Nous avons beaucoup de travail aujourd’hui! Jumping right in today, with Lesson 5 of Essential French (EF), we’re greeted with a conversation about work (le travail), a number of useful verbs and more numbers. We will get some more clarity on the demonstrative ce/cette, and look at the imperative (l’impératif). And to go along with a conversation about work, we have a bunch of office-related vocabulary. Nous commençons. “We begin.”
Verbs (Les Verbes)
Let’s get started with the verbs covered in this lesson. Most are covered in the notes, though some are only mentioned in the vocabulary. This lesson adds to the reader’s repertoire savoir “to know” and pouvoir “to be able”, as well as appeler “to call”, taper “to type”, envoyer “to send”, commencer “to begin”, and finir “to end.” The vocabulary also mentions répondre “to answer”, répéter “to repeat” and choisir “to choose.” In the headings and notes the verb compter “to count” is used in passing. It also mentions the verb connaître “to know (someone)” in passing, to be discussed in a later lesson.
Here are the present conjugations of these verbs:
|savoir||sg.||je sais||tu sais
|pl.||nous savons||vous savez||ils/elles savent|
||tu peux||il/elle peut|
|pl.||nous pouvons||vous pouvez||ils/elles pouvent|
|pl.||nous appelons||vous appelez
|taper||sg.||je tape||tu tapes||il/elle tape|
|pl.||nous tapons||vous tapez||ils/elles tapent|
|envoyer||sg.||j’envoie||tu envoies||il/elle envoie
|pl.||nous envoyons||vous envoyez
|commencer||sg.||je commence||tu commences||il/elle commence
||vous commencez||ils/elles commencent|
|finir||sg.||je finis||tu finis
|répondre||sg.||je réponds||tu réponds||il/elle répond|
|pl.||nous répondons||vous répondez
|répéter||sg.||je répéte||tu répétes||il/elle répéte|
|pl.||nous répétons||vous répétez||ils/elles répétent|
|choisir||sg.||je choisis||tu choisis||il/elle choisit|
Now, savoir and pouvoir are both very likely to govern an infinitive of a verb – “to know [how] to do something” and “to be able to do something.” Savoir is used of knowing things or facts, not people. For that, use connaître – not yet covered. The last three listed verbs were only given in the vocabulary at the end, so I have come up with the chart myself. I’m assuming, given no other note, that they are regular. If not, my sincerest apologies. The rest were charted (except taper, which explicitly was stated as regular). The others are themselves regular in endings, having some modifications for sound in the stem (noted in bold).
Numbers (Les Nombres)
EF has already covered the numbers from 1-10. And Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (ATYF) has already covered the numbers up to 69. So I’m just going to work with the new numbers here:
The book actually has a typo in the vocabulary, saying that 90 is quatre-vingts-dix, but both the glossary and lesson notes are correct. Careful!
So far, the text and examples have shown the use of ce, and sometimes cette. But there are two other forms that this word can take, cet and ces. Cet is used instead of ce when referring to a masculine object and coming before a vowel or mute/unaspirated h. Ces is used whenever the object referred to is plural.
The Imperative (L’Impératif)
This is a fairly easy concept. You want to give a command (polite, of course). To do so, you will need to use the imperative of the verb. To form it, take the second person form and don’t supply the subject. Et voila!
- Viens! Come! (note that this is 2ps, familiar)
- Appelez ma femme! Call my wife!
- Venez ici! Come here!
- Ne partez pas! Don’t leave!
It is just a little more complicated than that. There is a class of verbs called reflexive verbs, not quite met. These verbs form the imperative using the same expression as for an inverted question, but without it being a question:
- Asseyez-vous! Sit (yourself) down!
Finally, there is some helpful “work-land” vocabulary. Near and dear to me, un ordinateur is a computer. On that ordinateur one will often find need to send (envoyer) un e-mail (or un mail or un corriel). Some people (not I, typically) have to write une lettre (a letter) from time to time. You may have a phone in your office (mine is a soft-phone) upon which you might need “to answer the telephone”, répondre au téléphone.
You might have un boss (or un patron) – a boss either way. Or maybe you have une boss (or une patrone). That’s entirely possible as well! Or some want to be “a director”, un directeur or une directrice – I suppose that is different from a boss; more about the department than the workers. Any of these might have une secrétaire. Other helpful words include un employé and une employée (male or female employees, respectively), since someone has to do the work. And who are we doing all that work for? Right, le client, the client.
If all this talk of work is beginning to stress you, you can compter de un à cent. Note the pattern, compter de… à… “to count from… to…”. But make sure to still be on time (être à l’heure). Salut!