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un livre “ des livres = book “ books, le mod` le “ des mod` les = model “ models, le
e e
visage “ les visages = face “ faces
Les d´ put´ s l™ont vot´ = the MPs have voted for it
e e e

Of course, if the singular form of the noun already ends in “s, the plural form is exactly
the same “

une fois “ des fois = once “ times, un Francais “ des Francais = a Frenchman “
¸ ¸
Frenchmen, le mois “ les mois = month “ months, la souris “ les souris = mouse “ mice
Similarly nouns ending in “x, “z do not have a separate form for the plural “
le choix “ les choix = choice “ choices, un prix “ des prix = prize “ prizes, la toux “
les toux = cough “ coughs
le gaz “ des gaz = gas “ gases, le nez “ les nez = nose “ noses

2 For words ending in “al, “au, “eu, “eau, “oeu, “x is added to form the plural “

“al
le carnaval “ les carnavaux = carnival “ carnivals, le cheval “ les chevaux = horse
“ horses, le festival “ les festivaux = festival “ festivals, le journal “ les journaux =
newspaper “ newspapers, le signal “ les signaux = signal “ signals
Les journaux sont d™accord que le ministre a fait un faux pas = the papers are
in agreement that the minister has put his foot in it
exceptions “ le bal “ les bals = ball “ balls
l™id´ al = ideal has two plurals, les id´ als, les id´ aux
e e e

“au
le noyau “ les noyaux = stone (of fruit) “ stones, le tuyau “ les tuyaux = tube “ tubes
Le chirurgien a d´cid´ qu™il faut d´ brancher tous les tuyaux = the surgeon has
ee e
decided that all the tubes should be switched off

142
189 Markers for forming plural of nouns



“eu
le cheveu “ les cheveux = hair, le jeu “ les jeux = game “ games, le neveu “ les
neveux = nephew “ nephews
N™oubliez pas de bien rincer les cheveux = don™t forget to rinse your hair thoroughly
exceptions “ le bleu “ les bleus = bruise “ bruises, le pneu “ les pneus = tyre “ tyres

“eau
le chapeau “ les chapeaux = hat “ hats, l™eau “ les eaux = water “ waters, le
manteau “ les manteaux = coat “ coats, le trousseau “ les trousseaux =
bunch“bunches
Stupidement, j™avais laiss´ tous les trousseaux de clefs dans le bureau =
e
stupidly, I had left all the bunches of keys in the of¬ce

“oeu
le voeu “ les voeux = wish “ wishes
Meilleurs voeux pour ton anniversaire = best wishes for your birthday
3 For nouns ending in “ail, “ou, “s is added to form the plural except in the following
cases, when “x is used “

“ail
le bail “ les baux = lease “ leases, le corail “ les coraux = coral “ corals, le travail “
les travaux = work “ works
Les travaux vont commencer ce weekend = work is due to begin this weekend

“ou
le bijou “ les bijoux = jewel “ jewels, le caillou “ les cailloux = pebble “ pebbles, le
chou “ les choux = cabbage “ cabbages, le genou “ les genoux = knee “ knees, le
hibou “ les hiboux = owl “ owls, le joujou “ les joujoux = toy “ toys, le pou “ les
poux = louse “ lice, le ripou “ les ripoux = conman “ conmen
Le mus´ e a une bonne collection de bijoux datant de l™` re egyptienne = the

e
museum™s got a good collection of jewels from Egyptian times
4 Nouns with irregular plurals “
le ciel “ les cieux = sky “ skies, l™oeil “ les yeux = eye “ eyes
Some words, which were originally compound words, form their plurals in unorthodox
ways “
monsieur “ messieurs = mister “ gentlemen, madame “ mesdames = Mrs “ ladies,
mademoiselle “ mesdemoiselles “ Miss “ Misses
In one or two cases, although the plural is formed normally, pronunciation of the plural
form is affected “
le boeuf “ les boeufs = bullock “ bullocks, l™oeuf “ les oeufs = egg “ eggs, “f“ not
pronounced in plural; l™os “ les os = bone “ bones, “s sounded in singular but not in
plural.

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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



5 Plural of foreign words. This is a variable matter, usage depending upon the
speaker™s/writer™s knowledge of the foreign language involved.
Treatment of English words “ sometimes the plural is formed as if the word were an
ordinary French word, sometimes it is given its authentic English form “
les sandwichs “ les sandwiches, les matches “ les matchs
However, words ending in “man, known as false anglicisms, because, although they
resemble English words, they are in fact French creations, usually form their plural in
“men
les rugbymen = rugby players, les tennismen = tennis players
On the other hand, the genuine English word barman has as its plural in French the form
barmans.
Treatment of other foreign words “ some words remain invariable, especially those of
Latin origin “
les amen = amens, les forum = forums, les veto = vetos
Others tend to become aligned with French usage, especially those of Italian origin,
although forms without “s are also found “
les confettis, les macaronis, les pizzas, les spaghettis


190 Plural of compound words
1 Noun + noun
If the nouns are both countable, they both take a plural form “
un bateau-citerne “ des bateaux-citernes = tanker(s), un chou-¬‚eur “ des
choux-¬‚eurs = cauli¬‚ower(s), un oiseau-mouche “ des oiseaux-mouches =
hummingbird(s)
exception “ une auto-´ cole “ des auto-´ coles = driving schools
e e
If only one noun is countable, then that noun only assumes a plural form “
une pause-caf´ “ des pauses-caf´ = coffee break(s), un timbre-poste “ des
e e
timbres-poste = stamp(s)


2 Adjective + noun or noun + adjective
Plurals are formed in the normal way “
un beau-p` re “ des beaux-p` res = father(s)-in-law, un rond-point “ des
e e
ronds-points = roundabout(s), un rouge-gorge “ des rouges-gorges = robin(s)
un cerf-volant “ des cerfs-volants = kite(s), un coffre-fort “ des coffres-forts =
strong boxe(s)
exceptions “ those feminine nouns with a masculine adjective preceding the noun:
une grand-m` re “ des grand-m` res, une grand-route “ des grand-routes =
e e
main road(s), une grand-tante “ des grand-tantes = great-aunt(s); but with the
names of family members, a form with grands also occurs: grands-m` res, grands-
e
tantes.

144
191 Different usages of number



3 Verb + noun
If the noun is countable, it takes a plural form; the verb, of course, remains invariable “
une garde-robe “ des garde-robes = wardrobe(s), un ouvre-boˆte “ des
±
ouvre-boˆtes = tin-opener(s), un tire-bouchon “ des tire-bouchons = corkscrew(s)
±
In some cases the singular form of the countable noun already involves the plural form “
un porte-avions “ des porte-avions = aircraft carrier(s), un p` se-papiers “
e
des p` se-papiers = paperweight(s), un s` che-cheveux “ des s` che-cheveux =
e e e
hair-drier(s)
exception “ un soutien-gorge “ des soutiens-gorge = bra(s)
If the noun is uncountable, it remains invariable in the plural “
un gratte-ciel “ des gratte-ciel = skyscraper(s), un pare-brise “ des pare-brise =
windscreen(s), un porte-monnaie “ des porte-monnaie = purse(s)

4 Adverb or preposition + noun
The form of the noun changes normally “
une arri` re-pens´ e “ des arri` re-pens´ es = ulterior motive(s), un haut-parleur “
e e e e
des haut-parleurs = loudspeaker(s), une mini-jupe “ des mini-jupes =
mini-skirt(s), un sous-marin “ des sous-marins = submarine(s)
In some cases the singular form of the countable noun already involves the plural form “
des deux-roues = two-wheeler(s), des mille-pattes = centipede(s), des
quatre-heures = afternoon snack(s)

5 Noun + prepositional phrase
In most cases the noun changes as appropriate “
un arc-en-ciel “ des arcs-en-ciel = rainbow(s), un coup d™oeil “ des coups
d™oeil = glance(s), une gueule de bois “ des gueules de bois = hangover(s), une
pomme de terre “ des pommes de terre = potato(es)
Occasionally, the noun remains invariable “
un pied-a-terre “ des pied-a-terre = pied-` -terre(s), une tˆ te-a-tˆ te “ des
` ` e `e
a
tˆ te-a-tˆ te = private chat(s)
e `e

6 Verb phrases
These remain invariable “
un laissez-passer “ des laissez-passer = passe(s), un va-et-vient “ des
va-et-vient = coming(s) and going(s)

191 Different usages of number in French and English
Sometimes a singular in French is conveyed by a plural in English “
un collant = tights, un escalier = stairs, un g´ n´ rique = (¬lm) credits, un jean =
ee
jeans, un pantalon = trousers, un pyjama = pyjamas, un short = shorts, un slip =
underpants

145
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



The converse also occurs “ plural French for English singular “
les applaudissements = applause, les bagages = luggage, les fun´ railles = funeral,
e
faire des progr` s = to make progress, faire des recherches = to do research, avoir des
e
remords = to have remorse, les t´ n` bres = darkness
ee
Couvert is a special case “ un couvert = place setting; les couverts = cutlery.
There are also a number of cases where a French singular is conveyed by an ˜apparent™
plural in English (ie they are usually followed by a singular verb) “
le diab` te = diabetes, l™´ conomie = economics, la linguistique = linguistics, la
e e
physique = physics, la politique = politics
However, it is the plural form les math´ matiques = mathematics that is the norm; les
e
maths is the more informal form.


192 Contrast between singular and plural usages in French
Certain French words have a singular“plural duality which the corresponding English
words do not possess (see 191) “
un fruit = (a piece of) fruit, des fruits = fruit
un pain = a loaf of bread, des pains = loaves, du pain = bread
un raisin = (a type of) grape, des raisins =(different types of) grapes, du raisin =
grapes, un grain de raisin = (single) grape
la recherche = (the practice of) research, les recherches = detailed research
une statistique = (single set of) statistics, la statistique = statistics, des statistiques
= (series of) statistics
In the case of devoir, in the singular it usually = duty, whereas in the plural it usually =
homework.



Adjectives

193 Adjectives
Adjectives constitute a class of words that are used to qualify a noun “ they may precede
the noun (une belle jupe), or follow it (un pantalon gris), or occur at some distance
from it (cette voiture semble la meilleure).
The adjective agrees in gender and number with the noun that it quali¬es.


194 Adjectives and gender
1 The masculine and feminine forms are identical
This applies to adjectives which in the masculine form already end in “e “
dif¬cile = dif¬cult, impossible = impossible, jaune = yellow, sage = wise, unique =
unique


146
194 Adjectives and gender



See 6 below as well.


2 Feminine formed by adding “e to masculine
Normally, the feminine form of an adjective is created by adding an “e to the masculine
form.
Sometimes this affects the pronunciation of the adjective “
exquis “ exquise = exquisite, fascinant “ fascinante = fascinating, francais “
¸
francaise = French, grand “ grande = big, petit “ petite = small
¸
But sometimes it does not “
ag´ “ ag´ e = aged, bleu “ bleue = blue, ferm´ “ ferm´ e = closed, trapu “ trapue
ˆe ˆe e e
= stocky
In the following cases, a dieresis is also added in writing, but the pronunciation is not
affected “
aigu “ aigu¨ = high-pitched, ambigu “ ambigu¨ = ambiguous
e e


3 Feminine formed as a result of more radical adjustment
“c to “che
blanc “ blanche = white, franc “ franche = frank, sec “ s` che = dry
e
“c to “(c)que
grec “ grecque = Greek, public “ publique = public, turc “ turque = Turkish
“eau to “elle
beau “ belle = beautiful, nouveau “ nouvelle = new
“eil to “eille
pareil “ pareille = similar, vermeil “ vermeille = bright red
“el to “elle
cruel “ cruelle = cruel, eventuel “ eventuelle = possible, personnel “
´ ´
personnelle = personal
“er to “` re
e
cher “ ch` re = dear, etranger “ etrang` re = foreign, ¬er “ ¬` re = proud
´ ´
e e e
“f to “ve
bref “ br` ve = brief, na¨f “ na¨ve = na¨ve, neuf “ neuve = new, vif “ vive = lively
±
e ± ±
“g to “gue
long “ longue = long
“ou to “olle
fou “ folle = foolish, mou “ molle = soft
vowel + “n to vowel + “nne
paysan “ paysanne = rural, ancien “ ancienne = old, europ´ en “ europ´ enne =
e e
European, bon “ bonne = good, breton “ bretonne = Breton


147
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



4 Cases where there is variation in the formation of the
feminine adjective
“et becomes either “` te or “ette “
e
complet “ compl` te = complete, inquiet “ inqui` te = worried, secret “ secr` te =
e e e
secret
muet “ muette = dumb, net “ nette = clean
“eur becomes either “eure or “euse; forms in “teur become “trice “
majeur “ majeure = major, meilleur “ meilleure = best, sup´ rieur “ sup´ rieure
e e
= superior
¬‚atteur “ ¬‚atteuse = ¬‚attering, trompeur “ trompeuse = deceitful
accusateur “ accusatrice = incriminating, destructeur “ destructrice =
destructive
“s becomes either “se or “sse “
anglais “ anglaise = English, courtois “ courtoise = polite, gris “ grise = grey
bas “ basse = low, epais “ epaisse = thick, gros “ grosse = fat
´ ´
There are a number of possibilities for adjectives ending in “x “
doux “ douce = soft
heureux “ heureuse = happy, jaloux “ jalouse = jealous
faux “ fausse = false
vieux “ vieille = old


5 One-off cases
favori “ favorite = favourite, frais “ fraˆche = fresh, gentil “ gentille = gentle, nul “
±
nulle = useless


6 Adjectives without speci¬c feminine form
These adjectives are also usually invariable in the plural.
Certain names of colours (originally nouns that have been converted to adjectival
use) “
une chemise lilas = a lilac-coloured shirt, une chaussure marron = a brown shoe,
une jupe saumon = a salmon-coloured skirt
Names of colours when the colour is quali¬ed “
des robes vert sombre = dark green dresses, des briques gris clair = light grey bricks,
des l` vres rouge fonc´ = dark red lips
e e
Certain adjectives of foreign origin “
une langue standard = a standard language, de la musique pop = pop music, une
jupe sexy = a sexy skirt, une femme snob = a snobbish woman, une livre sterling =
one pound sterling
chic “ une ¬lle chic = a smart-looking girl “ varies in the plural only.

148
196 Adjectives and number



7 Usage with demi, nu and mi
When demi = half occurs before a noun, it remains invariable and is linked to the noun
by a hyphen “
une demi-heure = half an hour, une demi-bouteille de rouge = half a bottle of red
wine
If it follows the noun it agrees in gender “
un kilo et demi = a kilo and a half, onze heures et demie = half past eleven, midi et
demi = half past twelve
When nu = bare precedes the noun, it is invariable “
nu-jambes = with bare legs, nu-tˆ te = bare-headed
e
Il ne faut pas sortir nu-tˆ te quand le soleil brille = you shouldn™t go out bare-headed
e
when the sun shines
However, if nu follows the noun, it agrees with it “
il ne faut pas sortir tˆ te nue quand le soleil brille = you shouldn™t go out bare-headed
e
when the sun shines
As for mi, it always precedes the noun and is consequently invariable. Expressions created
in this way are usually adverbial in function, but if they are nominal the expression
becomes feminine whatever the gender of the noun “
a mi-chemin = half-way
`
la premi` re mi-temps = the ¬rst half (of a match)
e
La boue nous arrivait a mi-corps = the mud came half-way up our bodies
`
Les informations de la mi-journ´ e = the lunchtime news
e

195 Adjectives with a variable masculine form
A small set of adjectives have a distinctive masculine form when the adjective occurs
before a noun beginning with a vowel or a ˜silent™ h “
beau “ un bel homme = a good-looking man
fou “ un fol enfant = a wild child
mou “ un mol effort = a feeble effort
nouveau “ un nouvel etudiant = a new student
´
vieux “ un vieil ami = an old friend

196 Adjectives and number
The rules for forming the plural of adjectives are the same as those for forming the plural
of nouns.
1 Normally an “s is added to the singular form, whether masculine or feminine, to
indicate the plural of the adjective “
un personnage int´ ressant “ des personnages int´ ressants = interesting people
e e
une actrice c´ l` bre “ des actrices c´ l` bres = famous actresses
ee ee

149
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



2 “x is added to adjectives in “eau “
beau “ beaux = beautiful, nouveau “ nouveaux = new
3 Adjectives in “al sometimes form their plural by adding “s, or “al becomes “aux “
banal “ banals = ordinary, fatal “ fatals = fatal, glacial “ glacials = icy-cold,
natal “ natals = native, naval “ navals = naval
g´ n´ ral “ g´ n´ raux = general, marginal “ marginaux = marginal, normal “
ee ee
normaux = normal, principal “ principaux = principal
id´ al = ideal has as its plural both id´ als and id´ aux
e e e
4 Compound adjectives form their plurals in the usual way “
un sourd-muet “ des sourds-muets = deaf and dumb people
un parti social-d´ mocrate “ des partis sociaux-d´ mocrates = social democrat
e e
parties

197 Adjectives and agreement
1 The overarching rule is that adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun that
they qualify “
des dif¬cult´ s matrimoniales = marriage problems
e
une belle histoire ancienne = a ¬ne old tale
2 When an adjective is qualifying a number of nouns in the singular, the adjective takes
the plural form “
un mascara et un blush assortis = matching mascara and blusher
3 If one of the nouns in a group is masculine and the other(s) feminine, the adjective
takes the masculine plural form “
une ombre a paupi` res et un mascara assortis = matching mascara and eye shadow
` e
In such cases, it is better (in order to avoid what would otherwise look like an incorrect
agreement) to place the masculine noun closest to the plural adjective.
4 If a plural noun is a collection of different individual items, the adjectives occur in the
singular too “
les cultures francaise et britannique = French and British cultures
¸
5 With a collective noun, the adjective agrees with the noun or the dependent nouns,
depending upon the sense “
un tas de vˆ tements sales = a pile of dirty clothes
e
un tas de vˆ tements tr` s haut = a very high pile of clothes
e e
In the latter case, it is better (stylistically and logically) to place the adjective after the
complete expression rather than after the noun it actually quali¬es (tas).
6 In certain circumstances French can be more precise than English (at least in the
written form), when it is a matter of knowing whether all the nouns in a group

150
198 Agreement: prepositional / adverbial expressions



of nouns are being quali¬ed by an adjective or simply one (or more, as the case
may be)
une jupe et un pull bleu = a skirt and a blue jumper, une jupe et un pull bleus = a
blue skirt and jumper (both blue), une jupe bleue et un pull = a blue skirt and jumper (only
skirt blue).
7 When a group of nouns are linked by ou, the adjective usually takes the plural form
Je ne sais pas si je vais mettre ma jupe ou mon pantalon bleus = I don™t know
whether to wear my blue skirt or trousers
8 Usage with on “ as will be seen in 224, although on is usually treated as masculine
singular (= one), it may also be considered as an equivalent of any personal pronoun.
Consequently, adjectives qualifying on adopt the gender and number which are thought
to be appropriate “
On est content de la voir = it™s great to see her (singular reference)
On est contents que ces deux-la se sont trouv´ s = we™re pleased that those two have
` e
met (masculine plural reference)
On est heureuses d™ˆ tre ensemble encore une fois = we™re happy to be together again
e
(feminine plural reference)
La question qu™on se pose toutes, c™est “ est-ce que ca cache quelque chose?
¸
= the question we all ask ourselves is “ is it hiding something? (feminine plural reference)
On est tristes que ce soit ainsi = we™re sad it™s come to that (masculine or feminine
plural reference)


198 Agreement of certain prepositional and adverbial
expressions involving past participles
A small number of prepositional and adverbial expressions containing a past participle
in their formation may occur either before or after the noun they qualify. When the
expression precedes the noun it quali¬es, the past participle remains invariable, but,
when it follows, it agrees with it.
Expressions involved are “
except´ = except (see 366), y compris = including (see 331), ci-joint = herewith
e

On peut l™utiliser pour traiter toutes les conditions de   you can use it to treat

peau y compris la dermatite =
all skin conditions
On peut l™utiliser pour traiter toutes les conditions de   including dermatitis

peau, la dermatite y comprise =
please ¬nd the following
Veuillez trouver ci-joint les documents suivants =
documents enclosed
Veuillez trouver les documents suivants ci-joints =

´
However, usage with etant donn´ is slightly more ¬‚exible “ it remains invariable when
e
it precedes the noun, but may or may not agree when it follows it “
Etant donn´ la situation actuelle =
e
given the present situation
´
La situation actuelle etant donn´ / donn´ e
e e

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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



199 Comparison of adjectives “ comparative and superlative
forms “ 1: Comparative and superlative of inequality;
2: Comparative of equality
1 Comparative and superlative of inequality
The French equivalents of the English ˜comparative and superlative of inequality™“ bigger,
biggest, more / less, most / least “ involve the use of plus / moins, le plus / le moins,
la plus / la moins, les plus / les moins.
The comparative and superlative adjectives are placed before or after the noun accord-
ing to the position of the adjective when it occurs by itself, although, if an expression that
would normally precede the noun is felt to be too awkward there, it may be placed after
it.
The article of the superlative form agrees with the gender of the noun quali¬ed.
Une jupe plus courte serait trop os´ e = a shorter skirt would be too daring
e
C™est la jupe la plus courte que j™aie jamais vue = it™s the shortest skirt I™ve ever seen
Cette jupe est plus courte que celle-la = this skirt is shorter than that one
`
Le plus beau garcon de la fac = the best-looking guy in the uni.
¸
La plus jeune enfant donnera le bouquet au maire = the youngest child will present
the bouquet to the mayor
Le devoir le moins dif¬cile c™est le francais = the least dif¬cult homework is French
¸
Ce devoir est moins dif¬cile que celui que nous devions faire hier soir = this
homework is less dif¬cult than the one we had to do last night
Le devoir que je trouve le moins dif¬cile c™est le francais = the homework I ¬nd
¸
the least dif¬cult is French
There are special comparative and superlative forms for bon and mauvais“
meilleur / meilleure, le meilleur / la meilleure, les meilleurs / meilleures
pire, le / la pire, les pires
and a special superlative form for petit “
le moindre, la moindre, les moindres
La meilleure nourriture pour la sant´ , ce sont les l´ gumes et les fruits frais
e e
= the best food for your health is fresh fruit and vegetables
C™est le meilleur / le pire prof que je connaisse = he™s the best / worst teacher I know
Je n™en avais pas la moindre id´ e = I hadn™t got the least idea
e
C™est le moindre de mes soucis = it™s the least of my worries
However, plus mauvais for pire and plus petit for moindre are also used. Plus
mauvais and, especially, plus petit tend to be used with concrete nouns and in more
mundane situations “
Voici le plus petit portable sur le march´ = here™s the smallest mobile on the market
e
Cette plage est plus mauvaise que les autres = this beach is worse than the others

152
202 The position of adjectives



For comparison of adverbs, see 409.

2 Comparative of equality
˜Comparison of equality™ is expressed by aussi and, usually after a negative, si “
Ce devoir est aussi dif¬cile que celui que nous devions faire hier soir = this
homework is as hard as the one we had to do last night
Le ¬lm est aussi bon que le livre = the ¬lm is as good as the book
Ce devoir n™est pas si dif¬cile que ca = this homework is not as dif¬cult as that
¸
Le ¬lm n™est pas aussi / si bon que le livre = the ¬lm isn™t as good as the book

200 Use of ne / le in clauses following a comparative
In written French, ne and/or le may be placed before the verb in clauses following a
comparative. Consequently, sometimes neither ne nor le will occur, at others one or the
other, or both, will be used!
Il est plus facile de trouver une solution qu™on le pense = it is easier to ¬nd a
solution than you might think
Est-ce que tu as jamais et´ plus surprise que tu l™es maintenant? = have you
´e
ever been more surprised than you are now?
Elle a trouv´ qu™il est plus dif¬cile de prouver son innocence qu™elle ne le
e
croyait = she found that it was more dif¬cult to prove her innocence than she had thought
Ils en savent plus qu™ils n™avouent = they know more about it than they™re prepared to
admit

201 The more the merrier
Whereas English uses a de¬nite article in expressions of the above type, French does not.
Plus on est de fous, plus on rit = the more the merrier
Plus on fume, plus on risque d™endommager sa sant´ = the more you smoke, the
e
more you risk endangering your health
Plus je passe de temps en France, moins je regrette l™Angleterre = the more
time I spend in France, the less I miss England
`
Plus on pense a l™autre, plus on n´ glige ses propres sensations, moins on a
e
de plaisir, moins l™autre a du plaisir = the more you think about your partner, the more
you neglect your own feelings, the less pleasure you have, the less your partner has too


202 The position of adjectives
As far as the position of adjectives in relation to nouns is concerned, adjectives fall into
three main groups “
those, few in number, that always precede the noun
those, most, that always follow the noun
those that may either precede or follow.

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But it should be noted that the ¬rst two principles are not absolutely hard-and-fast, and
adjectives occasionally occur in uncharacteristic positions. Generally speaking, however,
it is wise to respect the traditional situation.

1 Adjectives that precede the noun “
These tend to be short, very common adjectives “
autre = other, beau = beautiful, handsome, bon = good, grand = big, great, gros = big,
fat, haut = high, jeune = young, joli = pretty, mauvais = bad, meilleur = better, best,
moindre = less, least, nouveau = new, petit = small, sot = foolish, vaste = enormous,
vieux = old, vilain = ugly, nasty
or ordinal numbers and possessive, demonstrative, interrogative adjectives (see 265“271,
439, 478) “
C™est son premier roman = it™s her ¬rst novel
Cette belle robe = that beautiful dress
When modi¬ed by a short adverb, such adjectives are still placed before the noun, but
if the adverb or adverbial expression is relatively long, the adjective is placed after the
noun “
Un tr` s gros mec = a very fat guy
e
Un mec d´ mesur´ ment gros = a disproportionately fat guy
e e
See the next section for other adjectives that precede the noun.

2 Adjectives that follow the noun “
An impossibly long list “
the vast majority of adjectives “
L™eau gazeuse = sparkling mineral water
L™ail rap´ = grated garlic
ˆe
Une in¬‚uence artistique = an artistic in¬‚uence
Une equipe n´ erlandaise a reconnu r´ cemment un autre g` ne = a Dutch team
´ e e e
has recently identi¬ed another gene
La source marine de votre nouvelle jeunesse = the marine source of your new
youthfulness

3 Adjectives whose position may vary “
This may be for a number of reasons.
Certain adjectives, like court = short, long = long, precede the noun in normal
circumstances, but follow it when there is a contrast or an implied contrast with their
opposite “
une longue soir´ e = a long evening, une longue rang´ e de chˆ nes = a long row of oak
e e e
trees
je pr´ f` re les cheveux courts = I prefer short hair, une robe longue = a long skirt
ee

154
203 Adjectives which change their meaning



Dernier and prochain normally precede the noun “
Je descends au prochain arrˆ t = I™m getting off at the next stop
e
C™est mon dernier chewing-gum = that™s my last piece of chewing gum
However, when they are used with expressions of time, their position may vary “ when
they precede the noun, they are the equivalent of English the last, the next, and when they
follow, they are the equivalent of last, next “
C™est la derni` re fois que tu feras ca = that™s the last time you™ll do that
e ¸
Ca sera pour une prochaine fois = that™ll be for the next time
¸
`
A samedi prochain = till next Saturday
Vendredi dernier je ne pouvais pas venir = last Friday I couldn™t make it

4 Adjectives whose meaning changes according to their position “
See next section.

5 Stylistic variation of position
For stylistic reasons an adjective that normally follows the noun may be used in front of
it. This is particularly common in the media “ in newspapers and magazines. Changing
the position of an adjective from its traditional position after a noun to before it focuses
attention on it and foregrounds the adjective. This is a subtle matter which space does
not permit detailed discussion of here.


203 Adjectives which change their meaning according
to their position
What follows is a list of common adjectives that change their meaning according to their
position vis-` -vis the noun they qualify.
a


adjective meaning before noun meaning after noun
former old
ancien
une ancienne epouse = a former une epouse ancienne = an old
´ ´
wife wife
good, nice thoughtful, kind
bon
une bonne amie = a good friend une amie bonne = a thoughtful
friend
obliging, honest courageous
brave
de braves gens = decent people des gens braves = brave people
certain certain, inde¬nite certain, unquestionable
un certain fait = some fact or other un fait certain = an indubitable fact
dear, beloved expensive
cher
mon cher ami = my dear friend un tailleur cher = an expensive suit
diff´ rent various different
e
diff´ rentes robes = a variety of des robes diff´ rentes = different
e e
dresses sorts of dresses

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various diverse, distinct
divers
diverses opinions = a variety of des opinions diverses =
opinions distinctly different opinions
great tall
grand
un grand prˆ cheur = a great preacher
un prˆ cheur grand = a tall
e e
preacher
high, open (of sea) high (of tide)
haut
la haute mer = the open sea la mer haute = high tide
young youthful
jeune
un jeune honme = a young man un homme jeune = a
young-looking man
slight (¬gurative usage) light (of weight)
l´ ger
e
une couche l´ g` re = a light
´
une l´ g` re reprise economique
ee ee
= a slight economic upturn covering
m´ chant disagreeable naughty, spiteful
e
etre de m´ chante humeur = to be des propos m´ chants = spiteful
ˆ e e
in a foul mood talk
same very, even
mˆ me
e
le mˆ me shampooing = the same j™arriverai ce soir mˆ me = I™ll
e e
shampoo arrive this very evening
pauvre poor, pitiful impecunious
un pauvre effort = a pathetic attempt le quartier pauvre de la ville
= the poor district of the town
pr´ sent the one in question present
e
la pr´ sente emission = the
´ ´
e les etudiants pr´ sents n™ont
e
pas compris = the students present
programme on at the moment
did not understand
own, very clean
propre
mon propre travail = my own work des draps propres = clean sheets
total, sheer unadulterated
pur
c™est une pure perte de temps = l™air pur = pure air
it™s an utter waste of time
nasty dirty
sale
un sale tour = a dirty trick ton pantalon est tr` s sale =
e
your trousers are very dirty
only, single, sole lonely, alone
seul
une seule objection = a single un enfant seul = a lonely child
objection
simple ordinary, only simple, straightforward
pour la simple raison = for the des gouts tr` s simples = very
ˆ e
simple reason simple tastes
dull, inauspicious sad
triste
c™est mon triste devoir = it™s my elle a les yeux tristes = she™s got
unfortunate duty sad eyes
real, genuine true
vrai
c™est une histoire vraie = it™s a
ce ne sont pas ses vraies dents
= they™re not his own teeth true story

156
205 Multiple adjectives



Another small group of adjectives also vary their position “ an adjective that normally
follows the noun may be placed before it, this time to achieve a ¬gurative effect “
un ciel noir = a black sky “ de noirs desseins = dark intentions
un lit mou = a soft bed “ une molle r´ sistance = feeble resistance
e


204 Adjectives that may occur before or after the noun
without change of meaning
A small number of adjectives seem to be in free variation as far as position is concerned “ in
other words, their meaning remains constant whether they precede or follow the
noun.
bas = low, bref = brief, charmant = charming, court = short, double = double,
enorme = enormous, excellent = excellent, fort = strong, futur = future, innombrable
´
= innumerable, long = long, magni¬que = magni¬cent, modeste = modest, principal =
main, rapide = fast, terrible = terrible
Un magni¬que terrain de foot =
a magni¬cent football ground
Un terrain de foot magni¬que =
Je prends mon principal repas a 19 heures =
`
I have my main meal at 7 pm
Je prends mon repas principal a 19 heures =
`


205 Multiple adjectives
1 Preceding the noun
Except when a cardinal number is involved, the order of groups of adjectives before the
noun is the same in French as in English “
Une jolie petite ¬lle = a pretty little girl
Un bon vieil ami = a good old friend
Un autre gros hamburger = another big hamburger
With cardinal numbers, the order in French is different from that in English “ the cardinal
number precedes the other adjective “
Les trois autres membres du groupe = the other three members of the group
Il a gagn´ les deux premi` res manches = he won the ¬rst two sets
e e

2 Following the noun
The order of adjectives in French after the noun tends to be the mirror image of the English
order “ in both cases the adjective nearest the noun has the closer/closest relationship
with it “
La guerre civile espagnole = the Spanish Civil War
Une cr` me anti-rides enrichissante = an enriching anti-wrinkle cream
e
Son conseiller ¬scal personnel = her personal tax consultant


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Exercises


1 R´ ecrivez les passages suivants en remplissant les blancs avec l™article
qui convient.
`
a Nous offrons . . . opportunit´ unique de contribuer a . . . croissance
e
de . . . soci´ t´ de renomm´ e internationale active dans . . . monde
ee e
artistique. . . . ambiance de travail jeune et informelle dans . . . petite
´
equipe soud´ e. e
b . . . av` nement . . . programmes d™´ change interuniversitaires de
e e
`
type Erasmus ou . . . extension . . . stages professionnels a . . .
´ ´
etranger ont egalement motiv´ . . . secteur jusqu™ici assez traditionnel
e
ˆ ´
et relativement couteux, . . . echanges internationaux . . . jeunes.
`
c . . . billet d™avion de derni` re minute a . . . prix d´ ¬ant toute
e e
`
concurrence? Voila qui est tentant, mais peut-ˆ tre dangereux si . . .
e
`
pr´ cipitation nous fait oublier . . . pr´ cautions a prendre. Chaque
e e
`e
ann´ e . . . milliers de gens s™envolent pour . . . pays ou s´ vit . . .
e
paludisme, mais plus de . . . tiers entre eux ne sont pas correctement
prot´ g´ s contre cette maladie.
ee
d Compositeur phare de . . . musique vocale italienne baroque,
Alessandro Scarlatti s™est illustr´ aussi bien dans . . . op´ ra que
e e
`
dans . . . genre religieux de . . . oratorio. . . . musique y explose a tout
moment de . . . joie lumineuse, toujours originale, mˆ lant e
` ´
magni¬quement . . . voix a . . . ecriture instrumentale scintillante.
e . . . vigne rouge et . . . algue marine am´ liorent . . . fermet´
e e
´
et . . . elasticit´ de . . . peau, tandis que . . . huile essentielle de
e
lavande acc´ l` re . . . p´ n´ tration . . . composants et active . . .
ee ee
micro-circulation. On a gard´ . . . meilleur pour . . . ¬n: . . . texture
e
est . . . r´ gal. Parfaitement invisible, elle est moelleuse, fondante et
e
´
onctueuse. Elle disparaˆt en . . . clin d™oeil dans . . . epiderme sans
±
laisser de trace et ¬le . . . coeur de . . . cellules.
ˆe
f Si quelqu™un, vous, moi ou n™importe qui, veut tester . . . suret´ de . . .
`
a´ roports, il le fera sans angoisse s™il sait qu™a tout moment il peut
e
dire: « Stop, ceci est . . . jeu! » En revanche, . . . attitude de vrais
terroristes r´ ellement d´ sireux de commettre . . . attentat les trahira
e e
` ˆe
et permettra a . . . personnels de suret´ de les identi¬er.
g Pour faire parler . . . cadavre d™abeille dont . . . mort brutale, en
compagnie de 22 millions de ses cong´ n` res, vient de plonger . . .
ee
campagnes francaises dans . . . pol´ mique violente sur . . . utilisation
¸ e
de deux pesticides, il suf¬t de pratiquer . . . autopsie.
´
h . . . bac en poche ou . . . examens de fac r´ ussis, . . . nouvelle epreuve
e
´ `
attend . . . etudiants: . . . chasse a . . . logement. C™est . . . march´ qui e
¬xe . . . r` gles et surtout . . . prix. Or, . . . petites surfaces, cibles
e
´
naturelles de . . . etudiants, sont celles dont . . . rench´ rissement
e
est . . . plus important.
i Tout . . . monde peut avoir . . . maison, quatre murs, . . . toit.
ee `
Mais . . . propri´ t´ , . . . demeure. “ Bien entendu, . . . propri´ t´ , a . . .
ee
base, n™est rien d™autre que . . . maison. Mais c™est, dans . . .

158
Exercises



imaginaire immobilier, bien autre chose: . . . ancien, . . . grand, . . .
`
noble, . . . beau, . . . prestige. « Je vous invite a ma propri´ t´ » ca a ee ¸
`
tout de mˆ me . . . toute autre allure que « on se fait . . . barbecue a . . .
e
maison ».
j Je trouve que . . . maquillage me r´ v` le plus qu™il ne me cache. C™est
ee
donc . . . facon de m™exhiber. Je me suis beaucoup inspir´ de . . .
¸ e
`
maˆtre de c´ r´ monies de . . . ¬lm Cabaret. C™est a . . . fois . . .
± ee
transformiste et . . . vampire, . . . monsieur Loyal, mais quelqu™ . . .
`
de festif. J™aime bien ce balancement entre . . . bien, c™est-a-dire . . .
fˆ te, et . . . mal. J™aime bien . . . ambigu¨t´ , y compris sexuelle.
e ±e
k Votre point faible: . . . manque de pers´ v´ rance. Vous ne prenez pas de
ee
ˆ
d´ cision, ou alors pas de facon durable: vous etes incapable d™effort,
e ¸
´
pas plus motiv´ e par . . . succ` s que par . . . echec. Il n™y a que . . .
e e
nouveaut´ , l™id´ e de . . . plaisir pour vous stimuler.
e e
`
l . . . beau jour, devant . . . miroir, on se prend a relever . . . coin de ses
`
yeux, a tirer sur ses pommettes, et l™on se dit qu™on aurait . . . air
moins fatigu´ e, plus gaie comme ca. On oublie, et puis on apprend
e ¸
que . . . telle a eu . . . lifting mais que « ca se voit », alors que pour
¸
telle autre « on ne voit rien ». On lit . . . magazines, on examine . . .
« avant / apr` s », on note . . . noms. On ne sait jamais.
e

2 R´ ecrivez les passages suivants en donnant les formes des adjectifs et
participes pass´ s qui conviennent.
e
´ ´
a Il a beau jouer le super ministre, ANIME par de GENIAL et NOUVEAU
´
id´ es, ce sont les VIEUX recettes LIBERAL qu™il nous ass` ne.
e e
b Ce printemps aussi INCERTAIN que VENTEUX n™aura pas facilit´ la e
ˆ
tache des jardiniers. Mais il faut maintenant sortir CERTAIN plantes
´
`` ´e
de la ou elles ont et´ REMISE pendant la MAUVAIS saison. Si ces
´ ´ ´
´e
plantes ont et´ LAISSE INTACT, juste DEBARRASSE de leurs feuilles
ˆ ´ e`
GACHE, elles poussent d´ ja, elles aussi VILAIN comme TOUT,
ˆ
BLANC comme des endives ou VERT PALE, plus PROCHE du tilleul
que de l™´ pinard.
e
`
c Une DERNIER condition, a PREMIER vue SURPRENANT, est
´ `
NECESSAIRE a la r´ ussite d™une e-formation: l™accompagnement
e
´ ´ ´
d™un formateur bien REEL. Avec des taux d™abandon assez ELEVE
`
cette pr´ sence peut s™av´ rer ESSENTIEL. Mˆ me a l™heure de la
e e e
`
formation a distance, rien ne remplacera une pr´ sence HUMAIN. e
´
d On trouve dans la collection des sweaters REHAUSSE d™une lettre ou
d™un chiffre, des pantalons MILITAIRE AMPLE ou des joggings
´` ´
COMBINE a des tops ATHLETIQUE et des maillots de corps ou des
´ ´`
vestes ZIPPE, MARIE a une minijupe.
`
e Les designers BELGE commencent a se tailler une SOLIDE r´ putation e
´ voire
sur la sc` ne INTERNATIONAL. ORIGINAL, bien PENSE,
e
carr´ ment VISIONNAIRE, leurs cr´ ations s´ duisent un public de plus
e e e
en plus LARGE.
ˆ
f Ils sont trois sur leur ±le PARISIEN. La m` re qui se bat contre un
e
cancer. Cette lutte est la raison de vivre de sa ¬lle. Puis il y a un
JEUNE homme AFFABLE, qui a su se rendre INDISPENSABLE en
´
rendant LEGER les moments INSUPPORTABLE de la maladie.

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´
g Les cassis UTILISE pour cette cr` me de cassis sont les noirs de
e
ˆ
Bourgogne, CUEILLI dans la Cote-d™Or. Cette cr` me est d™une RARE
e
authenticit´ . Ses parfums FRAIS, son fruit´ ONCTUEUX, sa bouche
e e
´ EREUX et ses aromes PLEIN en font une liqueur
´ ˆ
AMPLE et GEN
d™exception.
ˆ ´
h Vous souffrez des symptomes d™un etat PROCHE de l™effondrement: la
HORRIBLE sensation d™ˆ tre LOURD et FLASQUE, ENGOURDI et
e
´
`
TENDU a la fois, CONTRACTE au niveau des vert` bres, de la nuque
e
jusqu™aux reins. Il est temps de remettre un peu d™huile dans les
rouages! (description d™une femme)
`
i A l™occasion du NOUVEAU an, un de mes potes avait organis´ une e
` `
GROS ¬esta chez lui. Il y avait de l™alcool a gogo, du foie GRAS a en
`
veux-tu en voila, et des ¬lles SPLENDIDE aux quatre coins de la
´
maison. Bref, tout etait PARFAIT. Le SEUL probl` me: c™´ tait moi! A
e e
minuit moins cinq, j™ai eu une crise d™angoisse et je suis all´e
`
m™enfermer dans les chiottes. Je ne voulais pas me plier a ce rituel
RIDICULE d™embrassades.
´¸
j « Je suis DECU, dit Sandrine Casar, car je me sentais bien en jambes,
´
mais j™´ tais trop ISOLE face aux Brioches, qui avaient un
e
comportement BIZARRE. Je n™ai pas compris leur facon de courir,
¸
leurs choix TACTIQUE, et je ne suis pas la SEUL. Elles-mˆ mese
donnaient parfois l™impression de ne pas comprendre ce qu™elles
ˆˆ
faisaient. Dans de TEL circonstances, elles ont du etre tr` s SATISFAIT
e
du r´ sultat. »
e
´
k On trouvera une GRAND baie, tr` s BEAU, BORDE par une r´ serve
e e
´
NATUREL, BAPTISE le parc NATIONAL de Los Halises, que l™on visite
en bateau, d´ couvrant oiseaux MULTICOLORE, perroquets et tortues
e
dans une v´ g´ tation de mangroves TROPICAL.
ee




160
Chapter 6 Pronouns


206 Pronouns
The role of a pronoun is to help avoid repeating a noun phrase in its entirety and to act
as a stand-in for it or abbreviation of it. The pronoun thus enhances the cohesion of what
is said or written by providing a short-hand form for a longer expression and binding the
text of what is said or written more tightly together.
There are a number of series of pronouns “
Personal pronouns “
Les profs reconnaissent qu™ILS ne peuvent rien sans les parents = the
teachers admit that they can™t do anything without parents™ support
avoiding repetition of les profs.
Impersonal and neutral pronouns “
Comment peut-ON d´ fendre le syst` me des retraites en torpillant les
e e
r´ formes? = how can you defend the pensions system by torpedoing reforms?
e
avoiding specifying who is being criticised.
Pour pro¬ter pleinement de cet excellent petit instrument, IL est
conseill´ d™agir vite = in order to bene¬t fully from this marvellous little instrument, it™s
e
advisable to act quickly
avoiding explaining who is doing the advising.
Demonstrative pronouns “
Faire gr` ve et manifester sont des droits. Mais il ne faut pas que
e
CEUX-CI empˆ chent la circulation sur la voie publique = going on strike and
e
demonstrating are rights. But these must not prevent traf¬c from circulating on the public highway
avoiding saying ces droits.
Possessive pronouns “
Elle admire l™art de ses contemporains, mais LE SIEN est plus puissant,
plus expressif = she admires her contemporaries™ art, but hers is more powerful and more
expressive
avoiding saying son art.
For relative pronouns, see 464.


Personal pronouns

207 Personal pronouns
These may be organised according to the role they play in a sentence “ whether
they are the subject, direct object or indirect object of the verb, whether they are

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A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



used emphatically, whether they follow a preposition, whether they are singular or
plural.
The neuter pronoun il = it only occurs as subject singular, and the re¬‚exive/reciprocal
pronoun se = him/her/it/oneself, themselves does not occur as subject.



208 The forms
It will be seen from the following table that there is much anomaly among the forms that
the personal pronouns adopt in French. Although ¬ve different syntactic roles have been
identi¬ed (singular and plural), there are never ¬ve distinct forms corresponding to them
“ a maximum of four and a minimum of one (in English there are never more than two
different forms for the personal pronouns). Consequently, some forms have more than
one function (eg me, te), some are con¬ned to a particular person (eg nous, vous),
others apply to more than one person (eg lui, leur).
The following table lists the ¬ve syntactic roles for each person and the forms that
correspond to them.



person syntactic role singular plural
I we
First person subject je nous
me us
direct object me nous
to me to us
indirect object me nous
me us
after preposition moi nous
I / me we/us
stressed moi nous
you you
Second person subject tu vous
you you
direct object te vous
to you to you
indirect object te vous
you you
after preposition toi vous
you you
stressed toi vous
he they
Third person subject il ils
him them
masculine direct object le les
to him to them
indirect object lui leur
him them
after preposition lui eux
he / him
stressed lui eux they/them
she they
Third person subject elle elles
her them
feminine direct object la les
to her to them
indirect object lui leur
her them
after preposition elle elles
she/her they/them
stressed elle elles
it
Third person only occurs as il
it
neuter subject ce
him / her / it/ themselves
Third person direct object se se
re¬‚exive / oneself
to him / her / to themselves
reciprocal indirect object se se
it/ oneself
him / her / it/ eux-mˆ mes themselves
after preposition soi e
oneself elles-mˆ mes themselves
e



162
210 Position of pronouns




person syntactic role singular plural

him / her / it/ themselves
stressed soi eux-mˆ mes
e
oneself
elles-mˆ mes themselves
e
oneself
Third person subject on no plural forms
inde¬nite oneself
direct object se
to oneself
indirect object se
oneself
after preposition soi/nous/
vous
oneself
stressed soi/nous/
vous



209 Elision of certain pronouns
Those pronouns consisting of a single consonant + e (je, me, te, se, ce, le) and
la, lose their vowel before a verb beginning with a vowel or mute h or before en
and y.
Je suis super complex´ e et cela m™empˆ che d™avancer = I™m full of complexes and
e e
that stops me making any progress
Il pr´ f` re s™acheter des jouets = he prefers buying himself toys
ee
Tu t™´ gares en pensant cela = you™re mistaken if that™s what you think
e
D´ crivez simplement votre mission, la facon dont vous l™avez men´ e et les
e ¸ e
r´ sultats obtenus = all you have to do is describe your aims, how you set about achieving them
e
and the results obtained
Son boulot consiste justement a s™en d´ faire = his job is precisely to get rid of it
` e


210 Position of pronouns “ 1: subject pronouns; 2: object
pronouns
1 Subject pronouns
Normally the subject pronoun precedes the verb.
Il est champion de France = he™s the champion of France
Ils affronteront la Gr` ce en demi-¬nale jeudi = they™ll play Greece in the semi-¬nal on
e
Thursday
On s™attendait a ce qu™ils s™expriment sur le cas hier = we were expecting them to
`
pronounce on the case yesterday
However, in certain circumstances it may follow it:
in questions (see 472) “
L™enfant, quand faut-il l™emmener aux urgences? = when should you take your
child to casualty?


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after certain adverbial expressions (see 403) “
Les Japonais passent pour avoir des pratiques cruelles “ le d´ coupage e
d™un poisson vivant. Du moins demandent-ils pardon au pauvre animal
= the Japanese have the reputation of having some cruel practices “ cutting up live ¬sh. At least they
ask the poor animal™s forgiveness
Toujours est-il qu™elle s™est pr´ sent´ e avec deux heures d™avance = the fact
e e
remains that she turned up two hours early


2 Object pronouns
Except when an imperative is involved (see 212), the pronouns are placed immediately
before the verb. This applies to simple tenses and to in¬nitives and present participles;
in the case of compound tenses the pronoun precedes the auxiliary verb “
´
D` s le xvie si` cle, le muguet etait un parfum appr´ ci´ notamment des
e e ee
hommes. Aujourd™hui on l™utilise dans les parfums f´ minins = from the e
sixteenth century onwards, lily of the valley was a much appreciated perfume, especially by men.
Nowadays it™s used in perfumes for women
e`
Le mal de dos est remont´ a la surface quand j™´ tais stress´ e, mais je l™ai
e e
evit´ en modi¬ant mon comportement = my backache returned when I was stressed out,
´e
but I avoided it by modifying my behaviour
Collez les bandes sur les lani` res des tongs en les croisant sur l™envers =
e
stick the strips on the straps of the ¬‚ip-¬‚ops, crossing them at the back
Cinq l´ gumes et fruits par jour “ telles sont les recommandations de la
e
sant´ publique. L™important est de les suivre s´ rieusement = ¬ve portions of
e e
fruit and veg per day “ those are the recommendations of the public health authority. The important
thing is to follow them seriously
On parle contraception, sida, probl` mes de coeur “ elles ont si peu
e
d™interlocuteurs, les tabous sont si lourds; j™ai vraiment l™impression de
les aider = we speak about contraception, AIDS, relationships “ they have so few people to speak to;
taboos weigh heavy; I really feel I™m helping them
If the verb is negative, the ne immediately precedes the pronoun “
On ne m™a pas interdit de chanter = I wasn™t banned from singing
Certaines taches m´ nag` res me sont impossibles “ je ne les supporte pas =
ˆ e e
I ¬nd certain domestic tasks impossible “ I can™t stand them
L™h´ patite C, une maladie qui peut abˆmer s´ rieusement le foie si on ne
e ± e
la soigne pas = hepatitis C, an illness that can seriously damage your liver if you don™t treat
it


211 Order of object pronouns
When two or more object pronouns occur before the verb, ¬nite or in¬nitive, they have
to be used in a ¬xed order.


164
212 Order of pronouns with the imperative




me
te le
se la lui y en
nous les leur
vous


Faut-il le lui dire? = should I tell him?
Je me le dis souvent “ il faut essayer d™y voir plus clair = I often tell myself “
you™ve got to try and see the situation more clearly
On me l™a prescrite pour des probl` mes d™acn´ et je n™ai plus aucun d´ sir
e e e
sexuel = it™s [the pill] been prescribed to me because of my acne and I don™t feel any sexual desire any
more
Elle ne me le permet plus = she doesn™t let me do it any more
Qu™on se le tienne pour dit. Qu™on se le tienne bien jalousement
d™ailleurs = let™s keep it between ourselves. Let™s guard it very jealously into the bargain
S™il fait vraiment tr` s chaud, on le brosse avec de l™eau fraˆche avant de s™y
e ±
allonger = if it™s really hot, brush it [a mattress] with fresh water before lying down on it
`
La seule chose a se faire percer par quelqu™un d™autre, ce serait
´
eventuellement l™oreille “ je me la suis moi-mˆ me fait poinconner par une
e ¸
amie = the only thing you should have pierced by someone else is possibly your ear “ I™ve had it done
myself by a friend
Oui, nous nous en souvenons = yes, we remember
e`
Marcel est amoureux de St´ phanie, et pour le lui montrer, il est prˆ t a
e
toutes les d´ penses = Marcel is in love with Stephanie, and to prove it to her he™s prepared to
e
pay what it costs
´
On savait que Contrex etait l™eau des femmes et de la minceur. Elle nous le
prouve une fois encore avec une tr` s jolie surprise “ une collection de
e
bijoux = we knew that Contrex was the water for women and slimness. It proves it to us once again
with a very pretty surprise “ a collection of jewellery


212 Order of pronouns with the imperative
The situation is different in the imperative mood.

1 With an af¬rmative imperative, the pronouns follow the verb in the same order
as above. However, me, te become moi, toi, except when they are combined with
en, y, in which case they remain as me, te. They are linked to the verb and each
other by a hyphen, except when me, te are combined with y, en.
Prenez soin de votre peau, satinez-la de cr` me parfum´ e, pailletez-la =
e e
take care of your skin; make it really smooth with perfumed cream, put glitter on it


165
A STUDENT GUIDE TO FRENCH GRAMMAR



Faites tremper les haricots rouges une nuit. Puis mettez-les dans une
casserole = soak the red beans overnight. Then put them in a pan
Les calories sont vos pires ennemies du mois et de votre ligne “
r´ duisez-les = calories are your worst enemies of the month and your waistline “ cut them
e
down
Fous-toi donc de ce que les autres peuvent en penser = don™t give a damn about
what others might think about it
ˆ
Maintenant remontez vos manches et prouvez-leur ce dont vous etes
capable = now roll up your sleeves and show them what you™re capable of
V´ nus vous fait les yeux doux. A vous d™aborder ce garcon et dites-le-lui
e ¸
= Venus is smiling on you. It™s up to you to approach that boy and tell him
J™adore les pierres polies “ achetez-m™en pour mon anniversaire s™il vous
plaˆt = I adore polished stones “ get me some for my birthday please
±
Contente-toi donc de ta joliesse = be content with your own good looks
Un affreux bouton a camou¬‚er? “ retenez-vous de presser le coupable = a
`
horrid pimple to cover up? “ be careful not to squeeze the offending object

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