Intermediate French For Dummies book cover

Intermediate French For Dummies

By: Laura K. Lawless Published: 03-04-2008

Planning a trip to a French-speaking country? Starting a business with a French connection? Looking to ace your next French test? Intermediate French For Dummies is the book for you. It offers all the help you need to improve your writing skills and become a better French speaker, listener, and reader, as well.

This friendly, hands-on workbook gives you practical examples and useful exercises so you can practice how native speakers use the language. From vocabulary and numbers to juggling tenses, you’ll get a clear understanding of the nuances of French style and usage that will have you writing better in no time. Plus, you’ll find multiple charts that provide the conjugations for all types of French verbs. Discover how to:

  • Use fundamental French grammar — from nouns, adjectives, and adverbs to pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions
  • Select and conjugate the correct French verbs
  • Understand the importance of grammatical gender in French
  • Ask and respond to questions
  • Use a bilingual dictionary correctly
  • Get a handle on French negatives
  • Know whether to use the infinitive or the present participle
  • Add descriptive flair to your writing
  • Sort out pronominal verbs
  • Avoid the most common French writing mistakes

Complete with plenty of room to practice you skills with exercises right in the workbook Intermediate French For Dummies helps you get your French writing up to speed toute suite!

Articles From Intermediate French For Dummies

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9 results
Intermediate French For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 04-18-2022

If you’re ready to move beyond the basics in French and want to improve your skills at reading, writing, or speaking in French, start by reviewing the three types of French articles, the French contractions formed with à and de, and French personal pronouns. Learning the correct object pronoun word order and identifying verbs that use être as their auxiliary verb will boost your confidence when speaking French.

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French Translation: Three Things to Avoid

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Everyone makes mistakes, but you can avoid many, if not most, of them by paying extra attention to typical problem areas. Following are three things you should avoid doing if you want to write French like a native. Don't translate word for word One of the worst things you can do is translate word for word. Some French words have more than one English equivalent, and vice versa, and some words have no true equivalent. And word order is different in the two languages, so you have to keep that in mind when translating as well. For example, the French word en is both a pronoun and a preposition. As a pronoun, it usually means some, as in J'en veux (I want some), but as a preposition, it means in or to, as in Je vais en France (I'm going to France). You have to think about this difference when translating from French to English to make sure you translate correctly. Idiomatic expressions, too, can cause trouble. For example, J'ai un petit creux, which literally translates as "I have a little hollow," actually means "I'm a little hungry." Don't leave out accents Accents are very important in French. They have several purposes, and leaving one off in your writing is a spelling mistake at best and a source of confusion at worst. Accents help distinguish between homographs — that is, words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. There are hundreds of these words pairs; here are just a few: cure (cure) — curé (priest) jeune (young) — jeûne (fasting) mais (but) — maïs (corn) ou (or) — où (where) parle (present tense of parler [to talk]) — parlé (past participle of parler) sale (dirty) — salé (salty) Technically, you can leave accents off capital letters; however, if you leave them off anywhere else, it's often as bad as using the wrong letter altogether. Don't overuse capitals French uses a lot fewer capital letters than English — many words that have to be capitalized in English can't be capitalized in French. Here are the most important words to watch out for: The personal pronoun I: Don't capitalize the pronoun je (I) except at the beginning of a sentence. Date words: Don't capitalize days of the week and months of the year in French unless they're at the beginning of a sentence. Geographical words: Although you have to capitalize names of streets, roads, lakes, oceans, and so on in both French and English, in English, you also capitalize the words street, road, and so on when you name a specific one. Not so in French: l'océan Atlantique (the Atlantic Ocean) Languages: Don't capitalize names of languages in French. Nationalities: Don't capitalize nationalities used as adjectives: Il est suisse. (He's Swiss.) However, you do capitalize nationalities used as nouns: Il habite avec un Espagnol. (He lives with a Spaniard.) Religions: Don't capitalize words referring to religion.

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Understanding French Articles and How They Indicate Gender and Number

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Articles are small words that you use only with nouns. They both present a noun and indicate the gender and number of a noun. French has definite, indefinite, and partitive articles. The following sections describe these three types of articles and identifies when and how you should use them in your French writing and speech. Grasping the definite articles Definite articles indicate that the noun they're presenting is specific. In English, the definite article is the. French has three different definite articles, which tell you that the noun is masculine, feminine, or plural. If the noun is singular, the article is le (for masculine nouns) or la (for feminine nouns). If the noun is plural, the article is les no matter what gender the noun is. If a singular noun begins with a vowel or mute h, the definite article le or la contracts to l', as in l'ami (the friend) and l'homme (the man). The French definite article is much more common than its English counterpart. In addition to referring to a specific noun, as in le livre que j'ai acheté (the book I bought), you use the French definite article to talk about the general sense of a noun, as in J'aime le chocolat (I like chocolate). Defining the indefinite articles Indefinite articles refer to an unspecific noun. The English indefinite articles are a and an. French has three indefinite articles — un (for masculine nouns), une (for feminine nouns), and des (for masculine or feminine plural nouns). Which one you use depends on the noun's gender and number. You use the indefinite article in basically the same way in French and English — to refer to an unspecific noun, as in J'ai acheté une voiture (I bought a car) or Je veux voir un film (I want to see a movie). Note that un and une can also mean one: J'ai un frère (I have one brother). Des is the plural indefinite article, which you use for two or more masculine and/or feminine nouns: J'ai des idées (I have some ideas). When you make a sentence with an indefinite article negative, the article changes to de, meaning (not) any. J'ai des questions. (I have some questions.) Je n'ai pas de questions. (I don't have any questions.) Looking at some partitive articles Partitive articles are used with things that you take only part of. They don't exist in English, so the best translation is the word some. There are, once again, three partitive articles, depending on whether the noun is masculine (du), feminine (de la), or plural (des). You use the partitive article with food, drink, and other uncountable things that you take or use only a part of, like air and money, as well as abstract things, such as intelligence and patience. If you do eat or use all of something, and if it is countable, then you need the definite or indefinite article. Compare the following: Je veux du gâteau. (I want some cake — just a piece or two.) Je veux le gâteau. (I want the cake — the whole one.) Je veux un gâteau. (I want a cake — for my birthday party.) When a singular noun begins with a vowel or mute h, the partitive article du or de la contracts to de l', as in de l'eau (some water) and de l'hélium (some helium).

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Writing in French with Masculine and Feminine Nouns

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A basic, singular noun refers to just one of something: a book, the cheese, my house. In English, that's about all there is to know about singular nouns. French, however, adds a little more to it: Every noun has a gender (genre), either masculine or feminine. Determining the gender of nouns In French, all nouns have a gender. A noun's gender determines which form of articles, adjectives, pronouns, and sometimes past participles you have to use, so knowing the gender is vital to speaking and writing French. Some words even have different meanings depending on their gender, like le mari (husband) and la mari (marijuana). (Don't get those mixed up if you're talking to un policier [a police officer]!) Most nouns that refer to people have a logical gender. Homme (man), garçon (boy), and serveur (waiter) are masculine, and femme (woman), fille (girl), and serveuse (waitress) are feminine. Animals and inanimate objects, however, are another kettle (poissonière — feminine) of fish (poisson — masculine). In most cases, there's no way to just look at a word and know what gender it is — you have to memorize the gender of each word as you learn it. The best way to remember the gender of nouns is to make sure your vocabulary lists include an article for each noun. If possible, use indefinite articles (un and une); they don't change in front of vowels. Then, when you look at your list, the gender of the article tells you the gender of the noun. A few word endings tend to indicate whether a noun is masculine or feminine. Words that end in -age, as in message and mirage, and -eau, like manteau (coat) and chapeau (hat), are usually masculine. On the other hand, most words that end in -ion, like libération and possession, and -té, such as liberté (freedom) and égalité (equality), are feminine. But there are exceptions, and, of course, thousands of nouns don't end with these letters. Making nouns feminine Nouns that refer to people often have a masculine "default" form that can be made feminine. Here's how to make the gender switch: To make most of these nouns feminine, just add -e to the end: un étudiant (male student) becomes une étudiante (female student). If a masculine noun ends in -en or -on, add -ne for the feminine form: Un pharmacien (pharmacist) becomes une pharmacienne. Nouns that end in -er change to -ère for the feminine: un cassier (cashier) becomes une cassière Nouns that end in -eur may become feminine with -euse or -rice: un vendeur (vender) becomes une vendeuse; un tradecteur becomes une traductrice Nouns that end in -e in the masculine form have no change for the feminine (other than in the article, which changes to une, la, or de la). According to the Académie française, which regulates the "purity" of the French language, some nouns that refer to people, such as un médecin (doctor) and une victime (victim), retain their gender regardless of who they are applied to. Although this is the official stance in France, other French-speaking countries such as Canada have both masculine and feminine forms for most of these nouns.

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Categorizing French Articles

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In French, there are three kinds of articles (small words you can only use with nouns): definite, indefinite, and partitive. The purpose of an article is to present a noun and indicate its gender and number. This chart represents articles and how to use them in French writing and language: Gender/Number Definite (the) Indefinite (a, an, some) Partitive (some, any) Masculine singular le un du feminine singular la une de la plural les des des

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Object Pronoun Word Order in French

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

To effectively use French object pronouns, you need to understand what they mean and where they go in the sentence. In the affirmative imperative, direct-object pronouns (like reflexive pronouns) follow the verb and are attached to it with hyphens; in addition, me changes to moi and te changes to toi. This chart shows the object pronoun word order with the affirmative imperative (command): Direct Object (3rd Person) Direct Object (1st or 2nd Person) or Reflexive Pronoun Y (there — refers to place) En (some, any, of them) Le moi y en La toi Les lui nous vous leur Here’s the word order with everything else, including the negative imperative: Reflexive Pronoun, Direct Object (1st or 2nd Person), or Indirect Object (1st or 2nd Person) Direct Object (3rd Person) Indirect Object (3rd Person) Y (there — refers to place) En (some, any, of them) me le lui y en te la leur se les nous vous

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Recognizing Être Verbs in French

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In French, the passé compose is a compound verb tense, meaning it has two parts: an auxiliary verb and a past participle. French has two auxiliary verbs, avoir or être, and most main verbs use avoir. Memorize the following short list of verbs, which refer to coming and going (both literally and figuratively) that use être: aller (to go) arriver (to arrive) descendre (to descend ) entrer (to enter ) monter (to climb) mourir (to die) naître (to be born) partir (to leave) passer (to pass [by, in front of, behind] ) rester (to stay ) retourner (to return) sortir (to go out ) tomber (to fall ) venir (to come) In addition, pronominal verbs use être: je me suis levé (I got up.)

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French Contractions with À and De

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The most common French prepositions are à (to, at, in) and de (of, from, about). When these two prepositions are followed by the definite articles le and les, a contraction needs to be formed. (Note: There’s no contraction with à or de plus la or l’: à la, à l’, de la, de l’.) Article à + (le/les) de + (le/les) Le au du Les aux des À and de also contract with the different forms of lequel (which one): Form of Lequel à + (lequel) de + (lequel) Lequel auquel duquel Lesquels auxquels desquels Lesquelles auxquelles desquelles There’s no contraction with laquelle: à laquelle, de laquelle.

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French Personal Pronouns

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Simply put, pronouns replace nouns. Pronouns refer to people, places, things, and ideas, without having to use the same nouns over and over. The French language uses five types of personal pronouns. These French pronouns are the equivalents to I/me, you, or he/him/it: Person Subject Pronoun Direct Object Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun 1st person singular je me me me 2nd person singular tu te te te 3rd person singular (masc.) il le lui se 3rd person singular (fem.) ell la lui se 1st person plural nous nous nous nous 2nd person plural vous vous vous vous 3rd person plural ils, elles les leur se

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