In Part 2, we explored the passé composé of second-group verbs, or verbs whose infinitives end in -ir. In this lesson, we’ll discuss irregular -ir verbs, which belong to the third group.
As mentioned in our previous lesson, -ir verbs are classified, in addition to their infinitive endings, according to their present participles (equivalent to the -ing ending of a verb in English). So, all -ir verbs with a present participle ending in -issant (such as finir > finissant [finishing]) belong to the second group and have a past participle ending in -i.
On the other hand, most irregular -ir verbs have a present participle ending in -ant and a past participle ending in -u.
For example, tenir (to keep, hold) becomes tenant (keeping, holding) and tenu (kept, held):
en tenant la poêle de la main droite
while holding the pan with the right handPlay Caption
Mais elle a également tenu sa promesse.
But she has also kept her promise.Play Caption
It’s a good idea to learn the derivatives of a verb, as they usually share the same conjugation rules. All verbs ending in -tenir will work the same way. So, obtenir (to obtain) and retenir (to retain) also have a past participle ending in -u: obtenu, retenu.
The same applies to all the derivatives of venir (to come), such as devenir (to become) and prévenir (to warn):
Et il a prévenu les flics.
And he called the cops.Play Caption
Having said that… there’s an oddball bunch of -ir verbs that have a present participle ending in -ant and a past participle ending in -i, not -u.
For example, partir (to leave) becomes partant and parti:
Mais... en partant, elle m'a donné son numéro de téléphone.
But... as she left, she gave me her phone number.
Captions 35-36, Extr@ Ep. 6 - Le jour du loto - Part 3Play Caption
Leurs parents sont partis vivre en Australie il y a une dizaine d'années
Their parents went to live in Australia around ten years agoPlay Caption
And sortir (to go out) becomes sortant and sorti:
Drôles d'étudiants que ceux-là, habitant l'hôtel et sortant en robe longue et nœud papillon.
Strange students they are, living in a hotel and going out in long dresses and bow ties.
Caption 12, Le Journal - L'Institut du goûtPlay Caption
Le mec, il est sorti
The guy went outPlay Caption
Note that partir and sortir are also part of a small group of verbs that require the auxiliary être (to be) in the passé composé, which we will discuss in a future lesson.
Finally, there is a minority of -ir verbs that are quite irregular and unpredictable, with a past participle ending in -ert.
For example, the past participle of ouvrir (to open) is actually ouvert, not ouvri as its stem would suggest!
...qui a ouvert ses portes récemment à Mittelhausbergen
that recently opened its doors in Mittelhausbergen
Caption 3, Alsace 20 - Mangez bien, mangez alsacien!Play Caption
Again, to make it easier for yourself, learn how to conjugate ouvrir along with its derivatives, like découvrir (to discover), recouvrir (to cover up), couvrir (to cover), whose past participles all end in -ouvert. That will save you a lot of trouble. Speaking of trouble, the group of Canadians in the example below suffered a lot because of English…
Moi j'ai souffert beaucoup dans mon enfance de l'anglais ici.
I suffered a lot in my childhood with English here.
Caption 19, Le Québec parle aux Français - Part 3Play Caption
We hope that vous n’avez pas trop souffert (you didn’t suffer too much) learning about irregular -ir verbs in the passé composé, because we have another round of third-group verbs waiting to be discovered (découvert) in our next lesson!
The word "decline" can mean "decrease," "deteriorate," "move downward," or "politely refuse." Its source, the French verb décliner, can have all of these meanings and more.
Most of these other meanings stem from a more specialized grammatical one. To "decline" a noun, pronoun, or adjective is to list all of its forms according to case, number, and gender. You don't have to worry about doing this in French—it only applies to certain languages, such as Latin and Ancient Greek. But décliner can refer to a similar activity of enumerating, presenting something in various forms, offering a range of something, laying out all its different facets.
Because décliner has such a wide variety of meanings, its translation is highly context-specific. For example, you can use it to talk about a fashion designer "presenting" all the styles of his latest collection on the runway:
Du blanc, du noir, presque exclusivement, tous les codes déclinés inlassablement,
Almost exclusively white and black, all the styles presented tirelessly,
Caption 5, Le Journal - Défilé de mode - Part 2Play Caption
Or you can use it in the sense of "depicting" several aspects of something:
...des travaux de couture d'une jeune femme qui décline un petit peu l'Alsace sur du tissu
...some sewing projects from a young woman who kind of depicts the various faces of Alsace on fabric
Captions 18-19, Alsace 20 - Mangez bien, mangez alsacien!Play Caption
Businesses often use décliner to advertise a product available in various forms. When Lionel visited a madeleine shop in Liverdun, the owner used it to refer to the different flavors she sells:
Nous l'avons déclinée à la mirabelle... -Oui. et à la bergamote.
We've adapted it with mirabelle plum... -Yes. and with bergamot orange.
Captions 32-33, Lionel - La boutique de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 2Play Caption
This restaurant owner in Nice uses décliner in a somewhat particular sense. He's not talking about the different forms of socca he offers, but rather all the times of day people order it:
Ça se décline comme ça, et on peut en manger vraiment à n'importe quelle heure.
It's available like that, and you can really eat it at any time.
Captions 34-35, Le saviez-vous? - La socca, spécialité niçoisePlay Caption
If you see décliner on a form you're filling out, or hear it from an administrative official, you're being asked to provide information about yourself:
Déclinez votre nom et adresse.
State your name and address.
Don't forget that décliner also has all the senses of the English "decline": "decrease," "deteriorate," "move downward," "politely refuse."
We've now "declined" all the meanings of décliner!
At the end of "Tango," new on Yabla this week, Mélanie Laurent sings:
Parce qu'au fond tu l'aimes bien, elle te manquerait je crois
Because deep down you really love her, you would miss her, I think
Caption 52, Mélanie Laurent - "Circus" & "Tango"Play Caption
When you're talking about missing someone in French, manquer is the verb to use. However, in this context, manquer actually means "to be missing" rather than "to miss." Though elle te manquerait might appear to mean "she would miss you" upon first glance, its literal translation is actually "she would be missing from you," which is just another (perhaps more romantic) way of saying "you would miss her." So when talking to someone close to you whom you haven't seen in a while, make sure to say tu me manques ("I miss you," literally "you're missing from me") rather than je te manque ("you miss me," literally "I'm missing from you").
On the other hand, manquer does mean "to miss" when you're talking about missing something in the sense of not being there for it. In this context it's synonymous with the verb rater:
J'ai manqué [or raté] le bus.
I missed the bus.
The expression "manquer de + infinitive" (or just "manquer + infinitive") means "to nearly do something." "Faillir + infinitive" has the same meaning:
Il a manqué d'être tué [or: Il a failli être tué].
He was nearly killed.
But in the negative, this expression more often means "to not forget to do something":
Ne manquez pas de vous arrêter au numéro treize de l'avenue Junot.
Don't forget to stop at number thirteen Avenue Junot.
Caption 12, Voyage dans Paris - Butte MontmartrePlay Caption
Another common meaning of manquer is "to lack," usually in the expression "manquer de + noun":
L'hôpital manque de moyens, comme toutes nos formations sanitaires, hein?
The hospital lacks resources, like all our medical facilities, huh?Play Caption
In fact, the noun form of manquer, un manque, specifically means "a lack":
J'ai compris qu'il y avait un manque énorme au niveau, euh, alimentaire.
I saw that there was an enormous lack at the, uh, alimentary level.
Caption 7, Alsace 20 - Mangez bien, mangez alsacien!Play Caption
Finally, manquer is also used in the impersonal expression "il manque + noun" ("x is missing"):
Il ne manque plus que l'argent nécessaire.
All that's missing is the necessary money.Play Caption
In a previous lesson, we introduced a trio of words that are spelled the same except for their accent marks: côté, côte, and cote. We will examine a similar trio in this lesson: des, dés, and dès.
You might already know that des is a contraction of de and les. It is always followed by a plural noun, and can be used as a preposition to mean "of," "from," or "by," or as an article to mean "some" or "a few." Note that when des is used as an article, it is often left untranslated.
Ce monde des images, habité par les images, dans les images.
This world of images, inhabited by images, in the images.Play Caption
Des gens super beaux avec des... avec des peaux super lisses.
Really beautiful people with… with really smooth skin.
Caption 34, Niko de La Faye - "Visages"Play Caption
When you place an acute accent on the e of des, you get the French word for "dice": les dés (le dé in the singular). In the kitchen, you might hear the expression couper en dés (to dice). And if you're sewing by hand, it might be helpful to use un dé à coudre (a thimble; literally, a "sewing dice").
Le backgammon se joue avec des dés.
Backgammon is played with dice.
With a grave accent, des becomes dès, a preposition meaning "starting from," "as early as," or "since." Here are some examples of this versatile little word from our video library:
Près de trois cent mille personnes venues dès l'aube applaudir les héros des océans.
Nearly three hundred thousand people who came as early as dawn to applaud the heroes of the oceans.
Captions 14-15, Le Journal - Les navigateurs du Vendée GlobePlay Caption
Et j'ai toujours, euh... dès les... les premières fois où j'ai découvert...
And I've always, uh... ever since I first... first discovered...
Caption 24, Manu le Malin - Album Biomechanik IIIPlay Caption
Les épreuves commencent dès demain.
The exams begin as early as tomorrow.
Caption 28, Le Journal - Le baccalauréatPlay Caption
Although dès is frequently used on its own, you'll also sometimes see it coupled with another word, notably in the expressions dès que (as soon as, whenever) and dès lors (from then on, since then, consequently, therefore):
Tout de suite, en fait, dès que je suis arrivée ici, euh...
Right away, in fact, as soon as I arrived here, uh...
Caption 6, Alsace 20 - Mangez bien, mangez alsacien!Play Caption
Dès lors, elle n'est jamais retournée à la maison.
From then on, she never returned home.
Now that you're familiar with the difference between des, dés, and dès, let's see if you can decipher this sneaky little sentence:
Le magicien a su piper des dés dès l'âge de cinq ans.
(The magician knew how to load dice from the age of five.)