FREN 105 -- The Plan


Leçon 1 - Introduction

Part 1

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1. Qui est-ce? Les camarades de classe

2. Identifying People

3. Describing People: Subject Pronouns and Être

4. Introduction to Grammatical Gender

5. Gender and Articles

6. Plural Nouns and Articles

7. Rencontres. Comment allez-vous?: The Verb Aller

8. Going Places: The Verb Aller

9. Asking Questions


Telling Time


Our text, French in Action, does a number of things very well. However, much of the very basic vocabulary and several grammatical elements are not introduced as early as I would like. For this reason, I have created a set of introductory lessons that we will cover before going into French in Action itself.

Read through the following discussions, listen to the accompanying tape, and do each exercise. After completing an exercise, check the answer page, and contact me if you have any questions or problems.

After a series of exercises, you will have a homework assignment to complete and send to me.

Our first item of business will be a set of short conversational dialogues. Following the dialogues, you will find a discussion of the individual vocabulary items that will help you better understand the constructions.

1. Qui est-ce? (Who is it?)

*** For best results, study these materials while listening to the tape since the pronunciation is frequently quite different from what you would guess.

French dialogues and English meanings. By exam time, you will be expected to give me the French sentences when I give you the English equivalents. See the practice page at Qui est-ce?

Qui est-ce?

C'est Albert.

Who is it?

It's Albert.

Est-ce que c'est Daniel?

Non, c'est Louis.

Is that Daniel?

No, it's Louis.

Comment vous appelez-vous?

Je m'appelle Jaqueline Roberts.

What is your name? (How are you called?)

My name is Jacqueline Roberts.

Comment s'appelle l'ami de Louis.

Il s'appelle Daniel.

Comment s'appelle l'amie de Barbara?

Elle s'appelle Denise.

What is the name of the Louis's friend (the friend of Louis)?

His name is Daniel.

What is the name of Barbara's friend (the friend of Barbara)?

Her name is Denise.

Qui est-ce?

C'est Daniel.

Qui est-ce?

C'est Jacqueline.

Who is it?

It's Daniel.

Who is it?

It's Jacqueline.

Individual vocabulary items. (Note literal meanings in parentheses.)






it, this, that, they, these, those, he, she (a very talented little word)


Is it? Is that? Is he? Is she? Etc.


It is. (contraction of ce and est)

Est-ce que?

Is it that? (used in front of statements to form questions)



Vous vous appelez.

Your name is. (You call yourself.)

Comment vous appelez-vous?

What is your name? (How do you call yourself?)

Je m'appelle.

My name is. (I call myself.)

Comment s'appelle l'ami / l'amie de ...

What's the name of the friend of ... (How does the friend of ... call himself/herself?)


himself, herself, themselves

l'ami de ...

the friend (masc) of ...

Il s'appelle.

His name is. (He calls himself.)

l'amie de ...

the friend (fem) of ...

Elle s'appelle.

Her name is. (She calls herself.)

Exercise 1. Practice writing out the French equivalents of the Qui est-ce? dialogues. I have provided a study sheet for this purpose. I suggest that you print several copies of this page and use them to quiz yourselves. This page or portions thereof could also appear on your exam.

Exercise 1


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2. Identifying People: Qui est-ce?, C'est ... , Je m'appelle ..

This section is really just a review of what we encountered in the dialogues above. The expressions involving Who? are pretty straightforward. Note that ce can be translated either it, this, that, or he. The est means is, so the question Qui est-ce? is quite literally Who is it?, etc.. The c'est in the answer is the contraction of ce and est.

The expression est-ce que (is it that) is frequently used in French to turn a statement into a question.

Perhaps the most difficult expressions have to do with asking and giving names because the French use the question word How? (Comment?) and forms of the verb call (appelle, appelez). Below I will review these expressions giving the English, the French, and the literal meaning of the French.

Who is it? Who is that? Who is this?

Qui est-ce?


It's Denise. That's Denise. This is Denise.

C'est Denise.


It is Barbara? Is that Barbara?

Est-ce que c'est Barbara?

Est-ce Barbara?

Is it that it is Barbara?

Is it Barbara?

What is your name?

Comment vous appelez-vous?

How do you call yourself?

My name is Pierre.

Je m'appelle Pierre.

I call myself Pierre.

What is his name?

Comment s'appelle-t-il?

How does he call himself?

His name is Daniel.

Il s'appelle Daniel.

He calls himself Daniel.

What is her name?

Comment s'appelle-t-elle?

How does she call herself?

Her name is Denise.

Elle s'appelle Denise.

She calls herself Denise.

Exercise 2. Write out the questions and answers in French and send to me. If you have any questions about the meanings of the sentences, consult the Plan.  

Exercise 2


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3. Describing People: the verb être (to be)

In French, the verb être (to be: is, am, are) is not used to indicate how people are. It is used to describe them, to tell what they are like.

Note that the following question in French

Comment est Marie? is translated literally How is Marie? But that's not its meaning in French. In French it is asking What is Marie like? In a later section, we will discuss the French way of saying how people are, how they are doing.

In order to describe people we need to know the subject pronouns (I, you, he, she, we, they) and the forms of the verb être (is, am, are). You must be totally in command of the subject pronouns.

Je = I

Tu = You (familiar, singular only) Tu is used with family members, good friends, pets, etc., but is used only in the singular.

Il = He, It (masculine objects)

Elle = She, It (feminine objects)

On = One, someone, people in general

Nous = We

Vous = You (formal or plural) Vous is used with people you don't know really well and is also used with more than one family member, close friends, etc.

Ils = They (masculine)

Elles = They (feminine)

Now we will add the forms of the verb être to these subject pronouns.

Je suis. = I am.

Tu es. = You are. (familiar singular)

Il est. = He is.

Elle est. = She is.

On est. = One is. (someone, people in general)

Nous sommes. = We are.

Vous êtes. = You are. (formal or plural)

Ils sont. = They are. (masculine)

Elles sont. = They are. (feminine)

Now we will practice using the verb être in a series of exercises.

Vocabulary used in this section. Note that many of the words have two or more possible forms. Many French words have masculine, feminine, singular, and plural forms. Don't worry about all the details right now. This linguistic phenomenon will be discussed in the next section.

New vocabulary in exercise 3a:

la classe de français = the French class (the class of French)
américain/américaine = american
et = and
étudiant/étudiante = student
canadien/canadienne = Canadian
parle = speaks
anglais/anglaise = English
français/française = French
bilingue = biligual
aujourd'hui = today
aussi = also

You will notice that the masculine and feminine forms of nouns and adjectives will also add an -s when they are used in the plural. The -s on the end, however, doesn't change the pronunciation.

Exercise 3b vocabulary:

la famille = the family
à = to
moi = me
petit/petite = small, short
blond/blonde = blond
très = very
mince = slender
grand/grande = large, tall
mes = my
sympathique = nice
toi = you
brun/brune = brown, brunette, dark-haired
Monsieur = Sir, Mr.

Exercise 3c vocabulary:

dans = in
rouge = red
orange = orange (doesn't add an -s in the plural form)
les pingouins = the penguins
noir/noire = black
blanc/blanche = white
vert/verte = green
fort/forte = strong, stocky
vieux/vieille = old
jeune = young
les chaussures = the shoes
bleu/bleue = blue
taille = size, height
moyen/moyenne = average

Exercise 3a. La classe de français. Complete the sentences using the correct subject pronouns. Then write the English equivalent of each sentence. I will frequently ask you for the English equivalent of what you are working with in French because I want you to understand the complete thought and not simply the word that you are sticking in a blank.


Exercise 3b. La famille Colin. Complete each sentence with the correct form of the verb être. Then write the English equivalent of each sentence.


Exercise 3c. Discussions dans la classe de français. Complete each sentence with the verb être in the negative. The negative in French is formed by placing ne (n' preceding a vowel) in front of the verb and pas after the verb. Then write the English equivalent of each sentence.


4. Introduction to Grammatical Gender

French differs from English in that all nouns (objects as well as people) are designated as masculine or feminine, so it is important to learn the appropriate gender as you learn vocabulary. There is absolutely no logic to the masculine and feminine designation of objects; however, nouns ending in -e will usually be feminine. All others will usually be masculine.

Adjectives (words that describe the nouns) will also have masculine and feminine forms. In most cases the feminine is formed by adding an -e to the masculine form (petit/petite). Sometimes, however, you will have to learn two different forms (vieux, vieille). Adjectives will also add an -s when they modify plural nouns.

Vocabulary to note in this section:

petit/petite = small, little, short (when referring to people)
grand/grande = big, large, tall (when referring to people)
vieux/vieille = old
jeune = young
mon = my
acteur = actor
favori = favorite
beau/belle = handsome, beautiful
noir/noire = black
moyen/moyenne = average

Exercise 4. Descriptions. Complete the sentences with the correct French form of the adjective in parentheses. And again, give me the English meaning of the sentences.


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5. Gender and Articles

Just as we must have masculine and feminine adjective forms to go with masculine and feminine nouns, we must have masculine and feminine forms of the definite articles (the) and indefinite articles (a, an).

Definite articles (the)

Le is used with masculine singular nouns.

La is used with singular feminine nouns.

L' is used instead of le and la if the singular noun begins with a vowel or a mute h. (l'étudiant, l'étudiante)

Indefinite articles (a, an)

Un is used with masculine nouns.

Une with feminine nouns.

The indefinite article (un, une) will be used when we have general questions and answers. Is it a tiger? Yes, it's a tiger. --- Est-ce un tigre? Oui, c'est un tigre?

The definite article is used when we get more specific. Is it the tiger that ate all the villagers? Yes, it's the tiger that ate them. -- Est-ce le tigre qui a mangé les habitants du village? Oui, c'est le tigre qui les a mangés.

New vocab in this section.

Note that most nouns ending in -e will be feminine. Most nouns not ending in -e will be masculine.

Qu'est-ce que c'est? = What is it? (What is it that it is?)
que (Qu')? = what?
le lion, un lion = the lion, a lion
le tigre, un tigre = the tiger, a tiger
le jean, un jean = jeans, the pair of jeans (singular in French). a pair of jeans
le pantalon, un pantalon = the pair of pants (pants is singular in French), a pair of pants
gris, grise = gray
de = of
quel, quelle = what, which
couleur = color
l'homme, un homme = the man, a man
le chapeau, un chapeau = the hat, a hat
la moustache, une moustaceh = the mustache, a mustache
la barbe, une barbe = the beard, a beard
la cravate, une cravate = the tie, a tie
la chemise, une chemise = the shirt, a shirt
la cathédrale, une cathédral = the cathedral, a cathedral

Exercise 5. Les photos de Mme Martin. Complete the sentences with the correct form of a (an) or the. Then write the English equivalents of your sentences.


*** Homework assignment number 1. Write the French equivalent of the sentences based on sections 1 through 5, and send you me your results. Feel free to look up anything you need.

Homework assignment 1



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6. Plural Nouns and Articles

We must also consider the articles used with plural nouns. The good news is that with the plurals we don't have to worry about gender.

Les is the word for plural the. Remember that the singular forms of the are le, la, and l'.

Des is the word for some (the plural of a, an). Remember that the words for a (an) are un and une. In English, some is frequently not stated. In French, it must be. Note the following examples:

green shirts = des chemises vertes
red ties = des cravates rouges

Vocabulary items:

une jupe = a skirt
une chemise = a shirt
un blouson = a windbreaker
une robe = a dress
une chaussure = a shoe
une botte = a boot
un pantalon = pants, a pair of pants
un pull-over = a sweater
un manteau = coat
bon, bonne = good
tout, toute, tous, toutes = all
de tous les âges = of all ages
de taille moyenne = of average size
porte = wears, is wearing
jaune = yellow
marron = chestnut-colored, brown
violet, violette = violet
blanc, blanche = white
rose = pink
bleu, bleue = blue
gris, grise = gray
noir, noire = black
vert, verte = green

Exercise 6a. Comment est votre université? (What is your university like?) Complete the sentences with the correct form of the. Then, of course, you need to give me the English version.


Exercise 6b. Test de mémoire. Complete the sentences with the French equivalents of a (an) or some. And don't forget the English sentences.


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7. Rencontres

*** For best results, study these dialogues while listening to the tape.

French dialogues and English meanings. By exam time, you will be expected to give me the French sentences when I give you the English equivalents. See the practice page at Rencontres.

Comment allez-vous?

Très bien, merci. Et vous?

Assez bien, merci.

How are you? (literally, How go you?)

Very well, thanks. And you?

Well enough, thanks.

Tu vas bien?

Oui, et toi?

Moi aussi.

You are fine? (Literally, You go fine?)

Yes, and you?

Me too.

Bonjour. Comment vas-tu?

Bien, merci.

Hello. How are you? (Literally, How go you?)

Fine thanks.

Bonjour. Comment ça va?

Ça va bien, merci. Et toi?

Pas mal, merci.

Hello. How's it going? (How goes it?)

It's going fine, thanks. And you?

Not bad, thanks.

Bonjour. Je m'appelle Raoul Durand.


Hello. My name is Raoul Durand. (I call myself ... )


Bonsoir. Tu vas bien?

Comme ci, comme ça. Et toi?

Je suis un peu fatigué(e).

Good evening. You are all right? (You go well?)

So, so. And you?

I am a little tired.

Au revoir.


Individual vocabulary items.










well, fine, all right, ok, etc.






enough, rather










also, too


hello, good day




that, it

Ça va.

It's all right. (It goes.)








am called, am named (call myself)

Je m'appelle ...

My name is ... (I call myself .... )



comme ci, comme ça

so, so

Je suis.

I am.

un peu

A little, A bit


tired, fatigued

au revoir


Comments -

Note that there are different words meaning you: Tu, vous, toi. Tu and toi are familiar forms. Vous is formal.

There are also different words for go: va, vas, allez. These are forms of the verb aller and are discussed in detail in the following section. Notice that the French use go instead of are in asking how people are.

How are you? ---- Comment allez-vous? (Literally - How go you?)

You are fine? ----- Tu vas bien. (Literally - You go well?)

Exercise 7. Practice writing out the French equivalents of the Rencontres dialogues. I have provided a study sheet for this purpose. I suggest that you print several copies of this page and use them to quiz yourselves. Any portion of this page could also appear on your exam.


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8. How you are and where you are going: The verb aller

As we saw in Rencontres above, the verb aller is used to indicate how people are, how they are doing, etc. As the verb être, the verb aller must be mastered. You should be able to recognize it and produce it with no hestitation.

Note the following French sentences that use the verb go (aller) and not the verb be (is, am, are) that we use in English.

I am fine. (I go well.)

You (familiar) are fine. (You go well.)

He is fine. (He goes well.)

She is fine. (She goes well.)

One (people in general) is fine. (One goes well.)

We are fine. (We go well.)

You (formal) are fine. (You go well.)

They (masculine or mixed group) are fine. (They go well.)

They (feminine) are fine. (They go well.)

Je vais bien.

Tu vas bien.

Il va bien.

Elle va bien.

On va bien.

Nous allons bien.

Vous allez bien.

Ils vont bien.

Elles vont bien.

The verb aller (to go) is, of course, also used to indicate physical displacement from one place to another.

Je vais à Paris. = I go to Paris. I'm going to Paris.

Tu vas à Paris. = You (familiar) go (are going) to Paris.

Il va à Paris. = He goes (is going) to Paris.

Elle va à Paris. = She goes (is going) to Paris.

On va à Paris. = One goes (is going) to Paris. People in general go (are going) to Paris.

Nous allons à Paris. = We go (are going) to Paris.

Vous allez à Paris. = You (formal or plural) go (are going) to Paris.

Ils vont à Paris. = They (masculine or mixed group) go (are going) to Paris.

Elles vont à Paris. = They (feminine) go (are going) to Paris.

When the verb aller is used to indicate going places, it is often used with the expressions au, à la, à l' and aux. All of these expressions mean to the, but they are used in different situations.

Au is used with masculine nouns. It's a contraction of à and le.

Je vais au restau-U. = I'm going to the university restaurant.

Aux is used with plural nouns. It's a contraction of à and les.

Je vais aux églises. = I'm going to the churches.

There are no contractions for à la (with feminine nouns) and à l' (used when the singular noun starts with a vowel.

Je vais à la bibliothèque. = I'm going to the library.
Je vais à l'église. = I'm going to the church.

Vocab to note:

Exercise 8a

la bibliothèque (la bibli) = the library
ce = this
soir = evening
chez = at the place of or to the place of
chez Daniel = at Daniel's place or to Daniel's place
le restau-U (le restaurant universitaire) = the food service , university restaurant
n'est-ce pas? = Isn't that right? Don't you? Doesn't he? Etc.
le café = the café (also means coffee)
maintenant = now
demain = tomorrow
un grand magasin = a department story ( a big store)
le cinéma = the movies, the movie theater
l'église = the church
après-demain = the day after tomorrow
après = after

Exercise 8b

la piscine = the swimming pool
y = there (y will always be placed in front of the verb)
souvent = often
le théâtre = the theater
quelquefois = sometimes
le bar = the bar
ne ... jamais = never (ne and jamais go around the verb in the same way that ne and pas do.)
une fois = a time, one time, once
par semaine = per week
le gymnase = the gymnasium
le centre-ville = city center
toujours = always

Exercise 8a. Projets du week-end --- In this exercise, every sentence will require the correct form of the verb aller. If there is a second blank, it will be used to say to or to the. Remember that there are four ways to say to the, and the usage depends on the gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural) of the following place. Masculine singular nouns use au, and feminine singulars use à la. If, however, the singular noun begins with a vowel, à l' is used. Aux is used with all plurals. And don't forget the English equivalents.


Exercise 8b. Où allez-vous? Same game. Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verb aller and the correct form of to the. And, of course, give me the English equivalents.


Exercise 8c. I have put together a page for practicing the verbs être and aller. We are going to say that various individuals are (verb être) in Havre (à Havre) and are going (verb aller) to Paris (à Paris). The little preposition à can mean either in, to, or at depending on how it's used.


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9. Asking Questions

A. You have already learned that the expression Est-ce que (Is it that) turns any statement into a question.

Est-ce que vous allez à Paris? = Are you going to Paris? Or Do you go to Paris? The English questions constuctions Are you ...., Is he ..., etc. and Do you ..., does he ..., etc. do not exist in French. Instead, the Est-ce que ... is used. So

Est-ce que vous allez à Paris means literally Is it that you go to Paris?

French can also use what is called inversion to ask questions. Inversion simply means that the subject and verb will be inverted with the verb coming first. In this question form, the subject and verb are separated by a hyphen.

Allez-vous à Paris? again comes out in English Are you going to Paris? or Do you go to Paris?, but literally it means Go you to Paris?

So remember. The English questions Are you going to Paris? and Do you go to Paris? do not have word for word equivalents in French. The two ways of asking the question in French are Est-ce que vous allez à Paris? and Allez-vous à Paris?, literally Is it that you go to Paris? and Go you to Paris?

Note that in inversion-type questions the letter -t- will be used between a verb ending in a vowel and a subject beginning in a vowel. For example

A-t-il? = Does he have? (literally Has he?)

A-t-elle? = Does she have? (literally Has she?)

Parle-t-il? = Does he speak? Is he speaking? (Literally Speaks he?)

Parle-t-elle? = Does she speak? Is she speaking? (Literally Speaks she?)

Everything else in this section has already been covered in other sections, but it's all worth a review.

B. The expression n'est-ce pas can be translated Isn't he? Isn't she? Aren't you? Aren't we? Aren't they? Isn't that right? etc. Note the composition of the expression.

Est-ce? = Is it? Is that? And the ne ... pas negates the construction, so we have literally Is it not?

C. In casual usage, it is also possible to form a question simply by changing your intonation, as is done in English. So, casually we could say

Vous allez à Paris? You're going to Paris?

Vocab to note in exercise 9:

une personne = a person
ou = or
une chose = a thing
un examen = an exam
une horloge = a clock
un stylo = a pen

* Exercise 9. Personne ou chose? (Person or thing?) In this exercise you are going to ask either Qu'est-ce que c'est? (What is it?) or Qui est-ce? (Who is it?) for each French expression. Then give me the English equivalent of the French expression on the left.

*** Homework assignment number 2. Write the French equivalent of the sentences based on sections 6 through 9, and send you me your results. Feel free to look up anything you need.

Homework assignment 2

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Numbers   1 - 60

 Numbers from 1 - 10


Numbers from 11 - 20


Numbers from 20 - 30

vingt et un

Numbers from 30 - 40

trente et un

Numbers from 40 - 50

quarante et un

Numbers from 50 - 60

cinquante et un



















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Telling Time

French doesn't use an expressions similar to "o'clock".  Time is indicated in hours (heures).

One o'clock = une heure (one hour)
two o'clock = deux heures (two hours)
three o'clock = trois heures (three hours)
four o'clock = quatre heures
five o'clock = cinq heures
six o'clock = six heures
seven o'clock = sept heures
eight o'clock = huit heures
nine o'clock = neuf heures
ten o'clock = dix heures
eleven o'clock = onze heures
twelve o'clock = douze heures

noon = midi
midnight = minuit

For a certain number of minutes past the hour, French simply adds the number of minutes to the number of hours.

1:05 = une heure cinq
2:10 = deux heures dix
3:15 = trois heures quinze
4:20 = quatre heures vingt
5:25 = cinq heures vingt-cinq
6:30 = six heures trente
7:35 = sept heures trente-cinq
8:40 = huit heures quarante
9:45 = neuf heures quarante-cinq
10:50 = dix heures cinquante
11:55 = onze heures cinquante-cinq

For a certain number of minues before an hour, French uses the word moins (less, minus).

12:55 = une heure moins cinq
1:50 = deux heures moins dix
2:45 = trois heures moins quinze
3:40 = quatre heures moins vingt
4:35 = cinq heures moins vingt-cinq

To indicate a quarter after, add et quart (and quarter) to the hour.
To indicate half past, add et demie (and half) to the hour. 
To indicate a quarter 'til the next hour, add moins le quart (minus the quarter) to the hour.

noon = midi
12;15 = midi et quart
12:30 = midi et demi (notice that this is demi and not demie)
12:45 = une heure moins le quart
1:00 = une heure
1:15 = une heure et quart
1:30 = une heure et demie
1:45 = deux heures moins le quart
2:00 = deux heures
2:15 = deux heures et quart
2:30 = deux heures et demie
2:45 = trois heures moins le quart

*** Homework assignment number 3. Write the French equivalent of the sentences based on the entire lesson, and send you me your results. Feel free to look up anything you need.

Homework assignment 3

Intro 1 - Sample Exam

The lesson exam will be in two parts. The first will ask you to give the English equivalent of a series of items in French. The second part will ask you to give the French equivalent of items in English. The two links below will serve as an example. You can check the correctness of your responses because the two pages are translations of each other.

Intro 1 - French to English

Intro 1 - English to French

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