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The French Imperative - Part 2

The French Imperative - Part 1

In our last lesson, we introduced the French imperative mood, which is used to express a command or a request. We concluded the lesson with a discussion of reflexive verbs, which become hyphenated in the imperative: for example, se souvenir (to remember) becomes souviens-toi! (remember!). In fact, any imperative verb followed by an object pronoun requires a hyphen:

 

Donne-moi l'info. 
Give me the info. 

 

An imperative verb can even precede two object pronouns (and therefore two hyphens). For example, we could shorten the above sentence to: 

 

Ouais, donne-la-moi.
Yeah, give it to me.  

 

Let's break that down: donne is the imperative verb (give), la is the direct object pronoun ("it," referring to "the info"), and moi is the indirect object pronoun (to me). Note that in imperative expressions like this, the direct object pronoun always comes before the indirect object pronoun.

 

On the other hand, when you negate an imperative verb with object pronouns, the hyphens disappear and the pronouns move before the verb:

 

Ne te souviens pas. 
Don't remember

 

Ne me la donne pas.
Don't give it to me

 

Though we mentioned in our previous lesson that the imperative is nearly identical to the present indicative form of a verb, there are four very common verbs for which this is not the case: avoir (to have), être (to be), savoir (to know), and vouloir (to want). For these verbs, the imperative is nearly identical to their present subjunctive forms:

 

Mon ami, n'aie pas peur

My friend, don't be afraid

Caption 18, Arthur H et M - Est-ce que tu aimes?

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Mais soyons prudents!

But let's be careful!

Caption 18, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs - 10. Amerigo Vespucci

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Sachez qu'il y a de nombreux trains directs de Paris vers Trouville, Deauville.

Know that there are numerous trains direct from Paris toward Trouville, Deauville.

Caption 35, Voyage en France - La Normandie: Cabourg

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The imperative form of vouloir is mostly used in the second-person plural (veuillez) as a formal way of saying "please": 

 

Veuillez ne pas quitter. Vous allez être mise en relation avec notre secrétariat.

Please stay on the line. You will be connected to our administrator's office.

Caption 5, Manon et Clémentine - Rendez-vous chez le médecin

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

 

That about covers it for the imperative! Don't forget (n'oubliez pas) to check out our new videos this week and don't hesitate (n'hésitez pas) to tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Grammar

Tu peux y arriver!

In this lesson, we’ll focus on the verb arriver, which has four different but equally common meanings. As you might guess, arriver is cognate with the English word “arrive,” which is the first meaning of the word:

 

On arrive au square de l'Opéra Louis Jouvet, que je trouve très joli aussi.

We arrive at the Opéra Louis Jouvet Square, which I also find very pretty.

Caption 40, Mon Lieu Préféré - Place Édouard VII

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Just as “arrive” doesn’t only refer to reaching a specific location (you can “arrive at” a solution, for example), arriver can also mean “to manage” or “succeed”:

 

On arrive enfin à se mettre d'accord.

We manage finally to come to an agreement.

Caption 18, Rémy de Bores - Auteur

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The expression y arriver specifically means “to make it” or “do it”:

 

Pour sortir des toilettes, c'est vraiment extrêmement étroit et avec le fauteuil, on y arrive...

To come out of the restroom, it's really extremely narrow and you can do it with the wheelchair...

Captions 19-20, Le Journal - Manifestation de paralysés

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And if someone is waiting for you and you’re on your way, you can use arriver to let them know that you’re coming (or arriving):

Dépêche-toi, Michel, je suis en retard! -Oui, j’arrive!

Hurry up, Michel, I’m late! -Yes, I’m coming

 

Car Ivan arrive; le cyclone progresse à trente kilomètres / heure.

Because Ivan is coming; the cyclone is moving at thirty kilometers per hour.

Caption 12, Le Journal - La Martinique

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The final meaning of arriver is “to happen.” In this sense, it is synonymous with the verb se passer:

 

Ce qui ne m'était pas arrivé depuis six ans.

Which had not happened to me for six years.

Caption 24, Voyage en France - La Normandie: Cabourg

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Qu’est-ce qui se passe?

What’s happening

There is also the expression il arrive que... (it happens that...), which is usually translated as “sometimes”:

Il arrive que les rêves se réalisent.

Sometimes dreams come true.

Note that il arrive que... takes the subjunctive.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

So whether someone or something is arriving, succeeding, coming, or happening, you can cover a lot of ground with the verb arriver. See if you can come up with sentences for each of its meanings! 

Vocabulary

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