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Painting Three Ways

Since France has such a rich artistic history, from Gothic architecture to Surrealism and beyond, it's not too surprising that there are three different words for "painting" in French. You'll find one of them in our new video on the artist Karine Rougier:

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Un travail à la fois de peintures, de sculptures... de pierres peintes.

Works of both paintings, of sculptures... of painted rocks.

Captions 9-10, Le saviez-vous? - Karine Rougier présente son art

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Une peinture shouldn't be too hard to remember, since it's a cognate of "painting." Its relatives also have direct English equivalents: peindre (to paint), peint/peinte (painted), peintre (painter).

 

Peinture is also the word for "paint," as in the substance: 

 

Et la peinture, euh...

And the paint, uh...

on peut dire, se sépare pas comme une vinaigrette.

we can say, doesn't separate like a vinaigrette.

Caption 31, Salon Eco Habitat - La peinture à l'ocre

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So la peinture à l'huile, for example, can either mean "oil painting" or "oil paint."

 

In English, a "tableau" is an artistic grouping or arrangement, originally referring to a motionless group of people representing a scene or historical event, kind of like a living painting. As a matter of fact, "tableau" is short for tableau vivant, which means exactly that. Un tableau (literally, "little table") is another word for "painting" in French:

 

Actuellement, je prépare un grand tableau, "La naissance de Vénus".

At the moment, I'm preparing a great painting, "The Birth of Venus."

Caption 67, Il était une fois: les Explorateurs - 10. Amerigo Vespucci

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Finally, there's la toile, which technically means "canvas," but is just as often used for "painting":

 

Vous y découvrirez la reproduction d'une toile de Sisley.

There you'll find the reproduction of a Sisley painting.

Caption 10, Voyage en France - Saint-Mammès

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But that's not all! Une toile is also "a web," as in une toile d'araignée (spider's web). And just as you can say "the web" in English to refer to the internet, in French you can say la toile.

 

We hope this lesson has inspired you to get out your pinceaux (paintbrushes)!
 

Vocabulary

The French Subjunctive - Part 2 - Irregular Verbs

The French Subjunctive - Part 1

In our last lesson, we introduced the general rule for conjugating French verbs in the present subjunctive: take the third-person plural (ils/elles) present indicative form of the verb, remove the -ent, and add the subjunctive endings: -e, -es, -e, -ions, -iez, and -ent. While this rule applies to the vast majority of verbs, some of the most common French verbs have irregular subjunctive conjugations. 

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In this video about a tile factory in Courboissy, we find two irregular subjunctive verbs in the same caption, both introduced by the phrase pour que (in order that, so that): 

 

Alors soit pour que ça soit respirant, pour que vous ayez une maison respirante...

So either in order for it to be breathable, so that you have a breathable house...

Caption 37, Salon Eco Habitat - Terres cuites de Courboissy

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The first verb is être (to be)which is conjugated as follows in the subjunctive: je sois, tu sois, il/elle/on soit, nous soyons, vous soyez, ils/elles soient. Note that the first soit in the above caption is not the same as the third-person subjunctive form of être—it's a separate word meaning "either." See our lesson Either/Or for more information on that. 

 

The second verb, avoir (to have), looks like this in the subjunctive: j'aie, tu aies, il/elle/on ait, nous ayons, vous ayez, ils/elles aient. 

 

Like the first-person subjunctive forms of avoir, those of aller (to go) also begin with ai-j'aille, tu ailles, il/elle/on aille.

 

Si vous voulez que je m'en aille

If you want me to go away

Caption 17, Bertrand Pierre - Si vous n'avez rien à me dire

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But in the nous and vous forms, the changes position: nous allions, vous alliezThen it goes back to where it was for the third-person plural: ils/elles aillent

 

Most forms of vouloir (to want) contain the letters euilleje veuille, tu veuilles, il/elle/on veuille, ils/elles veuillent.

 

...il n'y a rien d'autre à faire qu'à attendre que le vent veuille bien se lever.

...there's nothing else to do but wait until the wind finally decides to pick up.

Captions 15-16, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs - 10. Amerigo Vespucci - Part 1

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But its nous and vous forms look a little different: nous voulionsvous vouliez

 

Faire (to make or to do) and pouvoir (to be able to) both have a double s in the subjunctive: 

 

Maintenant qu'on est en numéro trois, il faut qu'on fasse quatre, cinq, six.

Now that we are on step three, we have to do four, five, six.

Caption 36, B-Girl Frak - Le "6-Step"

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Et maintenant pose ton assiette en or devant moi pour que je puisse manger son contenu.

And now set your gold plate before me so that I can eat its contents.

Captions 4-5, Contes de fées - Le roi grenouille - Part 2

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The full subjunctive conjugations of these verbs are:

je fasse, tu fasses, il/elle/on fasse, nous fassions, vous fassiez, ils/elles fassent 
je puisse, tu puisses, il/elle/on puisse, nous puissions, vous puissiez, ils/elles puissent

 

Finally, there's savoir (to know), which has a ch in the subjunctive: je sache, tu saches, il/elle/on sache, nous sachions, vous sachiez, ils/elles sachent.

 

Comment tu veux que je le sache moi?

How do you want [expect] me to know?

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Congrats! You're now fully capable of conjugating any French verb in the present subjunctive. Feel free to send us any suggestions for future lesson topics by tweeting us @yabla or emailing us at newsletter@yabla.com.

Grammar

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