The Basics of French Grammar - The Ultimate Crash Course to Learning The Basics of the French Language In No Time - Learn French In 7 Days

Learn French In 7 Days!: The Ultimate Crash Course to Learning The Basics of the French Language In No Time (2015)

Chapter 2. The Basics of French Grammar

What you're about to learn:

· How to make simple sentences in French

· How to ask questions of which you can easily understand the answer

· How to understand the most common grammar rules and usage

The sentence

How to make a sentence? This is an useful thing to learn, isn't it?

The structure of a sentence in French is not too different from the English. However there are exceptions to every rule in French grammar which makes it a bit tricky. But don't run away yet! By the end of this chapter, you will be able to make simple sentences without having to worry too much about the rules.

The most simple way of forming a sentence is as follows:

Noun [N] or Pronoun [P ]+Verb [V] + Adjective [Adj] or Adverb [Adv]

“La fille [N] est [V] jolie [Adj]” = the girl is pretty


“Le garçon [N] parle [V] fort [Adv]” = the boy speaks loudly


“Elle [P ] marche [V] lentement [Adv]” = she walks slowly

In order to form this type of sentence, you need to understand how to use each one of the combined terms : the noun, the pronoun, the verb, the adjective and the adverb.

The noun (“le nom”)

You have to follow a few important rules to properly use a noun in French.

First : Every noun has a gender, masculine or feminine, unlike English neutral nouns.

Second : Every noun has an article preceeding the noun.

Third : Every noun can be either singular or plural – it is called the number.

You need to keep in mind that there is hardly any way of guessing if a noun is feminine or masculine. When you learn a new noun, try to learn its article at the same time.

Singular masculine articles are “le” (the) and “un” (a).

Singular feminine articles are “la” (the), “une” (a).

Plural masculine or feminine articles are “les” (the), “des” (some).

The articles “le”, “la”, “les” are known as “articles définis” (definite articles).

The articles “un”, “une”, “des” are known as “articles indéfinis” (indefinite articles).

For example, you will learn how to say “table”, which is the exact same word in French with a different pronunciation though.

“la table” = the table = feminine definite article

“une table” = a table = feminine indefinite article

Below is a shortlist of a few nouns and their definite and indefinite articles:


Definite singular

Indefinite singular

Definite plural

Indefinite plural


la maison

une maison

les maisons

des maisons


le sac

un sac

les sacs

des sacs


la voiture

une voiture

les voitures

des voitures


le vélo

un vélo

les vélos

des vélos

Note: For plural nouns, you have to add an extra “s” at the end of the noun. This is the common mark for the plural form.

Your turn to practise! Fill up the following table:


le bus

… bus

… bus


… ...

une chambre

... chambres


… livre

… ...

… livres


… ...

une cuisine

… ...

The pronoun (“le pronom”)

Pronouns can replace nouns in a sentence. There are different types of pronouns in French, which can be divided into two main categories : personal pronouns (“pronoms personnels”) and impersonal pronouns (“pronoms impersonnels”).

The personal pronouns refer to the person who is speaking or the subject of the sentence. The impersonal pronouns do not refer to a person or a specific subject. In the sentence “il neige” (it is snowing), “il” is an impersonal pronoun as it doesn't refer to anyone or anything in particular. The impersonal pronouns are mostly use with impersonal verbs, such as “neiger” (to snow).

Let's focus now on the easiest pronouns. For a clearer understanding, you will find below a table summarizing the most common pronouns. Notice that English pronouns have their equivalents in French. Easy, right ?!!





































Let's look at a few examples:

Je parle anglais.”

I speak English.

Ma mère parle français.”

My mother speaks French.

“Julie, c'est moi!”

Julie, it's me!

“C'est mon livre.”

That's my book.

The verb (“le verbe”)

A verb tells you what is the action or the state of the noun being the subject of the action or state.

The subject can be a noun (“la table”) or a pronoun (“tu”).

The common rule is the same as in English : you need to conjugate the verb according to the noun or the pronoun used.


“La fille est jolie.” = The girl is pretty.

> “la fille” is a singular feminine noun; the verb is conjugated in singular: “est”.

“Les filles sont jolies.” = The girls are pretty.

> “les filles” is a plural feminine noun; the verb is conjugated in plural: “sont”.

Let's just learn right now a few verbs which are very similar in French and English.

Note: the verbs are written in their infinitive form (“l'infinitif”).

“danser” = to dance

“désirer” = to desire

“camper” = to camp

“former” = to form

“modifier” = to modify

“photographier” = to photograph

“regretter” = to regret

“signer” = to sign

“tester” = to test

The adjective (“l'adjectif”)

The purpose of an adjective is to describe a noun. As gender and number rules apply, the adjective has to match the gender and the number of the noun it is associated with.


“le petit appartement” = the small apartment

“appartement” is a singular masculine noun, its pronoun is singular masculine : “le”.

“la jupe bleue” = the blue skirt

“jupe” is a singular feminine noun, its pronoun is singular feminine : “la”

“des enfants sages” = the well-behaved kids

“enfants” is a plural masculine noun, its pronoun is plural : “des”

As you may have noticed, French people just love being unpredictable. Keep in mind that adjectives can be placed before or after the nouns!

There is a useful rule related to the position of the adjective. Adjectives preceding a noun usually refer to beauty, age, goodness or badness, size.


“une jolie femme” = a pretty woman

“un jeune garçon” = a young boy

“une bonne glace” = a good ice-cream

“une grande maison” = a big house

The adverb (“l'adverbe”)

The adverb can be used instead of the adjective in the simple sentence form: “N + V + Adv”.

It describes the verb it refers to. In English, most adverbs end with “-ly” while in French they end with “-ment”.


“Les oiseaux chantent gaiement.” = The birds sing happily.

“Ma grand-mère parle doucement.” = My grand-mother speaks softly/slowly.

“Je marche très rapidement.” = I walk very fast.

Questions & Answers

Asking questions in French is actually much easier than in English.

The easiest and most popular way is by just raising the voice at the end of the sentence. The person you are talking to will understand that you are not making a statement but asking a question.


“Tu as faim?” = Are you hungry?

“Vous avez un plan?” = Do you have a map?

If you wish to adopt a more formal tone, you need to invert subject and verb as follows :

Tu as faim? => As-tu faim?

Vous avez un plan? => Avez-vous un plan?

The above questions will be answered by yes or no.

To form a question requiring a specific piece of information (who, where, when...), you need to use a question word.

Below are the most common question words used in French:

“quand” = when

“qui” = who

“quoi” = what

“où” = where

“pourquoi” = why

“combien” = how many/much


“Tu pars quand?” = When are you leaving?

“Qui est le patron?” = Who is the boss?

“Tu fais quoi? = What are you doing?

“Elle travaille où?” = Where does she work?

“Pourquoi pleures-tu?” = Why are you crying?

“Combien coûte le chapeau?” = How much costs the hat?

To answer the question, you can either answer with a positive statement (“une affirmation”) or a negative statement (“une négation”).

The “affirmation” usually starts with “oui” (yes), whereas the “négation” usually starts with “non” (no).

Look at the following examples:

“Vous avez un plan? Oui, nous avons un plan!”

Do you have a map? Yes, we do!

“Tu as faim? Non, je n'ai pas faim.”

Are you hungry? No, I'm not.

“Tu vas à New York demain? Oui, je vais à New York demain.”

Are you going to New York tomorrow? Yes, I am.”

“Tu vas à Paris demain? Non, je ne vais pas à Paris demain.”

Are you going to Paris tomorrow? No, I'm not.”

“ne (+verbe) pas” is the typical form to make a negative sentence. The verb located in between “ne” and “pas” is conjugated. When the verb starts with a vowel, “ne” becomes “n'”.

Let's take a few more examples to be sure that you got it right!

“Je ne suis pas malade.”

I'm not sick.

“Il ne dort pas beaucoup.”

He doesn't sleep much.

“Nous n'avons pas de veste.”

We don't have any jacket.

Simple tenses

Same as in English, there are two types of verbs : regular (“régulier”) and irregular (“irrégulier”). This will have an influence on their conjugation. But remember that the best way to conjugate a verb in French is not by guessing but by learning each type of irregular forms!

Let's be real. You will not learn every type of conjugation here. However our objective is to help understand the different patterns.

Regular or irregular? (“Régulier ou irrégulier?”)

In both English and French, there are two different types of conjugation for a verb: regular or irregular.

Regular verbs are the ones following the common conjugation rules. In simple words, they are easy to conjugate by adding a simple ending to their infinitive form.

Regular verbs are divided into 3 main groups:

· first group : endings in “-ER”

Ex.: “parler” (to talk), “manger” (to eat), “travailler” (to work)

· second group : endings in “-IR”

Ex.: “finir” (to finish), “choisir” (to choose), “grandir” (to grow up)

· third group : endings in “-RE”

Ex.: “attendre” (to wait), “entendre” (to hear), “vendre” (to sell)

Note: Be careful! Some verbs with the endings -ER, -IR and -RE are irregular!

Irregular verbs are the ones following a different conjugation. There is no rule, you need to memorize their conjugation by heart!

Here are the most common irregular verbs:

“être” = to be

“avoir” = to have

“pouvoir” = to be able to

“vouloir” = to want

“devoir” = to need to

“aller” = to go

“venir” = to come

“apprendre” = to learn

“comprendre” = to understand

“faire” = to do

“dire” = to say

“voir” = to see

“savoir” = to know

“croire” = to believe

Present tense (“le présent”)

Same as in English, if you want to talk about something happening right now, you will use the simple present tense (“le présent de l'indicatif”).

The conjugation for regular verbs is rather easy in present tense.

Let's take a look at a few examples from each group of the regular type and note the ending of the verbs.


je parle

I talk

tu parles

you talk

il/elle parle

he/she talks

nous parlons

we talk

vous parlez

you talk

ils/elles parlent

they talk


je choisis

I choose

tu choisis

you choose

il/elle choisit

he/she chooses

nous choisissons

we choose

vous choisissez

you choose

ils/elles choisissent

they choose



I wait

tu attends

you wait

il/elle attend

he/she waits

nous attendons

we wait

vous attendez

you wait

ils/elles attendent

they wait

Past tense (“le passé”)

One of the easiest and most common way to express past actions is the past perfect tense (“le passé composé”). It is composed of an auxiliary verb “être” (to be) or “avoir” (to have) and the past participle of the action verb. The auxiliary verb is conjugated in present tense.

être (to be)

avoir (to have)

je suis


tu es

tu as

il/elle est

il/elle a

nous sommes

nous avons

vous êtes

vous avez

ils sont

ils ont


“j'ai parlé” = I spoke

“tu as chanté” = you sang

“elle est partie” = she left

Below are a few examples of regular verbs conjugated in past tense:

j'ai parlé

I talked

j'ai choisi

I chose

tu as parlé

you talked

tu as choisi

you chose

il/elle a parlé

he/she talked

il/elle a choisi

he/she chose

nous avons parlé

we talked

nous avons choisi

we chose

vous avez parlé

you talked

vous avez choisi

you chose

ils/elles ont parlé

they talked

ils/elles ont choisi

they chose

Future tense (“le futur”)

Whenever you want to refer to a future action, you have two options:

- the similar expression as in English “to be going to” (in French “aller faire”)

Ex.: “Elle va travailler.” = She is going to work.

Here is the conjugation of the irregular verb “aller” (to go):

Je vais

I go

Tu vas

you go

Il/elle va

he/she go

Nous allons

we go

Vous allez

you go

Ils/elles vont

they go

- the future tense

Ex.: “Elle apprendra le français l'année prochaine.” = She will learn French next year.

The future tense is rather simple in its conjugation. You need to add the following endings to the infinitive form of the verb:

-ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont

Note: Whenever the infinitive form ends with a vowel such as “attendre”, you will simply get rid of the last “e” to add the endings of the future tense.

Below are examples of regular verbs conjugated in future tense:


I will wait

je mangerai

I will eat

Tu attendras

you will wait

tu mangeras

you will eat

Il/elle attendra

he/she will wait

il/elle mangera

he/she will eat

Nous attendrons

we will wait

nous mangerons

we will eat

Vous attendrez

you will wait

vous mangerez

you will eat

Ils/elles attendront

they will wait

ils/elles mangeront

they will eat

“Le vouvoiement”

“Le vouvoiement” refers to the formal way of addressing someone in French.

In French, it is indeed important to be careful on the way you address a person. There is a special mark of politeness that you shouldn't skip or else you will sound really rude!

When you address someone you don't know or hardly know, you should use the pronoun “vous” as a more polite and respectful form of the English “you”. You will conjugate it the same way you do for the plural form of “you”. This formal pronoun can be used for both one person or several ones.

Ex.: “Comment allez-vous?” = How are you?

Whenever you are talking to an elder person or a person at work from a higher rank, the same rule applies.

Our recommendation: To avoid any etiquette mistake, we highly advise you not to use the pronoun “tu” unless the other person is using it.

“Test your French!”

Let's review what you've learnt in that chapter with a few exercises.

Mark the correct answers:

“Tu as faim?”

□ Oui, je n'ai pas faim.

□ Non, je n'ai pas faim.

□ Non, elle n'a pas faim.

“Quand allez-vous à Paris?”

□ Je vais à New York.

□ Nous allons à Paris demain.

□ Tu ne vas pas à Paris.

“Sa mère parle français?”

□ Oui, son père parle français.

□ Non, sa mère ne parle pas anglais.

□ Oui, sa mère parle français.

Fill the gaps:

Il a … jolie voiture.

… oiseaux chantent gaiement.

C'est ... petit appartement!

… jupe est bleue.

Tu as … enfants très sages.

Translate the sentence:

I speak French and English. = …

She eats a good ice-cream. = …

Are you waiting for the boss? = …

We chose a blue jacket. = …

I don't sleep much. = …

Are you sick? No, I'm not. = …


□ Non, je n'ai pas faim.

□ Nous allons à Paris demain.

□ Oui, sa mère parle français.

Il a une jolie voiture.

Les oiseaux chantent gaiement.

C'est un/mon/son petit appartement.

La/sa/ma jupe est bleue.

Tu as des enfants très sages.

Je parle français et anglais.

Elle mange une bonne glace.

Vous attendez le patron? OR Attendez-vous le patron?

Nous avons choisi une veste bleue.

Je ne dors pas beaucoup.

Tu es malade? Non, je ne suis pas malade.