How to Use the French Pronoun en

How to Use the French Pronoun "en"

If you want your French to sound more advanced, one of the best ways is to understand how to use the French pronoun “en.”

Sure, you can construct proper sentences without these tiny words, but you’ll be doomed to forever sound like a beginner. And who wants that? Not us – our goal is to get you speaking fluidly as fast as possible.

So this week, we’re going to focus on how to use “en.”

EN replaces de + noun

1. In relation to QUANTITY or NUMBERS or ADJECTIVES

When discussing quantities of something, “de + noun” phrases are almost inevitable. In this context, “de” represents the preposition “of”, which indicates that a quantity, number or adjective is being discussed.

The adjective, adverb or quantity is always repeated at the end, even if that amount is none. To illustrate:

Combien de tomates voulez-vous? J’en voudrais six.”
(How many tomatoes do you want I would like six [of them])

Combien paires de chaussures as-tu? J’en ai beaucoup.
(How many pairs of shoes do you have?I have a lot [of them])

Est-ce que Marie a des frères? Oui, elle en a deux
(Does Marie have brothers? Yes, she has two [of them].)

J’ai acheté trois jolies robes, j’en ai acheté trois.
(I bought three nice dresses, I bought three nice ones)

Est-ce que tu as un Euro? Oui, j’en ai un.
(Do you have a Euro? Yes, I have one.)

Est-ce que vous avez une voiture? Non, nous n’en avons pas
(Do you (all) have a car?  No, we don’t have one.)

NOTE: It is NOT correct to say: “J’ai un” or “Non, nous n’avons pas une”. You must use “en” to indicate the quantity.

2. In relation to a THING, a LOCATION, or VERBS PRECEDED by DE

Je me souviens de ta première voiture…je m’en souviens
I remember your first car… I remember it

J’ai peur de la mort…j’en ai peur
I am afraid of death… I am afraid of it

Je reviens du Brésil…j’en reviens
I am coming back from Brasil… I am coming back from there

Est-ce tu as besoin d’aide? Oui, j’en ai besoin
Do you need some help? Yes, I need some

Ils s’occupent du projet? Non, ils n’en s’occupent pas. Jean s’en occupe
Are they handling the project? No, they’re not handling it. Jean is handling it.

Paul parle-t-il de son travail?
Does Paul talk about his job?

Oui, il en parle tout le temps!
Yes, he talks about it all the time!

Careful

When it comes to replacing a noun of person, you keep ‘DE’ and use the tonic form of the pronoun:

J’ai peur de ce professeur…J’ai peur de lui
I am afraid of this teacher…I am afraid of him

Elle est jalouse de sa soeur…elle est jalouse d’elle
She is jealous of her sister…she is jealous of her.

3. With PARTITIVE ARTICLES

A partitive article in French (du, de la, des) is an unknown quantity of something. In English, this translates to “some” or “any.” “En” replaces the partitive article and the noun. For example:

Avez-vous de la confiture?  Oui, j’en ai.
(Do you have any jam? Yes, I have some).

Boit-il du vin?  Non, il n’en boit pas.
(Does he drink [any] wine? No, he doesn’t drink any.)

Est-que tu as acheté du pain?  Non, j’en ai oublié d’acheter. J’en peux acheter plus tarde.
(Did you buy some bread? No, I forgot to buy some. I can buy some later.)

Do you have any questions about how to use the French pronoun “en”?  If so, feel free to write them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you! Or, of course, you can always contact us to discuss French lessons.

 


How to Learn French Noun Gender: Part II

Last week, we wrote about the importance of learning French noun gender and presented multiple categories of words that tend to be either masculine or feminine.

This week, we want to give you 3 more important clues to use to assess whether a French noun is masculine or feminine. We use the word “clue” as opposed to “rule” because – alas – in every category, there’s almost always an exception. But once you memorize and internalize these clues you’ll get the gender right, let’s say… 8 out of 10 times.

Not bad, eh? Here we go:

Clue #1: Most words that refer to men are masculine; those that refer to women are feminine.

Le père (the father)

Le fils (the son)

La tante (the aunt)

La soeur (the sister)

 

Clue #2: Certain nouns are always masculine or feminine regardless of the gender of the person/animal referred to.

Always masculine nouns:

Un ordinateur (a computer)

Un témoin (a witness)

Un manteau (an overcoat)

Un cheval (a horse)

Un guide (a guide)

Always feminine nouns:

Une voiture (a car)

Une souris (a mouse)

Une maison (a house)

Une école (a school)

Une personne (a person)

Une victime (a victim)

 

Clue #3: Certain French nouns endings indicate that the word is either masculine or feminine. Exceptions abound, however. We’ve included the more common ones below, but be always be on the look out for more.

Typically masculine endings:

  • -age (le reportage, sondage, fromage, village)/ Exceptions: la plage, la cage
  • -acle (le miracle, spectacle) / Exceptions: la bâcle, la bernacle, la debâcle
  • -eur (un aspirateur, un ascenseur)/ Exceptions: la chaleur, la couleur, la fleur
  • (le café, marché) / Exception: la clé and words ending with té (see feminine)
  • -eau (bateau, réseau, drapeau) Exceptions: l’eau, la peau
  • -ème (le deuxième, le cinquantième) / Exceptions: la/le troisième, la/le quatrième,
  • -in (le vin, le train) Exception: la fin, la main
  • -ing (le shampooing, le jogging)
  • -isme (le tourisme, organisme, imperialisme)
  • -ment (le gouvernement, appartement)
  • -oir (le soir, le miroir, le devoir)
  • -oi (le tournoi, l’emploi)
  • -ou (le genou, le trou)

 

Typically feminine endings

  • -ade (la limonade, la façade)  Exceptions: masc & fem: le/la nomade, le/la malade
  • -ance (la croissance, la nuance, une ambiance)
  • -aille (la bataille, la taille, la paille)
  • -ée (une idée, la chausée) Exception: le lycée, le musée, le pygmée
  • -ette (la baguette, la courgette)
  • -euse (la chanteuse, la berceuse)
  • -ience (la patience, une experience)
  • -ine (la tartine, la terrine) / Exception: le moine
  • -rice (actrice, directrice) / Exceptions:  le dentifrice
  • -ssion (la passion, une emission) / Exceptions: le bouton-pression
  • -tion (l’information, la question, une ambition)
  • -té (la beauté, la fierté) / Exception: Le blé
  • -tié (la moitié, la pitié)
  • -tude (une habitude, la certitude, la gratitude)
  • -ure (une allure, la candidature)

 

HOMEWORK: Pick 3 masculine word endings and 3 feminine word endings and find 3 new nouns with those endings. Write your answers in the comments below! And, of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us below or contact us.


Learning the Gender of French Nouns: Part I

 

Assigning genders to French nouns is often one of the most daunting aspects of learning French. This is particularly true for Anglophones. Since nouns have no gender in English, it can be difficult for an English speaker to take seriously the idea of referring to a dining room table (la table) as a “she” or thinking of lipstick (le rouge à levres) as in any way masculine.

But learning the right gender for nouns is critical for speaking French fluidly. Because the gender of a noun doesn’t just affect the article preceding the noun (le, la), but can also affect the pronunciation and spelling of adjectives used to describe the noun. 

Not to worry – learning French noun gender isn’t as hard as you might think. You don’t have to memorize the gender of every French noun, one by one. The best way to go about it is by memorizing categories and ending patterns….and the exceptions to the rule.

In this post, we’re going to focus on several categories of nouns that are typically virtually all masculine or all feminine. Just by memorizing these categories, you will learn the correct genders of hundred of words!  (Don’t forget to tune into part II of this series to learn even more!)

 I.  Common Categories of Masculine French Nouns

  • Colors

le bleu (blue)

le rouge (red)

le rose (pink)

le jaune (yellow)

l’orange (orange)

Exception: “Orange” is only masculine as a color – as a fruit it’s feminine. Same thing for “rose.”   As a color, it’s masculine, but as a flower, it’s feminine.

  • Trees

le sapin (pine tree)

le chêne (oak tree)

le saule (willow tree)

le platane (plane tree)

Exception: Most shrubs are also masculine, but vines are feminine (la vigne).

  • Days of week / Months / Seasons

le lundi (Monday)

le dimanche (Sunday)

le mois de février (February)

le mois de juin (June)

le printemps (Spring)

l’automne (Autumn)

  •  Metals

le fer (iron)

le titane (titanium)

l’or (gold)

l’acier (steel)

  •  Wines / Cheeses

le Bordeaux

le Bourgorgne

le Chablis

le Brie

le Cantal

le Camembert

Exception: la tomme de Savoie is a cheese exception.

  •  Metric Units / Measures

le kilo (kilo)

le mètre (meter)

le joule (joule)

l’hectare (hectare)

le litre (liter)

le quart (quart)

Exception: la moitié (half)

  •  Numbers

le cinq (five)

le dix-neuf (nineteen)

le douzième (the twelfth)

Exception: La trentaine, la cinquantaine and other words describing a decade of age (in one’s 30’s, 40’s, etc.) are usually feminine.

  •  Language names

le chinois (Chinese)

le français (French)

l’espanol (Spanish)

 II.  Common Categories of Feminine French Noun

  • Sciences / Disciplines

la science (science)

la géographie (geography)

la chimie (chemistry)

l’astronomie (astronomy)

l’histoire (history)

Exception: le droit (law)

  •  Car brand names

une Peugeot

une Citroën

une Mercedes

une BMW

  • Watch brands

une Rolex

une Jaeger-LeCoultre

une Swatch

Ready to learn more about  French noun genders? Check this post out.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please post them below!