374: What I Have Learned in French Class, So Far – part Sept
Wednesday February 7, 2024

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Bonjour à tous !

Just last week, I concluded FR 105 with Washington DC’s Alliance de Français, a Zoom/online course that met twice a week, two hours each time since just after Thanksgiving.

You may remember that Part Six of this series was shared during TSLL’s Annual French Week which shared what I had learned through FR 104 and 103, and now it is time to share some progress!

Thankfully, there has been progress and while I chose to take Everyday Situational French this fall due to my travel schedule, this once-a-week meeting provided me the opportunity to keep the French language on the tip of my tongue before I could dive back in to the regular course work.

Some of what I share will be from the Situational French course, but most of it was learned during FR 105.

I am tickled to share that while my French definitely has a looooooong way to go, the ease I am feeling constructing basic sentences with a few different tenses delights me to no end. Last year at this time I was nervous and hesitant to attempt to say anything slightly different than what I said the week before when the professor would greet us, but now I at least can speak without hesitation and share what I did over the weekend.

With that said, with growth comes growing pains, and I had a few moments throughout the past 10 weeks of frustration when it just wasn’t making sense; however, I have a new-to-me professor, she being French and also a long-time educator, I was and am so grateful for her expertise and professionalism. She pushed, but then lightened up and stuck with us when she could tell we were struggling. In those moments, she encouraged us to keep trying and then doubled down on reviewing that particular difficult piece of the language to ensure the concept was acquired. As a fellow educator, what I observed was a keen awareness demonstrating her skill of both the language and how to teach it based on where the learner was and not holding true to the lesson plan if the class wasn’t ready to move forward. I am eager to step back into her class when courses resume later this month. I have made it to FR 201! (We now are enjoying a two week vacances.)

If you haven’t checked out Part Six in this series, I have linked it below, and at the end of this post, I have included Part Une, so you can begin at the beginning. 🙂 Two are episodes (as well as posts), and the rest are solely detailed posts.

1.Reviewing regularly each week even when there is not homework

When FR 105 concluded last week, we spent the final three classes taking the DELF test. One, so we could see how it was composed – oral, reading and writing, with our professor explaining what they were looking for as we demonstrated what we had learned over the past five courses, but also to review and make sure we did understand all that was taught, for me, over the past 17 months.

Due to reviewing these past three classes, we didn’t have official homework, but what I chose to do was continue to review, double down and practice those bits that are most difficult for me, and also organize my notes.

Admittedly, writing this episode/post helps me reflect and remember all that was covered, but I must say, this ‘doing homework’ even with a busy schedule is a muscle to tone, but once you see how it benefits you when you show up in class and are rewarded because you remember previous lessons’ content and can move forward with ease, there is much more motivation to keep the muscle toned even when the requirement to do homework isn’t there.

Of course, this no doubt seems obvious to fellow teachers, students who are proficient in whatever field of study they are in, but as a reminder, being an adult, when you are the only one pushing yourself, it is nice to know the effort is worth it, especially in a field of study that is difficult or seemed impossible for so many years to learn. More time regular studying Shannon, it will pay off.

2. Knowing Latin and Greek roots provides more than just a little help

The French language contains 1250 Greek roots and half of the French language is derived from Latin.

  • emporter — to carry [port is the Latin root meaning ‘carry’]
  • vérifier — to verify/to determine accuracy/truth [Latin root ‘ver’ means truth or true]

3. When saying ‘nobody’, you don’t need the ‘pas’ as ‘personne’ indicates the second necessary negative

  • EX: Je ne vois personne. [I see no one.]
  • EX: Personne ne sait où aller. [No one knows where to go.

4. Three ways to construct a question

A review from earlier in the the 100 level, but something to always know, the three forms of constructing a question. I stick with the ‘courant’ or or standard form to play it safe. 🙂

  • courant/daily life/standard: est-ce que/Question word + statement of inquiry (Sujet + Verbe)”, EX: Est-ce qu’elle est libre? [Is she free/available?]
  • informel: statement with intonation to indicate a question, EX: Elle est libre? [She’s free/available?]
  • formel: inversion of the sujet and the verbe, EX: Est-elle libre ? [Is she free/available?]

5. Le Conditionnel – what is it?

To mean “would” or “could”

The conditionnel is used to express a wish, express a possibility or suggest a hypothesis in the present or future (conditionnel present), or the past (conditionnel passé).

One of the first conjugated verbs I spoke frequently while studying in France in 2000 was voudrais. Did I know that was the conditionnel form of vouloir (to want)? Absolutely not, but I could properly pronounce it to ask politely for something, “I would like . . . “; however, now I finally know why and how it is constructed.

Here are the conjugation rules for the 1st and 2nd verb types -er and -ir, as well as the irregular verbs (3rd group):

  • How to conjugate Le Conditionnel
    • Take the Futur Simple form of the verb (often, but not always, this is the infinitif form (EX: vouloir’s futur simple is irregular – voudra)
    • With the irregular (3rd group of verbs), simply remove the last letter – a vowel – and add the same endings below.
    • adding the Imparfait (was-ing verbs) endings to the stem
      • je — ais
      • tu — ais
      • on/il/elle — ait
      • nous —iez
      • vous —iez
      • ils/elles —aient

A list of Le Conditionnel irregular verbs:

  • fair = fera
  • aller = ira
  • voir = verra
  • être = sera
  • avoir = aura
  • vendre = viendra
  • vouloir = voudra
  • pouvoir = pourra
  • devoir = devra
  • savoir = saura
  • falloir = faudra
  • valoir = vaudra
  • mouvoir = mouvr
  • tenir = tiendr

6. How to know which ‘know’ to use

When to use SAVOIR and when to use CONNAÎTRE:


  • if an infinitive verb follows “to know”, use SAVOIR
  • when a question (qui/quand/comment/etc.) follows “to know”, use SAVOIR
  • discussing facts


  • discussing a person, place, etc. [a noun]
  • familiar with the subject of discussion

7. Vocabulary and Phrase of Note for Shopping for Wardrobes

  • une costume = tuxedo
  • taille = size (for clothing and all garments except . . . )
  • pointure = shoe size
  • Vous faites quelle taille ? = Which is your size?
  • un nœuds papillon = bow tie
  • C’est comment ? = How is it?
  • Ça va aller. = This will work/ Good to go.

8. Finally understanding the rules of where to place the COD pronom [complement object direct/direct objects pronoun]

Unlike in English, the French put their direct object in front of the verb that is providing the primary action upon that object. In English we typically place the direct object after the verb taking the action and this sometimes becomes confusing to the English trained ear. However, the rules are pretty straight forward and I would like to share them with you if you don’t already know.

  • A COD or direct object pronouns replace a noun or noun phrase expressed in a previous sentence (the same as in English)
  • This is what is different from English: the COD pronom ALWAYS goes before the verb with the primary action (if there are more than one verb in the sentence). EX: J’ai lu que livre. Je l’aime. [I have read that book. I liked it.]; EXCEPT: If a command/affirmative imperatif verb is used, then the COD pronom goes AFTER the verb. EX: La livre est ici. Prends-la. [The book is here. Take it.]
  • List of COD pronoms:
    • Me / m’ –> me
    • Te / t’ –> you
    • Le / l’ –> him, it
    • La / l’ –> her, it
    • Le / l’ –> us (familiar/casual), it
    • Nous –> us
    • Vous –> you
    • Les –> them

One more exception regarding placement: IF the imperative affirmative/command is negative, then the COD pronom goes back to the front of the verb.

  • EX: Ne la prends pas. [Don’t take it.]

9. The COD pronom for verbes de goût [taste]

This was a special insight of knowledge shared with us by our professor who explains it often is an exception that isn’t shared until much later and in her opinion should be shared when we learn the COD pronoms.

If you are using verbs of taste, such as aimer, détester, adorer and préfér, then you will want to use the COD pronom ça, not “le, la, l’, les”. AND ‘ça’ will go AFTER the verb, ALWAYS, even when negation is present.

  • EX: J’adore ce fromage. J’adore ça. [I love this fromage. I love it.]
  • EX: Je n’aime pas faire du sport. Je n’aime pas ça. [I don’t like playing sports/working out. I don’t like them/it.]

NOTE: If there is an infinitive verb after one of the four verbs mentioned of goût (aimer, adorer, detester, préfér), it will always be general and you will use ‘ça’.

10. Fun fact to know about the circumflex seen in some French words

The circumflex: Whenever you see it in the French language, it signifies the “s” has disappeared where there used to be one.

  • hôpital = [hospital]
  • forêt = [forest]
  • bâtard = [bastard]

11. Qui vs. Que, when to use which

Pronounced Qui [key], meaning “who”, and Que [cuh], meaning “that”, these two words are les relatif pronom [relative pronouns]. There purpose is to connect two small clauses or phrases to make a full sentence without being redundant.

  • qui = replaces a noun referring to a person AND that noun MUST BE the subject of the previous phrase that is being replaced.
  • que = replaces a noun/noun phrase referring to a choice; que is the complement/direct object of the previous sentence that is being replaced.


  • Qui will NEVER have an apostrophe. NEVER make it into a contraction.
  • EX: J’aime le vin. Le vin est français. = J’aime le vin qui est français.


  • EX: J’aime le vin. Tu as apporté le vin. = J’aime le vin que tu as apporté.
  • Can be changed into a contraction and appear as qu’ when a word beginning with a vowel follows it. EX: Qu’elle . . .
  • EX: Je connais l’homme. Elle m’a presenté cet homme. = Je connais l’homme qu’elle m’a presenté.

12. What the COI are [Indirect Objects] and How to Use Them

Good news! There are only TWO options. Determine whether the word you are replacing is singular or plural and you know which one to use.

  • lui (singular, masculine/feminine)
  • leur (plural, masculine/feminine)

When to use:

  • ALWAYS introduced by a preposition prior to the noun or noun phrase that the COI is replacing. Such as à, de, pour, etc.
  • Lui/Leur will ALWAYS go before the verbe.

Quick questions to ask yourself to determine if you are dealing with a COI. If it answers any of these questions, then you know you have an indirect object, NOT a direct object:

  • à qui ? [to who/whom?]
  • à quoi ? [to what?]
  • de qui ? [of who/whom?]
  • de quoi ? [of what?]


  • Marie parle à sa souer.
    • to find the COI, ask the question à qui parle Marie ?
    • The COI is à sa souer [to her sister].
    • So you would write, Marie lui parle. Because ‘lui’ is singular.
  • James va téléphoner à ses amis.
    • to find the COI, ask the question à qui téléphone James ?
    • The COI is à ses amis. [to his friends]
    • So you would write, Il va leur téléphoner. Because ‘lear’ is plural. [He’s going to telephone them.]
      • You place the COI before téléphoner because it is the primary action verb.

13. The difference between un billet and un ticket

un billet

  • more expensive transport
  • assigned seats
  • EX: train, airplane

un ticket

  • inexpensive transport
  • not assigned seating
  • EX: bus, metro

The Taste of Things (aka as La Passion de Dodin Bouffant, aka as Pot-au-Feu)

Episode 331


4 thoughts on “374: What I Have Learned in French Class, So Far – part Sept

  1. Félicitations Shannon. Indeed if one knows Latin it is very helpful. About 28% of English words come from French and about the same from Latin. That makes about 25, 000 words shared! But there can be problems translating backwards and forwards . The stumbling blocks are ‘faux amis’ (false friends). Words that look the same but don’t have the same meaning. I noticed some small typos in the post.
    La livre, ( le livre) sa souer ( sa soeur). Qui is not used as a demonstrative adjective as in j’ai lu que livre. Ce ( that) . J’ai lu ce livre. Hope this is helpful. Kameela

  2. Shannon,
    Thank you, thank you for this post and podcast! I feel like things become much more clear when I listen to your “What I Have Learned in French Class” series. About a year ago, I decided to get a little more serious about learning French. It’s a slow process and I appreciate any help I can get!! 🙂
    Merci, Kallie

    1. Kallie,

      So tickled you are taking this journey on as well! And happy that I can help in any way at all. Just writing these posts is helpful to me to solidify things that just take time and practice. 🙂 We’ve got this!

  3. Très bien, ça marche! 🙂

    Thanks to the Roman Empire (almost) all European languages are “cousins” within different degrees of proximity, right?

    Courage! XO

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