Module 02: Me voici!

Troisième Partie: Les passe-temps, Explication de grammaire

La Grammaire

In this section:

  • Introduction aux adverbes
  • Expressions avec avoir
  • Verbes (ER)

Introduction aux adverbes

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An adverb is a word that qualifies the action of the verb, that is, it specifies how or when the action is performed. In English, many adverbs are indicated by the -ly ending. In French, most adverbs end in -ment.

lentement slowly
attentivement carefully
souvent often

Adverbs answer questions about the action: how? how much? when? and where? While most adverbs in French and English modify verbs, they can also modify other adverbs as well as adjectives.

verb modified by adverb Ecoute attentivement. Listen carefully.
adverb modified by adverb trop lentement too slowly
adjective modified by adverb extrêmement silencieux extremely quiet

Adverb vs. Adjective
It is common in non-standard English for speakers to use adjectives in place of adverbs.

tex écrit bien

Tex writes good. (instead of ‘well’)
Aggies talk too slow. (instead of ‘slowly’)

While this alternation is common in English, it is not common in French where adjectives are rarely used in place of the adverb. Remember that adverbs modify verbs (as well as other adverbs and adjectives) and adjectives modify nouns.

Tex écrit bien. Tex writes well.
La poésie de Tex est bonne. Tex’s poetry is good.

Expressions avec avoir

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The verb avoir is irregular in the present tense. Listen carefully to the pronunciation of the -s in the plural pronouns nous, vous, and ils/elles/iels. This -s is pronounced as a /z/ to link with the vowel sound in the plural forms of avoir. This liaison, or linking, is especially important in distinguishing ils ont (they have) from the third person plural of être ils sont (they are).

avoir ‘to have’
j’ai nous avons
tu as vous avez
il/elle/iel/on a ils/elles/iels ont
past participle: eu

Avoir is also used as an auxiliary in compound tenses (passé composé with avoirplus-que-parfaitfutur antérieur, etc.) Besides ownership, the verb avoir expresses age in French, unlike the English equivalent, which uses the verb ‘to be.’

Tex, tu as des frères et des soeurs? Tex, do you have brothers and sisters?
Tex: Oui, j’ai une soeur et un frère. Tex: Yes, I have a sister and a brother.
Quel âge ont-ils? How old are they?
Tex: Ma soeur Rita a 30 ans et mon frère Trey a 16 ans. Tex: My sister Rita is 30 and my brother Trey is 16.

Verbes (ER)

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There are three major groups of regular verbs in French: verbs with infinitives ending in er, verbs with infinitives ending in ir, and verbs with infinitives ending in re. Since er verbs are the most numerous, they are considered the first conjugation. To conjugate these verbs, drop the er from the infinitive to form the stem. Next, add the er endings to the stem. Different tenses have different endings.

The endings given below (-e-es-e-ons-ez-ent) are for forming the present tense. The endings (ees, –e, andent) are all silent. The only endings that are pronounced are the nous (ons) and the vous (ez) endings. The four silent endings form a boot shape in the verb conjugation.

parler  ‘to speak’
je parle nous parlons
tu parles vous parlez
il/elle/iel/on parle ils/elle/iels parlent
past participle: parlé

Listen carefully to the following sentences. Note that the pronunciation of each of the verbs is the same even though the conjugations are spelled differently.

Tex, il parle français? Mais c’est un tatou. Tex speaks French? But he’s an armadillo.
Tex: Bien sûr je parle français etTammy, elle aussi, elle parle français. Tex: Of course, I speak French and Tammy, too, she speaks French.
Eh bien dis donc, même les tatous parlent français au Texas? Well, I’ll be, even the armadillos speak French in Texas?

Here is a list of common er verbs:

adorer, to adore habiter, to live
aimer, to like jouer, to play
aimer mieux, to prefer montrer, to show
chanter, to sing présenter, to introduce
chercher, to look for regarder, to watch
danser, to dance rencontrer, to meet (by chance)
demander, to ask rester, to stay, remain
détester, to hate, to detest téléphoner, to telephone
donner, to give travailler, to work
écouter, to listen to trouver, to find
étudier, to study

Je changes to j’ before a verb starting with a vowel or a silent h (ex.j’adore, j’habite). This phenomenon is known as élision. Listen to the following sentences. Can you hear the élision in the first two examples?

Tex: J’adore la musique rap et j’écoute souvent de la musique dans les clubs. I love rap music and I often listen to music in clubs.
Je chante et je danse aussi. I sing and I dance, too.

Note also that the s in plural pronouns (nousvous, and ils/elles/iels) is usually silent except when it is followed by a verb that begins with a vowel sound. In such a case the silent is pronounced as a /z/ and links the pronoun to the verb. This phenomenon is called liaison (‘linking’) and is very characteristic of French. Listen carefully to the sentences below. Which sentences contain examples of liaison?

Tex et Tammy, ils écoutent de la musique canadienne avec Paw-Paw! Tex and Tammy, they listen to Cajun music with Paw-Paw!
Tammy: Nous adorons danser. Tammy: We love to dance.
Tex: Oui, oui, c’est vrai. Nous dansons beaucoup. Tex: Yes, yes, that’s true. We dance a lot.


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Français inclusif: An Interactive Textbook for French 101 Copyright © 2022 by Department of World Languages, Boise State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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