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Finding the Right Place

The word place is very common in French and poses few problems when it's a direct cognate of the English "place." Other times, however, the meanings diverge, and the word place will translate in a variety of ways depending on context. So, let’s go places and explore the similarities and differences in the use of the word place in this lesson.


As we just mentioned, the word place can be used in a similar way in English and in French in some situations. For example, "a place to stay" is une place d’accueil (literally "a place of welcome"). In the video below, welcome centers around France offer des places d’accueil (places to stay) for refugees:


C'est près de deux cents places d'accueil...

It's nearly two hundred welcoming places...

Caption 35, Réfugiés de Calais L’accueil des migrants en Finistère

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Une place does not only refer to a physical place, but also to a figurative one, like the place where you belong in life. That's a tough question for this lost soul in Yaaz’s sad song "La Place des anges," who muses over an uncertain future and wonders where angels truly belong:


Mais la place des anges n'est pas ici

But the angels' place is not here

Caption 7, Yaaz La place des anges

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Sometimes finding the right place is simply a practical matter. In this well-organized restaurant, the staff is ready to se mettre en place (take their places) before the rush of diners:  


Eh ben, on se met en place et on fait tout ça.

Well then, we'll take our places and we'll do all that.

Caption 76, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 2

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The expression remettre à sa place, though, is not so kind, as it means to put someone back in their place:


Le patron l’a remis à sa place.

The boss put him back in his place.


So far, we’ve looked at examples of true cognates. Unfortunately, these only work in a limited context, as une place often means something other than “a place.” But it doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, to book a table, a room, seats, or buy concert tickets, just say réserver une place! In the following video, une place means “a ticket” to a concert:


Dix mille places se sont arrachées en deux jours.

Ten thousand tickets were snapped up in two days.

Caption 13, Alsace 20 Rammstein à Strasbourg

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Une place can also refer to the seating capacity or number of seats in a venue:


Mercredi je joue au Sin-é et... C'est trois cents places

On Wednesday I'm performing at Sin-é and... It's three hundred seats.

Caption 9, Charles-Baptiste Interview

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Or to the seating capacity in a car, or even the sleeping capacity in a bed:


On dit un lit à deux places et une voiture à cinq places en français.

We say a double bed and a five-seater car in French.


La place can also simply describe the amount of space available for comfort—in other words, “space” or “room”:


Qu'à tes côtés y a plus de place et que je ne peux pas rester

That there's no room left by your side and that I can't stay

Caption 24, Babylon Circus J'aurais bien voulu

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And when there is not enough place (room) because something or someone takes up too much space, you can use the expression prendre toute la place (to take up all the space), like the naughty cat in this video:


Et en plus, elle prenait... et toi, prenez toute la place dans le lit.

And in addition, she took... and you, [you both] take up all the space in bed.

Captions 27-28, Marie & Jeremy Le chat

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Now that we’ve looked at the various uses of the French word place, let’s look at its English counterpart. Again, you will encounter a variety of translations. When referring to a geographical “place” or location, you can’t use the French place anymore. Instead, use un endroit or un lieu (a place). If that place happens to be your home, or “your place," use chez moi (my place). In their video on Parc de la Villette, Amal and Caroline use all three. First, they talk about un endroit:


Je crois que c'est aussi un endroit assez culturel...

II think it's also a pretty cultural place...

Caption 37, Amal et Caroline Le Parc de la Villette

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Then they use a synonym, un lieu:


Ce qui est vraiment intéressant, c'est que tu as plein de lieux pour faire la fête.

What's really interesting is that you have plenty of places to party.

Captions 53-55, Amal et Caroline Le Parc de la Villette

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And earlier on, one of them mentions how close they are to her place: 


On est même pas à cinq, dix minutes à pied de chez moi.

We're not even five, ten minutes away by foot from my place.

Caption 7, Amal et Caroline Le Parc de la Villette

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(For more information on chez moi, check out our lesson Chez moi, c’est chez toi.)


Just to confuse matters further, your “place” or “home” might be located on une place, "a square." In the video below, Joanna and Caroline invite us to visit la place Stanislas (Stanislas Square). Note that there is no need to capitalize place in an address:


On a décidé de vous faire visiter la place Stanislas.

We've decided to show you around Stanislas Square.

Caption 4, Joanna La Place Stanislas

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Instead of visiter une place, you may prefer to rester sur place (to stay/remain on site). These refugees are fortunate in that they can stay in the same spot for a few months:


Ces groupes devraient rester quelques mois sur place

These groups should stay on site for a few months

Caption 37, Réfugiés de Calais L’accueil des migrants en Finistère

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Or you may seek another kind of place that has nothing to do with location. Une place can also be "a position” or “a job"—whether an everyday occupation or the prestigious position of honorary president of the Cannes Film Festival:


Madame de Havilland... on vous a proposé en tout cas pour la place de présidente d'honneur à vie de ce festival.

Ms. de Havilland... you were nominated in any case for the position of honorary president of this festival [jury] for life.

Captions 31-33, Interviews au Festival de Cannes Olivia de Havilland

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La place also means "position" in general in expressions such as se mettre à la place de quelqu’un (to put oneself in another person’s position/place):


Faut se mettre à la place d'Obama ; pendant trois ans, il s'était farci...

You need to put yourself in Obama's position; for three years, he had been putting up with...

Caption 26, Alsace 20 Laurent Chandemerle, l'homme aux 100 voix

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On the flip side, the French word une position can mean "rank" or "place." In her video, Nelly ranks her favorite places (lieux or endroits) to visit in France:


En septième position, nous avons les gorges du Verdon.

In seventh place, we have the gorges of Verdon.

Caption 20, Français avec Nelly 10 Places to Visit in France - Part 2

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The word place has so many meanings that il n’y a pas assez de place (there is not enough space) in this lesson to mention them all. Just remember that context is key and feel free to browse through our Yabla videos and notice how often the word place comes up! 


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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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)!


Risky Business

In his latest video on the coronavirus pandemic, Lionel talks about the measures being taken to control the spread of the virus in France. Like everyone else in the world, French people are trying to minimize the risk of catching the virus by staying inside and wearing masks when they have to go out. 


Though risk is a major theme of the video, when Lionel uses the verb risquer, he means something a bit different: 


Lors du déconfinement,

During reopening,

nous risquons de sortir avec des masques

we're likely going out with masks

et... les distanciations sociales

and... social distancing

risquent de durer un bon moment.

is likely going to last for quite some time.

Captions 35-38, Lionel L - La pandémie, un mois déjà

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We don't "risk" going out with masks on, nor does social distancing "risk" lasting for a while longer. (Quite the contary: these are the very measures that are reducing risk). Risquer often just means "to be likely" (être probable) or "there's a good chance that." The stakes don't have to be that high:


Cette année, Noël risque d'être très présent dans les rues.

This year, Christmas is bound to be very present on the streets.

Caption 22, TV Vendée - Le sapin de Noël décoré par les enfants

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But risquer can also mean "to risk" or "run the risk of":


Si ça continue à cuire, ça risque de perdre sa belle couleur.

If they continue to cook, they run the risk of losing their beautiful color.

Caption 57, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard

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Il a risqué sa vie pour sauver le chien.

He risked his life to save the dog. 


Its noun form, risque, can mean "risk," "danger," or "chance." Note that, though it ends in an e, risque is masculine: 


Le risque avec les lamas, c'est qu'en grandissant,

The danger with llamas is that as they grow up,

ils peuvent devenir agressifs.

they may become aggressive.

Caption 25, Angers 7 - Un lama en plein appartement

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There's also the adjective risqué, which you probably recognize. Though risqué can mean "racy" and "suggestive," as it does in English, it also just means "risky":


Pour elles c'est trop risqué de s'accrocher à la locomotive.

For them it's too risky to grab on to the engine.

Caption 47, Grand Corps Malade - Les Voyages en train

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Some say it's a good thing to take a lot of risks, but these days, that doesn't seem like the safest advice. Ne prenez pas de risque! (Don't take any risks!)


The French Conditional - Part 2

The French Conditional - Part 1

As Patricia mentions in her recent video, the French conditional mood only comes in two tenses: present and past. While the present conditional expresses something you would do, the past conditional expresses something you would have done. We discussed the present conditional in our previous lesson, so now we'll focus on the past. 


The past conditional is a compound tense, which means it's made up of multiple parts. Two parts, to be exact: an auxiliary verb (avoir or être) in the conditional, plus the past participle of the main verb. Here's an example of the verb pouvoir (to be able to) in the past conditional:


On aurait pu les cuire individuellement, mais euh, là ça va le faire.

We could've cooked them individually, but uh, here, this'll do it.

Caption 49, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard

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Like most verbs, pouvoir combines with the auxiliary verb avoir (to have) in compound past tenses. But as Patricia explains in another video, some verbs combine with être (to be) in those instances, such as the verbs aller (to go) and naître (to be born):


Je serais allé à la plage mais il faisait trop froid. 
I would have gone to the beach, but it was too cold. 


L'histoire officielle dit que ce drapeau serait né

Official history says that this flag was supposedly born

sous la Révolution française de dix-sept cent quatre-vingt-neuf.

under the French Revolution of seventeen eighty-nine.

Captions 6-7, Le saviez-vous? - Histoire du drapeau français

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The important thing to remember is that in the past tense, you only need to conjugate the auxiliary verb in the conditional, not the main verb (so you wouldn't say on aurait pourrait or je serais irais, for instance). 


It's easy to confuse the past conditional with the pluperfect (or plus-que-parfait) tense, which is used to describe things that happened in the remote past. Both constructions contain an auxiliary verb followed by a past participle (in the pluperfect, the auxiliary verb is in the imperfect tense, not the conditional), and you'll often find both of them in sentences containing si (if) clauses:


Hier,  j'aurais levé le bras

Yesterday, I would have raised my arm

pour appeler le taxi si j'avais d'abord soigné mon épaule.

to hail the taxi if I had treated my shoulder first.

Captions 39-41, Le saviez-vous? - Le mode du conditionnel

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We'll talk about si clauses in further detail in a future lesson. In the meantime, you might want to check out the song Si by Zaz, which contains a good number of si clauses and verbs in the conditional.


French Filler Words

If you're a Yabla subscriber, you may have noticed that we translate every word in the video captions, even if it's a repeated word or a filler word such as euh... (uh...). This allows you to really hear everything the speaker is saying and gives you a better understanding of everyday French speech patterns. In this lesson, we'll review some of the most common filler words and interjections that pop up in Yabla French videos. 


While euh (uh) is pretty straightforward, hein is a filler word whose translation really depends on context. In general, it's used as an interrogative to mean anything from "right," to "isn't it," to "you know": 


Donc, euh... c'est le même système, hein, pour les légumes,

So, uh... it's the same method, right, for the vegetables,

euh... comme pour les homards.

uh... as for the lobsters.

Caption 54, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 2

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Il bouillonne bien, hein?

It's bubbling nicely, isn't it?

Caption 77, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 1

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Enfin, j'ai déjà trois filles, hein!

After all, I already have three daughters, you know!

Caption 42, Actu Vingtième - Vendanges parisiennes

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If you didn't quite catch something someone said, you can simply say, Hein? (Huh?) But like its English counterpart, this usage of hein is very informal. A more polite way of expressing the same sentiment is, Pouvez-vous répéter, s'il vous plaît? (Can you repeat that, please?)


The word quoi usually means "what," but as a filler word it has the same meaning as hein:


Ouais, euh... ça serait vraiment le...

Yeah, uh... that'd really be the...

le rêve ultime, quoi, pour le fan...

the ultimate dream, you know, for a fan...

Caption 9, Alsace 20 - Rammstein à Strasbourg

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Also like heinquoi can stand alone to express incomprehension: Quoi? (What?) It's a little less informal than hein in this context.


 ("here," "there," or "now") can also mean "you know," but it's often used as an informal way of adding emphasis: 


Parce qu'en fait hier, on allait... avec... avec,

Because actually, yesterday, we were going... with... with,

euh... avec des grands, ...

uh... with some older kids, you know...

Caption 80, Actus Quartier - Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois

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 tu exagères! 

You're really exaggerating [going too far]!


Ben or eh ben (well) is another common filler word. It's a shortened form of bien, the standard word for "well": 


Les températures, eh ben, cela va être relativement facile,

The temperature, well, that's going to be relatively easy,

quatre degrés partout...

four degrees everywhere...

Caption 6, Alsace 20 - Météo des Maquilleurs

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You'll also find it in the expression, Ben oui! (But of course!)


Our final example contains two common interjections: 


Oh la la! Oh mais dis donc, non mais... oh, qu'est-ce qui se passe?

Oh my! Oh but you don't say, no but... oh, what's going on?

Caption 24, Il était une fois... l’Homme - 6. Le siècle de Périclès

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The first has been adapted into English as "ooh la la!" But while "ooh la la" is a comical way of expressing attraction or excitement, oh la la (often shortened to oh la) is a more neutral expression of surprise (more like "oh my" in English). 


The second interjection, dis donc, literally means "say then," but is better translated by the phrase "you don't say" or a number of others


In short, if you ever find yourself at a loss for words in French, a filler word or an interjection is a good way to plug the gap!