: he is / she is
Mailys: nous sommes
Greg: we are
Mailys: vous êtes
Greg: you are (polite or plural)
Mailys: ils sont / elles sont
Greg: they are (ils is masculine, elles is feminine)
Mailys: Since ‘être’ is an irregular verb, in writing, every person has a different form.
Greg: But spoken, ‘tu es’ and ‘il est’ sound the same.
Mailys: Can you explain what happens with ‘vous’?
Greg: The final ‘s’ in ‘vous’ is silent, but before a vowel, it sounds like a ‘z’, so we get…
Mailys: ‘vous êtes..... ‘vous êtes’ [once separating syllables, then once normally]. This process is called liaison.
Greg: A lot of French words end in a consonant that isn’t pronounced. But when the next word starts with a vowel, that consonant can surface again.
Mailys: If you think of ‘vous êtes’ as a single unit, you won’t forget liaison. Just remember this compliment - ‘vous êtes belle!’ or ‘vous êtes beau!’
Greg: Merci, Mailys!
Mailys: ‘De rien,’ “you’re welcome.”
Greg: Here are some other examples of how you can use ‘être’
Mailys: Jacques est devant moi
Greg: Jacques is in front of me.
Mailys: Vous êtes belle
Greg: You are beautiful.
Mailys: Ils sont seuls
Greg: They are alone.
Greg: The adjective that follows the verb to be agrees in number and gender with the subject.
Mailys: That's why we have ‘vous êtes belle’...
Greg: where ‘belle’ is feminine singular because ‘vous’ refers to a woman in this example,
Mailys: and ‘ils sont seuls’...
Greg: where ‘seuls’ is masculine plural, like the subject.
Mailys: A, in the dialogue, Marcel says ‘comme toi’, meaning “like you”, and Jacques says ‘moi, je suis amoureux,’ meaning “I’m in love.” Can you tell us about ‘moi’ and ‘toi’?
Greg: ‘Moi’ and ‘toi’ are called strong pronouns. They have the same meaning as ‘je’ and ‘tu’, but they are used away from the verb.
Mailys: ‘Je’ and ‘tu’ are always stuck to the verb, but ‘moi’ and ‘toi’ can be alone or with a preposition.
Greg: For instance, if I ask …”who wants pizza?”
Mailys: ‘Moi!’
Greg: And to say “in front of you”, what would you say?
Mailys: Devant toi.
Greg: In English, we can emphasize the subject and say You’re not alone, but not in French.
Mailys: Instead, we add a strong pronoun -- “moi, je suis seul”.
Greg: That’s why we sometimes hear French speakers say things like “Me, I’m hungry”. Here are some more examples
Mailys: Moi, je suis seul
Greg: I’m alone
Mailys: Toi, tu es belle
Greg: You are pretty
Greg: Ok, that’s it for this lesson!
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Greg: Join us for the next lesson to find out if Jacques will talk to Mireille!
Mailys: I can’t wait! À bientôt!
Greg: See you soon!