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Lesson Transcript

Jason: A Conversation with a French Mother-in-Law! C’est Jason. Jason here!
Ingrid: Bonjour à tous, Ingrid here!
Jason: This lesson is really important as it’s the first part of our “description series lessons,” which are focused on usage of adjectives. This first lesson will mainly deal with the agreement of adjectives and nouns. You’ll be able to say that he is tall or that she is very beautiful.
Ingrid: Quite an interesting lesson, isn’t it? And where does our dialog take place?
Jason: In Marie’s apartment. Marie has invited her friend Sylvie and they are talking about Marie’s daughter.
Jason: And you will see that they'll talk about someone else as well.
Ingrid That’s right, and like all mother-in-laws, Marie has a special opinion about her son-in-law!
Jason Even though Sylvie and Marie are friends, they are speaking formal French because they are very sophisticated women!
Ingrid: Okay, so now let's listen to this conversation!
1st time: natural native speed:
(In Marie’s apartment)
Sylvie: C'est votre fille sur cette photo?
Marie: Oui, elle est belle n'est-ce pas?
Sylvie: Oui elle est grande et mince. Que fait-elle dans la vie?
Marie: Elle est dans les affaires et elle va bientôt se marier.
Sylvie: Ah oui? Et comment est son futur mari?
Marie: Ne m’en parlez pas ! Il est assez gros, plutôt petit et au chômage, mais que voulez-vous, elle l'aime tellement!
(1 time slowly)
Jason: One more time, slowly
Ingrid une ...
Sylvie: C'est votre fille sur cette photo?
Marie: Oui, elle est belle n'est-ce pas?
Sylvie: Oui elle est grande et mince. Que fait-elle dans la vie?
Marie: Elle est dans les affaires et elle va bientôt se marier.
Sylvie: Ah oui? Et comment est son futur mari?
Marie: Ne m’en parlez pas ! Il est assez gros, plutôt petit et au chômage, mais que voulez-vous, elle l'aime tellement!
(1 time natural native speed with the translation)
Jason: One more time, with the translation
Ingrid une ...
Jason Is that your daughter in this picture?
Yes, isn’t she pretty?
Yes! She is tall and thin. What is she doing?
She is a businesswoman and she will soon get married.
Really? And how is her future husband?
Oh please don’t mention him! He is fat, small, and unemployed…but what can you do? She is so in love with him!
Jason: So, it sounds like Marie doesn’t like her future son-in-law very much! But maybe she won’t have to put up with him very long, as more and more couples are getting divorced in France these days, am I right Ingrid?
Ingrid: Yes you are! Nowadays in France, divorces have become very common with almost 45%* of marriages ending badly. This is one of the highest levels recorded in Europe. These figures were much lower 30 years ago and this shows how French mentalities have changed!
Jason: Why do you think there are more divorces now?
Ingrid: I guess it’s because now having several husbands or wives is not as negatively viewed as before. Especially for women, it’s not a crime anymore to be single with kids, or to get married twice.
Jason: Yes, I heard that there are many reconstituted families in France, is that true?
Ingrid: Yes it is, especially in Paris. We call them “les familles reconstituées”. In these families, children come from different marriages, and there are also many half-brothers or sisters.
Jason: Also, in France, most divorces occur among young couples. Is it true that a majority of couples split up after 3 years of common life?
Ingrid: Exactly. I guess it’s a matter of maturity because many young French people (even students) want to get married in order to leave their parent’s home and to lead their own life. Unfortunately, marriage is not so easy!
Okay, so now, let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first expression we shall see is:
N’est-ce pas? [natural native speed]
“Isn’t it? / Don’t you think?”
N’est-ce pas? [slowly - broken down by syllable]
N’est-ce pas? [natural native speed]
Tu ne trouves pas? [natural native speed]
“Isn’t it? / Don’t you think?”
Tu ne trouves pas? [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Tu ne trouves pas? [natural native speed]
Belle [natural native speed]
“Pretty / beautiful” for a woman
Belle [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Belle [natural native speed]
Grande [natural native speed]
“Tall” for a woman
Grande [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Grande [natural native speed]
Mince [natural native speed]
Mince [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Mince [natural native speed]
Être dans les affaires [natural native speed]
“to be a business-man or woman”
Être dans les affaires [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Être dans les affaires [natural native speed]
Gros [natural native speed]
“fat” for a man
Gros [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Gros [natural native speed]
Être au chômage [natural native speed]
“to be unemployed”
Être au chômage [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Être au chômage [natural native speed]
Ne m’en parlez pas! [natural native speed]
“Don’t even mention it!”
Ne m’en parlez pas! [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Ne m’en parlez pas! [natural native speed]
un mari
"a husband"
un mari [slowly]
un mari
Jason: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
The first interesting expression in this conversation is « N’est-ce pas ? » what does it mean exactly?
Ingrid: It is an expression used to get agreement of what you’ve just said. For example here, Marie is making sure Sylvie also thinks her daughter is beautiful. She asks “isn’t she?” meaning “don’t you think it’s true?”
Jason: So you just have to add “n’est-ce pas?” at the end of your sentence? It seems really easy!
Ingrid: Yes indeed, it’s really simple. “N’est-ce pas” can be translated as “Don’t you think?” so whatever you are talking about you can add it. For example, you can say “Ce paysage est vraiment magnifique, n’est-ce pas ?” , meaning “This landscape is really wonderful, isn’t it ?”
Jason: Can you say it again slowly?
Ingrid: (slowly) “N’est-ce pas ?”
Jason: And again at natural speed…
Ingrid: (natural speed) « N’est-ce pas ? »
Jason: Yeah, but just be careful, “n’est-ce pas?” is quite formal if you are speaking with young people.
Ingrid: That’s true, in this conversation, Sylvie and Marie are a bit older and also quite sophisticated. When you’re with a young person you’d better say “Tu ne trouves pas?” instead of “N’est-ce pas? “, it sounds much more natural.
Jason: Okay, so could you say it again slowly please?
Ingrid: “Tu ne trouves pas?” meaning also « Don’t you think ? »
Jason: And now at natural speed.
Ingrid: “Tu ne trouves pas?”
Jason: Great! So this is really useful if you want to sound natural during a conversation.
Ingrid: Of course, you will sound like a French native this way!
Jason: Ok, so the next expression is?
Ingrid: “Ne m’en parlez pas ! ”which can be translated as “Please don’t talk about it !” in a formal form.
This expression is used when you prefer to avoid talking about something or someone.
Jason: Yes but the funny thing is that in the end you still talk about it!
Ingrid: Yes you’re right: many French people use this expression more like an introduction. It shows that you don’t like the person or the thing you’re going to mention.
Jason: Can you repeat this expression for our listeners?
Ingrid: (slowly) “Ne m’en parlez pas!”
Jason: And again at natural speed
Ingrid: (natural speed) « Ne m’en parlez pas ! »
Jason: Anything to add about this expression?
Ingrid: Yes, you can also use this expression in an informal way, and it will become: “Ne m’en parle pas!” if you are talking with close friends or young people.
Jason: Great, so we’ve learned two very natural and daily expressions in this conversation!
Ingrid: Definitively natural! Please have a look at the lesson notes to see even more explanations about them!

Lesson focus

Jason: So today’s grammar point is concerning description and more precisely how to describe people or things with the verb "être" (to be) + adjectives.
Ingrid: Yes, you will learn to describe things properly by agreeing the adjective with the word it is qualifying. In the sentence “Elle est grande,” which means “She is tall”, you have to ask yourself who is “tall” in order to agree correctly with the adjective.
Jason: Exactly, and who is tall here?
Ingrid: It is the pronoun “Elle” which means “She”. So you will have to make the adjective feminine singular.
You see, the big difference is that in French, we have to make the adjective agree with what it’s qualifying so you will say “Elle est grande”.
Jason: Exactly and if ever the word qualified is masculine singular, you will have to use the masculine form of the adjective too, as in “Il est grand” that means “he is tall”.
Ingrid: And it’s the same for plural qualified words: they need a plural adjective!
Jason: It’s not so difficult; you just have to be careful about what is qualified. But how can you easily identify the qualified word Ingrid? If it’s masculine, feminine or singular or plural it’s okay!
Ingrid: You have to take the adjective and ask yourself “Who is concerned by this qualification?”
Jason: Can you give us a concrete example?
Ingrid: For example in the sentence “Il est gros” which means “He is fat”, you have to wonder “Who is fat?”
Jason: And the answer is “Il” of course, which is a masculine singular pronoun so you have to use the masculine singular form of “fat” which is “gros.”
Ingrid: You’re right! So you always have to keep in mind who you are talking about.
Jason: Interesting! And what about these masculine and feminine forms? Could you give us an example to listen the difference between them?
Ingrid: For example, for a man you would say “Il est grand et mince” but, for a woman you would say “Elle est grande et mince”, as in our dialog. Here you have 2 feminine adjectives.
Jason: But the second one “mince” seems to be the same for feminine and masculine, is that correct?
Ingrid: Yes, don’t worry! It’s specifically for adjectives with an “e” ending; they remain the same for men and women. So, be careful because sometimes you won’t even hear the “e” but you still have to write it!
Jason: But tell our listeners what to do usually to switch an adjective from masculine to feminine?
Ingrid: It’s very easy, listen: usually, you just have to add an “e” to the masculine form. Here we had “Il est grand” so for a woman it will become “Elle est grande”.
Jason: Can you say it again slowly so we can understand the difference?
Ingrid: “Il est grand”, “Elle est grande”
Jason: Now again at natural speed
Ingrid: “Il est grand”, “Elle est grande”
Jason: Great! And of course you’ll find many other examples in the lesson notes! Now let’s see how to switch adjectives from singular to plural, okay?
Ingrid: Here also, it’s quite easy ! Just have to add an « s » at the end of the adjective to make the plural form. For example “Il est riche” which means “He is wealthy” and now “Ils sont riches”, “they are wealthy”. Note that you don’t necessarily hear the “s” here but that you have to write it anyway!
Jason: Yes, here you cannot hear the difference but if you write it you have to add a “s”!
Ingrid: And it’s the same for the feminine form, you also have to add a silent « s » as in « Elles sont intelligentes” which is “They are smart”.
Jason: This last sentence is really interesting because the adjective “belle” is both feminine and plural. Am I right?
Ingrid: Exactly! You have the feminine form of “beau” which is “belle” and you add a silent “s” to make it plural!
Jason: But Ingrid, just one thing, why don’t you add a simple “e” to the adjective “beau” to make it feminine?
Ingrid: Hey good question! It’s true that for main adjectives you have to do so. But as is often the case in the French language, we have exceptions!
Jason: Are there many exceptions like that?
Ingrid: Yes, and many adjectives don’t follow any rules when switching to feminine form, so you just have to know them!
Jason: That’s why you told us the adjective “beau” becomes “”belle”?
Ingrid: Yes, one of these rules says that adjectives with the “eau” ending get a “elle” ending in the feminine form. You also hear it in “nouveau” and “nouvelle” which are both gender forms for “new”.
Jason: And how do you know which ending you have to use?
Ingrid: Jason and listeners I’m sorry to tell you that you have to learn them by heart! But don’t get desperate—just check out our lesson notes, where the main adjective rules are detailed!


Jason: That's right! See you next time, listeners.
Ingrid: See you soon, à bientôt!
Sample Sentences
1 Je crois qu’il travaille dans les affaires. | 3916
2 "I think he is a business man." | 3916_e
3 Tu manges trop, tu vas être gros! | 3915
4 "You eat too much, you're going to be fat!" | 3915_e
5 Je suis au chômage depuis 3 mois. | 3914
6 "I have been unemployed for 3 months." | 3914_e
7 Qu’est ce que tu es mince! | 3913
8 "You are so thin!" | 3913_e
9 C’est très bon, n’est-ce pas? | 3912
10 "It’s delicious, isn’t it ?" | 3912_e
Elle est belle, tu ne trouves pas?
"She's beautiful, don't you think?"