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are signing their ¬rst contract as professionals
Les sp´ cialistes conseillent aux femmes qui tentent d™avoir un enfant de ne
e
pas d´ passer un apport en prot´ ines de 20% = specialists advise women who are
e e
trying to have a child not to exceed a protein intake of 20%
Note that the person of the verb matches the person indicated by qui “
C™est moi qui l™ai fait = it was me who did it / I was the one who did it
C™est toi qui l™as fait = you™re the one who did it

que = whom (object)
ˆe
Cot´ positif du m´ trosexuel “ vous vivez avec un homme qui sent bon que
e
vous aimez respirer dans le cou = the positive side of the metrosexual “ you live with a
man who smells good and whose neck you like snif¬ng
Il pense a sa femme, a son ¬ls de deux ans qu™il ne reverra peut-ˆ tre plus =
` ` e
he thought about his wife, his two-year-old son whom he might never see again
Les troupes qu™il commandait avaient traqu´ les agents ennemis dans les
e
cavernes et les tunnels = the troops he commanded had tracked down the enemy agents in the
caves and tunnels

357
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Preposition + qui
En dehors de ceux pour qui la voix est un outil professionnel, peu de gens
consid` rent la voix comme quelque chose d™important = apart from those for
e
whom the voice is a professional tool, few people consider it as something important
Un strip-tease a un effet direct sur les hommes, pour qui le visuel est la
premi` re source de stimulation = strip-tease has a direct effect on men, for whom the
e
visual is the principal source of sensations

qui = which (subject)
`
Les maladies de la r´ tine, qui entraˆnent la c´ cit´ , frappent de 30 000 a
e ± ee
40 000 personnes en France = diseases of the retina, which cause blindness, affect between
30,000 and 40,000 people in France
` ˆ
Le forfait hospitalier a la charge des patients, qui couvre le cout du repas
et de l™h´ bergement, passe a 14 euros = the hospital levy charged to patients, which
`
e
covers board and lodging, is going up to 14 euros
´
Utilisez cette plaque en fonte qui est equip´ e de stries qui laisseront sur
e
vos pi` ces de viande les mˆ mes marques qu™une grille de barb´ cue = use this
e e e
griddle with grooves which will leave the same marks on your pieces of meat as a barbecue grill

que = which, that (object)
`
Heureusement, on peut avoir un maillot de bain que l™on n™h´ sitera pas a e
montrer = fortunately you can have a swimsuit you won™t hesitate to wear in public
Comptez 800 euros les dix s´ ances, une somme que l™on peut r´ gler en
e e
deux ou trois fois = you have to reckon on 800 euros for ten sessions, a sum which you can settle
in two or three payments
Cach´ parmi les projecteurs de mon p` re, j™ai mˆ me vu tourner des ¬lms
e e e
que je n™aurais pas eu le droit de voir en salle = hidden among my dad™s projectors, I
even saw ¬lms being made that I wouldn™t be allowed to see in a cinema

dont = whose, of whom
Because dont is the product of the preposition de + pronoun, it is sometimes translated
as with which, from which, etc. Word order with dont needs to be noted “
with reference to people “
e`
Une aide sera accord´ e a ceux dont les revenus ne d´ passent pas 650 euros
e
par mois = help will be given to those whose income doesn™t exceed 650 euros a month
with reference to things “
`
Nous avons fait appel a la Croix Rouge dont nous trouvions initialement
les tarifs trop elev´ s = we appealed to the Red Cross whose charges we initially found too high
´e
Votre corps d´ gage des signaux dont ces insectes raffollent = your body gives off
e
signals which these insects are crazy about
C™est li´ a la facon dont nous nous en servons = it™s linked to the way we use it
e` ¸
`
Il faut choisir le contrat dont les cotisations s™ajustent le mieux a votre
pro¬l = you must choose the contract whose payments best suit your status

358
464 Relative clauses



`
L™ensemble correspondait a ce dont je rˆ vais “ j™avais retrouv´ la poitrine
e e
de mes 20 ans = the whole thing matched up to what I was dreaming of “ I had rediscovered the
bust I had when I was 20

ou = in which, where
`
` `
La salle de bains est devenu un lieu ou les membres de la famille aiment a
se retrouver = the bathroom has become a place where family members like to meet

Preposition + lequel, laquelle, lesquels, lesquelles
Attention au d´ lai de carence: c™est le temps pendant lequel vous payez
e
l™assurance sans b´ n´ ¬cier des garanties = beware of the waiting period “ that™s the
ee
time during which you pay for the insurance without bene¬ting from the warranty
Sa voix est capable de vibrations auxquelles les groupies ne restent pas
insensibles = his voice is capable of vibrations to which the groupies are not insensitive
`
Un match au cours duquel il a montr´ une capacit´ in´ dite a foudroyer
e ee
l™adversaire = a match during which he demonstrated a totally new ability to overwhelm his
opponent
Il y a tant de raisons pour lesquelles— une premi` re rencontre peut tourner
e
court = there are so many reasons why a ¬rst meeting may come to a sudden halt
C™est la raison pour laquelle— je suis persuad´ que l™activit´ sportive est
e e
excellente pour tout le monde = it™s the reason why I™m convinced that sport is excellent for
everybody

Note la raison pour laquelle (rather than la raison pourquoi) = the reason why


ce qui, ce que, ce dont, de quoi
These do not refer to a single antecedent but to the idea expressed in the previous
clause “

ce qui = which
45% des femmes francaises prennent la pilule, ce qui en fait les premi` res
¸ e
utilisatrices en Europe = 45% of French women take the pill, which makes them the leading
users in Europe
Les vacances sont id´ ales pour refuser les contraintes “ ce qui veut dire
e
etre un peu plus ego¨ste = holidays are ideal for rejecting constraint “ which means you can be
ˆ ´±
a little more self-centred
Ces cotisations sont d´ ductibles des revenus, ce qui permet de payer moins
e
d™impots = these payments are deductible from your income, which allows you to pay less tax
ˆ
Je ne sais pas ce qui est beau, mais je sais ce que j™aime = I don™t know what is
beautiful, but I know what I like
ce que = what
J™ai du me battre pour faire ce que j™avais envie de faire = I had to ¬ght to do
ˆ
what I wanted to do

359
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



e` `
La g´ om´ trie variable de notre ventre est li´ e a ce qu™on mange, a ce que
e e
l™on boit = the variable geometry of our stomach is linked to what we eat, to what we drink
On ne peut pas etre compl` tement surpris par ce qu™on trouve sur soi = you
ˆ e
can™t be completely surprised by what you ¬nd in yourself
´ e` `
Nantes s™est elev´ a un niveau de jeu inhabituel par rapport a ce qu™il a
montr´ jusque-la = Nantes has risen to a level of play which is unusual in comparison with
`
e
what they have demonstrated until now

ce dont = which
Se raser une fois par semaire et se balader en tongs et en short toute la
´
journ´ e est un bonheur vraiment evident “ ce dont on ne devrait pas se
e
priver! = shaving once a week and walking about in ¬‚ip-¬‚ops and shorts all day long is a really
obvious pleasure “ which no-one should deprive themselves of !

de quoi = the wherewithal, food for thought
C™est dans ce groupe de rats que les chercheurs ont observ´ les tumeurs les e
`
moins d´ velopp´ es. De quoi nous inciter a privil´ gier les aliments
e e e
remarqu´ s pour leurs vertus anticancer = it™s among this group of rats that researchers
e
have noticed the least developed tumours “ this should inspire us to give top priority to food noted for its
anticancer qualities
`
Voila de quoi vous convaincre qu™en mati` re de sexualit´ , la fatalit´ n™a
e e e
pas sa place = this should be enough to convince you that in matters of sex, fate has no
place

465 Time clauses
Time clauses indicate when something occurs.
The following conjunctions indicate that the action expressed by the main verb has
happened before the action expressed by the verb in the subordinate clause “
avant que = before, jusqu™a ce que = until.
`
The mood of the verb in the subordinate clause in these cases is the subjunctive “

avant que = before
Avant que les contacts ne— se durcissent, Thierry obligeait le gardien a `
repousser des poings = before the game really hotted up, Thierry forced the keeper to punch the
ball away
´e
Il avait et´ invisible sauf lorsqu™il fut cr´ dit´ du seul carton jaune du soir
ee

avant que Mourinho ne se d´ cide a le sortir quelques minutes plus tard =
`
e
he™d been invisible except when he was awarded the only yellow card of the evening before Mourinho
[the manager] decided to take him off a few minutes later

Note the use of an expletive ne with avant que “ see 417.

jusqu™a ce que = until
`
Jusqu™a ce qu™il boive, il se conduit parfaitement, mais apr` s . . . = until he
` e
has a drink, he behaves admirably, but afterwards . . .

360
465 Time clauses



`
Jusqu™a ce qu™on atteigne la quarantaine, il n™est pas n´ cessaire de
e
surveiller autant ce qu™on mange = until you get to forty, it™s not necessary to watch what
you eat so much
With jusqu™au moment ou, jusqu™au temps ou = until, the mood of the verb in
` `
`
the subordinate clause is the indicative (ou is never followed by the subjunctive) “
`
Une femme sur deux prend entre 4 et 6 kilos jusqu™au moment ou
elle est m´ nopaus´ e = one woman out of two puts on between 4 and 6 kilos until she is
e e
menopausal
`
Je me sentais un peu en dehors des choses, jusqu™au temps ou j™ai eu des
enfants = I felt a little left out of things, until I had children
Quand = when and lorsque = when indicate that the action expressed by the main
verb either occurs after or at the same time as that indicated by the verb in the sub-
ordinate clause. The mood of the verb in the subordinate clause in these cases is the
indicative.

quand = when
Une majorit´ de couples avouent que c™est surtout quand ils se sentent
e
bien avec l™autre qu™ils ont envie du sexe = a majority of couples admit that it™s
especially when they feel good with each other that they want sex
Quand je proteste, elle dit que si on avait un enfant, elle n™aurait pas pris
de chien = when I protest, she says that if we had a child, she wouldn™t have got a dog
Dis-lui que tu aimerais voir son visage quand tu l™embrasses = tell her you™d
like to see her face when you kiss her

lorsque = when
´
Ce massage epaissit l™´ piderme, lorsque celui-ci est distendu par une
e
naissance = this massage thickens your skin, when it™s distended as a result of giving birth
Lorsque le corps subit un effort, il secr` te de l™adr´ naline = when the body
e e
makes an effort, it secretes adrenalin
Lorsque l™entre-cote est a votre convenance, ne la servez pas tout de suite =
ˆ `
when the steak is how you like it, don™t serve it straightaway
When two or more time clauses are dependent upon the same main clause, the second
and subsequent clauses may be introduced by que rather than lorsque or quand
(compare usage with si “ see 458) “
ˆ
Quand vous n™avez pas assez mang´ et que vous etes stress´ e, vous vous
e e
offrez une barre de chocolat ou un gateau = when you haven™t eaten enough and you™re
ˆ
stressed, you indulge yourself with a bar of chocolate or a cake

The following conjunctions indicate that the action expressed by the main verb happens
at the same time as the action expressed by the verb in the subordinate clause “ alors
que = while, whereas, comme = as, ou = when, pendant que = while, tandis que =
`
whereas, while, en mˆ me temps que = at the same time as, tant que = as long as. The
e
mood of the verb in the subordinate clause in these cases is the indicative.

361
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



alors que = while, whereas
Alors que les s´ nateurs avaient d´ cid´ de maintenir les distributeurs
e ee
´
automatiques de boissons sucr´ es dans les etablissements scolaires, une
e
commission a recommand´ qu™ils soient bannis = whereas the Senate had decided
e
to retain sweet-drink vending machines in schools, a committee has recommended that they be banned
J™ai l™impression que mon corps gon¬‚e, alors que je ne change pas de
r´ gime alimentaire = I™ve got the impression that my body is swelling up, whereas I haven™t
e
changed my eating habits

comme = as
Comme l™hiver avance, la mortalit´ infantile va presque tripler = as winter
e
advances, infant mortality is almost going to increase threefold

ou = when
`
Normally ou is a relative pronoun = where, but when combined with a noun of time,
`
it = when “
` `
Il revient sur les ann´ es noires, ou l™on d´ couvre un homme a l™oppos´ de
e e e
l™image que l™on s™est faite de lui = he goes back over the dark years, when you discover a
man opposite to the image you had formed of him
`
Pass´ e la p´ riode de ¬‚amme ou chacun est sur le qui-vive en mati` re de
e e e
s´ duction = once the time of passion is over when everyone is on the alert as far as seduction is
e
concerned

pendant que = while
Pendant que vous coupez les fruits secs, plongez les escalopes de dinde
dans une casserole d™eau bouillante = while you™re chopping up the dry fruit, immerse the
turkey escalopes in a saucepan of boiling water
Mon collocataire a fait une soir´ e dans notre appartement pendant que
e
j™´ tais en boˆte avec mes potes = my ¬‚atmate had a party in our ¬‚at while I was in the club
e ±
with my mates

tandis que = whereas, while
`
Le froid pousse les gens a se replier sur eux-mˆ mes, tandis que sous la
e
chaleur ils ouvrent leur corps et leur esprit = cold makes people turn in upon
themselves, whereas when it™s hot, they open up their bodies and minds
Laissez-la vous parler tandis que vous etes assis sur la marche = let her speak
ˆ
to you while you™re sitting on the step

tant que = as long as
Tant que vous avez de l™imagination, toutes les combinaisons sont
possibles = for as long as you™ve got imagination, all combinations are open to you

The following conjunctions indicate that the action expressed by the main verb happens
after the action expressed by the verb in the subordinate clause “

362
466 Declarative clauses



apr` s que = after, aussitot que = as soon as, depuis que = since, d` s que = as soon as.
ˆ
e e
The mood of the verb in the subordinate clause in these cases is the indicative “

apr` s que = after
e
Apr` s que le premier changement fut impos´ — par la blessure de Rothen,
e e
Porto d´ cida de modi¬er la structure de son equipe = after the ¬rst change was
´
e
imposed by Rothen™s injury, Porto decided to modify the structure of its team

Note the use of the past anterior when the verb in the main clause is past historic “ see
133.
Note too that in the case of apr` s que, the subjunctive is sometimes used “ see 157.
e
Trois semaines apr` s qu™elle m™ait quitt´ , j™ai trouv´ une autre petite
e e e
amie = three weeks after she left me, I found another girlfriend
Mˆ me apr` s qu™il ait effectu´ le tournant, il n™a pas regard´ derri` re lui =
e e e e e
even after he had gone round the corner, he didn™t look behind him

aussitot que = as soon as
ˆ
ˆ
Aussitot que j™ai compris en quoi mes comportements in¬‚uaient sur les
ev´ nements, j™ai su que ca ne pourrait qu™aller au mieux = as soon as I
´e ¸
understood that my behaviour in¬‚uenced events, I realised that things could only get better

depuis que = since
Depuis que je travaille a Paris, ma peau devient tr` s grasse = since I™ve been
` e
working in Paris, my skin has become very greasy
Depuis que vous avez trouv´ le cr´ neau qui vous convient le mieux, vous
e e
n™en sortez plus = since you™ve found the slot that suits you best, you stick to it

d` s que = as soon as
e
D` s que je m™approche de ma femme pour l™aider, elle se fache = as soon as I
ˆ
e
go to help my wife, she gets angry
Les moustiques, c™est le cauchemar de l™´ t´ , d` s que le soleil se couche =
ee e
mosquitoes are a nightmare in summer, as soon as the sun sets

466 Declarative clauses
The following elements may appear in a declarative clause “
compulsory “ a verb
optional but verging on the compulsory “ a subject; the subject does not appear if it is
the same as in an immediately preceding clause at the same level “
ˆ
Je pratique la moto, fume depuis l™age de 14 ans et ne refuse pas un verre
d™alcool = I ride a motorbike, have smoked since I was 14 and don™t say no to a drink
Peu grasse, cette partie du saumon fond sous la langue et laisse un parfum
de mer d´ licatement iod´ = containing little fat, this section of salmon melts under your
e e
tongue and leaves a ¬‚avour of the sea with a delicate hint of iodine
optional “ an object, direct and/or indirect
optional “ a complement of the subject and/or the object

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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



optional “ one or more adverbs and/or adverbial expressions; the only limit to the
number of adverbs and/or adverbial expressions which may occur in a declarative
clause is the listener™s or reader™s ability to absorb them.
Entre-temps, passez les tranches de pain de mie sous le gril du four
adverb 1 verb direct object adverb 2
= in the meantime place the slices of bread under the grill
Lass´ es de la sangria et du Bordeaux de leurs ancestrales destinations
e
migratoires,
complement of the subject
plus de 14 000 grues cendr´ es ont choisi, cet hiver, de se mettre . . . au
e
subject verb a adverb 1 verb b
champagne sur le lac du Der-Chantecoq = fed up with the sangria and Bordeaux
adverb 2
wine of their migratory destinations from time immemorial, over 14,000 common cranes have chosen,
this winter, to sample champagne on the Lake of Der-Chantecoq
Each of the combinations is illustrated in more detail below.

467 Word order in declarative clauses
In what follows a small number of examples are given to illustrate the main word orders
that occur in declarative clauses. Sometimes elements not given in the rubric also occur
in the examples: the purpose of the examples is to show the principal word orders.

Subject + verb
Normally the subject precedes the verb “
J™arrive = I™m coming
Les mains tremblent = your hands are trembling
Notre equipe a perdu = our team lost
´

Subject + verb + complement of subject
The complement of the subject is a noun or adjective which relates to the subject and is
usually separated from it by a verb such as devenir = to become, etre = to be, paraˆtre
ˆ ±
= to appear, sembler = to seem
La peur est une r´ ponse saine a une situation de danger = fear is a healthy
`
e
response to a dangerous situation
Vous devenez sage = you™re getting wise
Mis a l™´ cart, il a d´ cid´ de se d´ fendre = having been put on the sidelines, he decided to
`e ee e
¬ght back

Subject + verb + direct object
Normally the object follows the verb, unless it is a pronoun, in which case it precedes the
verb “ see 210 “
Elle portait une jupe en velours = she wore a velvet skirt

364
467 Word order in declarative clauses



Le concombre contient des mol´ cules apaisantes = cucumbers contain calming
e
molecules
La somnolence entraˆne des p´ riodes de micro-sommeil = drowsiness makes you
± e
sleep for very short periods
Les Francais ont apport´ un d´ but de r´ ponse = the French have produced the
¸ e e e
beginnings of a reply
Le foyer DVD moyen en France ach` te 12 DVD par an = the average DVD-owning
e
household in France buys 12 DVDs a year

Subject + verb + prepositional object
Les pˆ cheurs locaux sp´ culent sur d™´ ventuelles fuites radioactives = the
e e e
local ¬shermen speculate on possible radioactive leaks
Il a beaucoup de talent et le football a besoin de joueurs comme lui = he™s got
a lot of talent and football needs players like him

Complement of subject + subject + verb
Simple, le fer lisse ou sculpte les m` ches pour une coiffure sophistiqu´ e =
e e
easy to use, the tongs smooth or shape your hair for a sophisticated hair-style
ˆ`
Passionn´ s ou novices, tout le monde y trouve son compte grace a une
e
programmation d™excellente qualit´ = whether they™re enthusiasts or novices, everyone
e
will ¬nd something that interests them thanks to excellent-quality programming
Griffes fac´ tieuses et moustaches philosophes, le Chat, h´ ros de BD,
e e
exporte sa douce fantaisie a Bordeaux = with its facetious claws and philosophical
`
whiskers, the Cat, now a cartoon hero, brings its gentle fantasy to Bordeaux

Subject + verb + direct object + indirect object
On a accord´ le prix du Forum d™Ermua au ministre de la justice = the Forum
e
d™Ermua prize has been awarded to the Minister of Justice
C™est le sondage secret qui met du baume au coeur du Premier ministre =
it™s the secret poll which soothes the Prime Minister™s heart
Les accords de Dayton ont mis un terme au con¬‚it le plus meurtrier que
l™Europe ait connu depuis 1945 = the Dayton agreements brought to a close the most bloody
con¬‚ict in Europe since 1945

Subject + verb + adverbial expression
Il s™est rarement trouv´ en position de conclure = he rarely found himself in a
e
position to ¬nish off
Votre grand-m` re pro¬tait de la chicor´ e au petit d´ jeuner = your grandmother
e e e
used to have the pleasure of chicory for her breakfast

Adverbial expression + subject + verb (+ direct object)
`
A Paris, personne ne le soutient = in Paris, no one supports him
365
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Mercredi 3 d´ cembre, un peu plus d™un million d™exemplaires de « Harry
e
Potter et l™ordre du Ph´ nix » envahiront la France = on Wednesday 3 December, just
e
over a million copies of ˜Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix™ will invade France
Techniquement, il a et´ le moins a l™aise des d´ fenseurs = technically, he was the
´e ` e
least comfortable of the defenders

Multiple adverbial expressions
D´ gustez les mirabelles 1 nature, 2 en clafoutis, 3 sur une tarte ou 4 au fond
e
d™un crumble = enjoy greengages raw, in a clafoutis, in a tart or in a crumble
1 Bref, vous marchez 2 d™un bon pas 3 vers le pr´ cipice = in short, you™re walking
e
steadily towards the precipice
`
1 A la 63e minute, 2 sur un ballon de la droite de Poborsky, il s™in¬ltra 3
plein axe = in the 63rd minute, on a ball from Poborsky™s right foot, he manouvered himself into the
centre

468 Inversion in declarative clauses
Normally, as demonstrated above, 467, the subject precedes the verb in declarative
clauses.
However, occasionally, inversion of the subject and verb takes place “

In main clauses after certain adverbs “
`
A peine sont les nuits plus longues qu™on a envie de se lover dans des draps
hypergrands = scarcely have the nights become longer than you want to curl up in ultra-big
sheets
`
A peine avez-vous pos´ l™ongle sur laquelle vous avez mis ce produit sur
e
vos l` vres, que vous avez envie de rendre = scarcely have you put the nail on which
e
you™ve put this product on your lips, than you want to throw up
Encore faut-il savoir en pro¬ter = you still have to know how to bene¬t from it
Peut-ˆ tre suis-je trop pudique pour cela = perhaps I™m too modest for that
e
Peut-ˆ tre ne devrais-je pas le dire = perhaps I shouldn™t say so
e
Peut-ˆ tre le d´ sir de l™homme est-il quelque chose qui vous rassure mais
e e
aussi qui vous fait peur = perhaps a man™s desire for you is something that reassures you but
frightens you at the same time

In main clauses introduced by an adjective complement of the
subject “
Peu nombreux sont les socialistes qui prennent sa d´ fense = the socialists who
e
come to his defence are very few in number
Dans les parkings nombreuses sont les femmes qui cherchent leur voiture
sous l™oeil narquois de leur compagnon = in car parks many women try to ¬nd their
cars under the mocking eye of their companion


366
468 Inversion in declarative clauses



In main clauses in sentence-initial position, with verbs such as
rester = to remain, venir = to come
`
L™entraˆneur a annonc´ qu™il va quitter Paris. Reste a savoir si le conseil
± e
d™administration acceptera sa d´ cision sans lutter pour le garder = the
e
trainer has announced that he™s going to leave Paris. It remains to be seen whether the board of directors
will accept his decision without ¬ghting to keep him
On stocke plus facilement les graisses au ¬l du temps. Vient ensuite la
p´ riode de pr´ m´ nopause = we stock up fat more easily as time goes by. Then arrives the
e ee
premenopause
On rencontrait ensuite ces pays qui d´ cidaient de s™abstenir sans autre
e
`
forme de proc` s. Venaient en¬n la France, la Russie qui ajoutaient a leur
e
abstention une « guerrilla » diplomatique = then there were those countries who decided
to abstain without any other form of involvement. Finally there were France and Russia who added a
diplomatic ˜skirmish™ to their abstention

In relative subordinate clauses
On ferme le livre ravi par la tournure que prend cette aventure = we shut the
book, delighted by the turn the adventure took
´ ˆ
Comment faire avancer les r´ formes economiques que prone le pr´ sident
e e
quand la moiti´ de l™Assembl´ e r´ siste? = how can they make progress with the
e ee
economic reforms that the President is advocating when half of the National Assembly is resisting?
La Soci´ t´ des Amis du mus´ e national d™Art moderne que pr´ side
ee e e
Francois Tr` ves fˆ te son centenaire = the Society of Friends of the National Museum of
¸ e e
Modern Art of which Fran¸ois Tr`ves is the president is celebrating its centenary
c e
Le pr´ sident a beaucoup consult´ sur les interrogations que soul` vent les
e e e
valeurs qui fondent la soci´ t´ francaise = the President consulted widely on the
ee ¸
questions raised by the values that undergird French society

To achieve stylistic effect “
reserving the subject to a prominent position at the end of a sentence in a noun clause “
see 462.
C™est des livres que vient le salut = it™s from books that salvation comes
´e
En attendant mieux, l™Elys´ e souhaite que soient au moins remani´ s e
certains cabinets minist´ riels = while waiting for something better to turn up, the
e
´ ee (the President™s of¬cial residence) is wanting certain ministerial cabinets to be
Elys´
reshuf¬‚ed
Les analyses diront si le navire, ainsi que l™af¬rment les Am´ ricains, e
est demeur´ etanche = analyses will tell if the ship, as the Americans insist, remained

watertight
La loi sera pr´ c´ d´ e de m´ diations pour que soient respect´ s « les
eee e e
equilibres qui rassemblent » = the law will be preceded by mediation in order that the
´
˜balances that unite™ are respected


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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



469 Highlighting
Highlighting is the process whereby an element in a clause or sentence is moved from
its conventional position to a different position “ usually at the beginning or at the end
of the clause “ in order to focus attention upon it. Highlighting may also be achieved by
introducing the element that the speaker wishes to focus on by c™est . . . qui / que “
see 223, 463.
If the element highlighted is a noun, it is repeated in the form of a pronoun before the
verb:
normal word order “
Je ne vois pas ces peurs comme n´ gatives = I don™t see these fears as negative
e
direct object in initial position with repetition as pronoun “
Ces peurs, je ne les vois pas comme n´ gatives
e
direct object in ¬nal position with repetition as pronoun “
Je ne les vois pas comme n´ gatives, ces peurs
e
subject repeated as stressed pronoun in initial position “
Moi, je ne vois pas ces peurs comme n´ gatives
e
Nous, on ne se plaindra pas du premier roman cocasse d™un auteur de 22
ans = we™re not going to complain about the ¬rst amusing novel of a 22-year-old author
subject repeated as stressed pronoun in ¬nal position “
Je ne vois pas ces peurs comme n´ gatives, moi
e
subject introduced by c™est . . . qui “
C™est moi qui ne vois pas ces peurs comme n´ gatives = I™m the one who doesn™t see
e
these fears as negative
Ce n™est pas moi qui vois ces peurs comme n´ gatives = I™m not the one who sees
e
these fears as negative
` ´
C™est l™´ poque ou l™homme politique ignore que le petit ecran est aussi
e
parlant = it was the time when politicians didn™t realise that the small screen can also talk
Highlighting can also be achieved by delaying the mention of the subject (or other
element) “ see 467.
Mais, avec le temps, vers ses 70 ans, est n´ un autre Resnais, l´ ger,
e e
fac´ tieux = but, with time, as he approached his 70th year, another Resnais was born,
e
light-hearted, facetious


Interrogative sentences

470 Interrogative sentences
There are two types of interrogative sentences “


368
472 oui “ non questions: 1 “ inversion



1 questions inviting a oui “ non /yes “ no answer “
Est-ce que c™est vrai qu™un bruit fort gˆ ne davantage qu™un bruit
e
faible? = is it right that a loud noise does more harm than a soft noise?
Vous avez faim? = are you hungry?
`
A part l™odeur de certains hommes, y a-t-il des odeurs qui vous
d´ goutent? = apart from the smell of certain men, are there any smells that turn you off

completely?
2 questions inviting more information, introduced by a question word “
Quelle est votre plage pr´ f´ r´ e? = which is your favourite beach?
ee e
Qu™est-ce qui vous r´ pugne chez une femme? = what puts you off in a woman?
e
Pourquoi le rideau de douche se colle-t-elle au corps? = why does a shower
curtain stick to your body?


oui “ non questions

471 oui “ non questions
Oui“non “ yes“no questions are ˜closed™ questions in the sense that there can only be a
yes- or a no-answer. No question word requiring a more discursive answer is present “
see below. Question 1 can only be answered by oui or non (unless it™s je ne sais pas!),
whereas question 2 expects a longer, detailed answer “

`
1 Ces sites, est-ce qu™ils servent a quelque chose? = are these sites any use?
`
2 Ces sites, a quoi servent-ils? = what™s the use of these sites?

These questions fall into a number of categories.

472 oui “ non questions “ 1: those involving inversion of the
subject and the verb
The following situations occur:
When the subject is a noun, it is placed in ¬rst position followed by the verb and an
unstressed subject pronoun referring back to the subject “
Ces produits sont-ils sans danger? = are these products safe?
Les Parisiens, ont-ils vraiment battu les champions d™Europe? = did
Paris-Saint-Germain really beat the European champions?
La perruque, est-elle bonne pour remplacer les boucles qui ne bougent
plus? = is a wig any good for replacing curls that no longer move?
When the subject is an unstressed pronoun, it is placed after the verb “
Savez-vous qu™un couple sur trois ne fait plus l™amour? = did you know that one
couple out of three no longer makes love?


369
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Ne regardez-vous pas quelquefois le mur en pensant a autre chose? = don™t
`
you sometimes look at the wall thinking about something else?
Faut-il se priver de boeuf? = should we give up eating beef?
A ton age, est-ce bien raisonnable de se remettre au disco? = at your age is it a
ˆ
good idea to go back disco dancing?
When the inverted pronoun begins with a vowel “ il or elle, ils or elles “ it is always
preceded by a /t/ in pronunciation. If one of the plural pronouns is involved, it is the
¬nal t of the verb ending that is sounded “
Osent-ils aborder ces sujets avec leurs parents? = do they dare bring up these
subjects with their parents?
Sont-ils satisfaits des r´ ponses que vous donnez? = are they satis¬ed with the
e
answers you give?
Vos livres ne risquent-ils pas de con¬rmer les pr´ jug´ s que les gens ont sur
ee
les gays? = don™t your books run the risk of con¬rming the prejudices people have about gays?
If one of the singular pronouns is involved, the /t/ comes either from the verb ending
itself “
Est-il sage de ne laver votre linge que quand il ne vous reste plus rien de
propre? = is it sensible only to wash your clothes when you™ve nothing clean left?
Est-il possible d™ˆ tre doux et puissant a la fois? = is it possible to be strong and gentle
`
e
at one and the same time?
or, if the verb does not end in t, a t is inserted between the verb ending and the
pronoun “
Y a-t-il un principe de base? = is there a basic principle?
Y a-t-il des risques que nous nous fassions arrˆ ter par la police? = is there the
e
danger that we might get ourselves arrested by the police?
A-t-il os´ refuser de vous epouser apr` s tout ca? = did he dare refuse to marry you
´
e e ¸
after all that?
A-t-elle toujours d´ cid´ de porter ce chemisier en pois? = has she still decided to
ee
wear that spotted blouse?
Existe-t-il une question caract´ ristique? = is there a typical question?
e
But you also ¬nd “
J™aimerais beaucoup me faire tatouer “ mais existe-il une
contre-indication pour certains endroits du corps? = I™d love to be tattooed “ but
are there certain parts of the body that are counter-indicated?
As far as the ¬rst person singular pronoun, je, is concerned, it is frequently inverted with
ˆ
modal verbs and etre, but not with non-modal ones “
Serai-je dans le coup si je colore mes l` vres et mes ongles d™un bel orange
e
vif? = will I be really with it if I colour my lips and nails bright orange?

370
474 oui “ non questions: 3 “ intonation



Puis-je annoncer ce que je veux faire? = may I announce what I want to do?
Dois-je reprendre une activit´ physique pour d´ velopper encore ma masse
e e
musculaire? = have I got to resume some physical activity to develop my muscle mass more?
The use of n™est-ce pas
N™est-ce pas is the French tag question that can be attached to any statement to turn
it into a question “ it is the equivalent of English can™t I, do you, don™t you, etc “
L™affaire est dans le sac, n™est-ce pas? = it™s in the bag, isn™t it?
Elle peut deviner vos pens´ es, n™est-ce pas? = she can guess your thoughts, can™t she?
e
Vous avez besoin d™une voiture pour le weekend, n™est-ce pas? = you need a car
for the weekend, don™t you?
Il ne faut pas trop en mettre, n™est-ce pas? = you mustn™t put too much on, must you?
Sometimes questions using inversion of subject and verb offer an alternative rather than
a oui “ non /yes “ no answer “
Faut-il faire sa couleur avant ou apr` s la permanente? = should I add the hair
e
colour before or after the perm?
Faut-il ou non rentrer le rabat de la poche de mon blazer? = should I turn the ¬‚ap
of my blazer pocket in or not?

473 oui “ non questions “ 2: those involving est-ce que +
direct order of the subject and verb
Est-ce que la douleur a disparu deux heures apr` s la prise? = did the pain
e
disappear two hours after taking the pill?
Est-ce que vous avez eu des exp´ riences p´ nibles dans votre adolescence? =
e e
have you had unpleasant experiences during your teenage years?
Est-ce que vous n™´ cartez pas les jambes lorsqu™il fait chaud? = don™t you sit
e
with your legs apart when it™s hot?
ˆ
Vous gagnez dix fois moins que lui. Est-ce que vous estimez que vous etes
dix fois moins bon que Roger Federer? = you earn ten times less than him. Do you
consider that you™re ten times worse than Roger Federer?
Vous cultivez votre image d™homme mari´ et de p` re de famille. Est-ce que
e e
`
ca suf¬t a refroidir les admiratrices ou est-ce qu™on vous drague malgr´
¸ e
tout? = you cultivate your image as a married man, with children. Is that enough to cool the ardour of
your female admirers or do they go after you in spite of everything?

474 oui “ non questions “ 3: those involving intonation only
The rising intonation associated with the other types of interrogative sentences can be
used with the direct order to indicate that a question is being asked and that a statement
is not intended. This is extremely common in spoken French “
La fum´ e ne vous d´ range pas? = is the smoke disturbing you?
e e
C™est passionnant? = is it exciting?

371
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Vous n™avez jamais eu peur de sombrer dans la d´ pression? = have you ever been
e
afraid of becoming depressed?
Vous avez des probl` mes avec vos voisins? = do you have problems with your
e
neighbours?
Votre femme vous laisse de l™argent de poche chaque mois? = does your wife give
you some pocket money every month?
Vous avez des souvenirs sexy de votre exp´ rience de serveuse? = have you got
e
some sexy memories of your experience as a waitress?
In the following examples, highlighting is used as well as intonation “
La plage, vous y allez souvent? = do you often go to the beach?
Votre permis, vous l™avez eu du premier coup? = did you get your licence at the ¬rst
attempt?
Et votre ¬ls, il conduit, lui? = and does your son drive?
In the following example, the question is conveyed through a very polite formula “
Si Madame veut bien gouter? = would Madam care to taste it?
ˆ


475 Elliptical oui “ non questions
In speech it is common for the question to be elliptical “ that is to say, for there to be
no verb and for the person being addressed to supply missing details from the context in
which the question is uttered “
Pas mal, non? = not bad, eh?
Une marque brune sur la tempe ou le dos de la main? = you™ve got a brown spot
on your temple or the back of your hand?
Connaissez-vous ses limites ? Et les votres? = do you know her limits? And your own?
ˆ
Bourgogne ou Bordeaux ? = Burgundy or Bordeaux ?
Celui-ci? = this one?



Questions introduced by question words

476 Questions introduced by question words
This type of question is sometimes known as a k-question, because most of the question
words in French include a /k/ sound in their pronunciation “ in addition to those
beginning with /k/ “ the qui, que, quel, quand series, plus combien, comment “
there is also pourquoi where the /k/ sound occurs mid-word. The exception to this
`
principle is ou.
The position of k-words and the structure of interrogative sentences containing a k-
word are extremely ¬‚exible. Similar possibilities to those with oui “ non questions “ and


372
477 Question words “ pronouns



more “ are available here. In the following examples, it is important to note the position
of the subject in relation to the verb and the k-word “
if the subject is a pronoun, it will either be inverted as in 1 below or occur in the direct
order as in the case of 2 and 3 below;
if it is a noun rather than a pronoun, it can precede or follow the k-word and be echoed
by a subject pronoun, which then is used as above.
However, this does not apply to que = what (object), in which case the subject follows
the verb “ see below “ nor to the quel series “ see 477, 478.
1 Placing the k-word ¬rst and inverting the subject and verb
Depuis quand n™avez-vous pas pleur´ au cin´ ma? = since when didn™t you cry at the
e e
pictures?
Quelle est votre plage pr´ f´ r´ e dans le monde? = which is your favourite beach in the
ee e
world?
If a noun rather than a pronoun is the subject, the noun precedes or follows the k-word
and a subject pronoun echoing the noun is used in the inverted position “

Comment la monotonie s™installe-t-elle  

= how does boredom set
dans un couple?
La monotonie, comment s™installe-t-elle  in in a couple?


dans un couple?
Pourquoi le t´ l´ phone s™av` re-t-il un moyen id´ al pour les con¬dences? =
ee e e
why does the telephone turn out to be the ideal way of passing on secrets?
2 Placing the k-word ¬rst and using est-ce que after it with direct word order
Qu™est-ce que vous trouvez sensuel chez elle? = what do you ¬nd sexy in her?
Comment est-ce que je peux faire pour avoir des rapports normaux? = how
can I work it so that I can have normal relationships?
3 Using rising intonation
Vous avez combien de points sur votre permis ? = how many points have you got on
your licence?
Ca veut dire quoi « sans savon »? = what does ˜soap-free™ mean?
¸
4 Elliptical questions with a k-word
Quoi de neuf pour vos dents? “ what™s new for your teeth?
It should be noted that the order of unstressed pronouns and the use of ne . . . pas is
not affected by the inversion of the subject and verb.

477 Question words “ pronouns
qui = who (subject), and = who(m) (object)
subject
Qui en prend la d´ cision? = who takes the decision for it?
e
Qui vous a dit cela? = who told you that?


373
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Qui sont les hommes les plus sexy pour vous? = who are the sexiest men in your
book?
Qui se met entre vous au lit “ votre m` re, votre patron, votre ex? = who puts
e
themselves between you in bed “ your mother, your boss or your ex?
object
Qui avez-vous charg´ de trouver une propri´ t´ convenable? = who have you
e ee
delegated to ¬nd a suitable property?
Qui voulez-vous inviter a dˆner ce soir? = who do you want to invite to dinner this

evening?
Qui = who(m) after a preposition; as explained above, inversion occurs if a subject
pronoun is used; if a noun rather than a pronoun is the subject, the noun can follow or
precede the k-word “ in the latter case, a subject pronoun echoing the noun is used in
the inverted order “
`
A qui dois-je m™adresser pour des renseignements? = who should I refer to for
information?
´e
Avec qui partez-vous en vacances cet et´ ? = who are you going on holiday with this
summer?
` ˆ
A qui appartient ce brule-parfum?
= who does that oil-burner belong to?
ˆ `
Ce brule-parfum, a qui appartient-il?
De qui vient ce message?
= who is this message from?
Ce message, de qui vient-il?

qu™est-ce qui = what (subject)

Qu™est-ce qui me pousse a ecrire dans la presse des choses concernant ma
personne? = what pushes me to write things about myself in the press?
Qu™est-ce qui vous d´ goute le plus? = what turns you off the most?

Qu™est-ce qui vous a s´ duite dans le role de Judith? = what was there in the part of
ˆ
e
Judith that seduced you?

que = what (object)
followed by inversion of the subject and the verb, whether pronoun or noun “
Que me conseillez-vous? = what do you advise me to do?
Que reste-t-il de votre vie de sportif? = what™s left of your life as a sportsman?
Qu™y a-t-il de vous dans ce personnage? = what is there of you in this character?
Aujourd™hui tout se passe bien. Mais qu™en sera-t-il demain? = today
everything™s all right. But what will it be like tomorrow?
Que couvre l™assurance scolaire? = what does school insurance cover?
D´ linquants sexuels “ que peut faire la m´ decine? = sex offenders “ what can
e e
medicine do?


374
477 Question words “ pronouns



qu™est-ce que = what (object)
followed by the direct order, subject preceding the verb; if a noun rather than a pronoun
is the subject, the noun precedes the k-word and a subject pronoun echoing the noun is
used in the direct order “
Qu™est-ce que tu attends pour lui dire que tu l™aimes? = what are you waiting for
to tell her you love her?
Qu™est-ce qu™on risque en l™admettant? = what do you risk by coming clean?
Les voisins, qu™est-ce qu™ils vont dire? = what are the neighbours going to say?
Votre passeport, qu™est-ce que vous avez fait avec? = what have you done with your
passport?

quoi = what
quoi is the stressed form of que and is used when separated from its normal position
immediately next to the verb (or separated from it by an unstressed pronoun) or when
preceded by a preposition “
Quoi de plus f´ minin qu™un joli d´ collet´ avec une peau lisse et sans
e e e
d´ faut? = what can be more feminine than a pretty low neck-line with a smooth, clear skin?
e
La v´ rit´ , c™est quoi? = what is truth?
ee
Pour toi, le moyen de lutter contre la homophobie, ce serait quoi? = what in
your opinion would be the way to ¬ght against homophobia?
Apr` s avoir fait l™amour, mon partenaire est pris d™une s´ rie
e e
d™´ ternuements “ cette r´ action, a quoi est-elle due? = after making love, my
`
e e
partner has a sneezing ¬t “ what is this reaction due to?
En quoi consiste au juste le traitement? = what™s the treatment like exactly?

combien = how many
Combien de couples sont-ils concern´ s par les dif¬cult´ s sexuelles? = how
e e
many couples experience sexual problems?
Combien de temps est-ce que ca prend? = how long does that take?
¸
Combien de fois dois-je te dire que je ne veux pas sortir avec toi? = how many
times do I have to tell you I don™t want to go out with you?
Thierry Henry, combien de buts a-t-il marqu´ s cette saison? = how many goals
e
has Thierry Henry scored this season?
Vous voulez perdre combien? = how much weight do you want to lose?

lequel series
The lequel series of interrogative pronouns invites the hearer to choose between a
speci¬ed group of objects or items, unlike the quel series “ see below “ which offers a
completely open choice. Like the quel series, the lequel series agrees in number and


375
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



gender with the noun it quali¬es. Note that this series consists of pronouns and not
adjectives; consequently the pronoun is followed by de when it is linked to a noun “
Lequel de ces pulls pr´ f` res-tu? = which of these pullovers do you prefer?
ee
Laquelle des stars de tennis f´ minines va gagner a Roland-Garros cet et´ =
` ´e
e
which female tennis star is going to win Roland-Garros this summer?
Le magasin a une grande gamme de d´ odorants “ lequel dois-je prendre? =
e
the shop™s got a large range of deodorants “ which one should I take?


478 Question words “ adjectives
The quel series of adjectives agrees in number and gender with the noun it quali¬es.
Quel type de mat´ riel devrait-on choisir pour transformer son salon en
e
stade olympique? = what sort of equipment should you choose to convert your living room into an
Olympic stadium?
Quels produits me conseillez-vous pour m™ass´ cher? = what sorts of products do
e
you advise to dry me out?
Quelle est la diff´ rence entre le « bon » et le « mauvais » cholest´ rol? = what
e e
is the difference between ˜good™ and ˜bad™ cholesterol?
Quelle est votre relation avec vos parents? = what™s your relationship with your parents
like?
Quelle agence choisir? = what agency should we choose?
From the following two examples, the difference between quel and qui can be
deduced “
1 Qui est l™animatrice t´ l´ la plus sexy? = who is the sexiest TV presenter?
ee
2 Quelle est l™animatrice t´ l´ la plus sexy? = which one is the sexiest TV presenter?
ee
For question 1 the choice is completely free; for question 2 a list follows the question from
which the reader is invited to select his/her preference.


479 Question words “ adverbs
comment = how “ often used with an in¬nitive “
`
Comment puis-je faire comprendre a ma femme que je voudrais l™aider
dans la cuisine? = how can I make my wife understand that I™d like to help her in the kitchen?
Comment d´ ¬niriez-vous la mis` re sexuelle? = how would you de¬ne sexual misery?
e e
Comment y arriver? = how can we manage that?
`
Comment venir a bout de la maladie de Verneuil qui me fait souffrir
d™infections cutan´ es r´ p´ t´ es? = how can I overcome Verneuil™s disease which keeps
e e ee
making me have one skin infection after another?
Comment lui faire comprendre que je voudrais moi aussi participer? = how
can I make her understand that I™d like to join in as well?

376
480 Elliptical questions “ no question word



Comment faire renaˆtre le d´ sir dans notre couple et traiter les dif¬cult´ s
± e e
de mon ami? = how can we rekindle some passion in our relationship and treat my boyfriend™s
problems?


ou = where
`
Ou etes-vous all´ en vacances l™ann´ e derni` re? = where did you go on holiday last
`ˆ e e e
year?
Ou en etes-vous avec la sant´ de vos dents? = where have you got to with your dental
` ˆ e
health?
Ou peut-on trouver du ¬‚uor? = where can you ¬nd ¬‚uoride?
`
`
D™ou est-ce que ca vient que tout le monde veut faire l™amour dans un
¸
avion? = where has the idea come from that everyone wants to make love in a plane?

pourquoi
Pourquoi les femmes entrent-elles toujours dans les d´ tails quand elles
e
`
nous racontent leur journ´ e et ne savent pas, comme nous, aller a
e
l™essentiel? = why do women always go into great detail when they tell us how their day has been
and not cut to the chase like us?
Pourquoi faut-il eviter les bains trop chauds? = why should you avoid over-hot baths?
´
Pourquoi a-t-elle sans arrˆ t le vertige? = why is she always dizzy?
e
Pourquoi tout ca? = what™s all that about?
¸
Pourquoi ne pas pro¬ter de tous les horaires pour le faire? = why not take
advantage of all hours of the day and night to do it?

quand
Quand faut-il inspirer et expirer en musculation? = when do you have to breathe in
and breathe out when you™re doing your muscle-building exercises?
Quand avez-vous senti que vous etes devenu un homme? = when did you feel that
ˆ
you™d become a man?
Quand avez-vous d´ couvert que votre meilleure amie vous trompait? =
e
when did you ¬nd out that your best friend was cheating on you?

480 Elliptical questions without a question word but
suggesting one
Occasionally elliptical questions without a k-word seem to indicate that one is
implied.
Aujourd™hui tout roule avec votre partenaire. Et demain? = today everything is
running smoothly with your partner “ but what about tomorrow?
` ˆ
Cette maladie toucherait 2 a 5% de la population. Les symptomes?
Insomnies, migraines et douleurs musculaires = this illness reputedly affects
between 2 and 5% of the population. What are its symptoms? Insomnia, migraines and muscular pains

377
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



481 Indirect questions
Indirect questions result from the reporting in indirect speech of direct questions.
1 Oui “ non questions become noun clauses introduced by si = if, whether in indirect
speech. Tense changes take place as required.
direct question “
ˆ
Est-ce que vous etes couvert contre les risques majeurs sans payer cher
des garanties inutiles? = are you covered against major risks without paying a lot of money for
useless guarantees?
indirect question “
ˆ
Faites ce test pour savoir si vous etes bien couvert contre les risques
majeurs sans payer cher des garanties inutiles = take this test to know if you are well
covered against major risks without paying a lot of money for useless guarantees
direct question “
Est-ce qu™elle ne traˆne pas quelque part? = is she hanging about somewhere?
±
indirect question “
J™ai fait le tour de tous les magasins pour voir si elle ne traˆnait pas ±
quelque part = I™ve been round all the shops to ¬nd out if she was hanging about somewhere
ˆ `
Elle voulait savoir s™il fallait controler le temps que son ¬ls passe a
l™ordinateur = she wanted to know if she should control the amount of time her son spent on the
computer
2 K-word questions become noun clauses introduced by the k-word or, in the case of the
interrogative pronouns qu™est-ce qui = what (subject) and que = what (object), by ce
qui and ce que “
direct question “
`
Quels points communs est-ce qu™on peut trouver entre l™homme a notre
`
bras et notre sac a main ou nos escarpins? = what points can we ¬nd in common
between the man on our arm and our handbag or shoes?
indirect question “
`
L™homme a notre bras est tout pour nous sauf un accessoire, et on ne voit
`
vraiment pas quels points communs lui trouver avec notre sac a main ou
nos escarpins = the man on our arm is everything to us except an accessory, and we can™t really
see what points we can ¬nd in common between him and our handbag or shoes
direct question “
Demain, de quoi sera-t-il fait? = what will tomorrow be like?
indirect question “
On ne sait pas de quoi demain sera fait = we don™t know what tomorrow will be like
direct question “


378
482 Rhetorical questions



Qu™est-ce qui pourrait vous procurer un plaisir comparable? = what could give
you a comparable amount of pleasure?
indirect question “
Demandez-vous ce qui pourrait vous procurer un plaisir comparable = ask
yourself what could give you a comparable amount of pleasure.
e`
Il a demand´ a son m´ decin comment il pouvait se d´ barrasser de cette
e e
habitude gˆ nante = he asked his doctor how he could get rid of this embarrassing habit
e
`
Cette anecdote d´ montre bien a quel point notre organisme peut avoir des
e
caprices aux cons´ quences dramatiques = this anecdote illustrates well to what extent
e
our body may have whims that may have dramatic consequences
Lorsqu™on lui demande quelle ville elle pr´ f` re, elle r´ pond sans h´ siter:
ee e e
« Londres, parce que j™ai gagn´ Wimbledon » = when she™s asked which town she
e
prefers, she replies without hesitating: ˜London, because I won Wimbledon™
Il m™a dit qu™il sortait avec une de ses copines ce soir, mais je ne sais pas
laquelle = he told me he was going out with one of his girlfriends this evening, but I don™t know
which one
´
Des millions d™ˆ tres humains rˆ vent d™une vie eternelle, et s™il pleut le
e e
dimanche apr` s-midi, ils ne savent pas quoi faire = millions of human beings
e
dream of eternal life, and if it rains Sunday afternoon, they don™t know what to do
Ma copine ne me dit jamais qu™elle m™aime, sauf un jour dans une
brasserie “ je ne sais pas ce qui lui a pris ce jour-la = my girlfriend never says she
`
loves me, except one day, in a bar “ I don™t know what possessed her that day
In the following example there are two indirect questions, one oui “ non and the other
introduced by a k-word “
direct question 1 Est-ce que vous savez . . .?
direct question 2 Qu™est-ce qu™une Francaise d´ pense sur ses produits de
¸ e
beaut´ ?
e
Il m™a demand´ si je savais ce que, en moyenne, chaque Francaise d´ pense
e ¸ e
par an pour ses produits de beaut´ = he asked me if I knew what on average every French
e
woman spends per year on beauty products
In the following example there is an indirect question within a direct question “
`e
Est-ce que les scienti¬ques arriveront jamais a d´ couvrir comment on
peut controler les pellicules, les pets, les rots? = will scientists ever succeed in
ˆ
discovering how we can control dandruff, farting and belching?

482 Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions sit on the borderline between interrogatives and exclamatives “ see
483. They ask questions to which no answer is required “ usually because the person
asking the question already knows it! “ and express an emotion typically expressed by an
exclamative.


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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



In the following example, the person asking the questions knows how many tests s/he
has had “ it™s the number of tests that provokes the question/exclamation “
Combien d™examens m´ dicaux ai-je pass´ pour d´ couvrir que j™´ tais en
e e e e
parfaite sant´ ! = how many medical tests have I had to ¬nd out I was in perfect
e
health!
ˆ ` ´
Qu™est-ce que j™ai du supporter pour parvenir a cette etape de ma
carri` re! = what haven™t I had to put up with to reach this stage in my career!
e



Exclamative sentences

483 Exclamative sentences
Exclamative sentences express surprise, anger, disgust, amusement and other strong emo-
tions. Five types of construction are available:

1 With comme or que. In exclamative sentences formed this way, comme or que is
simply placed at the head of the sentence followed by the direct order “
Que ma femme est belle! = how beautiful my wife is!
Qu™il est dif¬cile d™accepter que l™intelligence est un mythe et que c™est
la comp´ tence qui est r´ elle = how dif¬cult it is to accept that intelligence is a myth and
e e
that it™s ability that™s real
Comme je trouve ennuyeux de faire de la gym! = how boring I ¬nd it to go to the
gym!
Comme il est important de garder son sang-froid! = how important it is to
preserve your self-control!
Qu™est-ce que may be used like comme and que in informal French “
Qu™est-ce qu™il est fou! = how daft he is!
Qu™est-ce qu™il est bon de prendre une douche pour se d´ stresser! = how
e
good it is to have a shower to relieve your stress!
2 With quel qualifying a noun, agreeing in number and gender; quel + singular noun
normally = what a in English (but see the last example) “
Quel dommage! = what a shame!
Quel pantalon affreux! = what a ghastly pair of trousers!
Quelles dents blanches! = what white teeth!
Quelle ironie! = what irony!
3 With que de + noun; que de = what a lot of
Que de monde! = what a lot of people!
Que de magasins sensationnels! = what a lot of fantastic shops!

380
484 Punctuation



4 With que + subjunctive “ this construction has close af¬nities with the imperative,
where it is treated in more detail “ see 122.
Il me manquait une chose “ un but, et quand j™ai marqu´ mon premier e
but pour le club, le pr´ sident est venu me dire “ Que ce soit le premier
e
d™une longue s´ rie! = one thing was missing “ a goal, and when I scored my ¬rst goal for the
e
club, the chairman came to see me and said “ May it be the ¬rst in a long line!
Bref, qu™on prenne le temps de bien faire les choses = in short, please take time
to do things well
5 With exclamative intonation “ our speech is often dotted with exclamations
consisting of single words or short phrases “
D´ sastre! “ les poils sur le mollet = disaster! “ hairy calves
e
Horreur! “ les pieds qui empestent = it™s the pits! “ pongy feet
Atomique Ivanisovic! = Ivanisovic the rocket!
Merde! = blast and damnation!
Fini! En¬n! = ¬nished! At last!



Punctuation

484 Punctuation
For most punctuation marks “ full stop, comma, question mark, exclamation mark,
hyphen/dash, semi-colon, suspension marks “ the rules of use are much the same in
French as in English.
Differences occur to a greater or less extent as far as capital letters, the colon and
comma and inverted commas are concerned.

1 Capital letters
Adjectives denoting nationality and names of languages begin with a lower-case letter in
French but not in English “
un footballeur espagnol = a Spanish footballer
le public anglais = the English public
un plat provencal = a Proven¸al dish
c
¸
une vedette am´ ricaine = an American star
e
le francais = the French (language)
¸
le danois = the Danish (language)
However, nouns denoting a person of a certain nationality begin with a capital letter “
une Francaise = a French woman
¸
un Espagnol = a Spaniard

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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Names of countries “ those consisting of more than one word usually have a capital
letter for each signi¬cant word “
les Pays-Bas = the Netherlands
´
les Etats-Unis = the United States
la Cor´ e du Nord / du Sud = North/South Korea
e
Professional names and of¬cial titles “ here the French practice is not to use capital
letters “ although usage is not always consistent. In the case of names of ministers, the
name of the actual ministry is presented with a capital letter.
le pr´ sident = the President
e
la reine d™Angleterre = the queen of England
le ministre de l™Education = the Minister of Education
la ministre de la Justice = the Minister of Justice
le professeur de francais = the Professor of French
¸
But le Premier ministre = the Prime Minister is normally accompanied by a capital

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