Ah, today I finally moved on to Lesson 15 of Essential French (EF). It is a little hard to pick out a coherent theme for the lesson, though in the grammar I would say the major item developed is reflexive verbs (les verbes pronominaux). Also covered are pronouns of placement and possessive pronouns, as well as colors and some of the usages of tout.
Les Verbes Pronominaux
Reflexive verbs are distinguished by having both the subject and the direct object refer to the same entity. In order to accomplish this feat, they employ a reflexive pronoun, which is se connected to an infinitive, or me, te, se, nous, vous and se when conjugated. EF notes through its description, though it does not state clearly, that me and te do not contract, though se does.
Some Reflexive Verbs
The following verbs are reflexive:
- se trouver to be located or situated
- se tromper to make a mistake, be wrong
- se regarder to look at oneself
- se servir to help or serve oneself
- se laver to wash oneself
- se lever to get (oneself) up
- se coucher to put (onself) to bed
- se rappeler to remember, cause oneself to remember
Note that many of these are not always reflexive. You can tell the difference based on the presence of the reflexive pronoun. Reflexive verbs suggest an activity done to onself or with oneself in mind. The non-reflexive counterparts would indicate similar action done to or for another.
The following examples should give a quick rundown of how to form sentences with the reflexive. Note that reflexive verbs always govern être, rather than avoir.
- Vous vous lavez. You are washing.
- Vous ne vous lavez pas. You are not washing.
- Tu ne te laves pas. You are not washing.
- Je me suis lavé(e). I washed. (I am male, so would use lavé, while a woman would use lavée.
- Je ne me suis pas lavé(e). I did not wash.
More On Passé Composé With Avoir
Normally, the past participle does not change to agree with the verbal subject when the passé composé is formed with avoir (as it does when formed on être). However, if the direct object is replaced by an object pronoun, the past participle is modified to agree (person and number) with this direct object.
- J’ai lu le livre. → Je l’ai lu.
- J’ai lu ces deux journals. → Je les ai lus.
- J’ai vu ta soeur. → Je l’ai vue.
- J’ai vu tes soeurs. → Je les ai vues.
You have every right to scream at the computer screen now. That is going to take some getting used to…
Les Couleurs – Colors
We already saw all the colors presented by EF, in an early Hour of Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (ATYF). The treatment there is more systematic, so I will point you to it, rather than duplicating here. However, one point that was brought out by EF that was not mentioned in ATYF was the usage of colors as nouns. Normally they are adjectives, but combined with an article (always masculine, per the example), they can be used as nouns:
- Le noir et le blanc font le gris. Black and white make grey.
Tout – “All”
The description of how to use tout as an adjective is much clearer here than it was in ATYF, though briefer. Add to that that EF and ATYF stand in contradiction of one another as it regards tout as a pronoun. EF states that tout does not vary as a pronoun, always using the masculine form. ATYF not only disagrees, but even specifies custom rules for pronunciation of tous (the masculine plural form) when used a s pronoun! You can check out my treatment of the pronoun in this recent Hour.
EF then treats a number of pronouns. As far as I can tell, the common theme is they are all used to describe “where”. Note the following:
- à côté de next to
- au fond de at the end of
- avant/après before/after
- sur on
- sous under
- devant/derrièrre in front of/behind
- à to
- de from
EF also ends up addressing the possessive pronouns. As normal, it is brief, without a lot of development, but that is offset with good examples. Rather than duplicate the pronoun here, I will just refer you to my previous treatment of it. As you can see, there is a lot of overlap between EF Lesson 15 and ATYF Hour 11…
And that finishes today’s French study. À bientôt!