French Lessons


Once Upon a Time There Was an Egg...

What’s in an egg? Besides its culinary versatility, the French œuf (egg) has some unique spelling and pronunciation features. Let’s discover its special characteristics and then take it into the kitchen to explore some egg-related vocabulary.


First, let’s explore the unique spelling feature of the noun œuf. A few common words have this special character œ, like le cœur (heart), la sœur (sister), l'œuvre (work), and le bœuf (ox):


Qui vole un œuf vole un bœuf.

He who steals an egg steals an ox (give someone an inch and they'll take a mile; once a thief, always a thief).


Let’s look at another example featuring the word œuf in Patricia’s fairy tale video, “Le vilain petit canard” (The Ugly Duckling):


Le septième œuf, le plus gros de tous n'avait toujours pas éclos.

The seventh egg, the largest of all, had not yet hatched.

Caption 10, Contes de fées Le vilain petit canard - Part 1

 Play Caption


Not only does the word œuf contain a special character, but it also has an irregular pronunciation in the plural form, des œufs (eggs), even though the spelling is perfectly regular. Indeed, while un œuf (an egg) rhymes with neuf (nine), des œufs (eggs) rhymes with feu (fire). Listen carefully to Lionel’s pronunciation of œuf versus œufs in his video on madeleine-making:


Ici devant moi, nous avons un œuf, o, e, u, f, mais également des œufs, le pluriel: des œufs.

Here in front of me, we have un œuf [an egg], o, e, u, f, but also des œufs, the plural: some eggs.

Captions 19-22, Lionel L'usine de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 1

 Play Caption


The letter œ is an example of a ligature, a character composed of two letters joined together. In French, œ is commonly called e dans l'o ("e in the o"), which is actually a pun, as it sounds like œufs dans l'eau (eggs in the water)!


Speaking of eggs in water, let’s proceed to the kitchen. As you know, there are many ways to cook an egg, but first you should know how to tell un œuf cru (a raw egg) from un œuf dur (a hard-boiled egg). In this humorous mother-daughter video, Isabelle demonstrates how to tell the difference to her daughter Barbara, who has yet to grasp the concept:


Comment reconnaître un œuf cru d'un œuf dur ?

How to tell a raw egg from a hard-boiled egg?

Caption 8, Mère & Fille Le secret de l'œuf dur - Bonne impression - Monsieur Richeto - Dodo

 Play Caption


Once you’ve established that your egg is cru (raw) and not dur (hard-boiled), you may want to prepare un œuf mollet (a soft-boiled egg). Not to be confused with the anatomical term le mollet (the calf), mollet here is a variant of the adjective molle (soft). Un œuf mollet (a soft-boiled egg) is often served in the country salad described below:


Nous avons une salade de lentilles avec un œuf mollet et une vinaigrette au lard paysan.

We have a lentil salad with a soft-boiled egg and a vinaigrette with country bacon.

Caption 7, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

 Play Caption


If un œuf mollet is not to your taste, you could try un œuf poché (a poached egg). The restaurant Le Relais de la Poste in Alsace has a delicious version of this on their menu:


Laurent Huguet du Relais de la Poste, lui accommode un œuf poché aux asperges avec un petit riesling.

Laurent Huguet of the Relais de la Poste, he prepares a poached egg with asparagus with a little Riesling.

Captions 22-23, Alsace 20 100 recettes pour 100 vins

 Play Caption


Another alternative is un œuf au plat (a fried egg, literally "an egg on the plate"), which can make a nice addition to a traditional savory French crêpe:


Tu peux faire une crêpe complète avec jambon, fromage, et en plus tu rajoutes un œuf au plat par-dessus.

You can make a complete crêpe with ham, cheese, and in addition you add a fried egg to the dish on top.

Captions 44-46, Claude et Zette Les crêpes bretonnes

 Play Caption


You can also make œufs Bénédicte, or a simple omelette. In their video, Elisa and Mashal discuss what mouth-watering egg dishes they would like for breakfast:


Des œufs Bénédicte ou sinon je te fais des œufs... un... une omelette.

Eggs Benedict, or otherwise I'll make you eggs... a... an omelette.

Caption 82, Elisa et Mashal Petit-déjeuner

 Play Caption


Les œufs are also an essential baking ingredient that you can crack into your mixture. In French, though, we don’t say craquer (to crack) but rather casser les œufs (break the eggs). In his madeleine video, Lionel asks about the art of casser des œufs:


Donc là ben, on va commencer par casser des œufs entiers.

So, here, well, we're going to start by cracking some whole eggs.

Caption 36, Lionel L'usine de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 1

 Play Caption


Here is another culinary technique: fouetter/battre les blancs en neige (to beat the egg whites until stiff; literally, "beat the whites into snow"). This is exactly what is required to make a chocolate-rolled Christmas log:


Vous fouettez les blancs en neige

You beat the egg whites until stiff

Caption 44, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de Noël

 Play Caption


If le blanc is "the egg white" in French, can you guess what "the yolk" is? That's right, le jaune (literally, "the yellow")! 


As you can see, there is more than one way to frire un œuf (fry an egg). Whichever way you choose to cook des œufs, be sure to use the correct pronunciation. Feel free to draw inspiration from our many Yabla cooking videos on how to prepare your eggs, and you will increase your kitchen vocabulary in the process.


Happy cooking!

Continue Reading

Tout as an Adverb

In our last lesson, we discussed the word tout (all) as an adjective in the constructions tout + noun versus tout + determiner + noun, and we learned that tout, like all adjectives, agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies. In this lesson, we'll explore tout as an adverb. And in the process, we'll discover how this strange adverb sometimes goes rogue and starts behaving like an adjective! So, buckle up!


Before we examine the quirks and tricks of adverbial tout, let's look at tout as a regular adverb, a word that is typically invariable (never changes form). Indeed, tout always stays the same in front of another adverb. The construction tout + adverb is equivalent to très (very) + adverb:


Et voilà. Allez, mélange tout doucement.

And there we are. Go on, mix very slowly.

Caption 40, Delphine et Automne Le gâteau au yaourt - Part 1

 Play Caption


Delphine could have said this instead:


Voilà. Allez, mélange très doucement

And there we are. Go on, mix very slowly.


Tout also combines well with adverbs like simplementtout simplement (quite simply). 


Alors tout simplement parce que ça fait maintenant dix ans qu'on travaille à notre compte.

So quite simply because it has now been ten years since we've been self-employed.

Caption 22, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le titre de Maître Restaurateur, c'est quoi?

 Play Caption


The adverb tout can also modify an adjective to mean "all" or "very," as in "to the full extent." Again, tout behaves like a typical adverb and does not change. In his song "Cha Cha du Marin," singer Cré Tonnerre describes a sailor in a happy mood, using the construction tout + singular masculine adjectives:


Tout heureux, tout amoureux, tout bleu comme le ciel bleu

All happy, all in love, all blue as the blue sky

Caption 26, Cré Tonnerre Cha Cha du Marin

 Play Caption


Did you notice that all the t’s are sounded except the last one? That's because it's necessary to employ liaison in constructions like tout heureux (all happy) and tout amoureux (all/totally in love).


But when the adverb tout appears before a feminine adjective, the liaison becomes a bit more dangerous (or at least trickier). If the feminine adjective (singular or plural) starts with a vowel, as in excitée (excited), tout does not change:


J'étais tout excitée d'avoir ce privilège.

I was all excited to have that privilege.

Caption 16, Melissa Mars From Paris with Love

 Play Caption


Tout also stays the same before a feminine adjective starting with a mute h (since a word beginning with a mute h behaves like a word beginning with a vowel, in the sense that it allows a liaison to occur):


Elle est tout heureuse.

She is very happy.


Elles sont tout heureuses.

They are very happy.


But wait, there is another type of h in French! Unlike the mute h, the aspirated h acts like a consonant. Therefore, no liaison is possible, which would make the second t in tout silent. Tout agrees in number and gender before a feminine adjective beginning with an aspirated h. In the example below, toute agrees with the feminine adjective honteuse (ashamed):


Elle est toute honteuse.

She is very ashamed.


In the same sentence in the plural form, toutes takes -es just like the feminine plural adjective it modifies:


Elles sont toutes honteuses.

They are very ashamed.


Just as adverbial tout agrees with a feminine adjective starting with an aspirated h, tout also agrees with a feminine adjective starting with a consonant:


Et puis après, je me retrouve toute seule... 

and then after, I find myself all alone...

Caption 29, Amal et Caroline Pourquoi tu n'es pas venue à mon anniversaire ?

 Play Caption


Elles peuvent fonctionner toutes seules.

They can operate on their own.

Caption 66, Lionel & Lahlou La grève

 Play Caption


However, there is sometimes ambiguity in the feminine plural form. In some cases, you will need context to determine whether toutes is acting as an adverb (meaning "very," modifying the adjective) or as an adjective (meaning "all," modifying the subject):


Elles sont toutes tristes.

They are very sad./All of them are sad.


Elles sont toutes honteuses.

They are very ashamed./All of them are ashamed.


On the other hand, there is no ambiguity with the construction tout + plural feminine noun beginning with a vowel or mute h (e.g. tout heureuses). This tout can only act as an adverb, meaning "very":


Elles sont tout heureuses.

They are very happy.


Likewise, toutes heureuses can only mean "(they are) all happy." Rather than an adverb, toutes in this case is an adjective of quantity that modifies the subject elles:


Elles sont toutes heureuses.

All of them are happy.


Now let's recap the rules of the construction tout + feminine adjective (singular and plural):



When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with a consonant:

  • toutseul("all alone," feminine singular)
  • toutes seules ("all alone," feminine plural)


When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with an aspirated h:

  • toute honteuse ("very ashamed," feminine singular)
  • toutes honteuses ("very ashamed," feminine plural)



No Agreement

When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with a vowel:

  • tout excitée ("very excited," feminine singular)
  • tout excitées ("very excited," feminine plural)


When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with a mute h:

  • tout heureuse ("very happy," feminine singular)
  • tout heureuses ("very happy, feminine plural)


(And don’t forget that adverbial tout does not take agreement before ANY masculine adjective.)


Toute la leçon est terminée! (The whole lesson is over!) This may be a lot to take in, but keep in mind that exceptions are few. Tout only changes before feminine adjectives and only in limited situations. And don’t forget: L’équipe de Yabla est tout heureuse de vous aider! (The Yabla team is very happy to help you!)

Continue Reading

Agreeing with Everything—Tout !

Let's talk about…everything! Or, the word tout in French. Did you know that tout can change spelling and pronunciation? And are you aware that this versatile word can function as an adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, and a noun? In this lesson, we'll focus on tout (all) as an adjective in the constructions tout + noun versus tout + determiner + noun.


Tout as a quantifier is usually equivalent to “all,” expressing totality, as in tout le temps (all the time). The construction is usually as follows: tout + determiner + a noun (a determiner is a short word preceding a noun, such as “the” in English). Tout (all) then functions as an adjective since it is attached to a noun, and it will therefore agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies. So, tout has four different endings: tout, toute, toutes, tous. When tout agrees with a masculine singular noun, you're in luck: no change is required! In the example below, tout agrees with the noun votre argent (your money):


Vous donnez tout votre argent à Gérard.

You're giving all your money to Gérard.

Caption 69, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes parents se préparent à la fin du monde - Part 7

 Play Caption


When tout modifies a masculine plural noun, just drop the -t ending and replace it with an -s (tous), as in tous les petits commerces (all the little shops). Note that tout and tous sound the same, as the final -t and -s are both silent:


Ce qui est intéressant aussi dans la rue, c'est que tous les petits commerces sont des artisans français.

What's also interesting on the street is that all the little shops are French craftworkers.

Captions 32-34, Adrien Rue des Martyrs

 Play Caption


When tout modifies a feminine noun, add an -e for agreement. Note that this time, however, you do pronounce the second t! Listen for the t sound in toute la journée (all day) in the following video. Also note that we don’t say “all the day” in English, but we do in French!


Il a plu toute la journée.

It rained all day.

Caption 22, Ahlam et Timothé Des conversations basiques

 Play Caption


When tout agrees with a feminine plural noun, add -es to the end: toutes. As in the previous example, you will pronounce the second t, but not the final s. In other words, toute (feminine singular) and toutes (feminine plural) sound the same. In the example below, toutes agrees with the feminine plural noun les heures (hours). In this case, though, toutes les heures translates as “every hour,” not “all hours”:


Depuis que le nouveau curé a remis ses cloches à sonner toutes les heures

Since the new priest reset his bells to ring every hour

Caption 62, Actu Vingtième Le vide-grenier

 Play Caption


So far, so good, but watch what happens when we decide to omit the les. Just as in English, the meaning changes. In the clause below, the bell doesn’t necessarily ring on the hour, but “at all hours":


Depuis que le nouveau curé a remis ses cloches à sonner à toute heure

Since the new priest reset his bells to ring at all hours


In other words, when tout is used in the sense of “any” or “whichever," you drop the determiner and get the construction tout + noun. The person in the video below expects to be exposed à tout moment (at any moment): 


Mais elle reste obnubilée par son larcin de la veille et s'attend à tout moment à être démasquée.

But she remains obsessed with her petty theft of the day before and expects at any moment to be unmasked.

Captions 47-49, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 3

 Play Caption


There is one more thing to consider. Even in the absence of determiners, agreement rules still apply! In the example below, we have three different spellings: agreements with a masculine plural noun (tous biens), a masculine singular noun (tout don), and a feminine singular noun (toute personne). Also note how the translation of tout varies according to the noun that follows it:


Tous biens... tout don est bienvenu, ainsi que toute personne.

All goods... every donation is welcome, as well as every person.

Caption 43, Actus Quartier Repair Café

 Play Caption


The use of tout can also imply diversity and inclusiveness, as in de toute religion (from all religions):


Y a de toute religion, y a des musulmans, y a de tout de chez nous.

There're people from all religions, there are Muslims, there's a bit of everything in our club.

Caption 14, Actu Vingtième Le vide-grenier

 Play Caption


Speaking of “all kinds," we have the expression toutes sortes (all kinds/all sorts):


Toutes sortes de décors... et une belle vaisselle.

All kinds of decorations... and beautiful dishes.

Caption 10, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

 Play Caption


The construction tout + noun can also imply “any” possibility of something. In the video below, the pastry chef talks about being proactive by polishing the cutlery to avoid any potential marks:


Il faudra bien penser à les nettoyer, les polir correctement, pour éviter toute trace, parce que c'est plus joli, c'est plus sympa.

You really have to think about cleaning them, polishing them correctly, to avoid any marks, because it's prettier, it's nicer.

Captions 15-16, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

 Play Caption


If the speaker had found des traces (some marks) on the cutlery, he would have had the staff remove toutes les traces (all the marks) and say something like this:


Nettoyez toutes les traces afin qu’il n’en reste plus.

Clean all the marks so there are none left.


In conclusion, a few reminders. Include a determiner to convey quantity, entirety, or diversity, as in tout le (all the) and tous les (every). But drop the determiner when tout is used in the sense of “any," “whichever,” or “all kinds." Whether you use the construction tout + determiner + noun or tout + noun, agreement rules apply in both cases. And don't forget: toutes les vidéos sur Yabla (all the Yabla videos) are available to help you. And since tout is such a common word, you'll find it in just about any video (toute vidéo). We will continue to explore tout in another lesson. Merci pour tout! (Thanks for everything!)

Continue Reading

How to Render Rendre - Part 2

In our first lesson on rendre, we learned that the verb can mean "to give back," "to return," and "to render." In this lesson, we'll explore some expressions with rendre whose meanings go beyond giving/going back or rendering.


As we briefly mentioned in our previous lesson, the phrase rendre service means “to do a favor” or “to help” (literally, "to render a service"). In the video below, Sacha needs a favor from Dr. Dubois, aka Nico:


Est-ce que tu peux me rendre service ?

Can you do me a favor?

Caption 34, Extr@ Ep. 7 - La jumelle - Part 5

 Play Caption


Ideally, Sacha needs Nico to be willing to help and “be of service,” like the person in this video:


Moi, tu sais, si je peux rendre service

Me, you know, if I can be of service

Caption 15, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 4

 Play Caption


In the broader sense of the phrase, rendre service simply means “to help”—or not, as in the case of Pauline, the ungrateful guest in the video below:


Petit à petit, elle refuse de rendre service.

Little by little, she refuses to help.

Caption 3, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai été séquestré par mes amis - Part 4

 Play Caption


We also have the expression rendre hommage (to pay tribute/homage). On the anniversary of the death of famous singer Serge Gainsbourg, many artists wanted to rendre hommage to him:


Aujourd'hui le gratin du rock anglais rend hommage à Serge Gainsbourg, à commencer par Placebo.

Today the elite of English rock pays tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, starting with Placebo.

Caption 17, Le Journal Gainsbourg

 Play Caption


On a lighter note, we have the phrase rendre visite (to pay someone a visit). Our Yabla guide David encourages viewers to lui rendre visite (visit him) and explore his home country of Martinique:


Si un jour vous avez le bonheur de nous rendre visite

If one day you have the pleasure of visiting us

Caption 4, David Les animaux

 Play Caption


Note that if David had been talking about visiting Martinique, he would have said this instead: 


Si un jour vous avez le bonheur de visiter la Martinique

If one day you have the pleasure of visiting Martinique


So, use rendre visite for visiting people and visiter for visiting places.


Speaking of places, the verbal phrase se rendre à/dans means “to go to (a place)." Se rendre is equivalent to aller (to go). In the video below, Fanny and Corrine suggest se rendre dans des magasins (going to shops) to bargain-hunt:


Pour bien commencer le printemps, on vous propose de vous rendre dans des magasins

To get spring off to a good start, we suggest you go to shops

Caption 11, Fanny & Corrine parlent de la mode La mode à bas prix

 Play Caption


You can also use the reflexive verb se rendre in a variety of expressions, such as se rendre compte, which means “to realize” or “to become aware of.” The teenager in the video below se rend compte (realizes) that something is not right:


L'adolescente se rend bien compte que quelque chose ne va pas.

The teenage girl quickly realizes that something isn't right.

Caption 14, Le Jour où tout a basculé Nos bébés ont été échangés... - Part 4

 Play Caption


(For more information on ways to use compte [count], see this Yabla lesson.) In the non-reflexive form (without the se), the verbal phrase rendre compte means “to report” or “give an account”:


Oui, mais d'abord, on rend compte à Oméga.

Yes, but first we report to Omega.

Caption 25, Il était une fois: L’Espace 3. La planète verte - Part 3

 Play Caption


Going back to se rendre compte: once you've realized something, you might be forced to se rendre à l'évidence (come to terms with the evidence). Something that is extremely difficult to do for this couple, who discovered that their baby was switched at birth: 


Pourtant, ils doivent se rendre à l'évidence.

However, they must come to terms with the evidence.

Caption 30, Le Jour où tout a basculé Nos bébés ont été échangés... - Part 4

 Play Caption


Another way to translate se rendre à l’évidence is “to face the facts”:


Henri doit se rendre à l'évidence.

Henri must face the facts.

Caption 40, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple - Part 7

 Play Caption


Once you have come to terms with the evidence, you may come to the awful realization that it would be wise “to surrender”—se rendre. This is actually the infinitive form of rendez-vous, which, as a command, doesn't refer to "a date" or "meeting" (un rendez-vous), but rather an order to give yourself up:


Rendez-vous ! Vous êtes cernée !

Surrender! You're surrounded!

Caption 85, Mère & Fille Camping Cour

 Play Caption


Or, less harshly, a suggestion to go somewhere:


Pour vous abonner à Yabla, rendez-vous sur la page S'abonner.

To subscribe to Yabla, go to the Subscribe page. 

As you can see, there are many ways to render rendre, from giving back, to going places, to surrendering. Now that vous vous êtes rendu(e) compte (you've become aware) of rendre’s many uses, rendez hommage (pay homage) to the word rendre by using it. Stay tuned and rendez-vous to Yabla for a future lesson!

Continue Reading

How to Render Rendre (or Give It Back!)

The verb rendre is a handy verb to know, especially when you need to give something back, as it means just that, “to give back” or “to return": 


Nous ne sommes pas belliqueux et tout disposés à rendre nos prisonniers.

We're not warlike, and quite willing to give back our prisoners.

Caption 6, Il était une fois: L’Espace 3. La planète verte - Part 7

 Play Caption


Donc c'est l'endroit où tu peux emprunter des livres mais tu dois les rendre ensuite.

So this is the place where you can borrow books, but you have to return them later.

Captions 65-66, Français avec Nelly Les faux amis - Part 1

 Play Caption


But rendre does not just mean “to return” an item to its owner or “to bring back” a person where they belong. It also means “to make” something happen, either good or bad. In the example below, it is something positive, rendre l’air plus sain (making the air healthier): 


Les plantes ont-elles des vertus dépolluantes ? Suffisent-elles à rendre l'air plus sain ?

Plants, do they have depolluting properties? Are they sufficient to make the air healthier?

Captions 1-2, Grand Lille TV Plantes = Air intérieur sain, une idée reçue?

 Play Caption


Or rendre can refer to something negative, as in rendre malade (to make someone sick) or rendre fou (to make/drive someone crazy), as shown in the next two examples:


Ça me rend malade

It makes me sick

Caption 14, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 5

 Play Caption


Mais enfin, c'est pas possible! Ils vont me rendre fou!

But really, this isn't possible! They're going to drive me crazy!

Caption 2, Il était une fois: la vie 6. Les petites plaquettes - Part 5

 Play Caption


Note that although we say “to make” in English, we cannot use faire in instances like this, as explained in this lesson.


Sometimes, rendre is best translated as its English cognate, "to render":


Nous, on va les rendre consommables.

We're going to render them consumable.

Caption 14, Le saviez-vous? La Maison de l'Olive à Nice - Part 2

 Play Caption


Both French and English use the verb rendre/"render" to refer to depicting something artistically. In the video below, the artist "renders" the work in black and white instead of color to achieve a timeless effect:


Notamment pour le rendre aussi le noir et blanc, ça donne quelque chose d'assez intemporel.

Notably to render it also, the black and white gives it something quite timeless.

Captions 104-105, Le saviez-vous? La pratique de dessin de Maxime Duveau

 Play Caption


Rendu, the past participle of rendre, can be used as a noun in an artistic context: un rendu (a rendering).


Le résultat: des tableaux au rendu très naturel

The result: paintings with a very natural rendering

Captions 7-8, Le Mans TV Le Mans: Ouverture d'un nouvel atelier d'artistes

 Play Caption


Rendre can also mean "to render" in a legal context, as in rendre un verdict (to render a verdict):


La justice a rendu son verdict.

The courts have rendered their verdict.

Caption 47, Le Jour où tout a basculé Je me suis fait voler ma musique - Part 7

 Play Caption


The past participle rendu also can be found in the expression service rendu, equivalent to "services rendered" in English. In the example below, we're talking about medical services:


Le Comité économique des produits de santé fixe les prix en fonction de l'amélioration du service médical rendu

The Economic Committee for Medicinal Products sets prices according to the improvement of the medical service rendered

Captions 45-46, France 24 Découvrez le parcours du médicament : Du laboratoire à la pharmacie

 Play Caption


In conclusion, we hope that this lesson vous a rendu service (was helpful to you) and that you discovered some new ways of using rendre. But we have not exhausted the subject yet! There are many other expressions involving rendre, so stay tuned for another lesson. Thank you for reading!

Continue Reading

"Many" in So Many Ways

Did you know that there are beaucoup (many) ways of saying "many" in French? In fact, French offers an abundance of terms to suit various styles, from common, conversational, colloquial to more formal and literary. In this lesson we will explore alternatives to the ubiquitous beaucoup.


But first, let's take a quick look at beaucoup (many, a lot). In Yabla videos, you will often come across the construction beaucoup de (a lot of/a great deal of). Here is one example: 


Ben, on te souhaite, ben, beaucoup de réussite

Well, we wish you, well, a great deal of success

Caption 106, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

 Play Caption


As an adverb, beaucoup can also stand on its own. You are probably familiar with the polite expression merci beaucoup (thank you very much):


Ben merci beaucoup, hein. C'était un plaisir.

Well thank you very much, you know. It's been a pleasure.

Caption 108, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

 Play Caption


A close cousin to beaucoup de is plein de (plenty of), which is slightly more casual. In this cheerful video, the weather forecaster wishes her viewers a Happy Halloween, which, of course, involves eating plein, plein de bonbons


Alors je vous souhaite une super fête et mangez plein, plein, plein de bonbons. Tchao-tchao.

So I wish you a great holiday and eat lots and lots and lots of candies. Ciao-ciao.

Caption 18, Alsace 20 Météo des Maquilleurs

 Play Caption


Slightly more colloquial than plein de (plenty of) is un tas de or des tas de, literally "a load of" or "heaps of." Take a look at the two examples below:


Mais on peut lui demander des tas d'autres choses

But we can request loads of other things from it

Caption 20, Il était une fois: Notre Terre 25. Technologies - Part 7

 Play Caption


Si vous êtes végétarienne, y a des tas d'autres choses

If you're vegetarian, there're heaps of other things

Caption 28, Mon Lieu Préféré Rue des Rosiers - Part 2

 Play Caption


Un tas de can also be translated as “plenty of”:


Ah, c'est bien simple. Il peut y avoir des tas de raisons

Ah, it's quite simple. There could be plenty of reasons for that

Caption 39, Il était une fois: la vie 6. Les petites plaquettes - Part 1

 Play Caption


There's also the expression pas mal de (a great deal of), which we've explored before. In the video below, the person interviewed has pas mal de problèmes de santé (quite a few health problems):


J'ai un pacemaker et pas mal de choses. 

I have a pacemaker and quite a few things. 

Caption 20, Actu Vingtième Le Repas des anciens

 Play Caption


Moving up a rung on the formality ladder, we have the idiomatic expression bien d’autres (many others), which has a more neutral tone (note that bien in this case no longer means “well," but “many”): 


...telle cette espèce de saladier que vous voyez là à l'image, et bien d'autres.

...such as this sort of salad bowl that you see here in the picture, and many others.

Caption 13, David La calebasse

 Play Caption


Similarly, énormément de (an emormous amount of) followed by a noun is used to emphasize quantity:


énormément de musique

an enormous amount of music

Caption 32, Alex Terrier Le musicien et son jazz

 Play Caption


Depending on context, it's sometimes better to translate énormément de as “(so) many” or “a great deal of”:


Donc ce sera une ligne très intéressante parce qu'il y a énormément de personnes qui vont travailler en dehors de Paris

So it will be a very interesting line because there are so many people who go to work outside of Paris

Captions 46-48, Adrien Le métro parisien

 Play Caption


Vous allez découvrir d'autres petits secrets de cette rue parce qu'il y en a énormément.

You're going to discover other little secrets of this street because there are a great deal of them.

Captions 63-64, Adrien Rue des Martyrs

 Play Caption


On a more formal register, you may come across the adjective maint, which is etymologically related to the English "many." Interestingly, maint does not need to be followed by de (of), unlike other adverbs of quantity. Maintes (the feminine plural of maint) is often combined with fois to form the expression maintes fois (many times):


Elles ont d'ailleurs été maintes fois représentées par des célèbres peintres

Incidentally, they've been depicted many times by famous painters

Caption 10, Voyage en France La Normandie: Honfleur

 Play Caption


There is also a more obscure equivalent to maint: the archaic adjective moult, dating back to the 16th century. It's no longer in use, but it might be a good word to know if you want to impress your professors with your knowledge! To quote French writer Gustave Flaubert, you could derive moult satisfaction (much satisfaction) from their reaction:


J'embrasserai ta vieille trombine avec moult satisfaction.

I will kiss your old face with much satisfaction.

Gustave Flaubert, Correspondance


While people seldom use the word moult other than for effect, young people especially might like to use a little slang and say pas des masses (not many/not much). Interestingly, the expression is always in the negative form: 


Il n’y en a pas des masses.

There are not many.


As you can see, there are beaucoup de façons (many ways) to say beaucoup, and if you wish to know even more, see this Larousse entry. You now have plenty to choose from, as there are different options for all contexts, from casual settings to more formal ones. Just be aware of the tone you wish to use. Save des tas de for friends, and moult for literary buffs. 

Wishing you beaucoup de satisfaction in your French learning, and merci beaucoup or moult remerciements (many thanks) for reading!

Continue Reading

Kings and Queens and Kingdoms

Yabla features many videos that give you an opportunity to learn about French history and expand your history-related vocabulary. In this lesson, we will focus on some of France's most illustrious rulers, starting from Clovis, the first monarch, to Louis XVI and Louis Philippe, the last French kings. 


As Patricia explains in her video, France was once divided into several royaumes francs (Frankish kingdoms). The Franks were a Germanic tribe that gave the country its name. In the Middle Ages, un roi franc (a Frankish king) named Clovis came into power and managed to unite all the Frankish tribes to form a kingdom roughly the shape of France: 


Ce roi franc a unifié plusieurs royaumes francs et a ainsi agrandi considérablement son royaume.

This Frankish king unified several Frankish kingdoms and thus considerably expanded his kingdom.

Caption 9, Le saviez-vous? D'où vient le nom de la France?

 Play Caption


Clovis, who ruled from 481 to 511, is considered the first French king:


Clovis est le premier roi de France.

Clovis is the first king of France.

Caption 10, Le saviez-vous? D'où vient le nom de la France?

 Play Caption


Two centuries later, another Frankish king, Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, expanded his kingdom by conquering much of what would become Europe today. Charlemagne is perhaps best known in France for his contribution to education, as described in France Gall’s popular 1964 song "Sacré Charlemagne" ("Sacred Charlemagne" or "Bloody Charlemagne"): "[le roi] qui a eu cette idée folle d’avoir inventé l’école" ([the king] who had this crazy idea of inventing school). In the video below, a passerby hums part of the refrain: 


Sacré Charlemagne...

Sacred Charlemagne...

Caption 39, Micro-Trottoirs Sacrée France Gall

 Play Caption


Much later, during the Renaissance period, another powerful king, Louis XIV (Louis Quatorze) came into power and ruled France for 72 years! In his video, Daniel Benchimol shows us the king’s birthplace, the town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the outskirts of Paris:


À cet endroit tout simplement naquit Louis Quatorze en mille six cent trente-huit.

On this very spot, Louis the Fourteenth was born in sixteen hundred thirty-eight.

Caption 36, Voyage en France Saint-Germain-en-Laye

 Play Caption


Louis XIV became known as le roi Soleil (the Sun King) because he adopted the sun as his emblem:


Louis Quatorze, donc, le roi Soleil a décidé de prendre la ville ici en mille six cent soixante-trois.

Louis the Fourteenth, so, the Sun King decided to seize the town here in sixteen sixty-three.

Captions 38-39, Lionel Marsal - Part 2

 Play Caption


Louis XIV’s main residence was, of course, the Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles), known for its amazing architecture:


Puisque l'art, c'est plutôt, euh... l'architecture, euh... comme le château de Versailles.

Since art, it's rather, uh... architecture, uh... like the Palace of Versailles.

Caption 15, Micro-Trottoirs Art ou science?

 Play Caption


Although in English we refer to the Château de Versailles as “a palace," strictly speaking, “a palace” is un palais and un château is “a castle.” And you are never far away from one of those in France, as there are over 40,000 castles throughout the country:


Autour de nous, des moulins, des châteaux, une cité médiévale.

Around us, windmills, castles, a medieval town.

Caption 43, Voyage en France Saint-Mammès

 Play Caption


The magnificent Château de Versailles was also the main residence of Louis XVI (Louis Seize) and la reine Marie-Antoinette (Queen Marie-Antoinette). Louis XVI also enjoyed staying at another royal castle outside of Paris, the Château de Rambouillet, where he could hunt in the nearby forest. Unfortunately, the queen hated the place, so the king, ever eager to please her, had le pavillon (the pavilion) called la Laiterie de la Reine (the Queen’s Dairy) built for his wife in 1785. In the video below, Daniel Benchimol shows us this magnificent building:


Derrière moi, ce magnifique pavillon qu'on appelle la Laiterie de la Reine. Il fut construit à la demande de Louis Seize pour la reine Marie Antoinette.

Behind me, this beautiful pavilion called the Queen's Dairy. It was built at the request of Louis the Sixteenth for Queen Marie Antoinette.

Captions 7-8, Voyage en France Rambouillet - Part 2

 Play Caption


Four years after the pavilion was built, the monarchy was formerly abolished during the 1789 French Revolution:


La France a été une royauté jusqu'en dix-sept cent quatre-vingt-neuf

France was a monarchy until seventeen eighty-nine

Caption 11, Le saviez-vous? D'où vient le nom de la France?

 Play Caption


La monarchie returned in 1815 for a brief time, as Patricia explains in her video:


En dix-huit cent quinze, avec le retour de la monarchie

In eighteen fifteen, with the return of the monarchy

Caption 26, Le saviez-vous? Histoire du drapeau français

 Play Caption


Indeed, there were a few more kings after the French Revolution, Louis Philippe being the last to rule from 1830 until 1848. In his video, Daniel Benchimol mentions how Louis Philippe came into power:


C'est ici que se prépara la révolution de dix-huit cent trente qui conduisit Laffitte à la présidence du Conseil de Louis Philippe.

It's here that the eighteen thirty revolution was fomented, which led Laffitte to the presidency of the Louis Philippe Council.

Captions 23-24, Voyage en France Maisons-Laffitte - Part 3

 Play Caption


There are many more rois (kings) and reines (queens) featured in our videos for you to explore. Daniel Benchimol's Voyage en France series is a great place to start. Thank you for taking this little trip back in time with Yabla!

Continue Reading

Supervising the Cadre

In a previous lesson on French art vocabulary, we learned that “le cadre is the frame around a painting or photograph.” In this lesson, we will focus on other meanings of cadre (frame) that are not related to art. In the process, we will also discuss related vocabulary such as encadrement (frame, management) and encadrer (to frame, supervise) that are also not always art-related.


Indeed, un cadre can take on a more figurative meaning. In the example below, it means “an environment”:


On a un cadre qui est vraiment agréable donc les gens viennent.

We have an environment that is really pleasant, so people come.

Caption 59, Le Mans TV Mon Village - Malicorne - Part 1

 Play Caption


Or, un cadre is simply “a space,” an interior space:


On a pris une décoratrice d'intérieur pour nous faire un cadre vraiment zen, épuré

We took on an interior designer to make us a really Zen, clean space

Caption 18, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: à l'Anatable à Dinsheim

 Play Caption


As mentioned in the previous lesson, "un cadre is also the word for 'framework' (as in the expression dans le cadre de, 'within the framework of')":


Donc là on leur met - et bien évidemment dans le cadre de ce suivi - une bague du Muséum d'Histoire naturelle de Paris

So there we put on them - and quite obviously within the framework of this follow-up - a ring from the Paris Museum of Natural History

Captions 13-14, Canal 32 Les secrets des cailles des blés

 Play Caption


The expression dans le cadre de can also mean “within the context of”:


et que ça rentre aussi tout à fait dans le cadre du vivre-ensemble

and that it also falls really well within the context of harmonious living

Caption 38, Actus Quartier Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois - Part 4

 Play Caption


You might come across a less common meaning of dans le cadre de: “as part of,” as in part of an event, such as the anniversary of a wine route: 


Oui. C'est un petit peu aussi dans le cadre du soixantième anniversaire de la route des vins.

Yes. It's a little bit also as part of the sixtieth anniversary of the wine route.

Caption 6, Alsace 20 100 recettes pour 100 vins

 Play Caption


In short, un cadre refers to a space, environment, setting, framework, or context. But you may be surprised to learn that it’s also the word for "executive" or "manager." For example, the mother in the following video is une cadre supérieure (a top executive):


Mère de famille, cadre supérieure

Mother of a family, top executive

Caption 7, Le Jour où tout a basculé À l'audience - Arnaque en couple ? - Part 2

 Play Caption


And it seems logical that un poste d’encadrement should refer to "a management position":


Découvrons un premier exemple pour un poste d'encadrement.

Let's discover a first example, for a management position.

Caption 64, QuestionEntretien Pourquoi vous et pas un autre ? - Part 3

 Play Caption


Likewise, the verb encadrer means “to organize” or “supervise.” (Note that in an art context, encadrer means to frame a picture or a photograph.) In the video below, the speaker mentions that the annual Paris-Plage event was bien encadré (well organized) thanks to its constant supervising and monitoring:


C'est toujours, euh... bien encadré.

It's always, uh... well organized.

Caption 24, Lionel L Paris-Plage - Part 2

 Play Caption


Encadrer is synonymous with surveiller (to supervise, monitor, surveil):


Il y a toujours des gens pour encadrer, surveiller.

There are always people to supervise, monitor.

Caption 29, Lionel L Paris-Plage - Part 2

 Play Caption


Encadré in the broader sense of the word means “taken care of.” In the following video, the speaker would like to go on a cruise where everything is encadré:


Tout est encadré.

Everything is taken care of.

Caption 40, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes grands-parents sont infidèles - Part 1

 Play Caption


However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, encadré can imply excessive interference to the point of feeling restricted. In the video below, Youssef Ben Amar, a contender in the legislative race, tries to debunk the myth that politics is about imposing restrictions:


On nous a vendu le mot "politique" comme quelque chose de très encadré

We've been sold the word "politics" as something very restricted

Captions 14-15, Le Mans TV Youssef Ben Amar, un rappeur engagé en politique

 Play Caption


Worse still, encadrer is not just a criticism—it can also describe something or someone you can't stand:


Je ne peux pas me les encadrer.

I can't stomach them.

Caption 85, Le saviez-vous? Comment dire qu'on n'aime pas?

 Play Caption


So, to sum up, encadrer has many meanings, ranging from “to frame," "to supervise", "to organize," "to loathe.” The Yabla team will make sure that you’re bien encadré or bien encadrée (well taken care of) thanks to our numerous videos.


\Wishing you every success dans le cadre de Yabla! Thank you for reading.

Continue Reading

Imparfait versus Passé Composé

In addition to le passé composé (perfect or compound past tense), you can also use l'imparfait (imperfect tense) to talk about things that occurred in the past. So, when should you choose l'imparfait over le passé composé? Let's explore both tenses.


Before we embark on the specific uses of l'imparfait, let's find out how to form this past tense. Just take the nous (we) form of the present tense, as in nous faisons (we do/are doing), remove the -ons, and add the ending -ais, -ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, or -aient. So, nous faisons (we do/are doing) becomes nous faisions (we were doing/used to do). Margaux and Manon will show you how to conjugate the rest of the verb faire in the imparfait:


Je faisais... Tu faisais. Il ou elle faisait.

I was doing... You were doing. He or she was doing.

Nous faisions. Vous faisiez.

We were doing. You [pl. or formal] were doing.

Ils ou elles faisaient.

They [masc.] or they [fem.] were doing.

Captions 31-33, Margaux et Manon - Conjugaison du verbe faire

 Play Caption


Now that you know how to form the imperfect tense, let's discuss how to use it. Usually, l'imparfait indicates ongoing actions in the past that have a stronger connection to the present than le passé composé, which describes a completed action. In his conversation with Lea in the video below, Lionel uses the imperfect form tu me parlais (you were telling me) as a subtle cue that he wants to hear more about the animals in the park. It's an invitation to Lea to elaborate:


Tu me parlais aussi tout à l'heure de la

You were also telling me earlier about the

présence d'animaux dans ces parcs.

presence of animals in these parks.

Caption 43, Lea & Lionel L - Le parc de Bercy - Part 2

 Play Caption


If Lionel wanted to say something like “you already told me earlier” and then changed the subject, he would have used passé composé:


Ah oui, tu m’en as déjà parlé tout à l’heure.

Oh yes, you already told me about that earlier.


But l'imparfait is not only used to evoke an ongoing action drifting into the present. It's also the ideal tense for talking about things you used to do or describing repeated actions. In the following video, Claire remembers how elle allait (she used to go) to the park with her daughter:


Oh,  j'y allais beaucoup avec ma fille, il y a quelques années.

Oh, I used to go there a lot with my daughter a few years ago.

Caption 47, Claire et Philippe - La campagne

 Play Caption


L'imparfait is very helpful for setting a background and creating a mood. In his poem "Barbara," Jacques Prévert sets the scene by describing the incessant rain in the city of Brest, which was destroyed during the Second World War:


Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest ce jour-là

It was raining nonstop in Brest that day

Caption 2, Le saviez-vous? - "Barbara" de Jacques Prévert

 Play Caption


Later on, the poet uses the imparfait again to describe the romantic encounter that follows:


Tu souriais

You were smiling

Et moi je souriais de même

And I smiled back

Captions 9-10, Le saviez-vous? - "Barbara" de Jacques Prévert

 Play Caption


(Note that we used the perfect tense in English for je souriais [I smiled]. The French imparfait does not always correspond to the English imperfect, as we'll discuss further below.)


Prévert then adds more to the background: a man who s’abritait (was taking shelter) under a porch and interrupted the scene with a shout. Whereas the imparfait is used for background or habitual actions, single actions interrupting an ongoing action are usually expressed in passé composé:


Un homme sous un porche s'abritait

A man was taking shelter under a porch

Et il a crié ton nom

And he shouted your name

Captions 17-18, Le saviez-vous? - "Barbara" de Jacques Prévert

 Play Caption


While all verbs can be conjugated in both the passé composé and the imparfait, certain verbs by their very nature express a state of mind, an attitude, a condition, or a desire, thus lending themselves better to the use of the imparfait. These verbs include avoir (to have), croire (to believe), désirer (to desire), espérer (to hope), être (to be), penser (to think), pouvoir (to be able to), savoir (to know), vouloir (to want). Note that some of these verbs don’t usually take the imperfect in English. For example, we can say on savait, but we don’t really say “we were knowing” in English. In the video below, on ne savait pas translates as "we didn't know":


On ne savait pas que le marché de Noël ouvrait aujourd'hui

We didn't know that the Christmas market was opening today

Caption 8, Alsace 20 - Ouverture du marché de Noël de Colmar

 Play Caption


In another example using the verb penser (to think), the imperfect form is necessary for expressing repetition in French, but not in English:


Je pensais souvent à toi.

I often thought of you.

Caption 38, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Ma femme est-elle réellement morte ?

 Play Caption


However, just like in English, when referring to a completed action, we switch to passé composé in French. In the example below, the action was completed hier (yesterday), hence the use of the perfect tense (j’ai pensé). So, paying attention to adverbs in French can help you choose the correct tense:


J’ai pensé à toi hier.

I thought of you yesterday.


In some rare cases, a verb's meaning can change depending on what tense it's in. For example, the verb connaître (to know) usually means “to know” in the imparfait but "to meet" in the passé composé:


Je l'avais fréquenté pendant plusieurs années et je le connaissais.

I had socialized with him for several years, and I knew him.

Caption 63, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Mes parents se préparent à la fin du monde

 Play Caption


J'ai connu Gérard y a une dizaine d'années.

I met Gérard about ten years ago.

Caption 39, Le Jour où tout a basculé - J'ai escroqué mon assurance !

 Play Caption


In the first example, the speaker uses the imparfait to describe an old acquaintance she has known for a long time—something in the past that has an effect on the present. In the second example, we're dealing with a singular event that can't be repeated, when the speaker first met Gérard. So the passé composé is in order here. 


Sometimes certain grammatical structures dictate which tense you should use. For example, to describe hypothetical situations, we use the construction si + imparfait. Zaz uses this construction throughout her song "Si" (If):


Si j'étais l'amie du bon Dieu

If I were the good Lord's friend

Caption 1, Zaz - Si

 Play Caption


Now that you’re familiar with the imparfait and passé composé, why not write your own story in the past tense using both forms? Yabla videos are at your disposal for inspiration.


Continue Reading

What's Left of Rester

In our previous lesson, we learned that rester is a false cognate meaning "to stay/to remain." In this lesson, we will continue to explore the various uses of rester and focus on the impersonal verb il reste (there remains). We will also look at the meaning of le reste (the rest) as a noun.



The phrase il reste is a bit tricky as it does not necessarily mean "he/it stays." Indeed, the construction il reste is what we call an impersonal verb, as the subject of the sentence (il) doesn’t stand for anything or anyone in particular. Hence the translation of il reste is open to interpretation and will vary. The impersonal pronoun il can be equivalent to "there" in English. In the example below, the construction il reste + noun means "there’s also" in the context of the video:


Et ensuite il reste un dessert en supplément à deux euros soixante

And afterward there's also a dessert for an additional two euros sixty

Caption 10, Alsace 20 - Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

 Play Caption


In another example, we have the expression ce qu’il en reste, which simply means "what’s left of it." Il is omitted in the translation as it only has a grammatical function in French and is therefore not needed in English:


Ce qu'il en reste.

What remains of it.

Caption 14, Arles - Un Petit Tour d'Arles

 Play Caption


Il reste (there remains) often comes in a negative form, such as il ne reste que... This is a very useful expression to convey that "only x remains":


Maintenant il ne reste que le cadre.

Now only the frame remains.


Another variation of il ne reste que is il ne reste plus que, which means "there remains only":


Du fait de nombreuses fusions,

Because of many mergers,

il ne reste plus qu'une société anonyme de cartes de crédit

there remains only one limited liability credit card company

Caption 15, Patricia - Pas de crédit dans le monde des clones

 Play Caption


Il ne reste plus que can also translate as "all that’s left":


Aujourd'hui, derrière, malheureusement,

Today, behind it, unfortunately,

il ne reste plus qu'un parking.

all that's left is a parking lot.

Caption 25, Voyage en France - Fontainebleau

 Play Caption


And there is yet another way to interpret il ne reste plus que. It can also mean "there is only x left":


Il ne reste plus que cette porte

There is only this door left

Caption 22, Voyage en France - Fontainebleau

 Play Caption


We also have the negative expression il ne reste plus rien, which means "there’s nothing left":


Donne-moi tout, même quand il [ne] reste plus rien

Give it all to me, even when there's nothing left

Caption 1, Corneille - Comme un fils

 Play Caption


What’s more, you can even throw a personal pronoun such as me in the mix. In the example below, we have il ne me reste plus qu’à, which is a complex turn of phrase best translated as "all that remains for me":


Il [ne] me reste plus qu'à vous souhaiter un très bon appétit

All that remains for me to do is wish you a very good appetite

Caption 114, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

 Play Caption


Indeed, French speakers often insert a personal pronoun in between il reste, as in il nous reste (we still have). The personal pronoun nous becomes the subject pronoun "we":


Il nous reste encore quelques minutes de cuisson pour le homard.

We still have a few minutes of cooking time left for the lobster.

Caption 15, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 2

 Play Caption


In another video, il ne nous reste plus que translates as "we only have x remaining":


Et là, il [ne] nous reste plus que deux colonnes de marbre

And here we only have two marble columns remaining

Caption 16, Arles - Un Petit Tour d'Arles

 Play Caption


The expression il ne vous reste plus grand-chose (you don’t have much left) works in a similar way. Once again, the personal pronoun (vous) becomes the subject in English: 


Et ça a bien marché puisqu'il [ne] vous reste plus grand-chose.

And business has been good since you don't have that much left.

Caption 52, Arles - Le marché d'Arles

 Play Caption


There are many other ways of using il reste, which you can explore here. All this may seem a bit complicated, but fortunately, when reste is used as a noun, it's much simpler! Le reste is a direct cognate that simply means "the rest":


Tout le reste du temps, je dors là où je suis assise

The rest of the time, I sleep right where I'm sitting

Caption 15, Le Journal - Les navigateurs du Vendée Globe

 Play Caption


However, the plural les restes takes on a new meaning. Now we're talking about "leftovers" or "leftover food":


Bon, souvent parce qu'il y a des restes,

Well, often because there are leftovers,

donc il faut éliminer les restes.

so it's necessary to eliminate the leftovers.

Caption 9, TV Vendée - Fêtes de fin d’année : manger léger et équilibré

 Play Caption


Finally, to be clear, "to rest" in English is NOT rester but se reposer or reposer:


Tu peux admirer le paysage et te reposer.

You can admire the scenery and rest.

Caption 45, Le saviez-vous? - Comment voyager?

 Play Caption


Maintenant, on va la laisser reposer

Now we are going to let it rest

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

 Play Caption


Now that you have worked so hard, il ne vous reste plus qu’à vous reposer (there is nothing left for you to do but rest)!

Continue Reading

When Rester Won't Rest

Sometimes, the meaning of a French word is easy to guess when it looks similar to an English word. However, for every cognate, there are just as many false cognates. And yet, il en reste encore beaucoup (there are still many more) that are worthy of our attention. In this lesson, we will look at the word rester, which—you guessed it—is un faux ami (a false cognate) and doesn’t mean “to rest." So what does it really mean? 


The basic meaning of rester is “to stay/to remain.” In the example below, it means “to stay put”: 


Bouge pas de là, Léon. Tu restes ici!

Do not move from here, Leon. You stay here!

Caption 5, Les zooriginaux - 3 Qui suis-je?

 Play Caption


A more forceful variation of Tu restes ici! is the idiomatic expression Reste tranquille! (Keep still!), which is often used to control restless children:


Restez tranquilles, les enfants!

Keep still, children!


You can also use rester (to stay) for all sorts of situations, as in rester en contact (to stay in contact):


Par ailleurs, Manon est restée en contact avec Émilie.

Moreover, Manon stayed in contact with Émilie.

Caption 30, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Nos bébés ont été échangés...

 Play Caption


Rester also means "to remain,” as we mentioned earlier. The tour guide at Joan of Arc's house uses rester to tell us where Joan’s family lived for a long time:


Mais le principal de sa famille est effectivement restée en Lorraine.

But the majority of her family indeed remained in Lorraine.

Caption 56, Lionel - La maison de Jeanne d'Arc

 Play Caption


It’s important to note that rester is one of the few verbs that require the auxiliary être (to be) in the passé composé. Patricia discusses this in a video on the subject:


Et comme tu es resté(e) concentré(e) depuis toutes ces leçons

And since you've remained focused for all these lessons

Caption 5, Le saviez-vous? - Exception dans les verbes du 1er groupe au passé composé

 Play Caption


Rester is also used in the present tense, of course. For example, we have the expression ça reste (that remains). In the example below, ça (that) becomes redundant in English and is therefore omitted: 


Ouais, très bonne question.

Yeah, very good question.

Donc, le plat du jour c'est sûr, ça reste un produit d'appel.

So the daily special certainly remains a promotional product.

Caption 17, Alsace 20 - Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

 Play Caption


Ça reste sometimes means “it's/these are still”:


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

 Play Caption


On a l'impression d'être secoué, mais ça reste très agréable.

You have the feeling of being shaken, but it's still very pleasant.

Caption 16, À la plage avec Lionel - La plage

 Play Caption


Il reste encore (there is still) the expression il reste (there remains), which we will discuss in a future lesson. Merci d’être resté(e) concentré(e) pendant toute cette leçon (thank you for staying focused throughout this lesson)!

Continue Reading

How Would You Like Your Coffee?

Coffee… For many, it’s more than a drink: it’s a pastime, it’s a passion. France is indeed a coffee-drinking nation, and for French people there is no greater pleasure than sipping on une tasse de café (a cup of coffee) on the terrasse (terrace) of a local café while watching the world go by. Do you know how to order a cup of coffee in a French café? The French have their own distinctive habits and ways of enjoying their café. Let's find out what they are and explore some coffee-related vocabulary. 


French people enjoy prendre le café (having coffee, literally "taking coffee") in un café:


Il y a un café pas loin d'ici.

There's a café not far from here.

Caption 73, Conversations au parc - Ep. 3: C'est à qui ce sac à dos ?

 Play Caption


Après on va prendre le café,

Afterward we go for coffee,

après on va... cuisiner les produits du marché.

afterward we go... cook the products from the market.

Caption 34, Arles - Le marché d'Arles

 Play Caption


On a nice day, people like to drink their coffee sur la terrasse (on the terrace), even if they have to pay a little more for the privilege. In some cafés or restaurants, coffee is often plus cher en terrasse (more expensive on the terrace) than at le comptoir (the counter):


Je prendrai mon café sur la terrasse.

I will take my coffee on the terrace.

Caption 21, Le saviez-vous? - La conjugaison au présent, au passé et au futur

 Play Caption


Le comptoir (the counter) is the place where you can order and pay for your coffee:


Tu t'es levée et t'as payé au comptoir

You stood up and you paid at the counter

Caption 20, Oldelaf - Les mains froides

 Play Caption


But before we pay for our coffee, let's find out how to order it. If you simply ask for un café, you'll get an espresso, typically served in a small china cup with two sugar cubes on the saucer and often with a glass of water. It’s a coffee that is similar to what Sacha serves her boss Barbarella at work, un café noir et sans sucre (black, no sugar):


Apporte-moi un café, noir, sans sucre.

Bring me a coffee, black, no sugar.

Caption 28, Extr@ - Ep. 10 - Annie proteste

 Play Caption


If you want milk in your coffee, you will have to specify. You may opt for un café noisette, espresso topped with a splash of milk, which gives it a rich noisette (hazelnut) color, NOT a hazelnut flavor:


Un café noisette, s’il vous plaît.

A coffee with a splash of milk, please.


If you want cream or a bit more milk in your coffee, you should ask for un café crème or un crème (strictly speaking, this is coffee with a cream foam, though sometimes milk is used):


Un café crème, s'il vous plaît.

A coffee with cream foam, please.


There is also what we call un café au lait (coffee with milk). This usually isn't available in cafés, as it is a breakfast beverage consumed at home. Indeed, many French people start their day with un bol ("a bowl," or a large cup held with both hands) de café au lait. Joanna shows us where she keeps her bols (bowls) and her tasses (cups) in her apartment:


Et ici un petit buffet avec des assiettes,

And here, a small cabinet with plates,

des bols, des verres, des tasses...

bowls, glasses, cups...

Caption 33, Joanna - Son nouvel appartement

 Play Caption


Instead of a café au lait, you may prefer a weaker coffee with extra water, in which case you'll ask for un café allongé (a long/diluted coffee) or un café américain (an americano, or espresso with hot water). Since it's espresso-based, French coffee is stronger and comes in smaller cups than American drip coffee. The coffee roaster in the video below sells all kinds of coffees best suited for making café allongé and américain:


C'est vraiment pour les gens qui aiment... le genre... café américain.

It's really for  people who like... americano-style coffee.

Justement, on dit ça, café très allongé.

Indeed, that's what we say, a very diluted coffee.

Captions 39-40, Joanna - Torréfaction du faubourg

 Play Caption


Other coffee varieties have a very mild flavor better suited for une cafetière à piston (a French press):


Donc c'est un café assez doux

So it's a coffee that is quite mild,

qui est très bien dans la cafetière à piston.

that is very good in a French press.

Caption 33, Joanna - Torréfaction du faubourg

 Play Caption


At the other end of the spectrum, there are much stronger coffees to help you kickstart your day. You can order un café serré (a strong coffee), which comes in a tiny cup. There is even a special word to describe a super strong coffee: un café corsé, or alternately un café bien fort (“very strong coffee”). That is exactly how coffee-addict Oldelaf likes it in his tongue-in-cheek song "Le Café": 


Pour bien commencer / Ma petite journée / Et me réveiller /

To get a good start / To my nice day / And to wake myself up /

Moi j'ai pris un café / Un arabica / Noir et bien corsé

Me, I had a coffee / An arabica / Black and quite strong

Captions 1-6, Oldelaf et Monsieur D - Le Café

 Play Caption


He also occasionally likes un déca (decaf) long as it’s re-caféiné (recaffeinated)!


Je commande un déca / Mais en re-caféiné

I order a decaf / But recaffeinated

Captions 47-48, Oldelaf et Monsieur D - Le Café

 Play Caption


At home, you may prefer instant coffee, un café en poudre (powdered coffee), which you can also use for flavoring desserts:


Mais on peut la parfumer avec des gousses de vanille,

But we can flavor it with vanilla pods,

avec du café en poudre...

with coffee powder...

Captions 45-46, Le Monde - Astuce de chef : comment préparer et décorer des biscuits pour Noël ?

 Play Caption


As you can see, there are many options for different tastes. You can find a more comprehensive list of types of coffees available in France on this page. Here is a summary for you:


un café noir - black coffee (espresso)

un café crème - coffee with cream foam

un café noisette - coffee with a splash of milk

un café allongé - coffee with hot water

un café serré - very strong coffee

un décafféiné/un décadecaf coffee

un café en poudre - instant/powdered coffee


One more thing. Le pourboire (tipping) is not required in France, but it is good form to leave a little something. A few coins on the table will suffice. 


That’s it for our aroma-filled tour. Now you can confidently order une tasse de café (a cup of coffee) in a French café. Enjoy!

Continue Reading

Exploring Some Quartiers de Paris

In our previous lesson, we learned that Paris is divided into districts called arrondissements, numbered one to twenty. While arrondissements have definite boundaries, quartiers (neighborhoods/districts) all have names instead of numbers and can span over several arrondissements. Each quartier has its own distinctive character. Let's explore some of the most significant ones, starting from the first arrondissement onwards to discover le Louvre-Rivoli, Montmartre, le Marais, le Quartier Latin, and farther afield, Montmartre.


We will start with le quartier du Louvre-Rivoli, which stretches over the first three arrondissements of Paris and includes—you guessed it—the Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum), where Yabla guide Mathilde is standing:


Alors nous sommes donc au cœur du premier

So we are in the heart of the first

arrondissement de Paris,

arrondissement of Paris,

à deux pas du Louvre.

two steps away from the Louvre.

Captions 1-2, Mathilde - La Comédie-Française

 Play Caption


Still in the first arrondissement, Mathilde takes us to La Comédie-Française (French National Theater). Founded in 1680, it is the oldest state theater company in Paris that is still active today:


Et euh... plus précisément, là, je me tiens Place Colette,

And uh... more precisely, I am standing here in the Place Colette,

donc du nom de la très célèbre écrivain française

so named for the very famous French writer

du vingtième siècle,

from the twentieth century,

devant la Comédie-Française.

in front of the Comédie-Française.

Captions 5-7, Mathilde - La Comédie-Française

 Play Caption


In the second arrondissement and still in Louvre-Rivoli, we meet a local resident, Aldo, who shares some of the darkest secrets about his quartier (or his street, to be more precise). An infamous empoisonneuse (poisoner) lived just a few doors from his home. Thankfully, that was in the 17th century! Find out the fate of this infamous empoisonneuse in Aldo’s video:


Et au vingt-trois habitait, euh...

And at number twenty-three lived, uh...

une des empoisonneuses les plus fameuses de Paris.

one of the most famous poisoners of Paris.

Captions 9-10, Aldo - L'empoisonneuse du 2e

 Play Caption


Walking from the second arrondissement toward the third and fourth, you will find one of the oldest quartiers in Paris, Le Marais (literally, "The Swamp"), so named because it was originally a swamp that was later drained and developed. Over time, the once prosperous Le Marais became a poor and unsanitary district, which Swiss architect Le Corbusier set out to raze as part of his ambitious and controversial Plan Voisin (Neighbor Plan) in the 1960s. André Malraux, President de Gaulle's Minister of Culture, put a stop to this and saved the Marais from destruction in order to preserve its historic flavor:


Le quartier historique du Marais serait quant à lui, entièrement rasé

As for the historic district of the Marais, it would be entirely leveled

Caption 29, Le Plan Voisin - Le projet fou auquel Paris a échappé

 Play Caption


Today the Marais district is famous, among other things, for its Place des Vosges, a perfect square of 140 by 140 meters. Our trusty guide Daniel Benchimol tells us about its history:


La place des Vosges,

The Place des Vosges,

qui était autrefois l'ancienne place royale d'Henri Quatre...

which was once the former royal square of Henry the Fourth...

Caption 5, Voyage dans Paris - Le Marais - Place des Vosges

 Play Caption


Moving on to the fifth and sixth arrondissements on the Rive Gauche (Left Bank) you will come across le Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter), called “Latin” because the students living there once used Latin as a study language. Dating from the Middle Ages, the Quartier Latin boasts one of the oldest universities in Paris, the Sorbonne, which is still active today. Sorbonne students like to wander in the nearby public garden, Jardin du Luxembourg:


Les étudiants de la Sorbonne et des autres universités avoisinantes

Students from the Sorbonne and the other neighboring universities

aiment se donner rendez-vous ici

like to get together here

Captions 11-12, Voyage dans Paris - Jardin du Luxembourg

 Play Caption


The Quartier Latin has another surprise in store: a Roman amphitheater right in the middle of Paris! Daniel Benchimol will take you to the city's one and only amphitheater, les Arènes de Lutèce (the Lutece Amphitheater):


Ce sont les seules arènes qui n'aient jamais existé

This is the only amphitheater that ever existed

dans l'histoire de la ville de Paris.

in the history of the city of Paris.

Caption 11, Voyage dans Paris - Quartier Latin

 Play Caption


Moving farther afield to the north of Paris, toward the 18th arrondissement, we arrive at Le Quartier de la Butte Montmartre (or "Montmartre" for short), on which sits the 19th-century Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart Basilica), which is quite recent by European standards. Find out what Amal and Caroline have to say about it in their video:


Montmartre est un haut lieu de culte.

Montmartre has been a hotspot of worship.

Le Sacré-Cœur fut érigé

The Sacré-Cœur [Sacred Heart] was erected

vers la fin du dix-neuvième siècle.

toward the end of the nineteenth century.

Captions 8-10, Amal et Caroline - Montmartre

 Play Caption


Walking a mile or so toward the 19th arrondissement, you will climb toward the Butte Bergeyre (une butte is a mound/knoll), one of the dozen or so hills of Paris. From there you will be able to see the Butte Montmartre as well as enjoy a magnificent view of the city, as shown in Daniel's video:


Cette butte Bergeyre est un endroit

This Butte Bergeyre is a location

qui permet d'avoir un panorama exceptionnel sur la capitale.

which allows you to enjoy an exceptional panorama of the capital.

Vous pouvez bien sûr découvrir

You will of course be able to discover

le Sacré-Cœur et la butte Montmartre

the Sacré-Coeur [Sacred Heart] and the Butte Montmartre

Captions 6-8, Voyage dans Paris - Butte Bergeyre

 Play Caption


Thank you for taking part in our discovery of a few of Paris's many quartiers. Feel free to explore more of them through our Paris-themed Yabla videos. Happy traveling!

Continue Reading

Getting around Paris

While nothing compares with visiting Paris in person, the next best thing might be to take a virtual visit through our Yabla videos and through this lesson. Here, we will focus on the general layout of the city, which will help you find your way around Paris and appreciate its unique features.


Paris is divided into twenty administrative areas or districts known as arrondissements, as our trusty guide Daniel Benchimol explains in his video:


Je ne pense pas vous en avoir déjà parlé

I don't think I have mentioned this to you already,

mais Paris est divisé en vingt arrondissements.

but Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements.

Captions 35-36, Voyage dans Paris - Le Seizième Arrondissement de Paris

 Play Caption


In fact, the numbers of the twenty arrondissements are included in the postal codes. They are such an integral part of Parisian life that most people only mention the number—as in le onzième (the eleventh)—and skip the word arrondissement altogether:


Nous sommes actuellement

We are currently

à l'intersection de la rue Saint-Maur

at the intersection of Rue Saint-Maur [Saint-Maur Street]

et de la rue Oberkampf,

and Rue Oberkampf [Oberkampf Street],

en plein quartier du onzième...

in the heart of the neighborhood of the eleventh [arrondissement]...

Captions 16-18, Lionel L - L'art éphémère à Paris

 Play Caption


The arrondissements are arranged in a unique clockwise spiral or snail-like pattern, as Daniel Benchimol explains: 


Les arrondissements parisiens sont construits comme des escargots:

The Parisian arrondissements are shaped like snails:

on part du numéro un et on progresse jusqu'au numéro vingt.

we start from number one and we progress up to number twenty.

Captions 37-38, Voyage dans Paris - Le Seizième Arrondissement de Paris

 Play Caption


Daniel goes on to mention that the city of Paris is split into two banks, la Rive droite (the Right Bank) and la Rive gauche (the Left Bank), as the river Seine traverses the length of the city:


Nous sommes ici dans le seizième arrondissement.

We are here in the sixteenth arrondissement.

C'est la Rive droite.

It's the Right Bank.

Et si l'on traverse la Seine, on passe donc Rive gauche...

And if we cross the Seine, we then pass then to the Left Bank...

Captions 39-40, Voyage dans Paris - Le Seizième Arrondissement de Paris

 Play Caption


Interestingly, by simply crossing the Seine, you can jump from the 16th arrondissement to the 7th. If that doesn’t seem logical, it’s because of the city's snail-shaped arrangement, as shown on this map. on passe donc dans le septième arrondissement.

...and we arrive then in the seventh arrondissement.

Caption 41, Voyage dans Paris - Le Seizième Arrondissement de Paris

 Play Caption


In any case, the Seine is never far away. Not only is it an important geographical feature but also an integral part of Parisian culture. In her video, Patricia invites you to stroll along les quais de la Seine (the banks of the Seine), among other things:


Et on peut aussi bien naviguer sur la Seine

And one can just as well sail over the Seine

en bateau-mouche

by "bateau-mouche" [tourist boat, literally "fly-boat"]

que flâner au bord de ses quais.

as stroll along its banks.

Captions 44-45, Le saviez-vous? - Le romantisme français

 Play Caption


Indeed, the Seine is a permanent fixture along with its many bridges—thirty-seven of them. In Daniel's opinion, le pont Alexandre Trois (Alexander the Third Bridge) is one of the most beautiful of them:


Et vous aurez... devant vous, bien sûr, la Seine,

And you will have... in front of you, of course, the Seine,

et aussi la vue sur un des plus beaux ponts de la capitale,

as well as the view of one of the most beautiful bridges in the capital,

le pont Alexandre Trois.

the Alexander the Third Bridge.

Captions 6-7, Voyage dans Paris - Le Pont Alexandre III

 Play Caption


But there are many other interesting ponts, such as le Pont-Neuf (New Bridge), which incidentally no longer lives up to its name, as it's the oldest bridge in Paris. You can learn more about le Pont-Neuf and Paris's many other bridges in Daniel's video on the subject:


À quelques centaines de mètres du pont des Arts,

A few hundred meters from the Pont des Arts,

voici le Pont-Neuf,

here is the Pont-Neuf [New Bridge],

qui malgré son nom, est le plus ancien pont de Paris.

which, despite its name, is the oldest bridge in Paris.

Captions 11-12, Voyage dans Paris - Ponts de Paris

 Play Caption


As you stroll along the Seine admiring its bridges, you will come across two islands: l'île Saint-Louis (Saint Louis Island) and l'île de la Cité (City Island). On l'île de la Cité, you will discover the iconic cathédrale Notre-Dame:


Sur l'île de la Cité vous trouverez bien sûr

On the Île de la Cité you will find, of course,

la cathédrale Notre-Dame.

the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Caption 4, Voyage dans Paris - L'Île Saint-Louis

 Play Caption


Thank you for taking this quick stroll through Paris with us. You can explore many more sites in our Voyage dans Paris series.


Continue Reading

A Not So Painful Lesson on Peine

Although this lesson is about peine (pain), it need not be painful. There are a variety of expressions using the word whose meaning does not involve “pain.” Let's explore both the painful aspects of the word peine and the idiomatic expressions derived from it. 


We'll start with the primary meaning of peine, the English cognate “pain.” In the song below, from the musical Pour la peine, set during the French Revolution, the word peine is part of the refrain depicting the turmoil of the times. Note that unlike "pain" in English, peine only refers to emotional pain or mental suffering in French: 


Au nom des larmes qui nous désarment,

In the name of the tears that disarm us,

on doit pouvoir changer l'histoire pour la peine

we must be able to change history for the pain

Caption 24, 1789: Les Amants de la Bastille - Pour la peine

 Play Caption


In another part of the song, we come across a synonym of peine, douleur, which can refer to both emotional pain and physical pain. In this context, the word douleur means “sorrow”: 


On veut des rêves qui nous soulèvent,

We want dreams that lift us up,

on veut des fleurs à nos douleurs

we want flowers for our sorrows

Caption 7, 1789: Les Amants de la Bastille - Pour la peine

 Play Caption


In any case, do use the word douleur, not peine, to describe physical pain, as in douleurs dentaires (dental pains):


Je connais ce que c'est ces douleurs dentaires.

I know what those dental pains are like.

Caption 21, Le saviez-vous? - Conversation entre étrangers

 Play Caption


Going back to psychological pain, the word peine encompasses a range of feelings. For example, the expression faire de la peine (literally, to “make pain”) means to cause pain/sorrow or to elicit compassion and pity. In the video below, we know from the context that the speaker feels sorry for the person, in a compassionate way:


Elle me fait de la peine.

I feel sorry for her.

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

 Play Caption


However, there is a fine line between compassion and pity. In a less charitable context, one might say tu me fais de la peine (I pity you), showing utter contempt: 


T'es vraiment pitoyable mais tu fais vraiment de la peine.

You're really pathetic, but I really pity you.

Caption 6, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Espion dans l'immeuble

 Play Caption


Faire de la peine is a tricky construction that involves the use of indirect object pronouns (me, te, lui, nous, vous), which you can learn more about in this lesson. When you come across these, as in te fait de la peine in the video below, you may want to first consider the literal meaning (“is causing you pain”) to get at the true meaning ("is upsetting for you") dictated by the context:


Je... je sais que ce que je te demande te fait de la peine

I... I know that what I'm asking you is upsetting for you

Caption 31, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Mon histoire d'amour est impossible

 Play Caption


So, pay close attention to those personal pronouns! 


Je te fais de la peine. 

I hurt your feelings. 


Tu me fais de la peine.

You’re upsetting me.


You may need to turn the sentence around to understand the meaning, as we did earlier:


Elle me fait de la peine.

I feel sorry for her. (Literally, "she's causing me pain.")


Peine can also have the sense of “trouble / effort”:


C'est pas la peine.

It's not worth the trouble. / It's not worth it.

Caption 77, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Mon père s'oppose à ma passion

 Play Caption


Likewise, peiner, the verbal form of peine, means “to struggle”:


Sabine peine à se débarrasser de Gabriela.

Sabine is struggling to get rid of Gabriela.

Caption 33, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple

 Play Caption


You can use either peine or peiner to express trouble or difficulty:


Il marche avec peine.

He walks with difficulty.


Il peine à marcher.

He struggles to walk. / He has trouble walking.


Another variation here would be to use the expression à peine (barely / hardly):


Il peut à peine marcher.

He can barely walk.


On the other hand, it is of course possible to perform a task sans peine (without difficulty):


Mais lorsque Cendrillon entra sans peine avec son pied dans la chaussure...

But when Cinderella inserted her foot in the shoe without difficulty...

Caption 49, Contes de fées - Cendrillon

 Play Caption


But if you switch the preposition sans (without) to sous (under), the meaning will totally change!


J'ai fait pression sur Baptiste

I put pressure on Baptiste

pour qu'il porte plainte contre Florence

so he would lodge a complaint against Florence

sous peine de couper les ponts

under the threat of cutting off the bridges [all contact]

Captions 43-45, Le Jour où tout a basculé - À l'audience - Volé par sa belle-mère ?

 Play Caption


In a legal context, sous peine de means “under penalty of”:


Il est interdit donc sous peine d'amende

So it is forbidden, under penalty of a fine

Caption 34, Voyage en France - Soissons

 Play Caption


And then there's the ultimate punishment, la peine de mort (the death penalty). According to humorous singer Oldelaf, even the most minor offenses merit la peine de mort:


La peine de mort

The death penalty

Pour les mamies avec les cheveux tout violet

For grannies with completely purple hair

Captions 45-46, Oldelaf - La peine de mort

 Play Caption

Thankfully, making mistakes while learning French is allowed at Yabla and will not incur any peine (pain or penalty). We hope this lesson en valait la peine (was worth it). Merci d’avoir pris la peine de lire tout ça! (Thank you for taking the trouble to read all this!)

Continue Reading

May the Force Be with You! (Que la force soit avec toi!)

The word force is self-explanatory. It means “force” or “strength." However, what makes the cognate force interesting is that it has other meanings besides “strength." Indeed, there are a variety of idiomatic expressions such as à force (over time), en force (in force), de force (by force), among others. 


Before we start focusing on the idiomatic expressions mentioned above, let’s look at force as a cognate. In the video below, Caroline notes that it takes a certain amount of force to play badminton:


Voilà. Y a beaucoup de... y a... de la force en fait.

There you are. There's a lot of... there's... force, in fact.

Caption 17, Caroline - et le badminton

 Play Caption


“Force” being synonymous with “strength," it makes sense that la force also translates as “strength." For example, eating your vegetables, especially carrots, will give you plenty of force:


Cela donne beaucoup de force. Surtout les carottes, là.

It gives you a lot of strength. Especially the carrots here.

Caption 40, Actus Quartier - Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois

 Play Caption


Avoir de la force not only means “to have strength,” but also “to be strong”:


Il a beaucoup de force dans les bras.

He has very strong arms (literally, he has a lot of strength in the arms).


The word force loses its original meaning when combined with other nouns, as in un tour de force (an amazing feat, or, as we also say in English, a tour de force). In the video below, a fashion genius a réussi un tour de force (managed an amazing feat) by “turning a leather goods brand into a fashion brand to be reckoned with":


Le petit prodige du groupe LVMH, qui a réussi un tour de force

The little prodigy of the LVMH group, who managed an amazing feat

Caption 17, Le Journal - Défilé de mode

 Play Caption


While the gifted can réussir un tour de force, others, like the singer IAM, make un retour en force (a comeback, literally "a return in force"). Notice the switch to the preposition en here: 


Avec ce disque, IAM fait un retour en force.

With this album, IAM makes ​​a comeback.

Caption 9, LCM - IAM fait son retour en force!

 Play Caption


By itself, en force means “in force” or “in large numbers”:


Seuls nos guerriers, et en force, peuvent y aller.

Only our warriors, and in numbers, can go there.

Caption 26, Il était une fois: les Explorateurs - 15. Bruce et les sources du Nil

 Play Caption


En force (in force/in large numbers) should not be confused with de force (by force). Again, pay attention to prepositions:


Alors ils m'ont embarqué au poste, de force.

So they took me to the police station, by force.

Caption 72, Le Jour où tout a basculé - J'ai piégé mon fan

 Play Caption


You can also combine force with other prepositions. The construction à force de + verb means "by doing/by dint of," implying some repetitive action. In other words, by continuing to be/do something, consequences will follow—some good, some bad, and some hilarious. In the video below, à force de maltraiter (by mistreating) the door a few too many times, Barbara and Isabelle caused their apartment number six to turn into a number nine, leading to all sorts of trouble:


Effectivement, à force de maltraiter cette pauvre porte d'entrée,

Indeed, by mistreating that poor entrance door,

la vis qui tenait le numéro a fini par tomber.

the screw that was holding up the number ended up falling off.

Captions 74-75, Mère & Fille - C'est le bouquet

 Play Caption


On the other hand, you can expect a better outcome à force d’être sage (by being good). In his song "Petit Pays," rapper Gaël Faye describes the consequences of being trop sage:


À force d'être trop sage je me suis pendu avec mon auréole

By being too good I hanged myself with my halo

Caption 57, Gaël Faye - Petit Pays

 Play Caption


The phrase c’est à force de can mean “it’s due to/it’s from" doing something. Magali tells Sébastien that his stomach pains are a result of his constantly pressuring her to leave her husband:


Mais ça, c'est à force de me presser.

But that's from pressuring me.

Caption 26, Le Jour où tout a basculé - J'ai fait souffrir l'amant de ma femme

 Play Caption


The expression à force can also stand on its own to mean “over time":


À force, Cynthia s'est mise à gruger mécaniquement sur les devis.

Over time, Cynthia started fudging the estimates automatically.

Caption 49, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Mon patron m'oblige à mentir aux clients

 Play Caption


Or “after a while”:


Non, du tout. C'est un petit peu fatigant à force,

No, not at all. It's a bit tiring after a while,

mais ils sont géniaux, donc, euh... -Ah bon.

but they're great, so, uh... -Ah, good.

Caption 76, Actus Quartier - Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois

 Play Caption


Finally, force is also a present-tense form of the verb forcer (to force/to force oneself):


Je me force un peu des fois

I force myself a bit sometimes

Caption 46, Giulia - Sa marque de bijoux 'Desidero'

 Play Caption


There are more ways to use force as well. You can find some of them here.


And don't forget: à force de regarder (by watching) many Yabla videos, you will be able to improve your skills in French à force (over time). Thank you for reading this lesson!


Continue Reading

Painting the Sky

Who has not gazed at le ciel (the sky) to check the weather or enjoy a sunset or a sunrise? Indeed, the sky can take on many colors, from somber gray to magnificent sunset-red. There are many ways, colors, and expressions to describe the wild blue yonder. Poets, songwriters, weather forecasters, and ordinary people are all adept at describing le ciel. So, let's join them and explore some sky-related vocabulary. But first, let us find out where le ciel (the sky) is…


In this video, sweet cartoon character Piggeldy wants to know where le ciel (the sky) begins, and he asks his older brother Frédéric to take him there:


Piggeldy voulait savoir où commence le ciel.

Piggeldy wanted to know where the sky begins.

Caption 1, Piggeldy et Frédéric Le ciel

 Play Caption


Piggeldy’s mission to reach the heavens (on foot, no less) is bound to fail because, as the saying goes, la limite, c'est le ciel (the sky is the limit):


La limite, c'est le ciel, tu sais de qui c'est

The sky is the limit, you know whose it is

Caption 53, Disiz la Peste Dans tes rêves

 Play Caption


Though it's impossible to walk up to le ciel, it is certainly possible to gaze at it and enjoy its bright blue hue. In his humorous song, "Cha Cha du Marin," singer Cré Tonnerre sings about a ciel bleu (blue sky) that reflects his happy mood:


Tout heureux, tout amoureux, tout bleu comme le ciel bleu

All happy, all in love, all blue as the blue sky

Caption 26, Cré Tonnerre Cha Cha du Marin

 Play Caption


In his video about dog training, trusty guide Lionel also enthuses over a ciel radieux (glorious sky) as he finishes his visit to a canine club:


Nous allons prendre congé sous ce ciel radieux, bleu-azur.

We're going to take our leave under this glorious, azure-blue sky.

Captions 52-53, Lionel au club canin - Part 5

 Play Caption


And in Metz, Lionel enjoys another ciel estival (summer sky):


Nous sommes donc ici toujours à Metz, sous un ciel estival, ciel bleu

So we're still here in Metz under a summer sky, a blue sky

Caption 1, Lionel à Metz - Part 2

 Play Caption


While un ciel estival is a blue summer sky, un ciel gris (a gray sky) usually means drab winter days. And yet, people like Sophie and Patrice see beauty in les dégradés du gris (the shades of gray) in the Parisian skies:


Entre les dégradés de gris du ciel et les dégradés de gris des toits c'est vrai c'est super beau, hein?

Between the shades of gray in the sky and the shades of gray of the roofs, it's true it's super beautiful, huh?

Captions 9-11, Sophie et Patrice Paris, c'est gris

 Play Caption


Still, most people seem to prefer un ciel dégagé (a clear sky) over un ciel couvert (an overcast sky) or un ciel nuageux (a cloudy sky):


Cette nuit le ciel est dégagé avec huit degrés pour les températures... Et puis pour la journée de jeudi un ciel couvert avec quinze degrés le matin

Tonight the sky is clear with eight-degree temperatures... And then for daytime on Thursday an overcast sky with fifteen degrees in the morning

Caption 9, 14, Grand Lille TV Prévisions Météo (Juin)

 Play Caption


Un ciel dégagé est plus agréable qu’un ciel nuageux.

A clear sky is more pleasant than a cloudy sky.


In any case, not everyone is as fond of gray skies as Sophie and Patrice. Most would agree with the speaker in the video below, who describes gray skies as maussade (gloomy) and pluvieux (rainy):


Malheureusement avec un ciel maussade et un peu pluvieux...

Unfortunately under a gloomy and somewhat rainy sky...

Caption 15, Lionel Le club de foot de Nancy - Part 1

 Play Caption


Sometimes the sky is bleak and pale instead of gray, and when it comes to describing pale skies, who does it better than renowned poet Charles Baudelaire? In his poem "À une passante" (To a Passersby), Baudelaire depicts a bleak sky with the adjective livide, which means “pale” or even “deathly pale." (Unlike its English cognate, the French livide does not mean “livid/angry.")


Dans son œil, ciel livide où germe l'ouragan

From her eye, pale sky where a hurricane grows

Caption 41, Le saviez-vous? "À une passante" de Charles Baudelaire

 Play Caption


Still on a bleak note, singer Zaz portrays the sky in an even gloomier way:


Je mettrais du ciel en misère

I would put some sky in misery

Caption 9, Zaz Si

 Play Caption


In yet another sad song, singer Lesieur laments over un ciel sans avenir (a sky without a future), projecting even sadder feelings, a sense of hopelessness into a sky that refuses to rain:


Un ciel qui vous oublie... -Un ciel sans avenir

A sky that's forgetting you... -A sky with no future

Caption 26, Lesieur Des Ricochets

 Play Caption


Thankfully, le ciel does not always spell gloom. What could be a happier sight than un arc-en-ciel (a rainbow, literally an “arc-in-the-sky”)? In his humorous song, Oldelaf sings the praises of the colors of the rainbow in his own unique way:


Et j'avoue que j'aime aussi / Toutes les couleurs de l'arc-en-ciel / Le rouge, le jaune, le vert-de-gris / Le pourpre, le mauve, même le bleu ciel

And I'll admit that I also like / All the colors of the rainbow / Red, yellow, verdigris / Purple, mauve, even sky blue

Captions 30-33, Oldelaf J'aime les bêtes

 Play Caption


If un arc-en-ciel is close to a heavenly sight, le ciel is most certainly heavenly. It's synonymous with “heaven” when talking about the afterlife: que le roi est leur meilleur guide sur terre en attendant d'aller au ciel.

...and that the king is their best guide on earth while they wait to go to heaven.

Captions 45-46, d'Art d'Art Vitraux de la Sainte-Chapelle

 Play Caption


Whatever you may see or choose to see in le ciel, you are now armed with extra vocabulary that will enable you to better paint the sky in words—French words, of course—or just talk about the weather. Thank you for gazing at le ciel (the sky) or les cieux (the skies) with Yabla!

Continue Reading

The X Numbers: Deux, Six, Dix

In The X Factor, we focused on the various pronunciations of the letter x. We learned that x is usually silent at the end of words, including a few numbers. There are just three numerals (not including the larger numbers composed of them) ending in x in French: deux, six, dix (two, six, ten). These numbers are a breed apart, as they follow their own set of rules.


As mentioned in our earlier lesson, the final x in a word is silent in most situations, such as when the word is isolated or followed by punctuation. Note how Patricia pronounces deux (i.e., does not pronounce the x) in her lesson on numbers:




Caption 5, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


The same rule applies to all numbers ending in deux. This time, soixante-deux (sixty-two) is followed by a comma, also making the final x silent. (We'll deal with the in soixante in a moment.)


soixante-deux, soixante-trois

sixty-two, sixty-three

Captions 24-25, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 2

 Play Caption


In addition, the x in deux, six, and dix is silent when followed by a word beginning with a consonant, as in six minutes (six minutes) and dix premiers (first ten):


On va dire approximativement cinq à six minutes.

We'll say approximately five to six minutes.

Caption 39, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

 Play Caption


On appelle les dix premiers nombres composés de deux chiffres les dizaines.

We call the first ten numbers composed of two digits the tens.

Captions 34-35, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


Note, however, that there is a second pronunciation that is also correct. You might hear the x sounded like a soft s: diS premiers, siS minutes. The s sound helps emphasize quantity. Strangely enough, this never occurs with deux (two), whose x stays silent. 


On the other hand, the liaison rule is not optional and applies to all three numbers. The presence of a vowel or silent h will trigger a change in pronunciation, and the final x in deux/dix/six will sound like a z to form the liaison. Listen to the examples in the videos below. Do you hear the sound in deuenfants (two children), sians (six years), and diZ-huit (eighteen)?


Je suis avec mes deux enfants et mon mari.

I'm with my two children and my husband.

Caption 64, Actus Quartier Devant la SNCF

 Play Caption


Et nous sommes mariés depuis six ans maintenant.

And we've been married for six years now.

Caption 15, Ahlam et Timothé Des conversations basiques

 Play Caption




Caption 54, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


Interestingly, a liaison also occurs with the number dix-neuf (nineteen), pronounced diZ-neuf, even though neuf starts with a consonant!


Pareil pour dix-neuf.

Same for nineteen.

Caption 55, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


Going back to a more regular pattern, you will also hear the z sound in ordinal numbers, as in sixième (sixth), deuxième (second), and dixième (tenth), since the x is between two vowels:


Il nous avait assurés qu'il n'y aurait pas de deuxième confinement.

He had assured us that there would be no second lockdown.

Caption 12, Lionel L Le deuxième confinement

 Play Caption


Donc au sixième étage tu peux manger

So on the sixth floor you can eat

Caption 72, Amal et Caroline Centre Georges Pompidou

 Play Caption


So far so good, but here comes another set of exceptions: the rogue sixties (and seventies)! All numbers containing soixante (sixty) escape the z-sound rule. Whereas usually an x between two vowels is pronounced like a z, in soixante it sounds like an s instead. Listen to Patricia again. Do you hear the sounds in soiSSante (sixty) and soiSSante-siS (sixty-six)?


Et soixante. Soixante et un.

And sixty. Sixty-one.

Captions 22-23, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 2

 Play Caption




Caption 28, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 2

 Play Caption


Besides the exception above, there are other regular instances when the x should sound like s. When isolated or separated by punctuation, dix and six sound like diS and siS. (But as mentioned, deux keeps its silent x.) Here's Patricia again:




Caption 9, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


Après dix, on aura donc dans les dizaines...

After ten, we will thus have, in the tens...

Caption 36, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


You're more likely to use the s sound when counting or doing math: 


Dix-sept, c'est dix plus sept.

Seventeen is ten plus seven.

Captions 49-50, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


These frequent switches between sounds come naturally to native French speakers but can be a bit of a puzzle for new learners. Note how Patricia toggles between diZ and diS effortlessly:


Pareil pour dix-huit. Dix plus huit.

Same for eighteen. Ten plus eight.

Captions 52-53, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1

 Play Caption


In short, the pronunciation of the numbers deuxsix, and dix may seem very inconsistent and challenging at times. But with practice and listening to many Yabla videos, things will become easier. Here's a summary to help you:


The x is silent when a consonant follows the number:

deux parapluies (two umbrellas)

six voitures (six cars)

dix maisons (ten houses)


And when deux is isolated or separated by punctuation:

Deux. (Two.)

Un, deux, trois. (One, two, three.)


The x sounds like a Z when a liaison occurs:

deux amis (deuamis, two friends)

six enfants (sienfants, six children)

deuxième, sixième, dixième (deuZième, siZième, diZième, second, sixth, tenth)

dix-huit (diZ-huit, eighteen)

Exception: dix-neuf (diZ-neuf, nineteen)


The x sounds like an S when six or dix is isolated or separated by punctuation, and in numbers containing soixante:

dix plus six (diS plus siS, ten plus six)

Cinquante-six. (Cinquante-siS, fifty-six)

Soixante. (SoiSSante, sixty)

soixante-six, soixante-dix (soiSSante-siS, soiSSante-diS, sixty-six, seventy)


Thank you for reading. And remember that you can always count on Yabla videos to help you out!

Continue Reading