One of the eight parts of speech, adjectives are a type of modifier; that is, they modify or describe nouns in a certain way, letting you know the size, shape, weight, color, nationality, or any of a myriad other possible qualities of nouns.
An adverb is an invariable word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs can provide additional information about manner, quantity, frequency, time, or place - they explain when, how, where, how often, or to what degree something is done.
An article is a word that modifies a noun in a particular way, by stating whether the noun is specific, unspecific, or partial. There are three types of French articles, and they all agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify.
Avoir is one of the two most important French verbs and has irregular conjugations in just about every tense and mood. Avoir literally means "to have" but also serves an an auxiliary verb and is found in many idiomatic expressions.
Contractions occur when two words are combined into one, sometimes with a distinctly different spelling. In English, contractions like "won't" are optional and indicate informality. In French, however, contractions are required, regardless of the register you're speaking or writing in.
The preposition dans usually means "in," but as always there are exceptions. Dans can't be followed directly by a noun - it's always followed by some kind of determiner, such as an article or possessive adjective.
The French definite articles (le, la, l', les) indicate either a particular noun or, contrarily, the general sense of a noun. They're used similarly to their English counterpart "the," but there are many instances where a definite article is required in French but not English.
Need a refresher on grammar basics like parts of speech and the various verb elements? Check out this French grammar glossary for short explanations of all the essential French grammar terms, from adjectives to verb voice.
When you start learning French, it's not just French vocabulary you have to get used to - you're also introduced to a whole new world of grammatical terms. For many students, one of the most daunting of these is verb conjugations. Just what is a verb conjugation and what does it mean to conjugate a verb?
Negative adverbs turn affirmative statements and questions into negative statements and questions. The most common English negative adverb is the word "not," but French is a little more complicated - quelle surprise ! ;-)
The partitive article (du, de la, de l', des) refers to an unspecified quantity of food, liquid, or some other uncountable noun. English has no equivalent article - the partitive is usually translated by the adjectives "some" or "any," or may be left out entirely.
Knowing how to ask questions in French is essential for making plans, shopping, traveling, getting to know people, and any other activity that requires obtaining information. There are two different types of questions, and different ways to ask each type.
Like English nouns, most French nouns have singular and plural forms. In addition, French nouns referring to people and animals often have different masculine and feminine forms, which means that these nouns can have up to four forms.
French verbs that end in -cer or -ger require a small spelling change in certain conjugations. For the most part, these verbs are conjugated just like regular -er verbs, other than a little problem in some conjugations that must be corrected for reasons of pronunciation. It's easy enough to do, once you understand why and how.
Stem-changing verbs, also known as "shoe verbs" or "boot verbs," take the same conjugation endings as regular -er verbs, but have two different verb stems depending on the grammatical person the verb is conjugated for.
Knowing how to tell time is essential for traveling, meeting up with friends, making appointments, and getting to work or school on time. Once you learn these formulas, you'll never have an excuse to be late again!
One of the tricky aspects of French is that there are two different words for you, tu and vous, and very complicated rules about when to use which one. Choosing the right subject pronoun is important not just from a grammatical point of view, but also for reasons of etiquette. You can read more about that in my lesson, or watch this video for some general guidelines to help you decide which pronoun to use with different people.
The distinction between tu and vous is one of the most confounding aspects of French, and one of the most basic. The influence it has on verb conjugations, adjectives, and pronouns is considerable, but more than that, the choice of tu or vous is a matter of etiquette.