Ah, Lesson 18 of Essential French (EF)… Not too long and this book will be over. There is only one lesson of new material after this, since the last chapter is a review lesson.
Leçon 18 covers a number of things. After reviewing the non-future tenses and constructions that are used for future actions, it finally offers le futur, which we have already seen in Alpha Teach Yourself French in 24 Hours (ATYF). Interrogative pronouns (lequel, laquelle, etc.) receive a brief series of examples. Depuis, which we saw yesterday, gets some examples.
This is followed by a series of examples using the pronoun en, so far not covered in either book (but briefly mentioned as a pronoun in ATYF). Finally, the forms and use of devoir finish the bulk of the lesson. A few pieces of vocabulary form the conversation, and, finit!
Le Futur – The Future Tense
So, again, there are three ways we have seen to talk about future actions. The first is a simple present tense. Think something along the lines of, Demain, je vais au grand magasin. “Tomorrow, I am going to the department store.” Aller is in the present tense, but the expression Demain… makes it clear that this is talking about the future. The second is the near future of le futur proche, formed by conjugating aller and putting the future action in the infinitive, just as in English “I am going to read.” (Je vais lire).
The third form of the future is an actual tense, which we saw a while ago in ATYF, but are only now encountering in EF. It is formed (normally) by taking the infinitive (sans any final vowels in the case of verbs like attendre). To this is added the appropriate ending (-ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont). EF offers the following verbs as indicative of the conjugation pattern:
- trouver → je trouverai, tu trouveras, il trouvera, nous trouverons, vous trouverez, ils trouveront
- finir → je finirai, tu finiras, il finira, nous finirons, vous finirez, ils finiront
- attendre → j’attendrai, tu attendras, il attendra, nous attendrons, vous attendrez, ils attendront
Though not giving discussion of irregular forms, two are used in the examples. One mentions the fact that it is irregular (Je reviendrai, “I will come back”) and will be covered in a future lesson (and thus it must be the next one!). The other goes without comment (nous verrons, “We will see”).
We’ve seen these before. There is very little in the way of explanation or even examples. At least they touch on the subject. So let’s just move along.
Depuis with Time
The treatment by EF is minimal at best, especially compared to the treatment we saw yesterday in ATYF. Only the present equivalents of “for (a duration)” and “since (a point in time)” are addressed. I guess in fairness, the past and future don’t actually use depuis to form them. Then again, ATYF did not let that stop the discussion.
Just to clarify, depuis is used of actions that were started in the past and are continuing into the present. Depuis is paired with present tense verb forms.
Le Pronom “En” – The Pronoun “En“
Here is something completely new. Though briefly mentioned as a pronoun in ATYF, no information was given to on its usage. Not even an English equivalent. So this was something truly interesting to read about.
Basically, en means “some” or “any” and is used to replace a partitive expression (the partitive article + a noun phrase). It’s main purpose is to avoid repetition:
- Achetons-vous des chaussettes? Oui, nous en achetonos. “Did you buy (some) socks? Yes, we bought some (socks).”
- Il y a du thé, mais tu n’en bois pas. “There is some tea, but you aren’t drinking any.” (note the position of en after the negation ne and before the conjugated verb, just as with the direct and indirect object pronouns)
- On vend des pantalons ici. Je veux en acheter. “They sell (some) pants here. I want to buy some.” (note that when en refers to an object of an infinitive in a compound expression, the en is positioned before the infinitive)
Devoir is similar to the impersonal verb falloir (il faut “it is necessary”). But while il faut is impersonal, devoir expresses necessity, requirement or compulsion, and takes a real subject.
Also important to remember is that devoir governs a verb in the infinitive. A previous lesson called this a modal verb (as are savoir, pouvoir, vouloir, etc.), if you recall. EF describes it as a “modifying verb” without any “naming” fanfare.
In the present tense, it has forms je dois, tu dois, il doit, nous devons, vous devez and ils doivent. Also worth noting is its past participle, dû.
The lesson ends up with vocabulary – some verbs (the one that sticks in my mind is fermer, “to close), a couple nouns related to shopping (like une chemise “a shirt”), and a few adjectives. Leave it to the French to call foreign things, including foreigners, étrange, étrangère.
C’est tout aujourd’hui. À demain!