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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. 

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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. 

Tenir: To Have and to Hold

Avoir is the general French verb for "to have," but if you’re talking about something that you physically have, tenir might be the better verb to use. The simplest meaning of tenir is "to hold." This is the way the singer Corneille uses it in one of our most popular music videos, Comme un fils (Like a Son):

 

Tiens ma tête quand elle fait plus de sens.

Hold my head when it no longer makes sense.

Caption 28, Corneille - Comme un fils

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When it’s not referring to something that you’re holding in your hand, tenir can also be used for something that you keep, maintain, or manage, such as a restaurant:          

 

Aller chez Gilles Spannagel qui tient Le Cruchon, qui est le petit restaurant...

To go visit Gilles Spannagel who owns Le Cruchon [The Little Jug], which is the little restaurant...

Caption 23, Strasbourg - Les passants

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Or it can refer to something that is attached to something else, like needles on a Christmas tree:

 

Des épines qui tiennent plus longtemps...

Needles that stay on longer...

Caption 7, TV Tours - Une seconde vie pour vos sapins de Noël?

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Tenir also applies to situations in which you are compelled to do something, in the expressions tenir à and être tenu(e) de:

 

Je tiens à préciser que la Bretagne a son charme aussi.

I have to mention that Brittany has its charms too.

Caption 13, Fanny et Corrine - Leurs origines

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Mais ils sont tenus d'avoir... un certificat de capacité.

But they are required to have... a certificate of competency.

Caption 48, TV Sud - Fête de la Tortue 2012

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Tenir à can also mean "to be fond of," "to be attached to," or "to care about":

Elle tient à son emploi.

She is fond of her job. 

And when you make tenir reflexive (se tenir), it means "to stand," "remain," or "behave." Can you imagine walking into someone’s house and seeing a llama standing in the living room?

 

C'est bien un lama qui se tient fièrement en plein milieu d'un salon.

That's really a llama proudly standing in the middle of a living room.

Caption 2, Angers 7 - Un lama en plein appartement

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Tiens-toi tranquille, hein sinon!

Hold still, OK, or else!

Caption 5, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs - 10. Amerigo Vespucci

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Les enfants se tiennent bien.

The children are behaving themselves. 

You can also use tiens, the singular imperative form of tenir, for the interjection "look" (or more literally, "behold"):

 

Tiens, ça doit être bon, ça!

Look, this should be good!

Caption 24, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs - 10. Amerigo Vespucci

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The verb détenir is related to tenir and is often translated the same way, though it has the specific connotation of "to possess" or even "detain":

 

...qui autorise des gens à détenir des animaux, des tortues chez eux.

...which allows some people to keep animals, turtles, at home.

Caption 47, TV Sud - Fête de la Tortue 2012

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Crois-moi, tu détiens là, la base de toute connaissance.

Believe me, you hold there the basis of all knowledge.

Caption 13, Il était une fois... l’Homme - 6. Le siècle de Périclès

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Even if you don’t hold the basis of all knowledge, with this lesson you should hold everything you need to make good use of the verb tenir. You can check out the WordReference page on the verb for even more uses. So soyez sûr de retenir le verbe tenir (be sure to hold onto the verb tenir)! 

Vocabulary

Making Adverbs from Adjectives

Adverbs are words that describe how something is done. They can modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. In a previous lesson, we saw what happens when adverbs and adjectives get cozy with each other in the same sentence. Now we'll explore what happens when they get even cozier—when an adverb is formed from an adjective.

In English, adverbs often end in -ly: “comfortably,” “unfortunately,” “obviously,” etc. Likewise, many French adverbs end in -ment: confortablement (comfortably), malheureusement (unfortunately), évidemment (obviously).

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Here’s an example of a French adverb in action, describing one of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s collections: 

 

Une petite merveille de cohérence, de charme et de légèreté où la cliente perd facilement vingt ans.

A little treasure of coherency, charm, and lightness in which the wearer easily loses twenty years.

Captions 2-3, Le Journal - Défilé de mode

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So what's the one thing that English -ly adverbs and French -ment adverbs have in common? You guessed it—they all come from adjectives! Just take away the -ly and the -ment to get “unfortunate” (malheureuse), “easy” (facile), and “obvious” (évident).

However, this formula is a bit more complicated in French than in English. Facilement and confortablement can be neatly broken down into their separate components: the adjectives facile and confortable plus the ending -ment. But why do we have malheureusement and not "malheureuxment"? (Malheureux is the masculine form of malheureuse.) And why évidemment instead of "évidentment"? 

The answer: French has a small set of rules for determining how to turn an adjective into an adverb. Once you learn them, you'll be able to spot the adverbs in any sentence effortlessly. 

First take the masculine form of the adjective:

1. If the adjective ends in a vowel, simply add -ment

We just saw some examples of this with facile + ment = facilement and confortable + ment = confortablement. Other common examples include:

vrai            → vraiment (true → truly)

probable  → probablement (probable → probably)

spontanéspontanément (spontaneous → spontaneously)

absolu      → absolument (absolute → absolutely)

2. If the adjective ends in a consonant, add -ment to the feminine form of the adjective. 

This is the case of malheureux/malheureusement. You’ll also see this rule at work in words such as:

religieuxreligieusement (religious → religiously) 

direct     → directement (direct → directly)

réel        → réellement (real → really) 

léger      → légèrement (light → lightly)

massif    → massivement (massive → massively)

3. If the adjective ends in -ant or -ent, replace the ending with -amment or -emment, respectively.

So even though évident ends in a consonant, its adverbial form is not "évidentement," but évidemment. Likewise, you have:

constant   → constamment (constant → constantly)

récent       → récemment (recent → recently)

apparent  → apparemment (apparent → apparently) 

brillant      → brillamment (brilliant → brilliantly)

A special note: the ending -emment has the same pronunciation as -amment. An easy way to remember this is to think of the word femme (woman), which is pronounced /fam/, not /fem/.

You can hear an example of this pronunciation in these two videos:

 

Ben la ville est petite et en même temps suffisamment grande pour qu'y ait à peu près tout.

Well the town is small and at the same time it's big enough to have just about everything.

Captions 19-20, Strasbourg - Les passants

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Il était absolument impossible, évidemment, d'exprimer le moindre regret...

It was absolutely impossible, obviously, to express the slightest regret...

Captions 33-34, Le Journal - Joëlle Aubron libérée

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Although there are a few exceptions here and there, these are the basic rules for creating adverbs from adjectives in French. You can find a thorough list of these exceptions in this about.com article on the subject: https://www.thoughtco.com/french-adverbs-of-manner-4084830

The one simple guideline underlying all three of these rules (which has no exceptions!) is that the adverbial ending -ment (or -mment) is always preceded by a vowel. So if you keep at least that in mind when constructing your adverbs, you should succeed brillamment!

Grammar

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