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Comment s'en sortir avec sortie

When you want to exit a building, look for a sign that says Sortie (Exit). Based on the past participle of the verb sortir (to go out), la sortie is a very versatile word that can be used in many different ways, both literally and figuratively.


As mentioned earlier, la sortie refers to “the exit” of a building. The studio in the video below has several sorties, which may explain André’s wife’s mysterious disappearance:


Ah ben... parce qu'il y a d'autres sorties...

Oh, well... because there are other exits... 

Caption 24, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma femme est-elle réellement morte ? - Part 2

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Just as in English, you can combine sortie with faire (to make): faire sa sortie (to make one's exit), like singers and superstars do.


Voici comment toutes les grandes superstars font leur sortie.

Here's how all the big superstars make their exit.

Captions 64-65, Extr@ Ep. 5 - Une étoile est née - Part 3

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Speaking of singers, we also use the word sortie to talk about an album release:


Sortie de l'album le vingt-sept février deux mille douze

Album release February twenty-seventh, two thousand twelve

Caption 1, Boulbar New York, 6 heures du matin

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Sortie is also a verb form meaning "released." In this case, it's the feminine past participle of the verb sortir (to be released). Remember that sortir belongs to the small group of verbs that go with the auxiliary être and take agreement in the past tense. In the video below, sortie agrees with the feminine noun chanson (song):


Cette chanson est sortie en deux mille onze.

This song was released in two thousand eleven.

Caption 134, Français avec Nelly 12 Songs to Improve Your French - Part 1

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It’s not just songs or movies that can be released. People can too! In the example below, it’s a prisoner who is being freed.


Dès sa sortie de prison, Brice contacte Enzo.

As soon as he is released from prison, Brice contacts Enzo.

Caption 1, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon père - Part 9

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The recently released prisoner would no longer need permission for chaque sortie (each outing), unlike French residents during the early COVID pandemic:


Il faut signer une attestation, surtout attester de chaque sortie.

You have to sign a certificate, above all register every outing.

Captions 54-55, Lionel L La pandémie

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As for poor Barbara, she has to beg her mother for la permission de sortie:


Il fallait passer par d'interminables négociations pour obtenir la permission de sortie.

I had to go through endless negotiations to obtain permission to go out.

Captions 26-27, Mère & Fille La soirée

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Unlike Barbara, our former prisoner is free to enjoy être de sortie (being out and about), like the people in this Christine and the Queens song:


Nous et la "man", on est de sortie

We and the man, we are out and about

Caption 25, Christine and the Queens Christine

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Être de sortie can also just mean “to be out,” as opposed to being home:


J'aurais pu refuser et prétexter que j'étais de sortie

I could've refused on the pretext that I was out

Caption 72, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple - Part 5

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Interestingly, when sortie is preceded by the definite article la (the), as in à la sortie, the phrase usually signals the end of an activity:


À la sortie, cette idée semble avoir été abandonnée

In the end, they seem to have abandoned this idea

Caption 6, Le Journal Enseigner l'Holocauste en classe

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À la sortie de la séance, certains n'en reviennent toujours pas.

At the end of the showing, some still can't believe it.

Caption 27, Le Journal Les Ch'tis

 Play Caption de me les communiquer à la sortie du conseil de classe.

...and communicate them to me at the end of the teachers' conference.

Captions 54-55, Mère & Fille Le coup de téléphone

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However, note the subtlety here. La sortie des classes doesn’t just mean the end of classes, but also when classes are dismissed:


Ça tombe juste pendant la sortie des classes.

That falls right when classes are dismissed.

Caption 23, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple - Part 3

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And watch out: in a different context, une sortie de classe is a "field trip" or "school trip," like the one Barbara is going on: 


Les sorties de classe, c'est l'occasion de découvrir des choses nouvelles

Class field trips are an opportunity to discover new things

Caption 1, Mère & Fille La sortie de classe

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Here are some other uses of the noun sortie. This one is straightforward: à la sortie du four means “out of the oven."


...pour que les manneles à la sortie du four, ils aient une belle croûte. that the mannele out of the oven have a beautiful crust.

Caption 62, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

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In the next example, however, the meaning is not so obvious. Remember earlier when we talked about la sortie d’un album? This time, la sortie sort of means the opposite: "the phaseout" or "the end of an era":


Tu crois que pour toi ça symbolise la sortie du nucléaire, là ?

Do you think this symbolizes the phaseout of nuclear energy for you?

Caption 75, Actus Quartier Manif anti-nucléaire à Bastille

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Another less common meaning of sortie is “output” in an industrial context, as in la sortie de l’électricité:


Dans les batteries, on a des contacteurs qui coupent la sortie de l'électricité

In the batteries, we have contactors that shut off the electricity output

Captions 64-65, Bateau sport 100% électrique Le Nautique 196 E

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And in a commercial context, we have l'entrée et sortie de marchandises


...logiciels informatiques pour gérer tout ce qui est entrée et sortie de marchandises. 

...computing software to manage everything that is about the entry and departure of goods.

Captions 33-34, GO! Formations Présentation du centre

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Indeed, sortie can mean “departure,” as in to leave a place or depart. In the video below, la sortie refers to the time the couple left the hotel:


Au moment de leur sortie, eh bien, cette carte avait disparu.

At the time of their departure, well, this card had gone missing.

Captions 88-89, Le Jour où tout a basculé À l'audience - Arnaque en couple ? - Part 6

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In some cases, sortie doesn’t just mean “departure,” but “quitting,” as in giving up:


C'est-à-dire les différentes épisodes de sortie, ensuite, les envies, et cetera, correspondent en tout point à ce que nous vivons avec...des patients qui fument...

That is, the different quitting episodes, then the cravings, et cetera, correspond point by point with what we experience with...patients who smoke...

Captions 157-160, Le Figaro Elle a banni le sucre pendant un an - Part 2

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So far, we’ve explored many ways of using the word sortie, and like Sacha in the video below, you may be wondering comment vous allez vous en sortir (how you’re going to manage):


Oh là là là là, comment vont-ils s'en sortir ?

Oh dear, how are they going to manage?

Caption 10, Extr@ Ep. 6 - Le jour du loto - Part 1

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Just keep in mind that the main meanings of sortie are “exit," "departure," and "outing." However, pay close attention to context to interpret the less common uses of sortie. And remember that Yabla videos are at your disposal pour vous aider à vous en sortir (to help you cope). Thanks for reading!


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The Weird and Wonderful World of Verbs

French verbs take on many endings, which can be a challenge to a new learner. Not to mention that some irregular verbs bear little resemblance to their original infinitive forms when conjugated. And a small group of verbs have unique characteristics that may surprise you. So let’s take a tour of these weird and wonderful things called verbs.


Did you know that the shortest conjugated verb in French is only one letter long, a, as in il/elle a (he/she has)?


Et il a des révélations à lui faire.

And he has some revelations to make to him.

Caption 2, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon père - Part 9

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Speaking of short verbs, a few irregular past participles ending in -u are extremely short and depart from their infinitive forms. And to make matters worse, they look very similar. The past participles of savoir, croire, pouvoir, boire, voir, and devoir are su, cru, pu, bu, vu, and  (known, believed, was able to, drank, must have):


Ce que j'ai pu constater...

What I was able to observe...

Caption 23, Alphabétisation des filles au Sénégal

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Just a quick reminder that past participles sometimes have to agree in gender and number with their objects, which means they take on additional endings. In the following example, vu becomes vus to agree with the masculine plural object, les gens​: les gens qu'elles avaient vus là-bas.

...and the people they had seen there.

Caption 21, Contes de fées La petite sirène - Part 1

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Verbs ending in -ut or -it, as in fut (was) and fit (did), are often the mark of the passé simple or past historic, which is a tense used in fairy tales and other literary or historical works:


La première chose qu'elle vit fut un grand bateau.

The first thing she saw was a large boat.

Caption 25, Contes de fées La petite sirène - Part 1

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Although the past historic is little used, you may come across it from time to time, so it is worth familiarizing yourself with its endings at least. Be aware, though, that some verbs in the past historic look the same as other verbs in the present tense. For example, elle vit (she saw) is a past historic form of voir, but elle vit (she lives) is also a present tense form of vivre:


Mais heureusement ton frère, bon, qui vit à Montréal...

But luckily your brother, well, who lives in Montreal...

Caption 36, Elisa et sa maman La technologie

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And sometimes, a verb conjugated in the same tense can have two different meanings, as in je suis (I am/I follow), which is the first-person singular present of both être (to be) and suivre (to follow). Usually, context is enough to guide you, but it could also be a trick question in an exam! In the video below, the poor koala is having an identity crisis:


Quoi? Je ne suis pas un koala? Mais alors, qui suis-je?

What? I'm not a koala? But then, who am I?

Caption 8, Les zooriginaux 3 Qui suis-je? - Part 1

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And here, you have both meanings of suis within the same caption:


Je suis bien d'accord, ils ne servent à rien. Allez, suis-moi.

I totally agree, they are of no use. Come on, follow me.

Caption 14, Les zooriginaux 2 Tel père tel fils - Part 4

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Speaking of present-tense tricks, the verbs vaincre (to defeat, vanquish) and convaincre (to convince) are the only verbs in the French language that have endings in -c and -csje convaincs (I convince), tu convaincs (you convince), il convainc (he convinces). This little nugget of knowledge might come in handy while playing Scrabble, but not so much in conversation.


The past participles of vaincre and convaincre are more straightforward: vaincu, convaincu:


Alors, te voici convaincu? Ne cherche pas ailleurs!

So, are you convinced? Don't look elsewhere!

Caption 10, Il était une fois: L’Espace 3. La planète verte - Part 4

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One verb that draws attention to itself not for its unique present-tense ending but for its unusual infinitive form is the verb se fiche (to not give a damn). Normally it should come with an -r at the end, like all infinitives, but many grammarians, including those at Larousse, make a case for se fiche as the infinitive. In any event, it makes for a vigorous debate among scholars and grammarians. As for most people, ils s’en fichent (they could care less) and use the more regular infinitive version, se ficher


Se fiche is most often a conjugated form of the present tense. In the following example, it takes on a different meaning: "kid" or "get a rise out of":


On se fiche de nous ou quoi?

Are you kidding us or what?

Caption 5, Actus Quartier Devant la SNCF

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Finally, some verb tenses have very exotic endings, even to the average French speaker! Endings such as -inssent, -assent, and -ussent, as in qu’ils vinssent/fassent/fussent (that they came/did/were) belong to the imperfect subjunctive, a tense that's hardly ever used. Most French speakers use the present subjunctive even when referring to the past: 


Je voulais que tu viennes.

I wanted you to come.


Very few would use the imperfect subjunctive, unless perhaps for a humorous effect: 


Je voulais que tu vinsses.

I wanted you to come.


While the imperfect subjunctive is a literary verb form, the present subjunctive is not, and is often used in casual conversation. For example, you will need the present subjunctive to say something as simple as “I’ve got to go":


Merci de m'avoir regardée sur Yabla. Maintenant faut que j'y aille.

Thanks for watching me on Yabla. I gotta go now.

Caption 39, B-Girl Frak Limoges

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Vaille que vaille (come what may), don’t hesitate to explore more wondrous verb oddities in your Yabla wanderings by taking full advantage of our videos and lessons. Thank you for reading. Maintenant il faut que nous y allions! Au revoir!


How to Hug in French

In our last lesson, we talked about the different words for kissing in French, and how the COVID pandemic has affected the French custom of la bise. Now we'll focus on hugging. Yes, French people hug too! However, there are differences. Unlike in Anglo-Saxon countries, where hugging is what la bise is to French people, hugging is not so prevalent in France. A hug is not used as a greeting, as full-body contact may be considered intrusive. Hugging is more of a private affair, a heartfelt show of affection. So, if you’re not comfortable with la bise, don’t think that you can make a compromise by giving a hug instead! 


In fact, the word for “hug” doesn’t have a direct translation in French.


Instead, you’ll find a paraphrase: serrer dans ses bras (to squeeze in one's arms) or prendre dans ses bras (to hold in one’s arms).


J'aurais bien voulu, pour passer le temps

I really would have liked, to pass the time

te serrer dans mes bras amicalement

to squeeze you warmly in my arms

Captions 1-2, Babylon Circus - J'aurais bien voulu

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Un câlin is a more familiar hug, more like a cuddle:


Que le mot soit doux comme un câlin

May the word be sweet like a cuddle

Caption 4, Les Nubians - Que le mot soit perle

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You can also use the verbal phrase faire un câlin (to hug or cuddle). Sophie and Patrice even use it when talking about hugging their Christmas tree!


Moi, j'aime bien faire des câlins aux arbres.

I really like hugging trees.

-Allez viens. On va lui faire un petit câlin

-Come on, we'll go give it a little hug

Caption 86, Sophie et Patrice - Après Noël

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And you can give bisous, bises, and câlins in writing too, with no fear of contamination! It's equivalent to "kisses and hugs" at the end of a letter, text message, or email:


Bisous, câlins, Maman.

Kisses and hugs, Mom.

Caption 40, Extr@ Ep. 1 - L'arrivée de Sam

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Finally, there's the more formal une étreinte, which is "an embrace," and its verbal form étreindre (to embrace):


J'aurais voulu que cette étreinte avec mon père dure éternellement.

I would have liked this embrace with my father to last forever.

Caption 25, Le Jour où tout a basculé - À la recherche de mon père

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Le soir, on s'étreint, les deux pieds dans l'eau

In the evening, we embrace, both feet in the water

Caption 21, Duel - Caramel

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The word embrasser is cognate with "embrace," but don't let that confuse you: it means "to kiss," not "to hug." See our last lesson for more on that.


The French might not hug each other as much as Americans do, but they have quite a few different ways of saying "hug"!