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Derivatives of Dire

In our previous lesson, we discussed the verb dire (to say), which has a few derivatives: médire (to speak ill of), maudire (to curse), redire (to say again), interdire (to forbid, ban), contredire (to contradict), and prédire (to predict). Although these verbs all end in -dire, they don’t necessarily follow the same conjugation patterns as dire (to say). Let’s explore the various meanings and characteristics of these verbs.  


Redire (to say again) is the only verb that is conjugated in the exact same way as dire (to say). In other words, it is also irregular in the second-person plural in the present tense of the indicative. So, just as we say vous dites (you say), we say vous redites (you say again). Here is an example of this verb in the infinitive:


Maintenant tu vas me redire quelle couleur c'est.

Now you're going to tell me again what color this is.

Caption 33, Lionel et Automne Lionel retourne à l'école

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If Lionel had used the formal vous (you), this is what the sentence would look like:


Maintenant vous me redites quelle couleur c'est.

Now you tell me again what color this is.


Interestingly, redire doesn’t just mean “to say again.” When used in the idiomatic expression n’avoir rien trouver à redire, redire implies some kind of criticism: “to have nothing bad to say."


La direction de Vélo'v n'a trouvé rien à redire sur ces selles multicolores.

Vélo'v's management has found nothing bad to say about these multicolored seats.

Caption 19, Télé Lyon Métropole Street art: le yarn bombing, c'est quoi?

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Speaking of having bad things to say, we have the verb maudire, which means “to put a curse on somebody,” something that happens a lot in fairy tales:


Elle l'avait maudit aussi longtemps qu'une princesse ne l'aurait autorisé à manger dans son assiette et à dormir dans son lit pendant trois nuits.

She had cursed him for as long as a princess wouldn't allow him to eat off her plate and to sleep in her bed for three nights.

Captions 33-34, Contes de fées Le roi grenouille - Part 2

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Also worth noting is the fact that maudire (to put a curse on somebody) is the only derivative that belongs to the second-group (-ir) verbs, as it models its conjugation on finir (to finish) with the plural endings -issons, -issez, -issent in the present tense: 


Les contes de fées finissent souvent mal quand les sorcières maudissent les princesses.

Fairy tales often end badly when witches put a curse on princesses.


In addition, when placed before a noun, the past participle maudit/maudite works as an adjective, often translating as “damned” in English:


En fait, c'est la faute de cette maudite molaire

Actually, it's the fault of this damned molar

Caption 53, Les zooriginaux La rage de Croqueur - Part 4

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A milder variation of maudire (to put a curse on someone) is médire (to speak ill of someone or to slander). Unlike maudire, médire is conjugated like dire, as in ils disent/ils médisent (they say/they speak ill of), except in the second-person plural. In this case, médire keeps the regular form, vous médisez (you speak ill of)—not "vous médites." Here is a quote from the book Histoire de Marie-Antoinette by Edmont and Jules de Goncourt:


Malin avec le sourire, impitoyable avec l'ironie, il médisait avec le silence.

Clever with a smile, merciless with irony, he slandered with silence.


Moving on to other derivatives, we have interdire (to forbid), contredire (to contradict), and prédire (to predict), which all conjugate like médire (to speak ill of). Let’s start with interdire (to forbid), something that Barbara has trouble understanding in the video below. She is in big trouble for dyeing her hair blond:


Je t'avais interdit de te teindre en blonde.

I had forbidden you to dye your hair blond.

Caption 93, Mère & Fille Tout en couleur

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Interdire often comes in the impersonal phrase il est interdit de (it is forbidden to) + verb:


Aujourd'hui il est interdit de se regrouper.

Today it's forbidden to gather in groups.

Caption 8, Lionel L La pandémie

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You may also come across contredire (to contradict):


Oui. -Monsieur qui est breton ne va pas me contredire. -Hé, c'est pas gagné!

Yes. -The gentleman from Brittany isn't going to contradict me. -Hey, that's not certain!

Caption 63, LCM Recette: Crêpes

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Finally, we have the verb prédire (to predict), which comes up frequently in the world of horoscopes:


Résultat: si un horoscope prédit trois choses...

The result: if a horoscope predicts three things...

Caption 136, Le Monde L’astrologie fonctionne-t-elle ?

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In conclusion, here is a summary of how each of these verbs is conjugated in the vous form:


interdire: vous interdisez (you forbid)
prédire: vous prédisez (you predict)
médire: vous médisez (you speak ill of)

contredirevous contredisez (you contradict)


redirevous redites (you say again)


maudire: vous maudissez (you curse)


That's about all that dire and its derivatives have to say. Thank you for reading!


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