French Lessons


Allez, bougez!

While we at Yabla encourage you to spend as much time as you can watching our videos, we realize that sitting in front of a computer screen all day isn’t that healthy. So we also encourage you to take a break every so often to move around a bit! To get you inspired, let’s review the various ways of saying “to move” in French. 


The two most basic verbs meaning “to move” are bouger and remuer, which are more or less interchangeable, but can both take on more specific meanings. In this cartoon, a polar bear tells Leon the lion not to move: 


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?

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Bouger can also be a more informal synonym of partir, meaning “to leave”:

Nous devons bouger d’ici.
We have to get out of here. 

Sometimes you’ll see the idiom ça bouge (literally, “it moves”) to refer to a place that’s lively or full of activity, like the city of Strasbourg: 


La ville, son charme... les bâtiments. -Ça bouge.

Um... the town, its charm... the buildings. -It's lively.

Caption 18, Strasbourg - Les passants

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In “Dernière danse” (Last Dance), Indila uses remuer to describe the power she feels in her douce souffrance (sweet suffering):


Je remue le ciel, le jour, la nuit

I move the sky, the day, the night

Caption 10, Indila - Dernière danse

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Besides “to move,” remuer can also mean “to stir” or “to mix” in a culinary setting:

Pour faire des œufs brouillés, il faut remuer les œufs dans une poêle.
To make scrambled eggs, you have to stir the eggs in a frying pan. 

When you’re talking specifically about moving from one place to another, se déplacer (literally, “to displace oneself”) is the best verb to use:


Ensuite on peut se déplacer au restaurant pour finir la soirée.

Then you can move to the restaurant to end the evening.

Caption 30, Cap 24 - Découverte d'un restaurant parisien

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Even more specifically, when you’re talking about moving from one home to another, use déménagerUn ménage is the word for “household,” so you can remember the difference by thinking of déménager as “to de-household”:


En effet, si vous avez déménagé, vous devez vous inscrire à la mairie de votre nouveau domicile.

Indeed, if you've moved, you must register at the city hall of your new residence.

Caption 10, Le Journal - Voter: un droit ou un choix?

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Finally, let’s not forget that we can be moved in a metaphorical way, when something makes us feel emotional. The verb for that is émouvoir, the past participle of which is ému (moved):


Son histoire... avait ému en début d'année des milliers de spectateurs.

Her story... had moved thousands of viewers at the beginning of the year.

Captions 1-2, Le Journal - Le mensonge

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Hopefully, this lesson has moved you to get up and move! Here’s a suggestion: play our latest music video, Zaz’s “Éblouie par la nuit” (Blinded by the Night), and see how much of the lyrics you understand while dancing along. Or, if dancing isn’t your thing, you might want to check out Joanna’s video on preparing for a run. 

C'est l'intention qui compte!

If you’ve studied our recent lesson on French numbers, you should theoretically be able to count to a billion (compter jusqu’à un milliard) in French. But since no one has time to do that, let’s focus on some other, more practical uses of the verb compter

Counting doesn’t always involve numbers. For example, if you’re relying on someone to do something, you’re counting on (compter sur) them, as this Parisian chef is counting on us to visit his restaurant:


À vous aussi de venir ici, on compte sur vous.

Up to you to come here too, we're counting on you.

Caption 42, Cap 24 - Découverte d'un restaurant parisien

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You can also count on a future event to happen (or not happen). Bertrand Pierre is an extremely talented singer-songwriter, but for some reason he doesn’t expect to make it big. He expresses his pragmatism with the construction “compter + infinitive”:


Je compte pas devenir une, une star internationale, c'est pas ça que je veux dire.

I'm not expecting to become an, an international star, that's not what I mean.

Caption 25, Bertrand Pierre - Autre Chose

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Sometimes compter refers not to counting numbers, but containing them. If the subject of the verb compter is an inanimate object, it’s most likely describing contents:


Après un peu de lecture, dans une bibliothèque qui compte quarante mille volumes...

After a bit of reading, in a library that contains forty thousand volumes...

Caption 39, Canal 32 - Mesnil-Saint-Loup : moines artisans

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Quite a few expressions are based on the noun form of compter, compte, which can mean “count,” “total,” or “account.” If you’re a Yabla subscriber, for example, you have un compte (an account) with us. Un compte can also mean “account” in a more figurative sense, as in the expression prendre en compte (to take into account):


Tous ces éléments-là sont importants aussi à prendre en compte...

All those elements there are also important to take into account...

Caption 19, Le Journal - Grands prématurés

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A very common expression with compte is se rendre compte, which means “to realize” or “become aware” (literally, “to give an account to oneself”). In the latest installment of our Il était une fois episode on Scottish explorer James Bruce, a shipmate reflects on the crew's recent discovery of Abyssinia:


Tu te rends compte, Luigi, nous repoussons les limites de l'inconnu.

You realize, Luigi, we're pushing the limits of the unknown.

Caption 1, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs - 15. Bruce et les sources du Nil

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Don’t forget that se rendre compte is a reflexive expression, and its meaning changes completely when you remove the se: instead of giving an account to yourself, you’re giving an account to someone else, i.e., reporting to them: 


On y va? Oui, mais d'abord, on rend compte à Oméga.

Shall we go? Yes, but first we report to Omega.

Captions 24-25, Il était une fois... L’Espace - 3. La planète verte

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We’ll end with a compte expression that deals with endings: en fin de compte (literally, “at the end of the account”), which can be translated as “ultimately,” “at the end of the day,” or “when all is said and done”: 


En fin de compte, un bateau qui est propulsé par une motorisation cent pour cent électrique.

Ultimately, a boat that's propelled by one hundred percent electric power.

Caption 5, Bateau sport 100% électrique - Le Nautique 196 E

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Compte tenu de (taking into account) all of the different ways of using compter and compte, you might feel overwhelmed when trying to remember them all. But don’t worry if you can’t master them right away: c’est l’intention qui compte (it’s the thought that counts)! 


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