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French Art Vocabulary

In the series d'Art d'Art, new at Yabla French, you'll learn the stories behind some of the most famous works of European art. You'll also learn plenty of art-related vocab too! Here are some key words from the first two videos in the series, on the Mona Lisa and The Death of Marat:

 

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une œuvre - a work

"D'Art d'Art", c'est l'histoire d'une œuvre d'art.

"D'Art d'Art" is the story of a work of art.

Caption 3, d'Art d'Art "La Mort de Marat" - David

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When we talk about an artist's "œuvre" in English, we're usually referring to the artist's entire body of work. In French, une œuvre can have that same connotation, but it can also just mean a single work of art.

 

 

un tableau - a painting

Voyez la solennité antique quasi religieuse qui se dégage de ce tableau.

See the ancient, almost religious solemnity that emerges from this painting.

Captions 10-11, d'Art d'Art "La Mort de Marat" - David

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As we explained in a previous lesson, there are three French words for "painting": une peinture (cognate with "painting"), une toile (literally, "canvas"), and un tableau (literally, "little table"). 

 

 

un pinceau - a paintbrush

Sous son pinceau, la mort de Marat devient la mort de Jésus.

Under his brush, the death of Marat becomes the death of Jesus.

Captions 35-36, d'Art d'Art "La Mort de Marat" - David

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Un pinceau is a paintbrush, but it can also refer to a makeup brush (un pinceau de maquillage). It's related to the English word "pencil" (un crayon in French).

 

 

tracer - to trace, draw, write

les dernières lignes qu'il a tracées avec sa plume, désormais inerte, ce sont des noms destinés à la guillotine

the last words that he wrote out with his quill, now unmoving, are names [of those] intended for the guillotine

Captions 43-45, d'Art d'Art "La Mort de Marat" - David

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In an artistic sense, "to trace" usually just means to copy something by drawing over it. Tracer has that connotation too, but depending on context, it can also be a synonym of dessiner (to draw) and écrire (to write).

 

 

un cadre - a frame 

un chef-d'œuvre - a masterpiece

Ce jour-là, au musée du Louvre, à la place du chef-d'œuvre de Léonard de Vinci, il ne reste que le cadre.

That day, at the Louvre Museum, in the place of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, only the frame remains.

Captions 10-12, d'Art d'Art "La Joconde" - Vinci

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Le cadre is the frame around a painting or photograph. But that's not all! It's also the word for "framework" (as in the expression dans le cadre de, "within the framework of"), the word for "setting" or "surroundings," and the word for "executive" or "manager." You could say le cadre contains a lot of meanings within its "frame."

 

Finally, we have un chef-d'œuvre. We can think of a masterpiece as an artist's "chief work," or the "chief" of the artist's entire œuvre. 

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Surtout, Above All

The adverb surtout is actually two words combined: sur (over, above) and tout (all). Once you know that, its meaning is self-explanatory:

 

Et surtout n'oubliez rien.

And above all, don't forget anything.

Caption 9, Bande-annonce La Belle et La Bête

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There are a couple different ways of saying "above all" in English, all of which are encompassed by surtout. There's "most of all":

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Mais surtout c'est toi

But most of all, it's you

Caption 30, Aldebert La vie c'est quoi ?

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"Especially":

 

J'ai du mal à mentir, surtout quand c'est pas vrai

I find it hard to lie, especially when it's not true

Caption 29, Babylon Circus J'aurais bien voulu

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And "particularly" or "in particular":

 

J'aime surtout la cuisine japonais.
particularly like Japanese cuisine. / I like Japanese cuisine in particular.

 

Note, though, that "especially," "particularly," and "in particular" have more direct equivalents in French as well:

 

C'est le sujet qui nous intéresse tous spécialement aujourd'hui.

It's the subject that's especially of interest to all of us today.

Caption 62, Uderzo et Goscinny 1968

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Mais quand on est sensible à la peinture, ici, la lumière est particulièrement belle.

But for one who appreciates painting, the light here is particularly beautiful.

Caption 8, Arles Un Petit Tour d'Arles - Part 3

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Les plages de la côte atlantique et en particulier de la côte basque sont des plages très étendues.

the beaches on the Atlantic coast and in particular on the Basque coast are very vast beaches.

Caption 31, Voyage en France Saint-Jean-de-Luz

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Surtout can also mean "mainly" or "mostly," which isn't quite the same as "above all":

 

En fait c'est ça surtout

In fact that's it, mostly

Caption 37, Alsace 20 La chronique Mode de Caroline: mode éthique

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Aujourd'hui j'ai surtout travaillé au bureau.
Today I mainly worked in the office.

 

In informal speech, surtout is also the equivalent of "whatever you do" or "be sure to":

 

Surtout, ne rate pas le prochain épisode de "Extra"!

Whatever you do, don't miss the next episode of "Extra"!

Caption 10, Extr@ Ep. 5 - Une étoile est née - Part 1

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Surtout, regardez les vidéos les plus récentes sur Yabla French!
Be sure to check out the most recent Yabla French videos!

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How to Talk About "Stuff"

Un machin doesn't mean "a machine" (that's une machine). In fact, it doesn't mean anything specific at all. It's a filler word, used when you're speaking generally or when you can't think of the proper word for something. It's an informal alternative to une chose (a thing), roughly equivalent to "thingy" or "thingamajig," or when plural, "stuff":

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C'est-à-dire... de la confiture et des machins comme ça

That is to say... jam and stuff like that

Caption 10, Sophie et Patrice Le petit-déjeuner

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D'abord, je mets un peu d'acétone parce que souvent y a des étiquettes, des machins avec de la colle.

First, I apply a little bit of acetone because often there are labels, stuff with glue. 

Captions 58-59, Sophie et Patrice Les lampes de Sophie - Part 1

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C'est quoi ce machin-là?

What is that thing?

 

Je savais que ça n'allait pas être le single, le machin...

I knew that it was not going to be the single, the whatever...

Caption 110, Watt’s In Maître Gims : J'me Tire Interview Exclu

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Un truc is another informal way of saying une chose. It's basically synonymous with un machin:

 

Mais y a un truc aussi qui se faisait avant, c'est que la police, ils intervenaient au collège...

But there was another thing that was done before, it's that the police went in to the middle school...

Captions 16-17, Banlieues françaises jeunes et policiers, l'impossible réconciliation? - Part 2

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Et on va aller acheter des trucs.

And we're gonna buy some stuff.

Caption 59, Actus Quartier Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois - Part 1

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But unlike un machinun truc can also mean "a trick":

 

Tout ça, c'est des trucs pour nous faire travailler encore plus!

All these are tricks to make us work even more!

Caption 42, Il était une fois - Notre Terre 25. Technologies - Part 6

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And there are a couple of idioms with truc that can't be replaced with machin

 

Je n'aime pas faire la fête. Ce n'est pas mon truc.
I don't like partying. It's not my thing.

 

Chacun son truc!
To each his own!

 

Likewise, there's one idiom that only uses machin:

 

Et quand je dis un grand ancien, ça veut pas dire un vieux machin, pas du tout.

And when I say a great elder, that doesn't mean an old so-and-so, not at all.

Captions 55-57, Uderzo et Goscinny 1968

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Un vieux machin is a grumpy old man, an old fogey. 

 

You can even use machin and truc as proper nouns when you don't know or can't remember someone's name. In this case they're capitalized:

 

Demande à Machin* de t'aider.
Demande à Truc de t'aider.
Ask what's-his-name to help you.

 

*As a proper noun, Machin becomes Machine in the feminine (Demande à Machine de t'aider/Ask what's-her-name to help you). Truc doesn't change.

 

There's also another expression you can use when you don't know someone's name: Monsieur Untel/Madame Unetelle

 

Demande à Monsieur Untel/Madame Unetelle de t'aider.
Ask Mr./Ms. so-and-so to help you.

 

So when you don't know the name of something or someone, or you're just talking about "stuff" in general, machin and truc are the words to use. 

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Risky Business

In his latest video on the coronavirus pandemic, Lionel talks about the measures being taken to control the spread of the virus in France. Like everyone else in the world, French people are trying to minimize the risk of catching the virus by staying inside and wearing masks when they have to go out. 

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Though risk is a major theme of the video, when Lionel uses the verb risquer, he means something a bit different: 

 

Lors du déconfinement, nous risquons de sortir avec des masques et... les distanciations sociales risquent de durer un bon moment.

During reopening, we're likely going out with masks and... social distancing is likely going to last for quite some time.

Captions 35-38, Lionel L La pandémie, un mois déjà

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We don't "risk" going out with masks on, nor does social distancing "risk" lasting for a while longer. (Quite the contary: these are the very measures that are reducing risk). Risquer often just means "to be likely" (être probable) or "there's a good chance that." The stakes don't have to be that high:

 

Cette année, Noël risque d'être très présent dans les rues.

This year, Christmas is bound to be very present on the streets.

Caption 22, TV Vendée Le sapin de Noël décoré par les enfants

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But risquer can also mean "to risk" or "run the risk of":

 

Si ça continue à cuire, ça risque de perdre sa belle couleur.

If they continue to cook, they run the risk of losing their beautiful color.

Caption 57, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 2

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Il a risqué sa vie pour sauver le chien.
He risked his life to save the dog. 

 

Its noun form, risque, can mean "risk," "danger," or "chance." Note that, though it ends in an e, risque is masculine: 

 

Le risque avec les lamas, c'est qu'en grandissant, ils peuvent devenir agressifs.

The danger with llamas is that as they grow up, they may become aggressive.

Caption 25, Angers 7 Un lama en plein appartement

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There's also the adjective risqué, which you probably recognize. Though risqué can mean "racy" and "suggestive," as it does in English, it also just means "risky":

 

Pour elles c'est trop risqué de s'accrocher à la locomotive.

For them it's too risky to grab on to the engine.

Caption 47, Grand Corps Malade Les Voyages en train

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Some say it's a good thing to take a lot of risks, but these days, that doesn't seem like the safest advice. Ne prenez pas de risque! (Don't take any risks!)

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Rest Assured!

In his conversation with Lionel, Lahlou describes his daughters' success in school and sports in an interesting way. He uses the verb assurer:

 

Les deux grandes franchement, elles assurent. Elles assurent super bien à l'école, au sport.

The two older girls, frankly, they're doing great. They're doing really well in school, in sports.

Captions 82-83, Lionel & Lahlou Être musulman - Part 2

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Elles assurent is a familiar way of saying "they're doing great," "they're doing a great job." Lahlou also could have used the preposition en to specify what the girls are succeeding in: elles assurent en maths (they're good at math), elles assurent en natation (they're good at swimming). 

 

More often, assurer means "to assure" or "ensure," or, when reflexive, "to make sure"/"to check":

 

Je vous assure qu'elle est là.

I assure you that it's there.

Caption 37, Le saviez-vous? Les verbes du 1er groupe les plus utilisés - Part 2

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Mais on doit s'assurer que le pneu est bien assis sur la jante et ne pas trop gonfler.

But we have to make sure/check that the tire is well-seated on the rim and that we don't inflate too much.

Caption 19, Sports Shop La mécanique d'un vélo

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Assurer has a few other meanings as well. It can mean "to secure" or "achieve":

 

Ses affiches et ses tableaux ont permis au Moulin Rouge d'assurer une notoriété rapide et internationale.

His posters and his paintings allowed the Moulin Rouge to achieve rapid international notoriety.

Captions 19-21, Amal et Caroline Moulin Rouge

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Il est difficile d'assurer un emploi en ce moment.
It's hard to secure a job these days.

 

It can mean "to take care of," "handle," or "deal with":

 

Je dois assurer l'école.

I have to take care of the school.

Caption 13, Les zooriginaux 3 Qui suis-je? - Part 2

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La brigade des pompiers assure l'extinction des incendies. 
The fire department takes care of putting out fires. 

 

Or it can mean "to insure," as in "to provide insurance coverage":

 

Notre maison est assurée.
Our house is insured

 

Likewise, its noun form assurance can either mean "insurance" or "assurance," or more precisely, "self-assurance," "confidence," "certainty":

 

Le stress au travail a en effet un coût, humain bien sûr, et économique pour l'assurance maladie: près de cinquante milliards d'euros.

Stress at work does indeed have a cost, a human one of course, and an economic one for national health insurance: close to fifty billion euros.

Captions 57-58, Le Journal Le stress au travail

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Il faut parler avec assurance pour convaincre les gens.
You have to speak with self-assurance/confidently in order to convince people.

 

So whether you're assuring, ensuring, making sure, or insuring, assurer is the verb to use. You can find even more ways of using it here

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Savoir: The More You Know

You may already know that the verb savoir means “to know.” But did you know that, when followed by an infinitive, it can also mean “to be able to” or “to manage to" (synonymous with pouvoir)?

 

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L'Observatoire Paris-Meudon... a su garder sa spécificité d'astrophysique

The Paris-Meudon Observatory... was able to keep its astrophysical specificity

Captions 18-20, Voyage en France Meudon - Part 4

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L’article a su le convaincre à recycler.

The article managed to convince him to recycle.

 

It’s easy to see that “know” wouldn’t really work in either of these examples, since their subjects aren’t human. You wouldn’t say that the Paris-Meudon Observatory “knew” how to keep its astrophysical specificity, nor that an article “knew” how to convince someone. 

 

On the other hand, there are plenty of cases where savoir plus an infinitive can go either way:

 

Pour quelqu'un qui sait faire la cuisine

For someone who knows how to cook

Caption 63, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le titre de Maître Restaurateur, c'est quoi?

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Bref, Jean de La Fontaine fait partie pour moi de ces auteurs intemporels qui à travers une forme littéraire intéressante a su toucher le fond de la nature humaine.

In a word, Jean de La Fontaine is for me one of those timeless authors who, through an interesting literary form, was able to reach the depth of human nature.

Captions 38-40, Le saviez-vous? Jean de La Fontaine - Part 1

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We could just as well switch the translations here: “someone who can cook”; “Jean de La Fontaine… knew how to reach the depth of human nature.” "To be able to" and "to know how to" are more or less synonymous, so it makes sense that they overlap in the same French verb.  

 

Just note that the other verb for "to know," connaîtredoesn't have this extra connotation. While savoir means "to know how to" or "to be aware of," connaître means "to know someone" or "to be acquainted/familiar with." 

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On dirait une leçon sur "on dirait"!

In our last lesson, we discussed the expression on se croirait (literally, "one would believe oneself"), which means "it feels like." Now we'll take a look at a similar expression: on dirait. Both are impersonal expressions using a verb in the conditional. On dirait literally means "one would say," but it's also a synonym of il semble (it seems/looks like). 

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When introducing a clause, on dirait is followed by que:

 

On dirait que les gens sortent de la terre

It looks like people are coming out of the ground

Caption 31, Lionel En studio d'enregistrement - Part 2

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But when it comes before a standalone noun ("it looks like x"), you don't need the que:

 

On dirait un serpent à pattes.

It looks like a serpent with paws.

Caption 16, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs 10. Amerigo Vespucci - Part 6

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You can also use on dirait by itself, without introducing a noun or clause:

 

C'est ton jour de chance, on dirait.

It's your lucky day, it seems.

Caption 11, Marie & Jeremy Monopoly

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Je suis rouge de colère. -On dirait pas.

I'm red with anger. -It doesn't look like it.

Captions 1-2, Sophie et Patrice Les couleurs

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Depending on context, on dirait can mean something more specific than "it seems/looks like":

 

On dirait que t'as huit ans

You act like an eight year old

Caption 45, Mika Elle Me Dit

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On dirait... on dirait Cluzet!

It sounds... it sounds like Cluzet [French actor]!

Caption 71, Alsace 20 Laurent Chandemerle, l'homme aux 100 voix

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And sometimes it comes closer to its literal meaning:

 

Belle, c'est un mot qu'on dirait inventé pour elle...

Beauty, it's a word you could say was invented for her...

[Beauty, it's a word that seems to have been invented for her...]

Caption 64, Alsace 20 Laurent Chandemerle, l'homme aux 100 voix

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But be careful: dire is a very common verb, so you'll just as often encounter on dirait used in a literal sense.

 

On dirait pas "as-tu", axe verbe en premier, sujet en deuxième

We wouldn't say "have you," verb in first position, subject in second

Caption 31, Le Québec parle aux Français - Part 4

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On dirait que cette leçon est terminée!

 

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On se croirait: When You Feel Like You're Somewhere Else

There's an interesting expression in Sophie and Patrice's latest video on Paris's twentieth arrondissement: on se croirait (literally, "one would think/believe oneself"). It means "to feel like," or more specifically, to feel like you're in a different setting than the one you're in now. Whenever Sophie and Patrice are in the center of Paris, for instance, they feel like they're in Euro Disney:

 

Ça ressemble maintenant à Euro Disney, quoi. On se croirait à Euro Disney un petit peu. 

It looks like Euro Disney now, you know. It feels like Euro Disney a little bit. 

Captions 20-21, Sophie et Patrice Le vingtième arrondissement

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And in Extr@, when Sacha smells a strong fragrance upon walking into her apartment, she feels like she's in a perfume shop:

 

Qu'est-ce que c'est que cette odeur? On se croirait dans une parfumerie.

What's that smell? It's like we're in a perfume shop.

Captions 19-20, Extr@ Ep. 3 - Sam a un rendez-vous - Part 4

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In English we use "you'd think" in a similar way to on se croirait:

 

On se croirait même dans une ambiance de campagne.

You'd even think you were in a country atmosphere.

Caption 27, Le Québec parle aux Français - Part 6

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Alors on se croirait pas du tout à Paris, et on a énormément de verdure.

So you wouldn't think you're in Paris at all, and you have lots of greenery.

Captions 13-14, Antoine La Butte-aux-Cailles

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You can also use the phrase avoir l'impression de (to feel like, to get the impression that) to express this feeling of being elsewhere: 

 

On n'a plus l'impression d'être à Paris. 

You don't feel like you're in Paris anymore.

Caption 62, Actu Vingtième Vendanges parisiennes

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If you're playing Dorothy in a French adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, you might even say:

 

Toto, on ne se croirait plus dans le Kansas!
Toto, it doesn't feel like we're in Kansas anymore!

 

Or, in a more accurate translation of the line:

 

Toto, je n'ai plus l'impression d'être dans le Kansas!
Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!

 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for our next lesson and tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

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French Protest Words

The French have a long history of protesting, from the storming of the Bastille to the student protests of May 1968 to the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement today. Our latest video, from Le Monde, covers a strike on December 5, 2019 during which thousands of people across the country took to the streets to protest the pension reforms proposed by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe. As you can imagine, the video contains a lot of vocabulary related to protests, which we'll examine here. 

 

Un mouvement très suivi en France, et quelques tensions entre manifestants et forces de l'ordre.

A very well-attended action in France, and some tension between demonstrators and police.

Captions 1-2, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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Un mouvement can be a social movement or protest movement (such as le mouvement des gilets jaunes), but it can also be a protest in its own right, or, as above, an "action."

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Un mouvement wouldn't be un mouvement without des manifestants ("demonstrators" or "protesters"). Manifestant comes from une manifestation, which is the word for "protest" or "demonstration":

 

Les manifestations se sont déroulées dans environ soixante-dix villes.

Demonstrations took place in about seventy cities.

Captions 10-11, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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But sometimes une manifestation is less political than a protest. It can just be an "event":

 

Cette manifestation attire des touristes du monde entier.

This event attracts tourists from around the entire world.

Caption 28, Le saviez-vous? Le carnaval en France

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Or simply an "expression" of something (this sense is the closest to "manifestation" in English):

 

Il y aura entrave à l'épanouissement affectif, à la manifestation des sentiments...

There will be obstacles to emotional fulfillment, to the expression of feelings...

Captions 4-5, Le Mans TV Horoscope: Scorpion

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However, the slang term une manif specifically refers to a protest. We have a whole Yabla series centered around this word: Manif du Mois (Protest of the Month). 

 

But let's get back to the December 5 protest, which, like many protests in France, was launched by des syndicats (unions): 

 

Le mouvement a été lancé par des syndicats...

The action was started by unions...

Caption 15, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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The syndicats didn't just call for un mouvement, but une grève:

 

L'appel à la grève n'a pas souffert du froid hivernal.

The call to strike didn't suffer from the winter cold.

Caption 7, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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Some of the protests turned violent, which prompted the Prime Minister, in his response, to make a distinction between les manifestants and les casseurs—the rioters, or literally, "the breakers" (from casser, "to break"):

 

Y a eu quelques villes où on a constaté des débordements souvent liés à la présence de casseurs qui ne venaient pas pour manifester.

There were a few cities where we observed some violent outbreaks, often linked to the presence of rioters who didn't come to protest.

Captions 30-33, Le Monde Grève du 5 décembre 2019 : les manifestations massives en images

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Un débordement is "a flood" or "an overflowing," but its figurative meaning is more violent: "an outbreak," "outburst," or, when plural (des débordements), any kind of wild or uncontrolled behavior. 

 

For more videos featuring demonstrations and protests, do a search for manifestation or manif on Yabla French. 
 

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Sometimes, Three Times

There are three different ways of saying "sometimes" in French, and they all have one thing in common: the word fois (time).

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The first is quelquefois, which literally means "sometimes" (quelque = some; fois = times). Note that quelquefois is written as one word, like "sometimes," but unlike other quelque words such as quelque chose (something) and quelque part (somewhere):

 

Quelquefois, vous allez voir des produits qui ne correspondent pas à cette recette

Sometimes, you'll see products that don't correspond to this recipe

Caption 38, Le saviez-vous? La Maison de l'Olive à Nice - Part 2

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Then there's parfois (par = by, through, per; fois = times):

 

Je vais parfois au cinéma.

I sometimes go to the movies.

Caption 25, Le saviez-vous? Les différentes négations - Part 3

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Finally, there's des fois (literally "some times" or just "times"), which is a bit more familiar. It roughly corresponds to the English expression "at times": 

 

Je me force un peu des fois à sortir de ma zone de confort.

I force myself a bit sometimes [at times] to get out of my comfort zone.

Captions 46-47, Giulia Sa marque de bijoux 'Desidero'

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There are a couple other ways of saying "sometimes" in French that use the other word for "time," temps. These are de temps en temps and de temps à autre, which both mean "from time to time," "every now and then," "once in a while," "occasionally":

 

Peut-être que vous sentez les odeurs qui sortent des studios de temps en temps.

Maybe you smell the aromas that come out of the studios from time to time.

Caption 10, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 1

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Je parle à mes amis d'université de temps à autre. 
I talk to my college friends every now and then.

 

Just don't confuse any of these with the expressions for "sometime" and "some time." "Sometime" (meaning "eventually" or "at a later time") is un de ces jours (one of these days) or un jour ou l'autre (one day or another). And "some time" (meaning "a while") is quelque temps:

 

Un jour ou l'autre [Un de ces jours] on sera tous papa

One day or another we'll all be a dad [We'll all be a dad sometime]

Caption 28, Stromae Papaoutai

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Et puis après, j'ai été célibataire quelque temps.

And then after that, I was single for a while [for some time].

Caption 26, Le Journal L'âge et la fertilité

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Or: A Golden Word

The conjunction or pops up in two of our new videos this week:

Or la gravité est présente partout.

But gravity is present everywhere.

Caption 79, Le Monde L’astrologie fonctionne-t-elle ?

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Or, je n'étais pas de garde et surtout j'étais saoul.

But, I wasn't on call and above all I was drunk.

Captions 85-86, Le Jour où tout a basculé À l'audience: Mon chirurgien était ivre - Part 1

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Or is not a particularly common conjunction, but it's a good one to know nonetheless (just don't confuse it with the English "or," which is ou in French). It's a synonym of mais (but, yet) and related words like cependant, néanmoins, pourtant, toutefois (however, nevertheless):

 

Or, il y en a un quatrième que nous décrit ici en détail un grand voyageur qui se nomme Amerigo Vespucci.

However, there's a fourth one that a great explorer named Amerigo Vespucci describes to us here in detail.

Captions 34-35, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs 10. Amerigo Vespucci - Part 7

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You'll also see or used as a more general conjunction, equivalent to "now" or "well," often to introduce a new or oppositional fact:

 

Cette pièce a été remplacée ensuite par celle-ci au début vingtième siècle. Or c'est à peu près la même, mais modernisée pour l'époque.

This coin was replaced later by this one in the early twentieth century. Now, it's more or less the same, but modernized for the era.

Captions 16-18, Georges Breizh Numismat

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Je croyais qu'il allait me demander en mariage ce soir-là. Or, il ne l'a pas fait.
I thought he was going to ask me to marry him that night. Well, he didn't do it.

 

As you can see here, or always comes at the beginning of a sentence or clause when used as a conjunction. You could even call it a "transition word." But or isn't only a conjunction! It also happens to be the word for "gold":

 

Il doit y avoir une mine d'or.

There must be a gold mine here.

Caption 39, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs 10. Amerigo Vespucci - Part 3

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L'or is both the color gold and the element. Its adjective form is doré(e):

 

Il m'a donné une bague de fiançailles dorée.
He gave me a gold engagement ring.

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Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for our next lesson and tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

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Inside and Outside

The preposition dans can mean "in," "inside," or "into," depending on context. For example, elle est dans la maison could either be "she is in the house" or "she is inside the house," and elle va dans la maison could be "she goes inside the house" or "she goes into the house." In this lesson, we'll focus on "inside" (and its opposite, "outside"), which has a few other translations besides dans.

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The first is dedans. Unlike dans, which is a preposition, dedans usually functions as an adverb. It can either mean "inside" or "indoors":

 

Là y'a nouveau jeu. Ils doivent deviner combien il y a de bonbons dedans.

There's a new game. They have to guess how many candies there are inside.

Caption 49, Actu Vingtième Fête du quartier Python-Duvernois

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Je n'aime pas rester dedans toute la journée.
I don't like staying indoors all day.

 

Like "inside," dedans can also be used as a noun:

 

Le dedans de l'église est très sombre.
The inside of the church is very dark. 

 

We could also say l'intérieur de l'église est très sombre (the interior of the church is very dark), or simply il fait très sombre dans l'église (it's very dark inside the church). In fact, l'intérieur is the other word for "inside" in French. You'll often see it in the phrase à l'intérieur (de), which can also mean "within":

 

Maintenant, on va la laisser reposer pour que les levures à l'intérieur puissent permettre à notre pâte d'être aérée.

Now we are going to let it rest so that the yeast inside can allow our dough to be airy.

Captions 32-33, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

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Alors des maisons, c'est très rare d'en trouver, euh... à l'intérieur de Paris, je vous le promets.

So [standalone] houses, it's very rare to find them, uh... within Paris, I promise you.

Captions 19-20, Antoine La Butte-aux-Cailles

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We could easily rewrite these two examples using dedans and dansles levures dedans (the yeast inside), en trouver dans Paris (find them in Paris).

 

Now let's move "outside." Though French has a general word for "in" (dans), it doesn't have one for "out." However, dedans and à l'intérieur (de) do have direct opposites: dehors and à l'extérieur (de). 

 

Dehors functions in the exact same way as dedans, as an adverb or noun:

 

Dois-je payer pour ce qu'ils font dehors?

Should I pay for what they do outside?

Caption 20, Alain Etoundi Allez tous vous faire enfilmer! - Part 2

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Le dehors de la maison est plus joli que le dedans. 
The outside of the house is nicer than the inside. 

 

There's also the phrase en dehors de, which means "outside of" in both a literal and figurative sense:

 

Parce qu'il y a énormément de personnes qui vont travailler en dehors de Paris

Because there are so many people who go to work outside of Paris

Captions 47-48, Adrien Le métro parisien

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En dehors de ça, je ne vois aucune autre solution. 
Outside of that, I don't see any other solution. 

 

Sometimes you'll see hors de rather than dehors de:

 

J'aurais du mal à vivre hors de Paris maintenant.

I'd have trouble living outside of Paris now.

Captions 38-39, Elisa et sa maman Comment vas-tu?

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But hors (de) usually means "outside" figuratively, along the lines of "beyond," "without," or "excluding":

 

C'est hors de question!
That's out of the question!

 

Le loyer est de 600 euros hors charges. 
The rent is 600 euros excluding utilities. 

 

Finally, there's à l'extérieur, the opposite of à l'intérieur

 

Ce quartier-là, à l'extérieur, il a quand même une certaine réputation...

This neighborhood, on the outside, it has a certain reputation, nevertheless...

Caption 52, Actus Quartier Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois - Part 2

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Ça m'a permis d'aller travailler à l'extérieur de ce pays.

It's allowed me to work outside of this country.

Caption 24, Annie Chartrand Grandir bilingue

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Il y a des gargouilles sur l'extérieur de la cathédrale.
There are gargoyles on the cathedral's exterior

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Now you know all the ways of saying "inside" and "outside" inside and out! 

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Getting Frustrated in French

In a previous lesson, we discussed the words finalement and enfin, which both mean "finally" but have different connotations. Now we'll look at the related phrase à la fin, which can also mean "finally," but is more aptly translated as "in the end":

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Comme une larme à la fin de l'histoire

Like a tear at the end of the story

Caption 29, 1789: Les Amants de la Bastille Tomber dans ses yeux

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However, like enfin, which is often used as a filler word equivalent to "well," "I mean," "in any case," or "come on," à la fin also has a more colloquial meaning. It's used to express frustration, when you've had enough of something and want it to be done with, or when you're fed up with someone's behavior:

 

Tu deviens ridicule à la fin avec cette histoire.

You're becoming ridiculous with this story at this point.

Caption 11, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mon histoire d'amour est impossible - Part 5

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Mais qu'est-ce que t'as à la fin avec ce garçon?

But what is it with you and this boy, ultimately?

Caption 16, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mon histoire d'amour est impossible - Part 5

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Mais arrête à la fin!

But stop it already!

Caption 58, Le Jour où tout a basculé Notre appartement est hanté - Part 6

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In this sense, à la fin overlaps with enfin, which can also be used to express frustration: 

 

Mais enfin, relève-toi!

Come on, stand up!

Caption 2, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs 15. Bruce et les sources du Nil - Part 3

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You can even use the two in the same sentence, when you're really frustrated:

 

Enfin de quoi vous parlez à la fin?

Well, what are you talking about now?

Caption 65, Le Jour où tout a basculé Notre appartement est hanté - Part 5

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Mais enfin, elle est dingue, cette histoire à la fin!

But come on, this story is crazy now!

Caption 43, Le Jour où tout a basculé Notre appartement est hanté - Part 7

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But that's not all! There's yet another word that's used informally for this purpose: encore (still, again). Patricia gives a succinct explanation of this in her video on encore and toujours:

 

Enfin le mot "encore" peut désigner l'impatience ou le mécontentement par rapport à un événement qui se répète ou continue. Par exemple, la phrase: Quoi encore?

Finally, the word "encore" can indicate impatience or dissatisfaction with regard to an event that repeats or continues. For example, the sentence: What now? [What is it now?]

Captions 17-21, Le saviez-vous? Utilisation de "encore" et "toujours" - Part 2

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Patricia also uses two phrases meaning "to be fed up with" or "to be sick/tired of" in this video—en avoir assez de and en avoir marre de:

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Ah! Encore lui! C'est clair, ça veut dire que on en a assez de le voir. On en a marre de lui.

Ah! Him again! It's clear, it means that we're tired of seeing him. We're sick of him.

Captions 25-28, Le saviez-vous? Utilisation de "encore" et "toujours" - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

You now have all you need to vent your frustrations in French!

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Saying Grâce

While preparing a gâteau aux pommes with Marie, Jeremy uses the phrase grâce à several times when noting the utensils they use to add the ingredients:

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On ajoute cent grammes de sucre mesurés avec précision grâce à un mesureur.

We add one hundred grams of sugar measured precisely thanks to a measuring cup.

Captions 10-11, Marie & Jeremy Le gâteau aux pommes

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Ensuite on mélange grâce à un fouet avec vivacité et énergie.

Then we mix using a whisk with speed and energy.

Captions 14-15, Marie & Jeremy Le gâteau aux pommes

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Ensuite, grâce à une petite balance de cuisine

Then, with the help of a small kitchen scale

Caption 16, Marie & Jeremy Le gâteau aux pommes

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"Thanks to" is the closest equivalent to grâce à in English. Though Jeremy uses it to talk about inanimate objects, you can just as well use it to refer to a person, someone you're literally thanking:

 

Merci beaucoup. Grâce à vous, ce mariage, c'était formidable.

Thank you very much. Thanks to you this wedding was great.

Caption 59, Grand Corps Malade Inch'Allah, en duo avec Reda Taliani

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Grâce has the same Latin root as the Spanish gracias and the Italian grazie, which both mean "thanks." It's also the source of the English word "grace." Like "grace," la grâce (don't forget the circumflex) can mean "elegance," "pardon," and "mercy":

 

Par lui, tout est grâce et lumière et beauté

Through it, all is grace and light and beauty

Caption 5, Il était une fois - Notre Terre 9. Les écosystèmes - Part 1

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La grâce des membres de l'Arche de Zoé pourrait intervenir la semaine prochaine

The pardoning of the members of Zoe's Ark could occur next week

Caption 22, Le Journal L'Arche de Zoé

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Les vénérables vieillards, plusieurs fois centenaires, n'ont pas connu grâce.

The venerable old men, centenarians several times over, did not get any mercy.

Caption 53, Il était une fois... L’Espace 3. La planète verte - Part 6

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As you might have guessed, "mercy" is the literal meaning of merci. So when you say "thank you" in French, you're really saying "mercy." And when you say "thanks to" something or someone, you're really saying "grace"!

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Say When!

There are a few different ways of saying "when" in French, the most basic of which is quand. Like "when," quand can either be an adverb or a conjunction. As an adverb, it's generally used to form questions:

 

Quand seras-tu libre?
When will you be free?

 

Tu l'as inventé quand ce morceau?

When did you compose this piece?

Caption 24, Claire et Philippe: Mon morceau de piano

 Play Caption

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À quelle heure is an adverbial expression that's more or less synonymous with quand, albeit a bit more specific. It's the equivalent of "at what time" in English:

 

Enfin, tu commences à quelle heure le travail?

Anyway, what time [when] do you start work?

Caption 70, Elisa et Mashal: Petit-déjeuner

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As a conjunction, quand is synonymous with lorsque:

 

À Paris quand vous sortez le soir, le métro se termine à minuit trente.

In Paris when you go out at night, the metro stops [running] at half past midnight.

Captions 15-16, Amal: Vélib

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Lorsque je vous vois, je tressaille

When I see you, I quiver

Caption 19, Bertrand Pierre: Si vous n'avez rien à me dire

 Play Caption

 

We could easily switch quand and lorsque in those examples:

 

À Paris lorsque vous sortez le soir, le métro se termine à minuit trente.
Quand je vous vois, je tressaille

 

However, you can't use lorsque as an adverb, that is, as a question word. So you would never ask someone, Lorsque seras-tu libre?

 

You'll also see the phrase au moment où ("at the moment when") instead of quand or lorsque:

 

Au moment où le chat sortit en courant, la calèche royale atteignait le château.

When the cat ran out, the royal carriage reached the castle.

Captions 33-34, Contes de fées: Le chat botté - Part 2

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 usually means "where," but sometimes, as in au moment où, it means "when":

 

Les lignes de métro vont s'ouvrir jusqu'à mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-dix, dans les années mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-dix, la ligne quatorze fut ouverte.

The subway lines will open [continued to open] until nineteen ninety, in the nineteen nineties, when line fourteen was opened.

Captions 17-20, Adrien: Le métro parisien

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Le dimanche, les gens ne travaillent pas, on va prendre le croissant, on va prendre le pain au chocolat

Sunday, when people don't work, we'll have a croissant, we'll have a chocolate croissant

Captions 29-30, Arles: Le petit déjeuner

 Play Caption

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If you're ever in doubt when to use which word for "when," just go with quand. It has the broadest scope, so you can use it pretty much n'importe quand (whenever).

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Again and Again and Again

De nouveau and à nouveau both mean "again" (or more literally, "anew"), and you'll often find them used interchangeably in everyday speech. But technically there's a subtle difference between them. De nouveau implies a repetition of something that already happened:

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Le lendemain il se retrouva de nouveau sur le bord d'un immense lac.

The next day, he found himself again on the edge of an immense lake.

Caption 13, Contes de fées - Le vilain petit canard - Part 2

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Je ne vous ai pas entendu. Pourriez-vous m'expliquer de nouveau?
I didn't hear you. Could you explain it to me again [repeat what you just said]?

 

On the other hand, à nouveau implies something happening in a different way than before—that is, in a new way: 

 

On retravaille à nouveau l'orthographe français [sic: française].

French spelling has once again been reworked.

Caption 46, Le saviez-vous? - L'histoire de la dictée - Part 1

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Je ne comprends pas. Pourriez-vous m'expliquer à nouveau?
I don't understand. Could you explain it to me again [in a different way]?

 

Do you see the difference between the second sentences in the examples above? If you don't hear something someone said, you want them to repeat it. So you use de nouveau. But if you don't understand what they said, you want them to rephrase it, say it in a new way. So you use à nouveau.

 

Note that both these expressions only use nouveau, not the other forms of the adjective (nouvelnouveaux, nouvelle, nouvelles). If you see any of these after de, you're dealing with "new," not "again":  

 

et de la mémorisation de nouveaux mots ou de nouvelles phrases.

and the memorization of new words or new phrases.

Caption 49, Le saviez-vous? - Les bénéfices de la dictée

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If you forget when to use à nouveau versus de nouveau, you can always just use encore, the most basic equivalent of "again":
 

On espère te... te voir encore sur d'autres scènes en Alsace?

We hope to... to see you again on other stages in Alsace?

Caption 62, Alsace 20 - Femmes d'exception: Christine Ott

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Just keep in mind that encore can also mean "still," as we discussed in a previous lesson.

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The preposition à : "to," "at," or "from"?

In her video on the famous French writer Victor Hugo, Patricia recites an excerpt from Hugo's poem "À l'Arc de Triomphe," a tribute to the city of Paris. The title of the poem means "At the Arc de Triomphe," but in another context à l'Arc de Triomphe could also mean "to the Arc de Triomphe." "At" and "to" are the most common meanings of the preposition à. But as we see several times in this video, à can also mean "from" when paired with certain verbs:

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Cette science universelle Qu'il emprunte à tous les humains;

This universal science That it borrows from all humans;

Captions 46-47, Le saviez-vous? - La poésie de Victor Hugo

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Puis il rejette aux peuples blêmes Leurs sceptres et leurs diadèmes,

Then it rejects from pallid people Their scepters and their diadems,

Captions 48-49, Le saviez-vous? - La poésie de Victor Hugo

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À tout peuple, heureux, brave ou sage, Il prend ses lois, ses dieux, ses mœurs.

From all people, happy, brave, or wise, It takes their laws, their gods, their customs.

Captions 42-43, Le saviez-vous? - La poésie de Victor Hugo

 Play Caption

 

The verbal phrases here are emprunter quelque chose à quelqu'un (to borrow something from someone), prendre quelque chose à quelqu'un (to take something from someone), and rejeter quelque chose à quelqu'un (to reject something from someone). Though de is the more general equivalent of "from," you can't use de in verbal phrases like these–you have to use à.

 

The indirect object of these phrases (that is, what follows the à) is usually a person: "to x something from (à) someone."

 

Cacher (to hide) and voler (to steal) are two other common verbs that take à instead of de:

 

Je vais cacher les cadeaux de Noël à mes enfants.
I'm going to hide the Christmas gifts from my kids.

 

Marc a volé de l'argent à Sophie.
Marc stole money from Sophie.

 

Another very common verb with à is acheter (to buy). Be careful with this one though: acheter quelque chose à quelqu'un can either mean "to buy something from somebody" or "to buy something for somebody." You'll need to figure out the meaning from context:

 

Marc a acheté une bague au bijoutier.
Marc bought a ring from the jeweler. 

 

Marc a acheté une bague à Sophie.
Marc bought a ring for Sophie.

 

But with other verbs—such as permettre à (to enable/allow), rappeler à (to remind), and coûter à (to cost)—the à doesn't translate to anything at all:

 

De permettre à quarante mille femmes et jeunes filles au Sénégal, euh... d'être alphabétisées,

To enable forty thousand women and young girls in Senegal, uh... to become literate,

Captions 3-4, Alphabétisation - des filles au Sénégal

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Rappeler effectivement aux gens que ça reste des produits de confiserie, c'est pas une mauvaise mesure,

Indeed, to remind people that these are still sweets, it's not a bad idea,

Caption 14, Le Journal - Publicité anti-calories

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Et la différence, cela ne coûte quasiment rien à Martine.

And the difference costs Martine practically nothing.

Caption 57, Alsace 20 - Alsace: les plus belles déco de Noël!

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There are a good number of other verb phrases with à where the à means "from" or just isn't translated. Here are some of the more common ones:

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arracher à (to remove from)
commander à (to order)
défendre à (to forbid/ban)
demander à (to ask)
enlever à (to take away from) 
épargner à (to spare)
éviter à (to save/spare)
garantir à (to guarantee)
pardonner à (to forgive)
refuser à (to refuse/deny)
souhaiter à (to wish)

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Striking Agreements and Chords with Accord

We've touched on grammatical agreement in previous lessons, but in this one we're focusing on the word "agreement" itself. The French word for "agreement" is un accord, and its verbal form, accorder, means "to agree" or "to make an agreement":

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Et les accords, également. Savoir comment on accorde un adjectif à son sujet, par exemple

And agreements too. Knowing how you make an adjective agree with its subject, for example.

Captions 11-12, Le saviez-vous? - Les bénéfices de la dictée

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Un accord is "an agreement" in all senses, not just a grammatical one. It can refer to an official agreement, something you might sign or seal:

 

Eh bien, scellons cet accord!

Well then, let's seal this agreement!

Caption 16, Il était une fois... l’Homme - 6. Le siècle de Périclès - Part 3

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Or it can refer to a verbal agreement, to permission or consent:

 

Il me fallait aussi l'accord de ses parents.

I also needed the consent of her parents.

Caption 30, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Mon père s'oppose à ma passion - Part 4

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It's pretty obvious that this is where the English word "accord" comes from. But did you know that accord is also the root of the word "chord"?

 

Ce morceau se joue sur trois accords.

This piece is played with three chords.

Caption 7, Leçons de guitare - Leçon 3

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(It's not, however, the root of the word "cord." That would be une corde—a cord, rope, or string.)

 

On another musical note, accord is also the word for "harmony" in a figurative sense, referring to a match, fit, rapport, or understanding: 

 

Le riesling ça reste quand même sur les huîtres un accord parfait.

Riesling still remains in perfect harmony with oysters.

Caption 71, Alsace 20 - 100 recettes pour 100 vins

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Alors c'est quoi le bon accord mets et vins?

So what is the good pairing of food and wine?

Caption 8, Alsace 20 - 100 recettes pour 100 vins

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Nous sommes en parfait accord.
We are in complete agreement/harmony.

 

But you're most likely to encounter accord in the expression d'accord, the French equivalent of "OK" or "all right":

 

D'accord, ça marche pour moi.
OK, that works for me.

 

D'accord is an abbreviated form of the phrase être d'accord, "to agree" or "to be in agreement":

 

On s'est quitté d'un commun accord, mais elle était plus d'accord que moi

We left each other with a mutual agreement, but she was more in agreement than I

Caption 51, Grand Corps Malade - Les Voyages en train

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Certaines personnes sont pas d'accord avec l'enfermement des animaux.

Some people don't agree with the confinement of animals.

Caption 21, Actus Quartier - Bêtes de scène ?

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D'accord, c'est tout pour cette leçon!

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