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Et c'est parti!

Partir normally means “to leave,” as in nous sommes partis (we left). However, c’est parti is an idiomatic expression that has little to do with its literal meaning, "it left." So, without further ado, let’s explore the various shades of meaning of this very popular catchphrase. C’est parti! (Here we go!)

 

When it’s clear from the context that we’re talking in the past tense, c’est parti has a fairly straightforward meaning: “it started." In the video below, the speaker discusses how the Belleville upcycling center began: 

 

Et puis voilà. C'est comme ça que c'est parti.

And there you are. That's how it started.

Caption 117, Actu Vingtième Le bleu dans les yeux, recyclerie de Belleville

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So far so good. However, c’est parti doesn't always refer to something in the past, despite its verb being in the past tense. In fact, c’est parti usually describes an event that hasn’t happened yet. It tells us that something is about to start. Moreover, c’est parti is often accompanied with an exclamation mark to reflect the enthusiasm of the person starting an activity:

 

Et nous, on goûte. Allez, c'est parti! Fourchettes! Bon appétit!

And we're going to taste it. OK, here we go! Forks out! Bon appétit!

Caption 116, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

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You can even add a little color to the expression by saying, Cest parti, mon kiki! Kiki is a colloquial term for "throat," but it only appears here for the rhyme:

 

C’est parti, mon kiki! 

Let’s get cracking!

 

In any case, c’est parti used on its own is something people say when they want to get started, like Amal setting off on a bike ride in the following video:

 

Voilà! C'est parti.

There! Let's go.

Caption 46, Amal Vélib

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Later in the same video, you will find another variation in the English translation of c’est parti:

 

Voilà. C'est bon. Le vélo... Et c'est parti!

There. It's good. The bike... And off you go!

Caption 50, Amal Vélib

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Similarly, c’est parti can also mean “we’re off”:

 

C'est parti, on y va.

And we're off, here we go.

Caption 44, Delphine et Automne Le gâteau au yaourt - Part 2

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Saying c’est parti is a perfect way to announce the start of a race. It's equivalent to on y va (let’s go/here we go):

 

Bon ben c'est parti. -Top chrono, c'est parti.

Good, well, here we go. -Starting now, here we go.

Caption 37, Joanna La course à pied: Conseils

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Another variation of c’est parti is c’est parti pour (for) in combination with a time period, to indicate duration: 

 

C'est donc parti pour trois jours de concert. Au programme, musique classique et jazz

So it's off for a three-day concert. On the program: classical music and jazz

Caption 2, Grand Lille TV Un piano dans le métro!

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C’est parti pour can also introduce what’s coming, as in “it’s time for” something: 

 

Huit heures, le suspense prend fin. C'est parti pour quatre heures de réflexion.

Eight o'clock, the suspense is over. Time for four hours of recollection.

Caption 4, Le Journal Le bac

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You can also use c’est parti pour to discuss what you might expect. In the video below, Sophie and Patrice speculate about the weather. Sophie thinks “they are in for" some rain:

 

Ah mais là, on est parti pour une semaine, hein?

Ah but here, we'll be in it for a week, huh?

Caption 9, Sophie et Patrice La pluie

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Here Sophie replaces c'est with on est. Note, however, that on est parti is usually not an idiomatic expression, but retains its literal meaning (we left):

 

On est parti de Rome...

We left Rome...

Caption 48, Lionel et Automne Lionel retourne à l'école

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In addition to the phrase c’est parti pour, you can qualify c’est parti with an adverb like bien (well) or mal (badly) to indicate whether things are going to turn out well or badly. So, the expression t’es bien parti means “you’re off to a good start/on the right track”:

 

Je pense que t'es bien parti.

I think that you're on the right track.

Caption 109, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

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And of course, c’est mal parti means the opposite, “to be off to a bad start," like Amal's awful singing:

 

C'est très mal parti quand tu... -J'ai fait cinq ans de conservatoire.

It's off to a very bad start when you... -I did five years of conservatory.

Caption 52, Amal et Caroline Je n'aime pas quand tu chantes

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Note that Caroline could have put it another way and said:

 

T’es très mal partie. 

You’re off to a very bad start.

 

Finally, you can add the suffix re- and say c’est reparti (here we go again) to indicate repetition, which can be meant as a good thing or a bad thing. In the video below, Nico expresses his frustration with Sam and says:

 

C'est reparti!

Here we go again!

Caption 19, Extr@ Ep. 4 - Sam trouve du travail - Part 7

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And Barbara is also frustrated with her mother, who does the same annoying thing over and over:

 

Et voilà, c'était reparti pour l'interrogatoire de police.

And then she went off again with the police interrogation.

Captions 39-40, Mère & Fille La soirée

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As you can see, there are many ways of interpreting c’est parti. In general, it's an idiomatic expression that marks the beginning of an action. With a little practice, you'll be able get a sense of its nuances in context. Keep watching Yabla videos, dear readers, and vous serez bien partis (you’ll be off to a great start)! Thank you for reading!

The Gender of Job Titles

In our previous lesson on nouns referring to humans, we learned that many nouns have dual genders that often end in -e in the feminine, which is especially useful for the feminization of job titles. In this lesson, we’ll focus on the many ways to feminize a job title and discuss what happens when there is no feminine equivalent. 

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Most profession names are masculine in French, regardless of whether they refer to men or women:

 

On a donc un kit de montage complet opérationnel à la portée d'un bon bricoleur ou d'un plombier

So we have a completely operational mounting kit within the capability of a good handyman or a plumber

Captions 30-31, Salon Eco Habitat: Primacalc, système anti-calcaire

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When no feminine title is available, we default to masculine. So, when referring to a woman pilot, for instance, we would simply say un pilote or une femme pilote (a woman pilot). (You may come across the feminine title une pilote, but it's relatively rare.)

 

Deux femmes pilotes parlent de leurs parcours : sexisme et regard des passagers.

Two female pilots talk about their journeys: sexism and passengers’ stares.

 

We also resort to the masculine when referring to a profession in general, as in les enseignants (teachers), or when we don’t know the gender of the person in question:

 

Parce que je dispose d'excellents liens avec les enseignants de mon master,

Because I have excellent connections with my master's degree instructors

Caption 66, QuestionEntretien: Pourquoi vous et pas un autre ? - Part 3

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For all that, many job titles do have a feminine equivalent, which often ends in -e, as in une députée (a female deputy):

 

Madame George Pau-Langevin, la députée de la quinzième circonscription

Ms. George Pau-Langevin, the deputy for the fifteenth constituency

Caption 92, Actu Vingtième: Le bleu dans les yeux, recyclerie de Belleville

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Note that you can only add an extra -e to an accented -é (-ée). Nouns that already end in -e (no accent) don’t change in the feminine form, as in un/une dentiste (a male/female dentist), the profession chosen by the girl’s schoolmate in the following video from Côte d'Ivoire:

 

Je veux être une dentiste.

I want to be a dentist.

Caption 96, Nader Fakhry: L'école pour tous

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(Bear in mind that usually, you would omit the article un/une when the job title comes directly after the verb être, but this may vary from one French-speaking country to another.)

 

In many cases, though, feminizing a job title is not as simple as adding an -e and requires making changes to the noun. 

 

Sometimes switching to feminine will cause a change in pronunciation for words ending with a consonant, as in un enseignant/une enseignante (teacher). The t in enseignante (female teacher) is sounded, but the t in enseignant (male teacher) is not:

 

Je suis enseignante de français langue étrangère, à l'Université Nancy Deux

I am an instructor of French as a foreign language at the University of Nancy Two

Caption 2, Yabla à Nancy: Université Nancy 2

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Other times, you will need to add a grave accent (è) and an extra -e to nouns ending in -er, as in infirmier/infirmière (male/female nurse). The suffix -er becomes -ère:

 

Je voulais être médecin. -C'est vrai? -Ouais, et je suis infirmière.

I wanted to be a doctor. -Is that true? -Yeah, and I am a nurse.

Caption 55, Micro-Trottoirs: Rêves d’enfants

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Nouns ending in -en often change to -enne in the feminine, as in chirurgien/chirurgienne (male/female surgeon). In the following example, we have the masculine version, un chirurgien, with a silent -n

 

Françoise Artigues accuse son chirurgien, le docteur Cujasse

Françoise Artigues is accusing her surgeon, Doctor Cujasse

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

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Nouns ending with the suffix -eur in the masculine form are a little bit more complicated, as they can take on different endings in the feminine. 

 

Un professeur (a male professor) simply becomes une professeur in the feminine or, less often, une professeure

 

Et j'ai pris sa suite avec la même professeur [or professeure] en fait.

And I followed in her footsteps with the same teacher, actually.

Caption 42, LCM Concert: La Folia à l'abbaye Saint-Victor

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Un auteur (a male author) can be feminized in two different ways. You can call a female author une auteure, a term borrowed from Canada, or you can say une autrice, the suffix -trice being more popular in France:

 

Enfin, en 2012, l’Académie française propose à son tour l’adoption du mot « auteure ». 

Finally in 2012, the Académie Française in turn proposes the adoption of the word “auteure” (female author).

 

Indeed, in Canada, they use the -eure suffix, as in traducteure (female translator), more frequently than in France, where they say traductrice instead:

 

Euh, ça m'a permis beaucoup de voyager et d'être parfois même la traducteure pour mon père ou ma mère

Uh, it's allowed me to travel a lot and to sometimes even be the translator for my dad or my mom

Captions 21-22, Annie Chartrand: Grandir bilingue

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The French usually prefer to use the suffix -trice, as in un acteur/une actrice. In the example below, Melissa Mars introduces herself as une actrice (an actress), among other things:

 

Bonjour! Je suis Melissa Mars. Je suis actrice, chanteuse, française ou martienne.

Hello! I am Melissa Mars. I'm an actress, singer, French or Martian.

Caption 1, Melissa Mars: Melissa et son premier album

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She also introduces herself as a singer, une chanteuse. Here we have yet another feminine form of -eur: -euse. So une chanteuse is un chanteur in the masculine, and une serveuse (a waitress) is un serveur (a waiter):

 

La serveuse t'aime bien Nico.

The waitress likes you, Nico.

Caption 16, Extr@ Ep. 6 - Le jour du loto - Part 5

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You might also see the suffix -esse, as in docteur/doctoresse (male/female doctor) and maître/maîtresse (school master/schoolmistress), but it's pretty dated.

 

The Académie Française, the French authority on language, has introduced many new feminine job titles, but it’s up to people to adopt them. Sometimes, women themselves don’t systematically adopt newly feminized titles. In the following video, the female judge introduces herself as le juge Beaulieu (Judge Beaulieu) even though she could have introduced herself as la juge:

 

Bonjour, je suis le juge Beaulieu.

Hello, I am Judge Beaulieu.

Caption 31, Le Jour où tout a basculé: À l'audience - Arnaque en couple ? - Part 1

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As you can see, the feminization of job titles is a work in progress, fraught with ambiguity and, sometimes, controversy. Just be sure to follow the correct grammatical rules applying to both masculine and feminine titles, as they are not negotiable in most cases.

 

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for our next lesson on the gender of nouns referring to animals.

 

Gender of Nouns Referring to Humans

In our previous lesson we learned that all French nouns have a gender, and that it is up to the speaker to remember whether a word is masculine or feminine. In this lesson, we’ll focus on the gender of nouns referring to humans, which is usually predictable, although occasionally some situations require making difficult choices.

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For the most part, assigning gender to nouns referring to people is straightforward, as it coincides with the gender of the person. For example, you would expect the word frère (brother) to be masculine, and sœur (sister) to be feminine. 

 

We also learned that masculine nouns are typically introduced by un/le (a/the), as in un frère (a brother):

 

Il est comme un grand frère pour moi.

He's like a big brother to me.

Caption 40, Le Jour où tout a basculé - J'ai escroqué mon assurance ! - Part 1

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Feminine nouns are preceded by une/la (a/the), as in une sœur (a sister):

 

Hé Sam! Et peut-être qu'elle a une amie ou une sœur...

Hey Sam! And maybe she has a friend or a sister...

Caption 39, Extr@ - Ep. 6 - Le jour du loto - Part 3

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It is also possible to introduce a noun with other little words or determiners, in addition to the articles un/une and le/la mentioned above. In the example below, to express her feelings toward her deceased father, the daughter uses various turns of phrase: mon père (my father), un père (a father), l’image du père idéal (the image of the ideal father):

 

C'est mon père.... J'ai eu un père. Il était loin de l'image du père idéal

He's my father.... I had a father. He was far from the image of the ideal father

Captions 11, 39-40, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mon père n'est pas mort - Part 8

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A few nouns, like enfant (child), can be preceded by either a masculine or a feminine article, as those words refer to people of any gender:

 

Elle a un enfant et c'est...

She has a child [masculine] and she's...

Caption 43, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple - Part 2

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Je suis une enfant du monde

I am a child [feminine] of the world

Caption 31, Indila - Dernière danse

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Usually, though, a given noun will have a masculine and a feminine version. Many feminine nouns end in -e (though not all nouns ending in -e are feminine, as we'll see below). So, we have two words for “friend": une amie (a female friend) and un ami (a male friend).

 

Et c'est une amie à moi canadienne

And it's a Canadian friend of mine

Caption 18, Amal et Caroline - Quartier du Louvre

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When used as nouns, nationalities are capitalized and also take an -e in the feminine form. For example, a Frenchwoman is une Française, and a Frenchman is un Français:

 

Les habitants de la France, les Françaises et les Français, sont plus de soixante-six millions.

The inhabitants of France, Frenchwomen and Frenchmen, are more than sixty-six million.

Caption 19, Le saviez-vous? - D'où vient le nom de la France?

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Here is another example with nationalities. Note that you pronounce the s in Française, which is a "z" sound, but not in Français. When a noun ends with a silent consonant in the masculine form, that letter usually becomes sounded in the feminine form:

 

Parce que c'est l'histoire toute simple d'un amour entre un Américain et une Française.

Because it's the very simple story of a love between an American boy and a French girl.

Captions 47-48, Extr@ - Ep. 5 - Une étoile est née - Part 2

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Endings in -e are especially useful for the femininization of job titles:

 

Madame George Pau-Langevin, la députée de la quinzième circonscription

Ms. George Pau-Langevin, the deputy for the fifteenth constituency

Caption 92, Actu Vingtième - Le bleu dans les yeux, recyclerie de Belleville

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Here, la député(the female deputy) is the feminine form of le député (the male deputy).

 

Some masculine nouns already end in -e and therefore are equivalent to their feminine counterparts, as in un artiste/une artiste (a male/female artist). In this case, only the article in front determines the gender. Karine Rougier, for example, refers to herself as une artiste:

 

Du coup, le processus pour devenir une artiste, je pense que... il est à l'intérieur de moi

So, the process to become an artist, I think that... it's inside me

Captions 42-43, Le saviez-vous? - Karine Rougier présente son art - Part 4

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However, there are times when people use the masculine form of the job title even when referring to women. This happens for various reasons, some of them subtle. Earlier in the video series on Karine Rougier, the curator of the gallery introduces her as un artiste, not une artiste. Why?

 

It’s because the speaker is using the term artiste in a generic sense. He is talking about the tradition of giving carte blanche to an artist (in general) every year and is not referring to Karine Rougier specifically yet:

 

Comme chaque année au mois d'octobre, nous faisons une carte blanche à un artiste. Et cette année, c'est Karine Rougier

Like every year in the month of October, we're giving carte blanche to an artist. And this year, it's Karine Rougier

Captions 3-5, Le saviez-vous? - Karine Rougier présente son art - Part 1

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In the following video, the speaker also uses the masculine because he's speaking in generic terms about un élève (a student) of unknown gender:

 

Ce sac à dos est à un élève, non?

This backpack belongs to a student, right?

Caption 25, Conversations au parc - Ep. 3: C'est à qui ce sac à dos ?

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Whenever there is no way of identifying the gender of a person, French speakers often default to the masculine. When the couple in the example below expresses a desire to avoir un enfant (have a child) one day, they're not specifically talking about a boy, but rather a child of any gender:

 

Quelle décision? Avoir un enfant.

What decision? To have a child.

Captions 6-7, Le Jour où tout a basculé - À la recherche de mon passé - Part 2

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To recap, while the masculine usually applies to males, it's also used when the gender is not known, or when it refers to people in a generic sense. The use of the feminine is more straightforward, as it applies exclusively to women and girls. The difficulty here lies in which ending you’re going to use, as not all feminine nouns end in -e. Many of them look different from their masculine counterparts, especially job titles and animals, both of which will be explored in future lessons.

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