I’m sitting here watching Sabrina with my wife – the remake with Harrison Ford. All the talk of Paris, the commentary on the French way of living, with a balance of work and leisure, the music… Ah! (just offhand, should you be inclined to look for an image to go along with the movie “Sabrina”, do not do a Google image search of “sabrina”, alone)
Which leads nicely into Lesson 7 of Essential French (EF). The conversation finds two people in a cafe, discussing what they will do the rest of the day. Which naturally leads to more discussion of time-telling (mostly the already mentioned fact that time is often told using a 24-hour clock), as well as a look at the verb faire, used alone and in many more complex expressions.
Following the conversation that opens the lesson, it quickly jumps into the verb faire. This is one of those irregular verbs, though the book does not so much as say that. It’s present forms are je fais, tu fais, il fait, nous faisons, vous faites, and ils font. It means “to make” or “to do”, but its application is much richer in French, just as the verb “to do” has rich usage in English. Specifically, it is often combined with noun phrases to speak of actions involving them, as well as the infinitive of verbs to speak of doing that action. And while their is not much discussion, and few examples provided, it is clear that this verb will be visited again.
Le Pronom Sujet “on” – The Subject Pronoun “on“
That is one thing I like about this book; as one comes across linguistic concepts, it uses the expressions that French uses for them – like le pronom sujet – in the headings. Many language manuals don’t do this. I find it refreshing.
This course did mention on before, but only briefly when it showed the full list of subject pronouns, and it provided little discussion after that fact. Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (ATYF) addressed it in Hour 3, which we looked at yesterday. So what I will say here is mostly repetition. On is a third person singular pronoun, in that it takes verbal forms that are third person singular. However, on is used much more idiomatically than the other pronouns. It can mean “they”, “we” or “one, someone, people”. Based on the examples, it seems that on is used with potentialities quite a bit, but can be used in normal factual statements as well.
Le Pronom “y”
We have already seen the idiomatic expression il y a… “there is…”, but the discussion of y in Lesson 7 gives a much better picture as to why this idiom exists in the first place. Y can replace any location that has previously been mentioned. A typical French sentence proceeds from subject to verb to object. In this typical sentence, y would come directly before the verb. This holds even in the absolute negative, the y coming between the particle ne and the verb.
Toi et moi – “You and me”
These two (moi, toi) are used either to emphasize je and tu, respectively, or after the prepositions avec, pour, and et (though I was surprised to hear et called a preposition!). EF provides the following examples (and others):
- Moi, je ne mange pas du pain. Me – I don’t eat bread.
- Pour moi, un café. Et toi? A coffee for me. And you?
- Vous venez avec moi au cinéma? Are you coming with me to the movies?
The Partitive Article
We have looked at the partitive article as well, but one fact that I found interesting here is that EF did not give des as being an instance of the partitive article. It only makes mention of the singular representations du, de la and de l’. If you recall, des would be the plural indefinite article. ATYF seemed to suggest that des would also be considered the plural partitive article. EF seems to indicate no such thing. In any case, it would be hard to give a good example of a difference between the plural indefinite and a partitive plural article. But this segmenting of the two concepts is unique to EF.
The rest of the lesson is vocabulary and exercises. The vocabulary supports the conversation, as usual. And the exercises are excellent! I am trying to do all exercises, and am glad to find that the exercises are very reasonable. They are more than just multiple choice, and more than just simple word choice or replacement. Yet they still are able to provide a reasonable answer key in the back of the book.
So to finish up let’s provide some highlights from the vocab:
- avoir faim “to be hungry”; literally, to “have” hunger
- je vais prendre “I will have…”; literally, “I am going to take”
- Enfin! Finally!
- d’accord Okay, I agree.
- après after
- avant before
- seulement only
- toujours always
- jamais never