Advanced French Grammar Lessons
12 French verbs you might be underusing
Even after nearly a decade of French classes and numerous visits to France, there were some verbs that I didn't use until I moved here and was immersed in the language and culture. Some I had never learned, while others just seemed unusual or unnecessary. In case you're in the same boat, here are a dozen French verbs that I find essential in...
Advanced French Past Tenses
The difference between the two main French past tenses, the passé composé and the imparfait, is a constant struggle for many French students. In this advanced lesson, you will learn about the particularities of certain verbs, including those that are usually in the imperfect and those that have different meanings depending on which tense is used.
Agreement with French Compound Verbs
Some verbs have to agree with their subjects in the compound verb tenses and moods, while others require agreement with the direct object. This issue of agreement can be rather tricky; this lesson is a thorough but accessible explanation.
Avoiding the French Subjunctive
The subjunctive is a fairly difficult verb mood for many students of French. Between the conjugations and deciding when to use it, the subjunctive can be very tricky. Although the subjunctive is commonly used in French, there are numerous ways to avoid it.
Bi-gender French Nouns
While most French nouns are either masculine or feminine, several dozen can be either. Many of these terms are obscure or technical, but there are a few common nouns that you'll definitely want to memorize.
Bon vs Bien, Mauvais vs Mal
The French words bon and bien, mauvais and mal are often mixed up - study this lesson to straighten them out.
French Causative - Le Causatif
The French causative construction (faire + infinitive) describes an action that is being caused—rather than performed—by the subject of the sentence: he/she/it is causing something to happen, having something done, or making someone do something.
Concordance des temps ~ Sequence of Tenses
When speaking French, it is important to use the correct sequence of tenses. In complex sentences, there is a relationship between the verb in the main clause and the verb in the subordinate clause. Using the correct sequence of tenses is just as important as conjugating the verbs correctly and using the appropriate mood.
French Double Negatives
Grammarians insist that two negatives make a positive. While this may be true in English, in French two negatives make a stronger negative. Double negation is very common in French, particularly informal French. However, there are some rules and regulations when using double negatives in French.
Encore vs Toujours
The French adverbs encore and toujours can be confusing, because they each have several meanings that partially overlap. After studying this lesson, you'll remember the differences toujours.
Exclamations are words or phrases that express a desire, an order, or a strong emotion. There are several different French grammatical structures that can be used as exclamations.
French Faux Adjectives ~ Adjectifs occasionnels
In French, there are a number of words which are not actually adjectives but may be used as adjectives. These "faux adjectives" or "occasional adjectives" are always invariable - they do not agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. There are three different types of words that may be used as adjectives.
Selected lessons on grammar and other language issues that are particularly difficult for students of French, including more than a dozen confusing pairs or groups of French words, expressions, and grammatical structures.
Formal Negation - Literary and formal negative structures
There are three negative structures particular to formal French. While they are not unheard of in spoken French, they are most commonly found in writing, especially literature.
There are hundreds of French grammar books - how can you know which is the best? That's where I come in - here my votes for the best grammar books, including those used by native speakers.
Informal French Negation - Pas without Ne
French negation can be tricky. Normally, to make a statement negative you need to surround the conjugated verb with the French pair ne... pas. However, if you've ever watched French movies or television, or chatted with native speakers, you have almost certainly heard pas (or another negative adverb) without ne, as this is a typical characteristic of informal and familiar French. Although it is nearly always written, ne is often dropped in spoken French.
Informal French Pronouns
If you've ever listened to native French speakers talk to friends or family, you've almost certainly noticed that they don't sound like your French teacher or audio tapes. In this lesson you will learn about how pronouns are used informally.
The ne explétif is used after certain verbs and conjunctions. It has no negative value in and of itself and is used in situations where the main clause has a negative meaning.
French Passive Infinitive
Even though the French infinitive translates as "to + verb," the French sometimes needs to be preceded by a preposition. This is the case with the passive infinitive, which is commonly used with indefinite and negative words.
There are four different ways to express possession in French. This lesson provides a summary of each construction and has links to more detailed information.
Quand, Lorsque, Lors de, Pendant
What's the difference between the conjunctions quand and lorsque, the similar-looking expressions lorsque and lors de, and the temporal terms lors de and pendant? That's what this lesson is all about.
French Semi-Auxiliary Verbs
In addition to the auxiliary verbs avoir and être, French has a number of semi-auxiliary verbs. Semi-auxiliary verbs are conjugated in order to express various nuances of time, mood, or aspect and are followed by an infinitive.
All About Si
The French word si can be an adverb or a conjunction. Either way, si has several meanings and is used in numerous French constructions.
Un vs L'un
What's the difference between un and l'un? Isn't the second one kind of redundant? Learn about when and why to use l'un in place of un in this lesson.
Verb Conjugation for Difficult Subjects
When you understand subject pronouns, tenses, moods, and how to conjugate French verbs, you're in great shape. There are however some grammatical subjects which make conjugation a bit more difficult.
Verbs with Prepositions
Many French verbs require a certain preposition, and the prepositions required for French verbs are often not the same as the ones required in English. Also, some verbs that require a preposition in English don't take one in French, and vice versa.
What in French - How to translate what into French
French learners often have trouble deciding how to translate "what" into French. Should it be que or quoi, or maybe that pesky quel? Understanding the difference between these terms is critical to knowing how to use them correctly.
All Grammar Lessons
Hundreds of French lessons on everything from adjectives to the pronoun Y.
Additional information and exercises to be used in conjunction with Le Bon Usage by Grevisse.
Guide de la phrase complexe
Learn how to analyze and understand French sentences with subordinate clauses. Detailed information about subordination, coordination, and more. French only.