À vs de

French prepositionsAs if the myriad possible translations of à and de aren't enough, these two French prepositions also have complementary and contrasting uses.

   

Adjectives with Prepositions

French adjectives with prepositionsWhen describing someone as capable of doing or determined to do something, a preposition is required between the adjective and verb. In French, the choice of preposition depends on the adjective that precedes it, not the verb that follows.

   

Adverbial Pronouns / Pronominal Adverbs

French adverbial pronounsAs you might guess from their name, adverbial pronouns are caught between two worlds: they are pronouns in the sense that they replace nouns, and at the same time they are adverbs representing a place, a quantity, or the object of a proposition. French has two adverbial pronouns: en and y.

   

   

Agreement

French agreementGrammatical agreement is a vast topic - and one of the banes of French students. While in English we have a few pronouns and adjectives that indicate gender and number (e.g., he/him/his and she/her/hers), in French, agreement is found in 5 of the 8 parts of speech.

   

Agreement with Direct Objects

French agreement with direct objects Most French verbs are conjugated with avoir as their auxiliary verb in compound tenses and moods, and therefore do not require agreement with their subjects. But avoir verbs do need agreement in a very specific construction: the past participle must agree with the direct object when it precedes the verb.

   

Agreement with Pronominal Verbs

French agreement with pronominal verbsAll pronominal verbs are être verbs in compound tenses and moods like the passé composé, which means that the past participles must agree with their subjects - at least in theory. In fact, it's not quite so straightforward.

   

Agreement with Subjects

French agreement with subjectsThe three French verb constructions which include some form of être plus a past participle usually require grammatical agreement of the past participle with the subject.

   

   

   

Après vs Derrière

Après vs derrière - French prepositionsThe prepositions après and derrière have somewhat similar meanings, which of course means that students sometimes get them confused. Learn the difference between après and derrière to put all of this confusion behind you.

   

Auxiliary Verbs

French auxiliary verbsAuxiliary verbs are also known as helping verbs, because they help form compound conjugations. The key thing to remember about compound conjugations is that it's the auxiliary verb which conjugates for the required tense or mood; the main verb is always a past participle.

   

Avant vs Devant

French grammarThe prepositions avant and devant have somewhat similar meanings, which of course means that students sometimes get them confused. Learn the difference between avant and devant to get in front of any potential confusion.

   

C’est vs Il est

C'est vs il estThe French expressions c'est and il est can be tricky because they are synonymous but not interchangeable. Which one to use depends less on meaning than it does on grammar.