What I’ve Learned in French Class, So Far, Part Six
Thursday August 17, 2023

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Bonjour and bienvenue les vacances! Les Vacances de la Français!

In other words, it is August, a month that many French take their annual holiday of two to four weeks off somewhere other than where they call home the rest of the year. Often that is simply by traveling to a coastal town up north to escape the heat of Paris, or anywhere that is out in the country to just be, lounge and reinvigorate themselves before La Rentrée begins with the arrival of September.

Now my vacances (mini lesson here – as it is always in the plural form) from French class may have covered the span of two months plus a couple of weeks as classes don’t resume until mid-September, but I will be reenrolling this fall with Washington D.C.’s Alliance de Français as I step back into online classes, now at level A2.3!

After completing successfully four courses that I began last September, I am amazed by all that I know now that I didn’t before, even if I had dabbled and taken classes prior to this enrollment over the past 20+ years. However, my conversational French still needs much work, but at least I have the tools, the parts, so to speak, to hold a convesation beyond ‘hello’ and ‘I would like . . . “.

This series of posts began waaaaaay back in 2016 when I began my first adult French course and picked up again this past January with episode #349 and my sharing of all that I had learned in my first 1 1/2 courses so far completed with Alliance de Français located in Washington D.C. That was part quatre, and part cinq was shared this past May as I was just beginning FR 104 that concluded at the end of June, so I have a bit of catching up to do here on the blog to share with you what I have learned.

I wanted to save what I learned in FR 104 until this year’s French Week for obvious reasons, but writing this post now is also great review and reflection for my mind. I have done my best to review on my own throughout the summer, knowing I would not have time during July and August to attend a refresher class (but that is a brilliant idea and I wish I could have! as there were wonderful options available), and while in July I did well with this regular reviewing, in August when things took off on multiple fronts for the blog and Nelle and home projects, reviewing French took a back seat. I don’t say that proudly, but reluctantly, and I will be getting back on the horse this weekend and into next week as I will be taking Monday – Thursday of next week off from the blog as we gear up for Season 14 of the blog, Season 10 of the podcast and Season 6 of the cooking show!

So let’s dive right into my list of what I learned during FR 104 this past spring.

1.Now I finally know! Where to place adjectives, in front of or behind the noun it is qualifying.

I had no idea there was an exclusive list of adjectives that ALWAYS go in front of the noun. This is what caused confusion as I always try to look for patterns in understanding something, but the practice of where adjectives are placed (or should I say, adjectifs) are placed in French was never consistent. So here are the basic rules:

ALL adjectifs go AFTER the noun EXCEPT the following:

  • grand/grande
  • petit/petite
  • beau/belle
  • vieux/vieille
  • haut/haute
  • jeune
  • faux/fausse
  • bon/bonne
  • mauvais(e)
  • gros/grosse
  • bref/brève
  • nouveau/nouvelle
  • vilain/vilaine
  • vaste
  • long/longue
  • joli/jolie
  • demi
  • autre
  • meme
  • double
  • all cardinal #s (counting)
  • all ranking, multiplying numbers also

Now I know! This was a BIG aha for me. And also in a way, a phew! An easy rule to remember.

2. The difference in usage between dans (in) and en (in)

Well, this was a simple bit of information, but until you know, you don’t know! Use dans instead of en for something happening at a particular time.

Example: Je suis allé en vacances.

Example: J’arrive dans cinq minutes.

Voilà !

3. There are only three forms of Imperatif verbs

Now, this only makes sense, as when you are giving a command: 1) you aren’t telling yourself to do something; and 2) you are telling/directing someone who is present with you (so you or we). And I know some of you may be saying, but I do tell myself to do things from time to time whether in the form of a pep talk, or encouragement, etc.. That is a healthy practice to engage in, absolutely (let go of the critical commands, keep the encouraging ones). And I agree, but again, you are still using one of the ‘you’ forms, in the case of French, the vous form.

So which three forms?

  • tu — and important to note, the “tu” imperatif form loses the ‘s’ at the end that is often found in this conjugation
  • nous —ends in -ons
  • vous — ends in -ez

Examples: with the verb poser (to pose/to put/to place)

  • TU – Pose des questions.
  • NOUS – Posons des questions.
  • VOUS – Posez des questions
  • to yourself (reflexive) – Posez-vous des questions

4. Speaking of the Imperatif Verb form, there are ONLY four Irregular Verbs!

As many language learners know, irregular verbs all come down to memorizing them. As one student in our class asked, “How am I supposed to remember this?” The professor’s face was stoic and frank, “Memorize them.”

And so whenever you discover that a particular form of verb only has a few, it is worth a bit of celebration.

The four verbs in the imperatif form that are irregular are: Avoir (to have), Être (to be), Vouloir (to want), and Savoir (to know). Here they are below:


tu — aie [ā]

nous — ayons

vous — ayez


tu — sois [swah]

nous — soyons [swahyon]

vous — soyez [swahyae]


tu — veuille

nous — veuillons

vous — veuillez


tu —sache [sash]

nous — sachons

vous —sachez

5. I finally learned Futur Simple! and it’s trés simple!

It really is! All fellow French speakers are nodding their head and saying, well, yeah!

What is Futur Simple first of all, while there is some clarifying that is important to distinguish it between Futur Proche, essentially Futur Simple is the “will” of what you are looking to do in the future. More specifically, everyday talk about the future, conceptual or written. For example, J’irai en france l’année prochaine. (I will be going to France next year.) Notice, it is not concrete, no specific dates, but conceptual or conversational.

For all futur simple verbs, you keep the full infinitive form for all -er and -ir verbs and then add the following endings for each of the respective verb forms:

  • je — ai
  • tu — as
  • il/elle/on — a
  • nous — ons
  • vous —ez
  • ils/elles — ont

Example: for the verb CRÉER (to create)

  • je — créerai
  • tu — créeras
  • il/elle/on — créera
  • nous — créerons
  • vous — créerez
  • ils/elles — créeront

What is crucial, to distinguish whether you are speaking in the futur simple tense or other tenses, is to ALWAYS clearly pronounce the “r” toward the end of the verb.

6. Simple, common and helpful phrases to know

  • coups de coeur (favorite)
  • C’est pas mal. (It’s not bad.)
  • C’était pas terrible. (It wasn’t great.)
  • sans plus (nothing extra/just fine)
  • Est-ce tu/vous fait? (What do you do?)
  • C’est tout? (Is that all?)
  • Quel que chose (something)
  • quelqu’un(e) (someone)
  • pas grave (not bad)
  • Qu’est-ce qui se passe? (What is going on?)

7. How to talk about the weather

A simple skill to know how to do once you have the vocabulary for doing so.

First decide if you will use “il fait” or “Il y a”.

  • Il fait (loosely translated as – It is doing . . . ) = use with adjectives
  • Il y a (there are/is) = use with nouns


  • Il y a des nuages. (There are clouds.)
  • Il fait nuageux. (It is cloudy.)

Common questions to begin a conversation about the weather:

  • Quel temps fait-il au jour d’hui? (What is the weather doing today?)
  • Quel temps fait-il? (What is the weather doing?)

8. Imparfait Verb forms

First of all, what is the imparfait? Having heard this term many times, but never properly learning it over the years, I had always wondered, and now I know! It is as simple as “was-ing”. The past continuous form of the verb.

And in even greater and worth celebrating news, ALL verbs in the imparfait have the same ending! Yep! Even aller, avoir and être. Some French speakers out there maybe saying, well, not exactly Shannon. But wait! It’s true! Why?

So long as you know the ‘nous’ form of the verb, that is your steam for all six different forms in the imparfait. So technically, yes, there are irregular verbs because you take the irregular verb and its nous form, but from then on, the endings all remain the same. No odd irregular ones to remember. Wahoo! Below are the endings and an example.

FIRST, find the “nous” form of the present tense of the verb you are working with, and keep the stem, but remove the ending.

  • je —ais [eh]
  • tu — ais [eh]
  • il/elle/on — ait [eh]
  • nous — ions [yon], nasal sound
  • vous — iez [yeh]
  • ils/elles — aient [eh]

Example: PENSER [to think], the nous present tense form is pensons. So I will remove the “ons” and keep the “pens”.

  • je — pensais
  • tu — pensais
  • il/elle/on — pensait
  • nous – pensions
  • vous — pensiez
  • ils/elles — pensaient

EXAMPLE in Context: Elle pensait à ses vacances en juin. (She was thinking about her vacation in June.)

Well, there you have it! Needless to say what I simply need to do is study. And regularly and consistently so!

I hope this has provided some insight, a refresher course of sorts or just enjoyment as you let the French language dance upon your tongue. Until part sept, bonne journée!

Past Posts from This Series

Explore more posts shared during TSLL’s 8th Annual French Week here

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46 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned in French Class, So Far, Part Six

  1. Hi Shannon, much gratitude for this posting. I often watch French films and I don’t speak that beautiful language. Even cussing in French sounds nice! I plan on keeping this post as reference. Oh, I’m LOVING French week. ~ Teresa

    1. Teresa,

      So tickled to hear you are enjoying this week’s postings! Thank you for stopping by Teresa. 🙂 And I agree, everything spoken in French really does sound beautiful, but I think you and I might be bias. 😉

    2. 😀Teresa they cuss a lot here and it doesn’t sound like cussing at all. I was horrified the first time my friend said a cuss word. I looked at her and she just smiled. Even the kids say this word . In English it’s rude so won’t post it here😀. Kameela

  2. I’ve really appreciated your “What I’ve Learned in French Class” posts and podcasts, Shannon. They’ve gifted me the opportunity to revisit and refresh my French. Merci!

  3. Shannon, this is so interesting and very helpful. I just started French class with the Alliance Francais in my city (A1.1). I studied French in high school so it’s a not completely foreign to me but I wanted to build a strong foundation for my understanding. I’ve listened to your other posts and I am inspired to keep going, so thank you!

    Bonne journee

    1. Nanci, Happy to share, and the review and reflection is helpful for me as well! Having a taste of the language in our background does help, doesn’t it? I found that to be the case in my first two courses this past fall A1.1 and A1.2, then I had more motivation to dig in when the new concepts, the more technical concepts came flying at me. Becoming frustrated is part of the learning process as well as being humbled and I had to keep reminding myself that throughout the process, but I was delighted by this June as upon reflection I was able to witness how much I had learned and the frustration and humility needed was worth journeying through. 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful next course!

  4. That is wonderful Shannon! As a Canadian, I grew up going to French immersion in school and received a bilingual certificate with my high school graduation. however as anyone learning any language knows, if you don’t use it, you lose it. I’m actually taking my level 4 exam this afternoon for the class I’m taking through my job. It sounds like my level 4 is essentially the same as your most recent lesson as everything you listed above is what we reviewed during my classes! Félicitations avec tes études et j’espère que tu reposeras biens pendants tes vacances.

    1. Allison, Bon courage en votre exam! How wonderful to be able to immerse oneself in the language as a student. That would have been a school I would have loved to have attended. 🙂

      1. I passed! Je suis prêt pour niveau 5! While s lot of Canadians choose to learn French as it is our second official language, it’s sadly not quite as beautiful or as musical as France French.

        1. Félicitations Allison. Vous avez raison. Désolée mais quand les Canadiens parlent Français ici on ne comprend pas très bien.😀 Kameela

          1. Bonjour Kameela! Oui, il y des accents Québécois qui sont vraiment dur! J’essai d’utiliser un bon accent mais ce n’est pas mon premier langue alors je sais que mon prononciation besoin d’amélioration. Je parle italien aussi et il y a quelque fois que j’ai mélangé les mots et les françaises m’ont regardé comme je suis folle 😂🇨🇦+🇫🇷+🇮🇹= 🤷🏻‍♀️

  5. Shannon, thank you for this post. I took two years of French in high school and a community class several years ago. In February, I started Babbel and have learned quite a bit. This post makes everything a little more clear. I am looking into the Alliance Francais this fall as I’m not able to understand spoken French well. Congrats on your A2.3 level!! Merci, encore!!

    1. The Alliance de Français is such an awesome resource. Enjoy your new course! Thank you for sharing what works for you and your journey. Based on how persistent and curious you have been about the language, I have no doubt, further progress is happening more than you realize and will happen even more swiftly in the course. 🙂

    2. Hi Kallie! Duolingo is great too! I’m using it to relearn Italian as well as practice my French and it’s fun and easy. Good luck with your progress! 😊

    3. Hi Kallie. If you can access French radio or watch French films you’ll get attuned to the sound. Allison mentioned Duolingo. If you’re on Instagram @french perspective is a good resource. She speaks slowly and clearly. Otherwise YouTube us useful. Lots of tutorials there. Bonne chance. Kameela

      1. Kameela,
        Thanks for the ig rec! I immediately began following her and can see that this will be a great resource.

  6. Shannon, I love your real “nitty gritty” updates that learning a second language brings! Do you find that your background in English (particularly your understanding of parts of speech, agreement, tenses, etc.) helps the acquisition of a second language? I have studied Spanish from my youth through college and always thought French was an absolutely beautiful language, one I would love to learn. I find the accent is hard for me and such has been intimidating.

    1. Meg,

      Most definitely understanding the terminology of linguistic terms makes learning far simpler, and the longer I taught English the easier the construction of the French language became. The beautiful thing about the accent is that once you know how to speak each letter correctly and understand liaison (how to combine two words together and when to do so), the accent begins to occur naturally if you are speaking the words/letter correctly. 🙂

      1. Shannon, thank you! Also, this week has been inspiring in many ways – thank you, again, for all you do to make this a place of connection and friendship. I made it a point to begin to engage in this group more and thought this week would be a wonderful way to jump in feet first – it has and continues to be a delight. xx

    2. Meg it is indeed a beautiful language. The reason being that the French pout a lot when they speak. I love it.Initially, at first, the accent is difficult but it’s practice that makes it perfect. Even after 40 odd years of speaking French I still have a little bit of my English accent but I’m proud of that. The French tell me it’s charming and I believe them😀.Few people speak a second language without an accent. I still have days with my r’s and u’s. The French will correct you but not in a superior way.
      They do it amonget themselves so it’s not a big deal.. If you get the opportunity do try it. Kameela😊

      1. Kameela,

        Your insights into the language and French people is wonderful. I never thought about what actually is so alluring about the language; the “pout” as you mentioned is definitely a component! I am very intrigued! So glad we connected this week on multiple posts – you’re a gem and your comments/replies to all posts, not just mine, bring a smile to my face and teach me something!

        1. Meg,merçi beaucoup.for your lovely comment. So cute to see the men doing it and when the children do it it’s so ADORABLE..Love to share my little snippets of French life with this l9vely community. So thrilled it bought a smile to your face.
          Bonne journée. Kameela😊🇫🇷

  7. Brava, Shannon, ton progrès est fantastique! Isn’t it fun when you learn those little hints and suddenly it starts making sense??
    A review sounds like an excellent idea for me as well, especially a drill on verb tenses. Will you be reviewing your own notes or are you employing an online program? I’d appreciate suggestions with this. And finding an unintimidating conversational class😄. Et j’espère que tu passeras de merveilleuses vacances la semaine prochaine~xx

    1. Ma chère Rona as’tu essayé you tube? I’ll ya beauçoup leçons disponible sur le site. Demande à le college local sii I’ll ya quelq’un qui parle français avec qui tu peux le pratiquer. C’est dommage j’habite trop loin autrement nous pouvons faire le conversation français tout ke temps😄
      Bisous. Kameela xx

      1. Ma chère Kameela! Merci bien(toujours!)pour ton conseil! Quelle bonne idée! Pour moi, le mieux serait d’habiter près de chez toi, eh? 😄Un jour, peut etre, un jour…xx

  8. Shannon, you are an inspiration. I tried learning French through Babel and were never taught the lessons you shared. Good luck with your course! I’m really enjoying French Week!
    Au Revoir!

    1. Jamie,

      Taking a proper course, perhaps it is the teacher in me, was key to investing in the fundamentals, the skeletal system of the language so to speak, and while the apps are good for around and review of common phrases and vocabulary, I always wanted to go deeper, and I realized I would have to invest. Having a person with you in a small class, a professor who is French and really knows the whys of the language tailors it to what you are missing, don’t understand or are doing incorrectly and do not even know (this was a frequent case when it came to pronunciation for the entire class).

      So glad to hear you are enjoying French Week! Thank you for stopping by and participating! ☺️

  9. Bonjour, Shannon! Merci pour partager ton progrès. It is wonderful you are sharpening your French skills and finally came across A-ha (ou peut-être oh là là) moments. Congratulations on achieving A2.3.
    I took French from seventh grade up to university and have been trying to maintain it through YouTube videos and L’Academie Français Authentique. I participated in Zoom meetings with other French learners around the world and realized how rusty my conversational French was/is. I recently returned from a cruise with stops on Marseille and Monte Carlo (we were also supposed to stop at a port near Montpellier, but it was canceled due to high winds—tant pis!). Unfortunately, I didn’t practice as much French as I wanted to; knowing we were visitors off the cruise ship, people automatically spoke English to us. My efforts to improve my French before leaving home were not wasted though. I still expose myself to French every day and hope to speak it better next time I am there. À bientôt!

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience Alexandra and so happy to hear of your trip!! It sounds like it was a wonderful experience! Yes, when we travel and are known to be tourists or first don’t use the French language, the locals, if they know French which so many do, often will speak English to simplify which I completely understand. What I need to do is not even entertain the idea of speaking English and just speak with more confidence in French which I am getting closer to doing.

      How wonderful to have taken so much French! No doubt it will come back quickly when you step back into speaking it more frequently. 😌

  10. Alexandra, a Mediterranean cruise, how lovely. The trick is, when you’re in France the French like to practise their English but if you just carry on speaking in French they’ll get it or you could just say ” Je préfere de parler en français s’il vous plaît ” and just carry on. Bonne chance à la prochaine fois. Kameela😊🇫🇷

  11. Félicitations sur votre progrès.🤗. Indeed a feeling of achievement in getting to grips with French grammar . The French themselves find it difficult sometimes. In the early stages, mistakes will be made, but they’ll correct you and then it sticks. Mistakes in written form though is another thing, and it’s always an idea to double check tenses gender etc. As there’s only masculine and feminine genders the only way is to learn them all. There aren’t any shortcuts. e.g le Français la Française et les Français. The vous formal form is always used except to children and people close to you . Always use vous unless you’re invited to ‘tutoyer’ ( i.e to use tu). However if you forget it won’t be a guillotine moment😀. Belle journée Kameela.

  12. Merci for sharing your progress. You are an inspiration and I have decided to enroll in the fall course. I have been playing with Duolingo for years but after attending a local French meetup group, I realized that my conversational skills needed beaucoup work. It has been a lovely French week and I am looking forward to the fall season. Enjoy your vacation

    1. Tami,

      Thank you for stopping by and tickled to hear you have enjoyed the week. I think you will find much growth and a deepening of your knowledge base of the language with proper classes and a professor that directly works with you. Duo lingo is helpful for getting by and ravie, but it really isn’t enough if you want to know the why behind the language and construct your own phrases for whatever situation you might find yourself. Bonne courage this automne!

  13. Congratulations on all of your progress and hard work in your French language journey, Shannon.
    Not something I quite have time for at this point in my life, but definitely something I wish to look at in future. I have a basic grasp of some French to be used when making requests etc, but would love to have a knowledge of conversational French.
    Thank you for all you share 🙂

    1. Sarah,

      I completely understand the not having time because as we know, when we are learning anything new it goes beyond the time in the literal class and includes our mental energy, time to review and do our homework and then again to come prepare to fully engage when we are in class and not just be there. I was in the same place for two decades. When you are able, you will know and simply by having traveled to France as you have, you know more than you realize which will help start well your first course when you do begin. 😌

    2. Sarah the sooner the better. It dies take time to get to a comfortable level il in conversational French There’s lots of tutorials on you tube but if you can buddy with someone who is French or speaks French well then you can practise conversation. I teach English to French students via what’s app and Zoom. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face Or as a last resort make frequent trips to France😀. Kameela

  14. Sarah. Are you in Instagram There is a very good account@French perspective. She is French, but lives in the US. She speaks very clearly and slowly and shares very practical phrases for getting a grasp on the language.. Might be worth exploring . Kameela😊

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