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Section 1

#15 Learn when to use tu and when to use vous – it’s important!

To an English-speaker, both tu and vous mean the same thing – “you.” You’d say “Thank you so much,” to the President of the United States, and you’d use the same phrase to thank a small child returning the mitten you lost on the street. In French, however, there are two entirely different ways of saying you, depending upon the social situation of the speakers.

If you’re speaking to a child, a family member, or someone clearly in the same or a lesser social bracket than you are, you use the tu form. If you’re speaking to someone in a higher social bracket or whose position or age demands respect, you use the vous form. If you’re not sure, ask the person “Est-ce qu’on peut se tutoyer ?” (Can we address each other as “tu“?) Generally, that will be taken as a gesture of friendship, but if you’re overstepping your boundaries, you’ll find out.

play tu
you (informal)
play vous
you (formal)
play Est-ce qu’on peut se tutoyer ?
Can we address each other as “tu”?

#16 Read French out loud.

Read French out loudOnce you’ve had enough auditory exposure to the language to feel comfortable articulating words with a decent French accent, read all your French texts aloud. Read your French children’s books out loud; read your online coursework out loud; turn on your DVD’s subtitle function and read the dialogue out loud; read the menu in a French restaurant out loud! You don’t have to shout and call attention to yourself in public, but you’ll find that it really does help to move your lips and vocalize the words quietly. The more you practice your French pronunciation, the more natural it will come to feel.


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