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Section 6

French Grammar

If you’ve ever studied a language before, you’ve probably been inundated with grammar lessons. I am, you are, he is, she is, it is, we are, they are… you know the drill. On the other hand, if you’ve ever traveled in a foreign country clutching a phrase book, you’ll know that it’s really hard to correctly switch “I want to buy a banana” to “She wants to buy an apple” without any knowledge of grammar at all.

Audible French achieves the perfect balance between those two extremes. You’ll learn how to say basic phrases – for example, “Where is the train station?” or “I need a doctor!” But you’ll also learn how to switch parts of each sentence so you’ll be able to say “Where is the doctor?” in complete confidence that you’re using grammatical French. Let’s see your pocket phrase book do that! And we’ve also spent a considerable amount of time on idioms, so you’ll learn that while shivering English speakers say they are cold, their French counterparts say they have cold. If you’re going to speak French, isn’t it comforting to know you’re doing it right?

You’ll learn just the right amount of grammar – not too much and not too little. Because after all, Audible French teaches you just the French you need.

French Grammar Lesson 1

Masculine and Feminine Nouns in French

In English, there is no grammatical difference between masculine and feminine nouns, except for nouns referring to human beings. This is not true of French, however, and it makes things a bit more complicated.

In the examples below, we’ve indicated masculine articles in blue and feminine ones in red. Nouns following masculine articles are masculine; nouns following feminine articles are feminine.

Un papier = a paper

Une table = a table

Un bureau = a desk

Une télévision = a TV

 

In French, some nouns are either male or female, depending on the gender of the individual person or animal being discussed:

Un homme = a man

Une femme = a woman

Un garçon = a boy

Une fille = a girl

Un chien = a male dog

Une chienne = a female dog

Un chat = a male cat

Une chatte = a female cat

Un lion = a male lion

Une lionne = a female lion

 

As in English, French nouns have both singular and plural forms.

This is the plural form (notice that the article is often “unisex”)

Des hommes = men

Des femmes = women

Des garçons = boys

Des filles = girls

Des chiens = male dogs

Des chiennes = female dogs

Des chats = male cats

Des chattes = female cats

Des lions = male lions

Des lionnes = female lions

 

Some animal nouns are always considered masculine or feminine, regardless of the animal’s actual gender.

Une mouette = a seagull (male or female)

Une pie = a magpie (male or female)

Une baleine = a whale (male or female)

And in plural :

Des mouettes = seagulls

Des pies = magpies

Des baleines = whales

 

Some nouns ending in AL or AIL form their plural by dropping the AL or AIL and adding AUX. (Note that not all nouns ending in AL or AIL follow this rule.).

Un cheval = a horse

Des chevaux = horses

Un animal = an animal

Des animaux = animals

Un travail = a job

Des travaux = works (like roadworks)

Un émail = an enamel

Des émaux = enamels

Un ail = a garlic (bulb)

Des aux = garlic bulbs

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