The SAT French Subject Test

Part II

Subject Review

Chapter 5

Grammar Review

Grammar is tested in Parts B and C of the SAT French Subject Test. Part B tests only grammar, while Part C tests both grammar and vocabulary. The same points of grammar are tested in Parts B and C. The SAT French Subject Test contains questions about very specific aspects of French grammar. Therefore, grammar is one of the easiest test topics on which to improve. If you can remember and master a few rules, you’ll easily get more points. This chapter will explain exactly what you need to know. First, look at the point-by-point summary of the question types you can expect. Then, keep the question style in mind as you review your French grammar. Not all that you have learned in school will be included in the test, but you may find it helpful to go back to your textbooks for more examples on the topics we suggest. We focus on the grammatical topics and difficulties most often encountered on the SAT: pronouns, verbs, prepositions, and adverbs.


Part B will consist of approximately 15 to 20 questions, placed in order of difficulty. The first third of the questions will be easy, the next third will be of intermediate difficulty, and the final third will be the most challenging.

In these questions, there will be a sentence with a blank. You will choose the answer that is grammatically correct.

Become familiar with these directions that appear on the real test:

Part B

Directions: Each of the following sentences contains a blank. From the four choices given, select the one that can be inserted in the blank to form a grammatically correct sentence and fill in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet. Choice (A) may consist of dashes that indicate that no insertion is required to form a grammatically correct sentence.

Jean-Claude est venu avec -------.

(A)   ils

(B)   leur

(C)   eux

(D)   soi

The correct answer is (C).


Part C tests both grammar and vocabulary. In this section, there are approximately 12 to 20 questions in no clear order of difficulty.

On this part of the test, several questions are combined in one paragraph. You may have three or four mini-paragraphs with three to five blanks within each, or you may have one long paragraph. You are asked to select the answers that best complete the sentences on the basis of either vocabulary or grammar.

Become familiar with these directions:

Part C

Directions: The paragraphs below contain blank spaces indicating omissions in the text. For some blanks, it is necessary to choose the completion that is most appropriate to the meaning of the passage; for other blanks, you must choose the one completion that forms a grammatically correct sentence. In each case, indicate your answer by filling in the corresponding circle on the answer sheet. Be sure to read each paragraph completely before answering the questions related to it.

This section combines the characteristics of Parts A and B. The small differences between the two are discussed at the end of this chapter.


All the grammar questions on the SAT French Subject Test will fall into one of the following four categories.

1.    pronouns

2.    verbs

3.    prepositions

4.    odds and ends

The best way to improve in these areas is to learn the grammatical rules that are tested again and again. These rules are covered in the following grammar review.


Grammar is a great area to focus your attention for this test. Why? Because to do well on the grammar review you need to review only a limited number of rules. Those rules will lead you to the right answer again and again. Unlike vocabulary, where luck determines whether the words you’ve learned will show up, grammar rules—and therefore, the content of these test questions—stay the same.

Good News

Only a minuscule number
of grammar questions
(around two) will test
you on whether a noun is
masculine or feminine.

You’ll be tested primarily on three things: pronouns, verbs, and prepositions. Each question will address only one grammatical point. We’ll cover each of these categories, giving you the rules that get you right answers. We’ll also give practice questions for each category. Finally, we’ll cover some odds and ends that occasionally show up on the test.


You won’t be tested on this material, but take a quick look through to make sure that you understand what the following terms mean. We’ll be using them in this grammar review.

Parts of Speech

1.    Noun—a person, place, thing, quality, or action. It can be either a subject or an object

2.    Verb—the action that is being performed by the subject

3.    Pronoun—a word that takes the place of a noun

4.    Preposition—a word that expresses the relationship of one word to another in terms of direction, motion, or position

5.    Adjective—a descriptive word that gives more information about a noun

6.    Adverb—a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb

7.    Article—a small word that gives a little information about a noun

None of this terminology is
needed for the test. Understanding
these terms will
help you comprehend the
explanations in the grammar
review that follows.

Sentence Structure

1.    Subject—the person or thing in the sentence that is performing the action

2.    Compound subject—two or more subjects joined by and, or, or but

3.    Object—the person or thing that is on the receiving end of the action

4.    Direct object—the word or phrase that receives the direct action of the verb

5.    Indirect object—a word or phrase that precedes the direct object and answers the questions “to whom” or “for whom” the action of the verb is done

6.    Infinitive—the form of a verb that uses “to,” as in “to go” or “to speak”

7.    Auxiliary verb—a helper verb, either avoir or être, that loses its own meaning to help form the compound past tense for other verbs, such as the passé composé. It is followed by the past participle of the conjugated verb.

8.    Semi-auxiliary verb—a verb, such as aller or venir, that helps express a different aspect of the verbal action, such as the near future or the recent past

9.    Past participle—in the past tense, the form of the verb that teams up with the auxiliary or “helper” verb


A quarter of all grammar questions on the SAT French test will challenge your knowledge of pronouns. Unlike English, which uses mainly two basic forms of pronouns (he and him, for example), French uses four important forms of pronouns: subject pronouns, direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns, and stressed pronouns.

What Is a Pronoun?

A pronoun takes the place of a noun. It stands in for the full name or description of a person, place, or thing. In French, a pronoun will take different forms depending on what type of noun it replaces. Half of the pronoun questions on the test ask you to choose among subject pronouns, direct or indirect object pronouns, and stressed pronouns.

The following are the pronouns you should know. You’re most likely to be tested on third-person singular and plural, since these are the forms that change the most.

Once you recognize each
of these four main types
of pronouns, you will find
it easy to use Process of
Elimination on the
answer choices.

Because this is a multiple-choice test, you will be asked which of four pronouns go into the blank. Notice that some pronouns are always the same: nous and vous.

nous or vous can be:

    direct object
    indirect object

1. Subject Pronouns

Subject pronouns replace the subject of the sentence.

Jean a montré son dessin à Edith.

Jean showed his drawing to Edith.

Il a montré son dessin à Edith.

He showed his drawing to Edith.


The subject pronouns il, ils,
, and elles are used for
objects and people.
Il signifies “he” or “it.” Elle
signifies “she” or “it.”
The subject pronoun il can
be neutral or impersonal:
il est sept heures, il pleut,
il faut que …

The subject pronoun ils is
used for a group of males
and for mixed groups,
even if there are more
females than males.

je or j’

















you (plural or formal singular)



they (masculine)



they (feminine)

These pronouns are usually the wrong answer choices. Why? Because these are the pronouns with which everyone is most familiar and comfortable.

2. Direct Object Pronouns

These pronouns replace the direct object of a sentence. The direct object answers the question “what?”

Jean a montré son dessin à Edith.

Jean showed his drawing to Edith.

Jean l’a montré à Edith.

Jean showed it (the drawing) to Edith.

Notice that the direct object pronoun is placed before the verb.

me or m’



te or t’



le or l’


him or it

la or l’


her or it






you (plural or formal)



them (person or thing both masculine and feminine)


When a direct object pronoun
comes before a verb
that starts with a vowel,
the vowel in the pronoun
is dropped and replaced
with an apostrophe. For
example, me becomes m’
and le or la becomes l’.

3. Indirect Object Pronouns

These pronouns replace the indirect object of a sentence. The indirect object answers the questions “to what?” or “to whom?” Notice that the pronoun replaces both the indirect object and the preposition that goes with it.

Jean a montré son dessin à Edith.

Jean showed his drawing to Edith.

Jean lui a montré son dessin.

Jean showed her his drawing.


Notice that the indirect
object pronoun is placed
before the verb.

me or m’



te or t’





him or her






you (plural or formal)




Review the list of verbs that take the prepositions de or à or both, and their meaning. Some of them are listed on this page of this book.

Pay particular attention to the following verbs:


Note that the only differences
between direct and
indirect object pronouns
occur in the third person
singular and plural forms:
le/la/l’ vs. lui and les vs.
leur. You are more likely to
be tested on these, as you
have to know the rules in
order to figure out which
pronoun is correct.

The verbs écouter (to listen to), regarder (to look at), and attendre (to wait for) are verbs that take a direct object in French.

Il m’écoute.

He listens (to) me.

Je l’ai regardez.

I looked (at) him.

Nous les attendons.

We are waiting (for) them.

The verbs téléphoner à (to call on the phone), répondre à (to answer), demander à (to ask), and rendre visite à (to visit someone), take an indirect object in French, but not in English.

Ton père te téléphone.

Your father is calling you.

Je résponds à la question du professeur.

I answer the teacher’s question.

Sa mère lui demande de nettoyer sa chambre.

Her mother is asking her to clean her room.

Cette semaine, il rends visite à son grandpère.

He is visiting his grandfather this week.

The direct and indirect object pronouns are placed before the verb even when you use the negative form.

Je ne te donne pas mon nouveau pull.

I will not give you my new sweater.

Il ne leur parle pas.

He does not speak to them.

4. Stressed Pronouns

Stressed pronouns are used only to replace nouns representing people or animals.



me or I






him or he



her or she



us or we



you (plural or formal)



them or they (masculine or including both masculine and feminine)



them or they (feminine)

Uses of the Stressed Pronoun

A. After a preposition such as à, pour, avec, chez, sans …

Elle pense à sa soeurElle pense à elle.

She thinks of her sister. She thinks of her.

Je travaille pour mes patronsJe travaille pour eux.

I work for my bosses. I work for them.

Je vis avec mon pèreJe vis avec lui.

I live with my father. I live with him.

Tu vas au cinéma sans ton frèreTu vas au cinéma sans lui.

You go to the movies without your brother. You go to the movies without him.

Tu peux rester chez mes tantesTu peux rester chez elles.

You can stay at my aunts’ house. You can stay at their house.

B. To reinforce a subject pronoun. There is no real English equivalent.

Moije parle très bien le français.

I speak French very well.

Vousvous êtes parfait!

You are perfect!

C. After the expressions c’est and ce n’est pas and, of course, their various conjugated forms.

C’est ton frère qui est avec cette fille? Non, ce n’est pas lui.

Is it your brother who is with this girl? No, it is not (he).

D. Before and after et and ou (or).

Toi et luivous allez bien vous amuser.

You and he are going to have fun.

E. In short sentences with no verb.

Qui a demandé un chocolat? C’est moi.

Who asked for a chocolate? Me. (I did.)

5. Interrogative Pronouns

The interrogative pronoun lequel (which one) is used sometimes to replace quel + noun.

Quel livre préfères-tu?

Which book do you prefer?

Lequel préfères-tu?

Which one do you prefer?

It agrees in gender and number with the noun it replaces: lequel, laquelle, lesquels, lesquelles.

See the table below for the use of these pronouns with prepositions à and de:

à + laquelle = à laquelle

de + laquelle = de laquelle

à + lequel = auquel

de + lequel = duquel

à + lesquels = auxquels

de + lesquels = desquels

à + lesquelles = auxquelles

de + lesquelles = desquelles

J’ai deux frèresDuquel me parles-tu? (= de quel frère?)

I have two brothers. Which one are you talking about?

Il y a plusieurs classes à choisir pour ce niveauAuxquelles voulez-vous participer? (= à quelles classes?)

There are several classes to choose from at this level. Which ones do you want to attend?

6. Demonstrative Pronouns

The demonstrative pronoun celui (this / the one) is used instead of ce + noun or le + noun.

It agrees in gender and number with the noun it replaces: celui, celle, ceux, celles.

There are a few combinations to keep in mind:

a. In a composed form
celui-ci, celui-là, ceux-ci, celles-ci, celle-là …
Voilà les robes blanches. Ce sont celles-ci que j’aime.
Here are the white dresses. These are the ones I like.

b. With the preposition de
Ce ne sont pas mes sandales. Ce sont celles de Sophie.
These are not my sandals. These are Sophie’s.

c. With qui, que, or dont. (See the use of these pronouns in the next section.)
J’aime les robes blanches, surtout celles qui sont à la mode.
I like white dresses, especially the trendy ones.

d. Ce is the neutral simple form and is used with the verb être.
C’est toujours bon de se revoir!
It’s always nice to see each other again.

e. Ceci and cela are the compound neutral forms.
Cela me donne une idée.
This gives me an idea.

7. Reflexive Pronouns

The reflexive pronoun shows that the action is being performed both by and to the subject. Only certain verbs have reflexive forms. Most often reflexives will show up as incorrect answer choices.


Reflexive pronouns are
used in French in situations
in which they are
not used in English. For
example, Je me lave les
 (I wash my hands).

Tu te laves.

You wash yourself.

Tu te laves les mains.

You wash your hands.










yourselves or yourself (formal)



You might also see moi-même, toi-même, lui-même/elle-même, soi-même (oneself), nous-mêmes, vous-même(s), eux-mêmes / elles-mêmes. They would be used as stressed pronouns would be.

Tu te coupes toi-même les cheveux!

You cut your hair yourself!

All reflexive verbs take the auxiliary être in the compound tenses. If the verb has no object, the past participle always agrees with the subject:

Elles se sont dépêchées

They hurried.

Elle s’est coupée.

She cut herself.

However, there is no agreement in the sentence when the body part, or direct object, comes after the reflexive verb. We’ll talk more about this later in the review.

Elles se sont lavé les mains.

They washed their hands.

Pronoun Order

If the sentence contains both a direct and an indirect pronoun, order the pronouns as shown in the chart below.

Always use the order below.

Tu donnes le cadeau à ta sœur. Tu le lui donnes maintenant.

You give the present to your sister. You give it to her now.

Tu écris cette lettre à ton frère. Oui, je la lui écris.

You write a letter to your brother. Yes, I write it to him.

Je vous prête mes livres. Je vous les prête.

I lend my books to you. I lend them to you.

Pronoun Order with Commands

In negative commands, the order of pronouns follows the same rule:

Ne le lui rends pas!

Don’t give it back to him!

Ne me les donne pas!

Don’t give them to me!

In affirmative commands, the me becomes moi, and the direct or indirect pronoun (moi, nous …) is placed after the verb.

Appelle-moi ce soir!

Call me tonight.

Répondez-nous tout de suite.

Give us an answer right away.

When the command contains a direct pronoun and an indirect pronoun, both pronouns come after the verb. Follow the order below:


Give them to me!


Give it back to her!

Pronouns y and en

These are adverbial pronouns. Remember that y comes before en.

Il y a beaucoup de fraises au marché ce matin. Il y en a beaucoup.

There are lots of strawberries at the market this morning. There are lots of them.

Il rend visite à sa tante à l’hôpital. Il lui y rend visite tous les jours.

He visits his aunt at the hospital. He visits her there every day.

Nous rencontrons souvent nos amis au cinéma. Nous les y rencontrons souvent

We often meet our friends at the movies. We meet them there often.

Tu m’y retrouves à six heures.

You meet me there at six o’clock.

These pronouns are often seen in negative and affirmative commands:


Buy him/her some!

Ne leur en prête pas!

Don’t lend them any!

Occupe-t’en tout de suite!

[You] Take care of it right away!

Let’s practice our pronoun skills.

Paul voulait ------- faire peur.

(A)   elle

(B)   la

(C)   lui

(D)   les

Here’s How to Crack It

Does the missing pronoun here serve as a subject or object? It serves as an object, so we can eliminate (A). Elle serves only as a subject pronoun or a stressed pronoun. We won’t use a stressed pronoun because a preposition is not being used.

Does the verb faire peur take a direct or indirect object? Indirect. In English, “to frighten someone” takes a direct object, but in French the expression is faire peur à quelqu’un.

Often, three choices will refer to one person, the fourth to more than one person. In most cases, the one that is different will be wrong.

Let’s cross out (D) les, which is a direct object pronoun as well as the only plural pronoun.

So, which choice is an indirect object pronoun?

Lui, (C), is the indirect pronoun for third person singular. It is the right answer. La, (B), is the direct object pronoun.

Je suis allé au concert sans -------.

(A)   leur

(B)   tu

(C)   le

(D)   eux

Here’s How to Crack It

What type of pronoun would come after sans? A stressed pronoun comes after a preposition. Which of the answer choices is a stressed pronoun? Only (D). Eux is the stressed pronoun meaning “them.” (A) is an indirect object pronoun. (B) is a subject pronoun. (C) is a direct object pronoun. (D) is the correct answer: Je suis allé au concert sans eux.

More Types of Pronouns

You also want to be familiar with some other types of pronouns that may show up. The following are most likely to appear on the real test as incorrect answer choices.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns agree in gender and number with the noun that they replace.

Ce livre est à Nathalie.

C’est le sien.

    This book is Nathalie’s.

    It is hers.
(use of possessive pronoun)

Cette montre est à Pierre.

C’est la sienne.

    This watch is Pierre’s.

    It is his.

Singular Pronouns

le mien / la mienne

le nôtre / la nôtre

le tien / la tienne

le vôtre / la vôtre

le sien / la sienne

le leur / la leur


Ce livre est à toi.

C’est le tien.

    This book is yours.

    It is yours.

Plural pronouns

les miens / les miennes

les nôtres

les tiens / les tiennes

les vôtres

les siens / les siennes

les leurs


Ces chaussures sont à elles.

Ce sont les leurs.

    These shoes are theirs.

    They are theirs.

Possessive pronouns must always be used with an article (le, la, les).

Still More Types of Pronouns

About half of the pronoun questions revolve around the use of other types of pronouns (adverbial pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, relative pronouns, indefinite pronouns, etc.). Don’t worry—you don’t need to know the terminology.


Je n’ai pas le temps de faire les courses ------- ma mère m’a demandé de faire.

(A)   qui

(B)   que

(C)   dont

(D)   lesquelles

Which pronoun is correct?

Let’s take a look at each in turn and see what rules govern their use.

Qui—Who or Which or That

Qui is the equivalent of the English “who,” except that qui can also be used to refer to things (“that”). The qui refers to the subject of the phrase.

la dame qui danse là-bas …

the lady who is dancing over there …

la table qui est cassée …

the table that is broken …

Qui vsQue

Don’t use your ear to
determine if qui or que
is right. Learn a few rules
that will help you choose:
1. Is the noun before the
blank the subject or object
of the phrase? 2. Is there a
preposition involved?

Qui can also be used with a preposition. In this case, it can only refer to a person.

l’homme sans qui je n’aurais rien accompli …

the man without whom I would have accomplished nothing …

Ce qui—What

Ce qui is used as the subject of the sentence or clause.

Qu’est-ce qui se passe?

What is happening?

Je ne sais pas ce qui la fait pleurer!

I do not know what‘s making her cry!

Que—Whom or That

Que is used in a number of ways in the French language. On the SAT French Test, however, it usually shows up as a relative pronoun. Roughly the equivalent of the English “whom,” it refers to the person or thing that is the object of the action. Que is never used with a preposition.

l’enfant que j’ai puni …
(i.e., j’ai puni l’enfant)

the child whom I punished …

la bicyclette que j’ai reçue pour mon anniversaire …
(i.e., j’ai reçu la bicyclette pour mon anniversaire)

the bicycle that I received for my birthday …

Ce que—What

Ce que is used as a direct object in a sentence or clause.

Je ne comprends pas ce qu‘il dit.

I do not understand what he is saying.

Je préfère ce que tu viens d’acheter.

I prefer what you have just bought.

When Do You Use Qui and When Do You Use Que?

Unless there is a preposition involved, this is similar to the English use of “who” or “whom.” In English, one test is to see if the “who” or “whom” would be replaced by “he” or “him,” and see which sounds right:

the man ________ is smoking over there …

“He” is smoking, so you would use “who.”

the man ________ I hugged …

I hugged “him,” so you would use “whom.”

If you understand “who/whom” in English, you may want to translate and decide if “who” or “whom” is correct. If “who” is correct, use qui; if “whom” is correct, use que.

l’homme qui fume là-bas …

the man who is smoking over there …

l’homme que j’ai embrassé …

the man whom I hugged …

What If a Preposition Is Involved?

If a preposition is involved and the pronoun refers to a person, use qui or the correct form of lequel.

If there is a preposition
before the blank, you use
qui if referring to a person,
and the correct form of
lequel if referring to a thing
or a person. You never use
que immediately following a

l’homme à qui j’ai donné de l’argent …

the man to whom I gave money 

l’ami pour lequel j’ai acheté un chapeau …

the friend for whom I bought a hat 

la jeune fille pour laquelle j’ai fait une robe …

the girl for whom I made a dress 

Lequel is used with a preposition if the pronoun refers to people or things. The form of lequel agrees in gender and number with the person(s) or thing(s) it refers to.

Lequel, laquelle, lesquels,
and lesquelles, are always
used after the prepositions
entre, sans, parmi,
and avant.

Note that if a preposition is involved and the pronoun refers to a thing, use only lequel (in its correct form).

l’argent avec lequel j’ai payé la facture …

the money with which I paid the bill 

Quoi—Which or What

Quoi is used to refer to things only. It is usually used with a preposition when asking a question.

À quoi pensez-vous?

What are you thinking of?

De quoi parlez-vous?

What are you talking about?

De quoi is also used in many idiomatic expressions, such as:

avoir de quoi faire

to have a lot to do

avoir de quoi manger

to have something to eat

avoir de quoi vivre

to have enough to live on

Merci beaucoup! Il n’y a pas de quoi!

Many thanks! Don’t mention it!

Ce à quoi—What

Ce à quoi is used to emphasize an idea, but it is mostly avoided otherwise.

Ce à quoi il faut toujours faire attention, c’est l’utilisation des pronoms.

What you must always pay attention to is the use of pronouns.

Avec quoi—With What

Je voudrais savoir avec quoi il a fait cela.

I would like to know with what he did this.

Sans quoi—Otherwise, If Not

Si tu fais tes devoirs tu pourras sortir; sans quoi tu resteras ici.

If you do your homework, you can go out; otherwise, you’ll stay here.

Dont—Of Whom or Of Which

Dont is correct only if the verb in the phrase is one that takes de as a preposition. Dont is always placed directly after the noun it replaces.

Le livre dont j’ai besoin est dans ma chambre.

The book that I need is in my room.

L’ami dont elle a parlé viendra chez nous ce soir.

The friend of whom she spoke will come to our house this evening.

When it is separated by a preposition, use duquel, de laquelle, desquels, desquelles.

L’homme à côté duquel le chien attend nous a salués.

The man next to whom the dog waits greeted us.

Les gens à côté desquels nous étions assis n’ont pas arrêté de parler.

The people next to whom we were sitting did not stop talking.

Ce dont—What

Ce dont is used as an object with a verb that takes the preposition de.

Il ne comprend pas ce dont j’ai besoin.

He does not understand what I need.

J’ai oublié ce dont elle m’a parlé.

I forgot what she talked to me about.

Now let’s go back to our example first given on this page.

Je n’ai pas le temps de faire les courses ------- ma mère m’a demandé de faire.

(A)   qui

(B)   que

(C)   dont

(D)   lesquelles

Here’s How to Crack It

Is a preposition involved? No. Get rid of (D) lesquelles. You can also get rid of (A) qui, because where objects are concerned, qui is used only with a preposition.

Does faire take de as a preposition? No. Eliminate (C) dont. The answer must be (B) que.

Voilà l’ami ------- j’ai passé l’été.

(A)   chez qui

(B)   à qui

(C)   que

(D)   dont

Here’s How to Crack It

Can de be used as a preposition following passer l’été? No. Eliminate (D).

Can passer l’été be used without a preposition? No. Eliminate (C) que.

Can passer l’été be used with chez? Yes. Passer l’été chez means “to spend the summer at the home of.” (A) is the right answer.

You can use à with passer l’été, but in that case it would be used with a place, not with a person. Eliminate (B).


Voilà la bibliothèque  j’ai passé beaucoup de temps.

There is the library where I spent a lot of time.

J’ai vu l’hôpital  je suis né.

I saw the hospital where I was born.

 and dans lequel
sometimes mean the same thing. You’ll never be
asked to choose between
the two.

 can in many cases be replaced by dans lequel (laquelle/lesquels/lesquelles).

 means when after the expressions au moment, à l’époque, au temps, and le jour. Use this carefully and only when it could be replaced by pendant lequel.

Les jours  il n’y avait plus de pain, ils mangeaient du riz.

On the days when there was no more bread, they ate rice.

En—Of It/Of Them

En replaces a noun that is used with a verb that takes the preposition de. It can be used for people or things. It is often used in sentences that refer to a number or quantity of things.

Nous parlons du livre.

We are speaking about the book.

Nous en parlons.

We are speaking about it.

Think of en as meaning “of it” or “of them.” You can use it in some cases where the de is understood but not actually used.

J’ai des cassettes.

I have some tapes.

J’ai cinq cassettes.

I have five tapes.

J‘en ai cinq.

I have five of them.

While en will usually refer to some kind of possession, it can also be used to indicate place or location if the verb in question uses de.

Il vient de Rome.

He comes from Rome.

Il en vient.

He’s coming from there.


Y often refers to place or location. Y replaces phrases that begin with prepositions that indicate place (à, chez, dans, sur).

Est-ce que tu vas à la fête?

Are you going to the party?

Oui, j‘y vais.

Yes, I am going there.

Y, an indirect object pronoun, also replaces a thing or an idea that is preceded by the preposition à.

Tu crois au Père Noël?

You believe in Santa?

Oui, j’y crois!

Yes, I do!

Jouez-vous au tennis?

Do you play tennis?

Oui, j’y joue.

Yes, I do.

As-tu réfléchi à ta dissertation?

Have you thought about your essay?

Oui, j’y ai réfléchi.

Yes, I have.

Chacun—Each One

Chacun à son tour!

Wait your turn!

On a trois euros chacun.

We each have three euros.

Quelques-uns/unes (de)—Some (Of)

Quelques-uns de ces livres sont à lire avant la fin du semestre.

Some of those books are to be read before the end of the semester.

Je peux goûter ces bonbons?

May I taste these candies?

Oui, prends en quelques-uns.

Yes, take some of them.

Aucun/Aucune—Not One, None

Je n’en aime aucun!

I like none of them!

Aucun and aucune are always used with ne.

Aucune de ces réponses n’est correcte.

None of these answers is correct.

Both aucun and personne
must be used with ne in a


Quelqu‘un a volé ma moto!

Someone stole my motorcycle!

Personne—No One

Est-ce que quelqu’un a vu le voleur?

Did anyone see the thief?

Nonpersonne ne l’a vu.

No, no one saw him.

Like aucun, personne is used with ne. Personne can be used without the ne only if it is a one-word answer to a question.

Qui a cassé ce vase?

Who broke this vase?


No one.

Quelque chose—Something

Je vous ai acheté quelque chose à la pâtisserie.

I bought you something at the pastry shop.

Ne … rien—Nothing

Est-ce que tu as acheté quelque chose à la pâtisserie?

Did you buy something at the pastry shop?

Non, je n‘ai rien acheté.

No, I did not buy anything.

Avez-vous des stylos? -------.

(A)   Oui, lesquels.

(B)   Oui, j’ai quelques.

(C)   Non, je n’en ai aucun.

(D)   Non, je n’ai pas.

Here’s How to Crack It

(A) lesquels cannot stand by itself in a sentence unless it is an answer to a question (Apporte-moi les stylos. Lesquels?). Eliminate it.

(B) quelques, meaning “some,” is an adjective and can only be used to modify a noun (j’ai quelques stylos or j’en ai quelques-uns). Eliminate it.

(C) aucun is used with ne. This is correct.

(D) By itself, je n’ai pas does not work. It lacks a reference to what it is that I do not have. To be correct, you would need to say either je n’en ai pas or je n’ai pas de stylos.

Qui va chercher le paquet à la poste? ------- vais.

(A)   A quoi

(B)   J’y

(C)   Personne

(D)   J’en

Here’s How to Crack It

(A), A quoi does not work and makes no sense. It refers to things and is usually used with a preposition.

(B) is correct. The y replaces the expression à la poste.

(C) has two problems. First, personne needs to be used with ne. Second, personne takes the third person singular form of the verb (in this case, va).

(D) En is used to show either possession or to replace a noun that works with a verb that takes de. Here the verb is aller and it takes the preposition à. So en is not correct.

Since you’re an expert by now, let’s try tackling a full paragraph:

Hier, j’étais en train de ----(1)---- la maison quand j’ai vu à travers la fenêtre un lapin sur la pelouse. Son corps ----(2)---- brun, mais il avait des grandes oreilles blanches. Je l’----(3)---- regardé pendant quelques instants, puis en entendant un bruit il a ----(4)---- et en un clin d’œil il a disparu.

1.   (A)   rouler

(B)   ranger

(C)   nager

(D)   hausser

2.   (A)   est

(B)   a été

(C)   serais

(D)   était

3.   (A)   aie

(B)   ai

(C)   aura

(D)   aurais

4.   (A)   choisi

(B)   établi

(C)   bondi

(D)   dormi

Here’s How to Crack It

1. Which verb describes something that can be done in a house (maison)? Rouler means to roll, ranger means to tidy up, nager means to swim, and hausser means to raise. Only (B) makes sense in this context.

2. Which form of the verb être is correct here? Since the entire paragraph takes place in the past, we can eliminate both the present tense in (A), est, and the conditional in (C), serais. Now we have to choose between the passé composé in (B) or the imperfect in (D). Because the sentence is describing specific characteristics of the rabbit (lapin), we need to use the imperfect, which is used to describe states of being that are ongoing. The fact that the other verb in the sentence is also imperfect (avaitt) is another hint that (D), était, is the right answer.

3. Which form of the verb avoir is correct here? Again, all action is taking place in the past, and the other verbs in the sentence both appear to use the passé composé. Eliminate the future, (C), and the conditional, (D). In (A) we have the subjunctive form, but since there isn’t any uncertainty or emotion here, it’s incorrect, which leaves (B) as the correct answer.

4. Which past participle has the correct meaning for the sentence? Translating the second half of the sentence, we learn that upon hearing a noise (en entendant un bruitt), it (the rabbit) does something and in the blink of an eye, it disappears (en un clin d’œil il a disparu). (A) means the rabbit chose something, which doesn’t fit. (B) doesn’t work either, as the rabbit didn’t establish anything. (C) is the past participle of bondir, which means to leap; this would be a logical thing for the rabbit to do. (D) suggests the rabbit slept, which isn’t correct. (C) is the right answer.

Drill 1: Pronoun Questions

Answers can be found in Chapter 8.

1.    ------- est arrivé à Paul hier?

(A)   Quel

(B)   Quoi

(C)   Qu’

(D)   Qu’est-ce qui

2.    C’est -------.

(A)   eux

(B)   il

(C)   lui

(D)   le

3.    C’est grâce à ------- que nous avons pu venir.

(A)   eux

(B)   les

(C)   leur

(D)   ils

4.    La chose la plus difficile est de ------- réveiller le matin.

(A)   lui

(B)   il

(C)   le

(D)   moi

5.    ------- a sorti la poubelle.

(A)   Il n’

(B)   Personne n’

(C)   Aucun

(D)   Qui


There are three areas that verb questions tend to test: use of the subjunctive, agreement of the past participle, and tense.

Know the Subjunctive

About 25 percent of the grammar questions on the test deal with verb use. Over half of them ask you to decide whether or not to use the subjunctive.

What Is the Subjunctive?

Like the indicative, the subjunctive is not a tense; it is a mode or mood. While it is not often used in English, it is used very frequently in French. This is why it is always found on the SAT French Subject Test.

When Do You Use the Subjunctive?

In French and on the SAT French, you will use the subjunctive in phrases that follow expressions of doubt, suggestion, preference, desire, improbability, or emotion. The subjunctive is also used with certain conjunctions. All phrases that require use of the subjunctive will contain the wordque.

You must use the indicative mode with verbs expressing an opinion, such as penser que, croire que, espérer que, être sûr que, être certain que when they are used in the affirmative form.

Je crois que vous avez raison.

I believe you are right.

Nous pensons que tes parents seront contents de te revoir.

We think your parents will be happy to see you again.

J’espère que vous allez bien.

I hope you are well.

Compare the above examples to the following examples, which display these verbs used in the negative form. The negative form makes a difference!

Je ne crois pas qu’il ait raison.

I don’t think he’s right.

Nous ne pensons pas que tes parents soient contents.

We don’t think your parents are happy.

Expressions That Take the Subjunctive

Doubt or Uncertainty

Je doute qu‘il réussisse son examen.

I doubt that he will pass his exam.

J’ai peur qu‘il rate son examen.

I am afraid that he will fail his exam.

Je ne crois pas que vous ayez raison.

I don’t believe that you are right.

Il est douteux qu‘elle vienne ce weekend.

It’s doubtful that she will come this weekend.

Il est possible que j’aie tort.

I may be wrong. (It is possible that I am wrong.)

Suggestion or Preference

Je préfère que vous rentriez tout de suite.

I prefer that you return at once.

Je tiens à ce que tu sois à l’heure.

I insist that you be on time.

Il vaut mieux que vous ne sortiez pas ce soir.

It is better that you do not go out tonight.

Il est important que vous étudiez l’emploi du subjonctif.

It is important that you study the use of the subjunctive.

Il faut que je prenne un rendez-vous chez le dentiste.

It is necessary that I make an appointment at the dentist’s.

All phrases that require
use of the subjunctive will
contain the word que.


Je veux que tu travailles plus sérieusement.

I want you to work more seriously.

Je souhaite que tout se passe bien.

I wish that everything goes well.

Je désire qu‘il soit heureux.

I want him to be happy.


Il est peu probable qu’il neige demain.

It is unlikely that it will snow tomorrow.

Note: Do not use the subjunctive with probability.

Il est probable qu‘il pleuvra demain.

It is likely that it will rain tomorrow.


Je suis étonné qu‘il ne soit pas encore là.

I am surprised that he is not yet here.

Je suis content que tout se soit bien passé.

I am happy that everything went well.

Je regrette que le temps passe si vite.

I am sorry that time goes by so quickly.

The subjunctive is used
with expressions of doubt,
preference, or emotion.


Cet homme est le seul qui sache encore travailler de ses mains.

This man is the only one who still knows how to work with his hands.

C’est la meilleure nouvelle que vous puissiez lui donner.

It is the best news that you can give him.

Expressions That DO NOT Take the Subjunctive

The following expressions do not take the subjunctive when they are used in the affirmative form only:

il est probable que

it is likely


to hope

se demander

to wonder


to believe


to think

se douter que

to suspect

Il est probable qu’il neigera demain.

It is probably going to snow tomorrow.

Je me demande s’il viendra.

I wonder if he will come.

Pay Attention to

It is unlikely to be
beautiful tomorrow.

Beware of ne used as an expletive after avant que, de peur que, de crainte que, avoir peur que, craindre que, and à moins queIt is not a negative form.

Je vais aller me promener avant qu’il ne pleuve.

I will go for a walk before it rains.

Je crains qu’il ne pleuve.

I am afraid it might rain.

Conjunctions That Take the Subjunctive

pour que, de manière (à ce) que

so that

de sorte que, afin que

so that

quoique, bien que


pourvu que, à condition que

provided that, so long as

à moins que


jusqu’à ce que


en attendant que

waiting for

avant que (but not après que)


de crainte que, de peur que

for fear that

sans que


malgré que

even though, in spite of

pour autant que

as far as

Conjunctions That DO NOT Take the Subjunctive

après que


dès que, aussitôt que

as soon as

pendant que


parce que




étant donné que

given that / with the understanding that

tandis que

while / whereas

So Now What?

You won’t have to construct the subjunctive of a given verb; you only need to recognize it among the four answer choices. In addition to the present subjunctive, you may also see the past of the subjunctive. You’ll recognize it because the auxiliary or helper verb (avoir or être) will be in the subjunctive. Note that with avoir, il a becomes il ait and with être, il est becomes il soit.

Present Tense


Je sais qu’il vient ce soir.

I know that he is coming tonight.

Uncertain: (Pres. Subj.)

Je doute qu’il vienne ce soir.

I doubt that he is coming tonight.

Past Tense


Je sais qu’il est venu hier.

I know that he came yesterday.

Uncertain: (Past Subj.)

Je doute qu’il soit venu hier.

I doubt that he came yesterday.

Now you try it:

Jean-Paul ne m’a pas téléphoné; j’ai peur qu’il ------- oublié notre rendez-vous.

(A)   a

(B)   avait

(C)   ait

(D)   aura

Here’s How to Crack It

Does the expression J’ai peur que … take the subjunctive? Yes! It shows doubt, fear, or uncertainty. The answer is (C).

Try another one:

Ma mère m’a grondée quand elle ------- ma robe déchirée.

(A)   voit

(B)   a vu

(C)   voie

(D)   ait vu

Here’s How to Crack It

Does the expression Ma mère m’a grondée quand … take the subjunctive?

No. The verb in this case (voir) is an actual event. Eliminate (C) and (D). This sentence requires the past, so the answer is (B). Also, note that we have quand here and not que.

Détruisez les preuves avant qu’il n’ ------- ce que nous avons fait.

(A)   apprendra

(B)   apprenne

(C)   apprendrait

(D)   apprend

Here’s How to Crack It

Is avant que a conjunction that takes the subjunctive?

Yes. The answer is (B). (A) is the future. (C) is the conditional. (D) is the present.


You remember all those fancy verb tenses you learned in French class: the passé simple, the future perfect, the pluperfect subjunctive? Well, for the purposes of this test, you can forget them.

For the SAT French, you need to recognize the present, the imperfect, the passé composé, the future, the conditional, the past of the conditional, and the plus-que-parfait, and you must know when to use them. The subjunctive, actually a mode or mood rather than a tense, is the verb form most frequently tested. The conditional, also a mode or mood, is the next most frequently tested verb form.

Le Présent

This is pretty straightforward. It’s the form of the verb you’re most used to seeing.

Il part.


The imperfect tense is a form of the past that indicates something was ongoing: either something that went on for a period of time in the past or something that happened repeatedly in the past.



    Il part.

    Il partait.

Le Passé Composé

This tense indicates that a past action (or state) is now complete. It is made up of an auxiliary verb (either avoir or être in the present tense) and a past participle. It indicates something that started and ended in the past and is now over.


passé composé

    Il part.

    Il est parti.

The Passé Composé vs.

Notice the difference
between the passé
 and the
imparfait. The passé
a one-time action that is
now complete, while the
imparfait describes
an action that was
ongoing in the past.

Le Plus-Que-Parfait (Past Imperfect)

The past imperfect indicates that something happened in the past prior to another action in the past. It is made up of an auxiliary verb (avoir or être in the imperfect tense) and a past participle.



    Il part.

    Il était parti.

Le Futur

This indicates that something will happen in the future.



    Il part.

    Il partira.

Le Conditionnel

The conditional mode or mood is used to describe what people would do or what would happen if a set of conditions were met. In most cases it is used with another clause starting with si.



    Il part.

    Si cela arrivait, il partirait.
    Il partirait si cela arrivait.

The conditional is actually
a mode or mood, not a
tense. It is used to describe
if/then situations.

The conditional is also used as a polite way of requesting things.

Je voudrais une baguette, s’il vous plaît, madame.

I would like a baguette please, madame.

Use of the Conditional

Almost half of the questions that relate to verb sequence test you on the use of the conditional. The conditional is used in a sentence if there is a clause that begins with si and uses the imperfect tense.

si + imparfait → conditionnel

Si j’avais le temps, je le ferais moi-même.

If I had the time, I would do it myself.

You will use the conditional before or after clauses that start with and contain the imperfect.

If the past imperfect is used, then the past conditional will be used.

si + plus-que-parfait → conditionnel passé

Si j’avais eu le temps, je l’aurais fait moi-même.

If I had had the time, I would have done it myself.


Aujourd’hui, il fait ses devoirs.


Quand il était petit, il faisait ses devoirs.

Passé composé

Hier il a fait ses devoirs.


J’avais déjà fini mes devoirs quand il est parti.


Demain, il fera ses devoirs.


S’il avait des devoirs, il les ferait.

Sequence of Tenses

In questions with several verbs, the tenses and mode must follow a logical sequence.

·        Sentences with a si clause:

Si clause


Si j’avais de l’argent

j’achèterais un bateau.


Si j’avais eu de l’argent

j’aurais fait ce voyage en Afrique.

·        Conjunctions referring to time such as quand, une fois que, après que, lorsque, aussitôt que, and dès que often require the use of the futur antérieur (future perfect) instead of the futur simple. You must consider whether:

1.    In the sequence of future events, one action must be finished before the other can take place.

Je pourrai répondre à ta question quand j’aurai parlé à mon frère.

I will be able to answer your question when I have talked to my brother.

2.    In the future, the actions in both clauses will take place at the same time.

Je vous appellerai quand il arrivera à la maison.

I will call you as soon as he arrives.

Je sortirai aussitôt que mon travail -------.

(A)   finira

(B)   serait fini

(C)   sera fini

(D)   finirait

Here’s How to Crack It

What tense is correct? It is not a si clause or any form of politeness; therefore, it cannot be conditional mode. Eliminate (B) and (D). The conjunction aussitôt que indicates that one action has to take place before the other. Eliminate (A). (C) is the correct answer.

Si j’étais riche, je ------- un yacht.

(A)   m’achète

(B)   m’achèterai

(C)   m’achetais

(D)   m’achèterais

Here’s How to Crack It

What tense is correct here? Because si is used with the imperfect, the following verb must be the conditional.

How do we recognize the conditional? It combines the structure of the future with the endings of the imperfect (ais, ait, etc.). (D) is the correct choice.

Avant d’entrer au restaurant, il m’a demandé si j’ ------- assez d’argent pour payer le dîner.

(A)   ai

(B)   avais

(C)   ai eu

(D)   aurai

Here’s How to Crack It

What tense is correct here? (A) cannot be correct. It is the present tense, and the previous clause, il m’a demandé, tells us the action is in the past. Since (D) is the future, we can eliminate it as well.

Do we use the imperfect or the past? (C) implies that having enough money was an event or action that occurred once prior to the question. Because we have the phrase, avant d’entrer, we know that the state of having money is an ongoing one, preceding and presumably continuing throughout dinner. (B) is the correct answer.

Make sure you can identify which tense (or mood) is which.

It is important that you
recognize what each tense
or mood looks like when
you see it. Usually the
ending of the verb will give
you a clue.

With donner, as in all regular “er“ verbs, the singular forms of the subjunctive present are identical to the indicative present.


What Is an Auxiliary Verb?

It is a verb that loses its own meaning to help form a compound past tense for other verbs such as the passé composé, plus-que-parfait, passé du subjonctif, conditionnel passé, and futur antérieur. Some verbs take either avoir or être. To make a sweeping generalization, most verbs takeavoir, but verbs that indicate a change of place (aller, venir, partiror state (naître, mourir, devenir…) and all reflexive verbs (se laver, se lever …) take être. Sound tricky? Just remember Dr. and Mrs. Vandertramp.

What Is a Past Participle?

A past participle is the form of the verb that combines with “to have” (in English), or être or avoir (in French), in order to make the past tense.

Je mange mon petit déjeuner.

I eat my breakfast. (present)

J’ai mangé mon petit déjeuner.

I have eaten my breakfast. (past)

You’ll most likely be given the choice of four different forms of the past participle—masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, and feminine plural—with an occasional infinitive thrown in to confuse you. You must decide which is correct.

When Does the Past Participle Agree, and with What?

The past participle agrees with the subject of the sentence when:

·        The verb takes être as its auxiliary verb and there is no direct object placed after the verb.

The past participle will
agree with the subject if
the verb takes être or is

It will agree with the
object of the sentence if
the verb takes avoir and
the direct object is before
the verb.

Pauline et Chantal sont parties hier pour l’Afrique.

Pauline and Chantal left for Africa yesterday.

·        The verb is reflexive and therefore takes être, and there is no direct object.

Elle s’est évanouie quand elle a entendu la nouvelle.

She fainted when she heard the news.

The past participle agrees with the direct object of the sentence when:

·        The reflexive verb has a direct object placed before the verb.

La jambe qu’elle s’est cassée en skiant lui fait toujours mal.

The leg she broke skiing is still painful.

·        The verb takes avoir and has a direct object placed before the verb.

La fille que nous avons vue au café est ma meilleure amie.

The girl we saw in the café is my best friend.

When Is There No Agreement?

·        The reflexive verb has a direct object (usually a body part) placed after the verb.

Elle s’est piqué le doigt en cousant.

She pricked her finger while sewing.

Elle s’est lavé les cheveux ce matin.

She washed her hair this morning.

·        The verb takes avoir and has a direct object placed after the verb.

J’ai vu ma meilleure amie au café aujourd’hui.

I saw my best girlfriend in the café today.

Since questions in Part C often contain several sentences, information about the gender and number may come earlier than the sentence in which the blank appears.

Try this:

Les deux soeurs ont très bien ------- à l’université.

(A)   réussi

(B)   réussie

(C)   réussis

(D)   réussies

Here’s How to Crack It

The verb réussir (to succeed, to be successful) uses the auxiliary verb avoir. Is there a direct object that precedes the verb? No. There is no direct object in this sentence. The correct answer is (A).

La fille à côté de moi m’a donné les renseignements dont j’avais besoin. Je l’ai -------.

(A)   remercié

(B)   remerciée

(C)   remerciées

(D)   remercier

Here’s How to Crack It

The verb remercier (to thank) also takes avoir as its helper verb. Is there a direct object before the verb? Yes, “l“ ‘ refers to la fille. The correct answer is (B).

Oddball Verb Forms: Other Participles

There is a small chance that you will have a question or two on other participles: the present participle, the gerund, or the perfect participle. You don’t need to know these terms—just be able to recognize how they work in a sentence. This type of question is most likely to appear on Part C, where you choose the appropriate form of the verb based on the sequence of tenses in the paragraph.

The Present Participle

The present participle is a verb form that ends in “-ing” in English. It shows that one action is happening at the same time as another.

J’ai vu les enfants courant sur la pelouse.

I saw the children running on the lawn.

The present participle “running” is also acting as an adjective, describing something about the children.

The Gerund

The gerund is also like an “-ing” verb form in English, but in this case, it is acting as a noun rather than an adjective. In French, it is always accompanied by the preposition en. It can show:

• That one action is happening at the same time as another

Elle montait l’escalier en chantant.

She climbed the stairs while singing.

• That one action is part of a process

En lisant, nous découvrons de nouveaux mondes.

In reading, we discover new worlds.

• That one action is part of a cause and effect

Eric apprend à danser en regardant des vidéos.

Eric learns how to dance by watching videos.

The Perfect Participle

The perfect participle (made up of ayant or étant + the past participle) is the past tense of the present participle. An example in English would be “Having won the war, the army celebrated.” This form is used to show that one action was completed before another began.

Ayant fini le repas, nous avons débarrassé la table.

Having finished the meal, we cleared the table.

If the verb takes être, you will see étant instead of ayant:

Étant montéeelle ne pouvait plus entendre la discussion.

Having gone upstairs, she could no longer hear the discussion.

Drill 2: Verb Questions

Answers can be found in Chapter 8.

1.    Si -------, je préparerais le dîner.

(A)   vous en avez envie

(B)   on me le demande

(C)   j’avais le temps

(D)   tu seras d’accord

2.    Paul regrette que nous ------- pas réussi.

(A)   n’avons

(B)   n’avions

(C)   n’ayons

(D)   n’aurons

3.    -------une lettre quand on a sonné à la porte.

(A)   J’écris

(B)   J’écrirais

(C)   J’écrive

(D)   J’écrivais

4.    Elle n’a jamais oublié ce que nous ------- au moment de son départ.

(A)   disons

(B)   ayons dit

(C)   avons dit

(D)   aurions dit

5.    Est-ce que vous ------- contents si je n’avais pas accepté l’invitation?

(A)   êtes

(B)   soyez

(C)   étiez

(D)   auriez été

6.    Nous doutons ------- leur rendre visite chez eux.

(A)   qu’il ait le temps de

(B)   qu’il voudrait

(C)   qu’il peut

(D)   qu’elle avait envie de

7.    -------, elle est partie pour le long trajet chez elle.

(A)   Disait au revoir

(B)   Dire au revoir

(C)   Ayant dit au revoir

(D)   Avoir dit au revoir

8.    Tu pourras regarder la télé une fois que tu ------- ton travail.

(A)   aurais fini

(B)   finissais

(C)   auras fini

(D)   finisses


Below is a list of the most important prepositions for you to know.

Common Prepositions






from, of










avant (+ nom)



avant de (+ verbe)








at, to (location)



of, in, from, to



in, into















except, unless



according to




malgré, en dépit de


in spite of

afin de


in order to

Just as in English, certain verbs or expressions in French require prepositions while others require none. Memorization is the key here.

These questions will ask you for the preposition required. Some verbs can take more than one preposition depending on the meaning. In some questions, you will have the option of no preposition, denoted by a dash in the answer choice (——).

Il a refusé -------faire son lit.

(A)   ––

(B)   à

(C)   de

(D)   sur

Out of context, refuser could take the preposition à or de, or no preposition at all. Each has a different meaning.

refuser quelque chose—to refuse something

Il a refusé l’offre.

He refused the offer.

refuser quelque chose à quelqu’un—to deny something to someone

Le juge a refusé les droits de visite à la mère.

The judge denied visitation rights to the mother.

refuser de faire quelque chose—to refuse to do something

L’enfant a refusé de manger ses carottes.

The child refused to eat her carrots.

Which is appropriate for this question? Because someone is refusing to do something in this sentence, the correct answer is de, choice (C).

Back to Pronouns

Keep in mind that the verb’s appropriate preposition may determine your choice of pronoun. If a verb requires a preposition in a given circumstance, for example, then you know that it takes an indirect and not a direct object. Or, if a given verb requires de, the relative pronoun used with it will reflect that.

C’est la robe ------- j’ai envie.

(A)   que

(B)   qui

(C)   dont

(D)   à qui

Here’s How to Crack It

The verb avoir envie takes the preposition de. (A) can be eliminated because que is never used with a preposition. (B) can also be eliminated because qui cannot be a subject here (j’ is the subject). Avoir envie takes de, so (D), which is used with à, cannot be right. (C) dont is correct becausedont in a sense means de + que.

Your knowledge of prepositions
will affect your
choice of pronouns. For
example, dont
will be a correct choice
only if the verb takes de
as a preposition.

Your experience studying French will probably provide you with a good sense of which verb takes which preposition, if you take the time to think about it. To refresh your memory, here is a partial list of verbs. Some never take a preposition, others sometimes take a preposition, and still others always take a preposition.

Verbs That Don’t Take a Preposition

Verbs that don’t take prepositions will be used with either the infinitive (the “to” form of a verb) or a direct object. Some verbs can be used with both.

pouvoir + infinitive

Je peux faire n’importe quoi.

I can do anything I want.

espérer + infinitive

J’espère venir demain.

I hope to come tomorrow.

vouloir + infinitive

Je veux chanter.

I want to sing.

vouloir + object

Je veux cette chemise.

I want this shirt.

mettre + object

Il a mis le vase sur la table.

He put the vase on the table.

faire + object

Marie a fait la vaisselle.

Marie washed the dishes.

acheter + object

Il a acheté trois pantalons.

He bought three pairs of pants.

Verbs That Sometimes Take Prepositions and Sometimes Don’t

aller + infinitive

Je vais chercher ma soeur à l’école.

I am going to get my sister at school.

aller à

Je vais aux États-Unis.

I am going to the United States.

refuser + object

Je refuse l’offre.

I refuse the offer.

refuser de

Je refuse de faire mes devoirs.

I refuse to do my homework.

oublier + noun

J’ai oublié mon stylo.

I forgot my pen.

oublier de

J’ai oublié de dire au revoir.

I forgot to say good-bye.

accepter + object

J’accepte votre invitation.

I accept your invitation.

accepter de

J’accepte de nettoyer la cuisine.

I agree to clean the kitchen.

compter + object

Je compte ma monnaie.

I am counting my change.

compter sur

Nous comptons sur vous pour nous aider.

We count on you to help us.

A good resource to have
on hand is a verb book. A
good verb book will tell
you how to conjugate
a given verb and which
prepositions are used with
that verb.

Verbs That Always Take Prepositions

réfléchir à

Je réfléchis à mon avenir.

I am thinking of my future.

penser à

Je pense à ma mère.

I am thinking of my mother.

penser de

Que pensez-vous du nouveau président?

What do you think of (about) the new president?

participer à

Je participe aux Jeux Olympiques.

I am in the Olympic games.

assister à

Est-ce que vous allez assister au concert?

Are you going to attend the concert?

faire attention à

Faites attention aux assiettes en porcelaine!

Be careful with the porcelain plates!

répondre à

Les élèves répondent aux questions du professeur.

The students answer the teacher’s questions.

obéir à

Le soldat obéit aux ordres.

The soldier obeys the orders.

parler de

De quoi parlez-vous? Du chat?

What are you talking about? About the cat?

avoir peur de

J’ai peur des araignées.

I am afraid of spiders.

risquer de

Il risque de tomber.

He may fall.

venir de

Je viens du supermarché.

I come from the supermarket.

avoir envie de

J’ai envie d’un café.

I feel like having a coffee.

avoir besoin de

J’ai besoin d’un crayon pour écrire.

I need a pencil to write.

Set Expressions

Certain rules govern the use of some prepositions.

When Discussing Going to a Country:

Je passe mes vacances …

Use en for feminine, singular countries.

en France

en Italie

Use au (à + le) for masculine, singular countries.

au Canada

au Brésil

Use aux (à + les) for plural countries, whether feminine or masculine.

aux États-Unis

aux Bermudes

When Discussing Being in or Going to a Town or City:

Je reste …

Je vais …

Use à:

à Paris

à New York

à Londres

You always use the preposition
à when referring to
being in or going to a city.

When discussing being in
or going to the mountains
or many American states,
use dans + the definite article:

• dans les Alpes

• dans les Rocheuses

• dans le Vermont

• dans le Mississippi

When Discussing Coming from a Country or Town:

Il est venu …

Use de or des for feminine countries.

de Russie


des Bermudes

Use du or des for masculine countries.

du Japon

des États-Unis

Use de for all towns.

de Paris

de Lyon

Use of en and de + Name of Materials

To describe the material an object is made of, use either de or en + the name of the material.

un sac en cuir

a leather purse

un pot de terre

an earthenware pot

un mur de pierre

a stone wall

un pantalon en velours côtelé

corduroy pants

un collier de diamants

a diamond necklace

un bracelet en argent

a silver bracelet

une maison en brique

a brick house

une chaise en bois

a wooden chair

un fil de fer

a wire


You will want to be able to recognize French adverbs and not get puzzled by their various forms.

In English, most adverbs are formed with an adjective + the suffix –ly.

In French, most adverbs are formed with the feminine form of the adjective and the suffix –ment.







When the adjectives end with −i, −ai, −u, and –é, the adverbs are formed with the masculine form of the adjective.







When the adjectives end with –ant or –ent, the endings of the adverbs change to –mment.







Also remember that some irregular adverbs are different from the adjectives:









Be aware of certain adverbs placed as attributive adjectives. They do not agree with the nouns, of course, but you might mistakenly think they need to be eliminated because of their position in the sentence. Take a look at a few examples:

Il y a encore des places debout dans la salle de spectacle.

Mettez les bagages dans les coffres arrière.

Les roues avant sont à changer.

Drill 3: Preposition Questions

Answers can be found in Chapter 8.

1.    Marie ------- les résultats de ses examens.

(A)   pense

(B)   attend

(C)   compte

(D)   a envie

2.    Je ------- de leur écrire.

(A)   suis obligé

(B)   espère

(C)   veux

(D)   réfléchis

3.    Je n’ai jamais eu l’occasion ------- voir ce film.

(A)   —

(B)   à

(C)   de

(D)   sur

4.    -------le concert, elles bavardaient sans cesse.

(A)   Pendant

(B)   Dans

(C)   Avec

(D)   En

5.    Je la vois souvent à -------.

(A)   France

(B)   ville

(C)   la boulangerie

(D)   loin

6.    Elle n’a pas réfléchi ------- de refuser l’offre.

(A)   —

(B)   avant

(C)   après

(D)   à


At most, these topics will come up once or twice on the test.

Adjective Versus Adverb

Adjectives modify nouns. Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. In French, adverbs often end in -ment.

Elle a remplacé le vase -------.

(A)   doux

(B)   brusquement

(C)   difficile

(D)   ennuyeuse

(A), (C), and (D) are all adjectives. (B) is the right answer.

Odds and ends are just
that: small, picky questions
that show up from
time to time but don’t
appear on every test.

When modifying an adjective, use the adverbs trop, plus, très, si, or moins. Mieux, like pire, cannot be used to modify an adjective.

Ce cassoulet est ------- bon.

(A)   mieux

(B)   sans

(C)   si

(D)   pas

Bon is an adjective. The word in the blank must be an adverb. Only si is an adverb that can be used to modify an adjective. (C) is the right answer.

Active Versus Passive

If you use être with the past participle of a verb that normally takes avoir, you are forming the passive tense of the verb.

Active (present)

Le facteur distribue le courrier.

The postman delivers the mail.

Passive (present)

Le courrier est distribué par le facteur.

The mail is delivered by the postman.

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives (not pronouns) show that a given noun belongs to a given person. But, unlike in English, French possessive adjectives agree with the gender and number of what is owned, not who owns it. The form of the adjective also changes depending on whether the noun begins with a vowel (or a silent “h”).

Son is the masculine singular and sa is the feminine singular. However, if a feminine noun begins with a vowel or a silent “h,” the possessive adjective that goes with it will be sonSa does not shorten to s.

Elle avait de la soupe dans ------- assiette.

(A)   son

(B)   sa

(C)   s’

(D)   ses

Is assiette masculine or feminine? Singular or plural?P

Assiette is feminine, but the word begins with a vowel; you can’t say sa assiette, so eliminate (B). Possessive adjectives don’t contract, so eliminate (C). Assiette is singular; cancel (D), which is plural. (A) is the right answer.

Even though amie is
feminine, you can’t say
sa amie or s’amie. When
you have a feminine noun
that begins with a vowel,
it will take the masculine
version of the possessive
adjective—in this case,
son amie. The College
Board loves to ask this
kind of question.


1. Is It Vocabulary or Grammar?

How can you tell? A vocabulary question will have four words with clearly different meanings. A grammar question will usually have one word in four different forms (for example, the same verb in four different tenses or with four different prepositions). When you see practice examples, the difference will be obvious.

2. Think of the Paragraph as a Whole

The paragraph is telling a story, so all sentences are connected. The key to this section is realizing that the correct answer can be based on both the sentence with the blank and on the sentences that precede it. You may even need to read past the blank sometimes in order to get a better understanding of what’s going on. Don’t think of each sentence as a separate question.

3. Special Grammar Points

Some grammatical points are tested more frequently in Part C than in Part B. All the following points are thoroughly discussed earlier in this chapter.

Verb Sequence

The action described in the paragraph must unfold in a logical sequence. Make sure all the verbs that you choose as answers match the tense of the story. Pay special attention to the rules for use of the imperfect and the conditional.

Agreement of the Past Participle

As we discussed earlier in this chapter, a past participle will agree with the subject if the verb takes être. If the verb takes avoir and the direct object comes before the verb, it will agree with the object of the sentence. In some cases, whether the direct object is masculine or feminine is revealed in a previous sentence.


Questions in Parts B and C of the SAT French Subject Test evaluate your ability to choose correct words or expressions based on your understanding of French grammar. Here are the main grammar points you should review before the test:


Check which pronoun should be used in the sentence. Is it subject, direct object, indirect object, stressed, demonstrative, interrogative, reflexive, relative, indefinite, or another type of pronoun?

·        Check its gender and number if needed (masculine, feminine, plural).

·        Check whether it is also replacing a preposition.

·        Check where it is placed in the sentence relative to the verb.

There are two kinds of pronoun
questions on the test:
one asks you to choose
among the five main kinds
of pronouns (subject, direct
object, reflexive, indirect
object, and stressed),
and the other asks you to
choose among pronouns
like qui, que,
, and lequel.


Can you figure out the tense or mode, the use of the auxiliary verb, the agreement with the past participle, the tense sequence, or the specific use of certain verbs?

·        Check the subject of the sentence.

·        Check the tense sequence by looking at the meaning of the main clause.

·        Check whether the verb takes être or avoir in compound past tense.

·        Look at prepositions and conjunctions to help you decide what verb form or mode you should use.


Can you specify which one to use with which verb? What is the meaning when the preposition is combined with certain verbs and other words? How could it be replaced by a pronoun in a sentence?

·        Check whether the verb takes de or à.

·        Check whether the general meaning of the sentence indicates a place, a time, a cause, or something else.

·        Check if the preposition is included in a pronoun form or if it should be transformed (dont, auquel, duquel, etc.).


Can you see the difference between adjectives and adverbs?

·        Check the word’s position in the sentence.

·        Check the ending of the word and memorize the irregular adverb forms so you don’t get tricked.

Practice Section

Answers can be found in Chapter 8.

Part B

Directions: Each of the following sentences contains a blank. From the four choices given, select the one that can be inserted in the blank to form a grammatically correct sentence. Choice (A) may consist of dashes that indicate that no insertion is required to form a grammatically correct sentence.

  1.  Marie a ------- à m’offrir.

(A)   quelque chose

(B)   rien

(C)   plusieurs

(D)   quelque

  2.  Claude ------- de faire les courses.

(A)   a rejeté

(B)   a aimé

(C)   est obligé

(D)   a voulu

  3.  C’est grâce à son ------- qu’il a réussi.

(A)   talents

(B)   amie

(C)   gentillesse

(D)   oncles

  4.  Je ferai la vaisselle -------.

(A)   avant de partir

(B)   à tout à l’heure

(C)   hier

(D)   jamais

  5.  C’est ------- qui a gagné!

(A)   personne

(B)   je

(C)   leur

(D)   elle

  6.  Nos voisins ------- aller à la piscine.

(A)   préfèrent

(B)   rêvent

(C)   plaisent

(D)   insistent

  7.  Je ------- demande s’il est temps de partir.

(A)   elle

(B)   moi

(C)   se

(D)   vous

  8.  Les dames sont arrivées avec -------.

(A)   leur

(B)   il

(C)   eux

(D)   les

  9.  La voiture verte est -------.

(A)   les leurs

(B)   la vôtre

(C)   à aucun

(D)   ma

10.  L’année dernière j’ai voyagé en -------.

(A)   Russie

(B)   États-Unis

(C)   New York

(D)   Canada

11.  La réussite de ce projet est -------.

(A)   certainement

(B)   peu

(C)   probable

(D)   malgré

12.  ------- ce soit fini.

(A)   Nous savons que

(B)   Il regrette que

(C)   Elle a oublié que

(D)   C’est lui qui a décidé que

13.  C’est le collègue ------- j’ai beaucoup parlé.

(A)   dont

(B)   de quoi

(C)   sauf qui

(D)   avant que

14.  -------est le metteur en scène de ce film?

(A)   Quelle

(B)   Qu’est-ce qui

(C)   Où

(D)   Quoi

15.  ------- avez-vous envie?

(A)   Quel

(B)   Y

(C)   Dont

(D)   De quoi

16.  Le gouvernement ------- de négocier un accord.

(A)   va

(B)   espère

(C)   essaie

(D)   peut

17.  -------qu’il sache les nouvelles d’hier.

(A)   Sans doute

(B)   Je sais

(C)   Je crains

(D)   C’est à cause de Michel

18.  Jean a réussi à trouver du travail ------- la grève.

(A)   afin de

(B)   lorsque

(C)   en dépit de

(D)   à moins de

19.  -------, nous partirions.

(A)   Si elle en avait envie

(B)   Si tu peux

(C)   S’ils voudront

(D)   Si vous l’aviez permis

20.  C’est le gâteau le plus délicieux -------.

(A)   que vous avez jamais mangé

(B)   qu’elle a jamais acheté

(C)   que nous avons jamais fait

(D)   que tu puisses jamais imaginer

Part C

Directions: The paragraphs below contain blank spaces indicating omissions in the text. For some blanks it is necessary to choose the completion that is most appropriate to the meaning of the passage; for other blanks, to choose the one completion that forms a grammatically correct sentence. In some instances, choice (A) may consist of dashes that indicate that no insertion is required to form a grammatically correct sentence. In each case, indicate your answer by filling in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet. Be sure to read each paragraph completely before answering the questions related to it.

Si j’avais su, ----(21)— aller avec Marie et Christine. Trop tard, j’ai essayé de ----(22)---- téléphoner chez ----(23)---- mais ----(24)---- n’était là. ----(25)----, j’ai tenté de les retrouver au café. Quand ----(26)----suis arrivé, je les ai ----(27)---- entrer ----(28)---- cinéma.

21.  (A) je pouvais

(B)   j’avais pu

(C)   je peux

(D)   j’aurais pu

22.  (A) elles

(B)   leur

(C)   eux

(D)   la

23.  (A) elles

(B)   tu

(C)   leur

(D)   ils

24.  (A) personne

(B)   une personne

(C)   rien

(D)   nulle

25.  (A) Finalement

(B)   Terminé

(C)   Maintenant

(D)   Afin de

26.  (A) j’en

(B)   j’y

(C)   je le

(D)   je me

27.  (A) vu

(B)   vue

(C)   vus

(D)   vues

28.  (A) à la

(B)   au

(C)   par la

(D)   par le

Avant ----(29)---- partir en vacances, Jean et Camille ont ----(30)---- à l’aéroport ----(31)---- demander ----(32)---- l’avion partait ----(33)----.

29.  (A) —

(B)   à

(C)   de

(D)   que

30.  (A) téléphoné

(B)   téléphonée

(C)   téléphonés

(D)   téléphonées

31.  (A) —

(B)   à

(C)   de

(D)   pour

32.  (A) si

(B)   quand

(C)   quel

(D)   qui

33.  (A) en temps

(B)   chaque heure

(C)   à l’heure

(D)   de temps en temps