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.

 


3 Tips for Improving Your Ability to Read French

In our private French lessons, we primarily focus on learning to speak like a native, and most of our lessons are spent in conversation.

 But reading in French is fundamental to improving your speaking ability. One of its biggest benefits, of course, is that reading can substantially (and quickly) widen your vocabulary. It can help you more easily absorb grammar and sentence structure. And depending on what you read, it can help foster your understanding of French culture, politics, and humor – all of which will certainly help you adjust to your life in France.

 If you want to read more fluidly in French, try these 3 tips before settling down with your next roman (novel) or journal (newspaper).

 

     1.  Choose what you read carefully.  

When deciding on what to read, it’s key to choose a subject that’s interesting to you and that it’s at an appropriate level.

 You might be thinking: “Well, duh!” but it’s not unusual for students to read certain subjects or mediums that they think they should be reading rather than what truly interests them. But that path just leads to glazed eyes, a wandering mind, and the unfair assessment that reading French is so hard and sooo boring.

 So, don’t bother stoically plodding through Le Monde, if you think you’d enjoy reading Glamour or Top Santé more.  Think outside the box. In addition to novels, magazines, and newspapers, there are countless blogs written in French on a wide range of topics, from travel to cooking to finance.  

 If you’re longing to read a classic like Balzac, but just aren’t up to that level yet, look to classic French children’s books like Le Petit Prince or Le Petit Nicolas series. If you like comics (bande déssinees), you’ll have so much fun with the ancient Gaul, Asterix, or sharing in the adventures of the Tintin.

 Bottom line: it doesn’t matter much what you read, as long you enjoy it.

 

       2.  Ditch the dictionary (initially).

Too often students of French read with a book in one hand, and a dictionary in the other. Forget that. Interrupting your reading flow to look up new words also breaks up your broader understanding of the language and how it is used.  

 Approach reading in French similar to how you would watch a French film or listen to a French song. Let the language flow through your mind, allowing it to effortlessly call up certain images and whatever understanding you can grasp.

Your brain will fill in many of the blanks by interpreting an unfamiliar word’s meaning through context.

 (Note: be sure that you’re reading at an appropriate level or slightly above your level – if you’re baffled by every other sentence, you’d be better off finding something slightly easier.)

 Of course, we’re not saying you should never use a dictionary. While you’re reading, underline new words in pencil so that you can remember to look them up later. And when you do look them, try researching them in French dictionary, which will keep you thinking in French. But keep a good French-English dictionary on hand for times you’re truly stuck or exhausted.

 

      3.    Read aloud

Reading aloud (haute voix) is a great way to improve your French on multiple levels. You can strengthen your vocabulary, pronunciation and accent, and boost your ability to speak fluidly all in one fell swoop. Reading aloud also forces you to pay attention to words that you might skip over as you read silently.

When you read aloud, do so slowly and consciously, and read each page or passage twice. During the first reading, just let the words and understanding flow without great effort. In the second reading, pay attention to how your tongue and mouth move as you read.   Do this for 10-15 minutes every day – or even every other day – and we think you’ll be pleased with the results!

 What do you enjoy reading in French? Share your favorite books, magazines and blogs below!


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.


7 Verbs that Have No Direct Translation in French

When you imagine a word that has no direct translation into another language, it’s easy to imagine the existence of some exotic, complex word.

For example, take the French verb “entarter.” This means, “to hit someone in the face with a pie”. Somehow that seems like exactly the kind of word that would have no direct translation into English (or possibly any other language).  

But how about the verb “to kick?” “To hug”?

Seemingly basic English verbs such as these have no direct counterpart in French. The concept exists in French, of course, but there is no single French verb that covers the meaning in the same way as in English.

Because there’s no single word equivalent of these verbs, their French meanings sometimes don’t appear on standard vocabulary lists. In fact, you might not realize you can’t express these concepts until you’re halted mid-tracks in your conversation, racking your brains for a word that you feel must exist, but doesn’t.

To save you the trouble, here are 7 commonly used English verbs that have no direct equivalent in French – and the French phrases you need to express them properly.

 

  1. To kick = “donner un coup de pied.” (to make a blow with the foot).

Example: Je n’aime pas Marc. Il donne des coups de pied à son chien.

 I don’t like Marc. He kicks his dog.

 

  1. To drop (something) = “laisser tomber.” (to let something fall)

Example: Ne laissez pas tomber cette vase! Elle est très chère!

Don’t drop that vase! It’s very expensive.

 Note: A drop in value translates to “baisser” (lower) “diminuer” (diminish) or “chuter” (plunge).

 

  1. To hug = “prendre quelqu’un dans ses bras” or “serrer dans ses bras

 Example: Après son retour de l’étranger, il a serré sa petite amie dans ses bras étroitement.

After returning from abroad, he hugged his girlfriend tightly.

 Note: Many people think that “calîner” (calîn, noun) is the equivalent of to hug, but it’s actually “to cuddle.” Embrasser is also often mistakenly believed to be the translation of “to hug” but it means “to kiss.”

 While there’s no single word for the verb “to hug,” as a noun, “a hug” is translated as “accolade.” (e.g. Après son retour de l’etranger, il a donné une accolade à sa petite amie = after his return from abroad, he gave his girlfriend a hug.)

 As hugging is not the cultural norm in France, “hug” as a verb or noun isn’t frequently employed.

 

  1. To hurt = “faire mal” (to make bad)

 Faire mal is used to indicate when someone has hurt you emotionally or physically.

 Example 1: Il me fait mal quand je déplace mon bras comme ça.

 It hurts when I move my arm like this.

 Example 2: Ça m’a fait mal quand elle a cessé de me parler.

It hurt me when she stopped speaking to me.

 Note: If you want to say that someone caused you a physical wound or injury then use the verbs “blesser” or “injurer.”

 

  1. To trust = faire confiance / avoir confiance (to make/ have confidence)

 Faire confiance and avoir confiance are used to express your confidence in a person.

Faire confiance usually requires use of the preposition “à”, while avoir confiance requires use of the preposition “en”.

Example 1:     Je fais confiance à mon copain

                         I trust my friend.

Example 2:    Je te fais confiance

                         I trust you.

Example 3:    Ils ont confiance en toi

                        They trust you. / They have confidence in you.

 Note: When you want to express trust of something that’s not a person, you’d use the verb phrase: “pouvoir compter sur” (“to be able to count on”)

 Paul peut compter sur sa voiture même si elle est très vieille.

Paul can trust his car even though it’s very old.

 

  1. To retire = prendre sa retraite (to take one’s retirement)

 

Example:        Elle n’a que 50 ans mais elle a déjà pris sa retraite.

                         She’s only 50 but she’s already retired.

 

  1. To care = various French verbs, depending on your intended meaning.

 There’s no single word in French that covers all the various meaning that “to care” does in English. You have to learn the right verb or verb phrase in the right context to express yourself properly.

To care about someone = avoir de l’affection (pour quelqu’un)

 Example:        Elle n’est pas amoureuse de lui mais elle a de l’affection pour lui.

                           She isn’t in love with him but she cares for him.

To take care of someone = prendre soin de qulequ’un

Example:        Quand Marie était dans l’hôpital Paul a pris soin de ses enfants.

                         When Marie was in the hospital Paul took care of her children.

 To care about a cause = se sentir concerné

Example: Si vous vous sentez concerné par les baleines, vous ferez un don à la cause.

                   If you care about whales, you will donate to the cause.

 

Can you think of any other verbs that have no direct translation? Share them below!

 

 

 


How To Handle A Plateau in Your French Language Learning

 

Have you hit a plateau with your French language learning? You know… that maddening period when– despite your best efforts – it seems that you’re not retaining anything new, not speaking a jot better, still making the same mistakes, and will never, ever become fluent.      

Don’t worry. This happens to almost everyone who learns a new language. In fact, linguists say that it’s perfectly normal to reach a plateau (or to feel as if you have). This is partly because the amount of time you spend studying a language is not directly proportional to the amount you actually learn.

Think about it: When you first start a new language, you learn a large and broad base of simple words and phrases (Bonjour, J’ai faim, Où sont les toilettes?) fairly rapidly. It’s easy to feel great about your progress because you’ve gone from knowing nothing (or almost nothing) to being able to understand and communicate in a foreign language on a basic level.

 As phrases, expressions and rules become more complex (hello subjunctive!) and vocabulary more specialized, your progress is not as immediately evident to you…. hence the feeling that you’re not moving forward at all.

 But if you are studying consistently, you probably are. So, how to get that “blast-off” feeling again and regain the sense of your advancement? Here are 4 tips:

  1. Identify Your Biggest Sticking Point

 Everyone reaches a different plateau. For some, it’s being able to converse in a particular tense or form complex phrases. Others get frustrated by their limited vocabulary. Still others are disappointed with the time it takes to process and respond to spoken French. And many fluent non-native French speakers struggle with written French.

 Consider your biggest sticking point and commit to primarily working on that. When you try to fix all your problems at once, you’re only going to make incremental steps in all directions and that’s frustrating. But if you decide to focus on overcoming your bête noire, chances are, you’ll be able to see results faster and get that thrilling feeling of advancement again.

  1. Shake Up Your Routine

 Your plateau may be a consequence of being stuck in a learning rut. If you’ve been studying from textbooks and online aids, then maybe it’s time to put these things down and try something new, like reading French newspapers and magazines or watching French movies. Of course, link your new learning technique with your “biggest sticking point.” So, for example, if you’re having trouble processing spoken French, make more effort to listen to French, whether it be through French music or French television.

  1. Set Short-Term Goals

As we noted above, a large part of the frustration with reaching a plateau is not seeing immediate rewards of your study. You can overcome this by setting short-term goals. For example, if you’re frustrated by your limited French vocabulary, commit to learning 5 or 10 new words a day for a month. Every day, write them down and practice using them in sentences. By the end of the month, you should have a noticeably larger vocabulary.

If communicating in French is your problem, why not identify a topic on which you’d like to converse fluently? Allow yourself a month or two to master this topic, practice speaking with friends or a French tutor, until you feel quite comfortable talking about this particular topic. Sure, you still have an ocean of topics to conquer, but fulfilling this short-term goal could get you out of your rut and boot you to the next level of learning.

Think along these lines and you’ll probably start getting excited about learning French again and notice your forward movement.

  1. Learn Consciously

Sometimes language learners really do plateau….meaning that they’re not really advancing at all. This is because sometimes when you’ve reached a certain level of communication and understanding in French, you start to think, (maybe unconsciously): Well, this is good enough and you stop making a true effort to improve.  

If you want to improve and break away from that plateau, you have to make conscious effort to better your French. Be aware of your mistakes as you speak, don’t just let them slide. Ask friends to correct you. And above all, seriously commit to steps 1 -3 above.   We think you’ll be happy with the results!

Hit a plateau in your French studies? Share your “biggest sticking point” with us below…and tell us below what steps you’re going take to break free! Or if you want our advice, just leave a comment below. We’ll help you!

 


7 Polite French Phrases to Learn before Visiting Paris

 

The French – Parisians, in particular – have a reputation for being rude. But the behavior that foreigners perceive as rudeness is often the result of a cultural misunderstanding. France has its own standards of politeness and these may differ from those of your home country. In fact, when a Parisian seems rude, he or she might actually be reacting to a perceived rudeness on your part, even though in your eyes you’ve acted perfectly normally.

To avoid any such misunderstandings – and experience the best side of Parisians – learn the following 7 French phrases before visiting Paris. These phrases will show that you’re polite, respectful and have some understanding of French culture. In return, we think you’ll come to see that Parisians are much more friendly than they’re reputed to be!

  1. Bonjour – Good morning/hello

       Pronunciation: Bohn-joohr

Seems obvious, right? But many people don’t realize that “bonjour” is probably the most important phrase in the French language. In France, you should say bonjour to whenever you enter a store, restaurant, elevator, or bus (to the driver; whenever you start a conversation with a stranger (i.e., asking for direction, asking for help at a store), or when you encounter a neighbor or hotel staff. For extra points, you can say: Bonjour Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle.

 

  1. Excusez-moi de vous déranger = Excuse me for bothering you…

         Pronunciation: Ex-kue-zay / mwa /duh /voo /dey-rahn-zhay

If you’re asking a question or making a request of a stranger, preface your request with this phrase. Use especially if the person is engaged in another activity at the time of your request, such as talking to someone, reading, etc. You would not use this phrase with waitstaff or a salesperson at a store. In those cases you would simply say: “Excusez-moi…”

 

  1. C’est très gentil, merci = That’s very nice (of you), thank you.

Pronunciation: Say /trehay / zhawn-tee / mare-si

Use this phrase when someone does something especially nice for you. This may include giving you directions on the street, helping you (or offering to help) in some way, or giving you a compliment.

 

  1. Parlez-vous anglais? = Do you speak English?

       Pronunciation: Pahr-lay /voo / anhn-glay?

Want to get on a Parisian’s bad side? Start yammering away in English before asking whether or not he or she speaks the language. You’re in France. The national language is French. It’s what’s taught in schools. It’s what spoken at home. Many Parisians do speak English, but not everyone does. And of those that do speak English, not everyone speaks it very well. So, even if you feel in your bones that the person speaks English, just be polite and ask first. If you show this courtesy, you’re likely to get a warmer, more thoughtful response to your query.

 

  1. Desolé(e), je ne parle pas français (très bien) = I’m sorry, I don’t speak French (very well).

  Pronunciation: Deh-zo-ley / zhe /nuh /pahrl /pa/ frahn-say /(treh bee-ahn).

Another way of getting into a Parisian’s good graces is by apologizing for not being able to speak French very well. The French do not expect the entire world to speak the language. Still, it’s nice to hear someone making the effort to speak it and apologizing for not being able to do more.

 

  1. Excusez-moi, pouvez-vous me dire où est… ? = Excuse me, can you tell me where ______ is?

    Pronunciation: Poo-vey /voo /muh /dear /oo /ay…

If you need help in a store or on the street, this phrase will certainly come in handy. Of course, you’ll need to fill in the blank with the name of the place or street you’re looking for. And it’s almost always a good idea to preface the phrase with “Excusez-moi…”.

 

  1. C’était très bon = It was really good.

      Pronunciation: Say /et-tay /treh /bohn.

Get that Parisian waiter to smile by complimenting the fine meal you’ve had (if it’s deserving, of course!). Often after you’ve eaten, your server might say: “Ça a été?” meaning “How was it?” If you liked it, deliver your compliments in French and with a smile. Remember that “bon” is always used for food, never “bien”.

Is there a French phrase you’d like to use during your trip to France, but don’t know how to express it? Ask us in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!

 

 

 


Retourner, Revenir, Rentrer: What’s the Difference?

Some French verbs are more complicated than others for Anglophones, most especially those that don’t have an exact counterpart in English. Such is the case with the verbs retourner, revenir and rentrer.

Many English speakers assume these three verbs translate as “to return” “to come back” and “to re-enter” respectively, and can be used interchangeably. But, alas, in French that’s not the case.

While each of these French verbs do generally indicate someone going back to a place, they must each be used in a specific – and different – set of circumstances.

Let’s take a closer look:

RETOURNER         

Meaning #1: To go back (to a place where the speaker is not)

Meaning #2: To go back (to a place where the speaker is not) for a short time.

Meaning #3: To return something (to give back)

As the definitions above indicate, “retourner” is used to refer to a return to a place where the subject of the sentence was previously and where the speaker is not.

Example #1: Ma mere adorait Rome. Elle voudrait y retourner l’année prochaine.

My mother adored Rome.  She would like to return there next year.

Example #2: Paul était sur le point de nous retrouver, mais il avait oublié son porte-monnaie à la boulangerie.  Il y est donc retourné le chercher pour nous rejoindre après.

 Paul was about to meet us but he forgot his wallet at the bakery. So he’s going to go back there to look for it and meet us afterwards.

 Example #3: Tout article non retourné sera facturé

Any missing items will be charged

REVENIR

Meaning: To come back (to the place where the speaker is).

Revenir is used to refer to a return to a place where the subject of the sentence was previously and where the speaker is currently.

 Example #1: Où est Marie? Elle est partie. Mais elle a dit qu’elle reviendrait plus tard

Where is Marie? She left. But she says she’ll come back (here) later.

Example #2: “Zut ! Je dois retourner au bureau car j’y ai laissé mes clés! Je reviens tout de suite!”

Darn it! I have to return to my office because I left my keys there. I’ll come right back (here)!

RENTRER

 Meaning: “to return home” — no matter whether “home” is your country or your abode.

 Example #1: Cette fête est géniale mais je suis fatiguée. Je rentre à la maison.

 This party is great but I’m tired. I’m going (returning) home.

Example #2François habite en Espagne depuis 7 ans mais il rentrera en France en septembre.

 François lived in Spain for seven years but in September he’s going to return to France.

 

Do you need additional help distinguishing between retourner, revenir and retourner? Leave your questions below and we’ll get back to you!


Surviving the French Job Interview: Cultural & Language Tips

Looking for a job in France? If so, it’s never too early to start preparing for the job interview.

In France, as in most countries, the job interview (entretien d’embauche) is a critical opportunity to showcase your strengths and it is often the deciding factor as to whether you will win the position.

Creating a Good Impression in a French Job Interview

When it comes to making a good impression, certain things are universal. In France, just as elsewhere, it is of utmost importance that you arrive on time, that you are well-groomed and appropriately dressed, and that you’re are adequately prepared to discuss your qualifications.

That said, certain cultural issues and sensitivities  can arise in the French interview context that non-French job seekers may not be aware of. Anyone applying for a job in France should get familiar with these cultural quirks before the interview or risk sending a career-killing message to potential employer.

 

  1. Address your interviewer as Madame or Monsieur. In Anglophone countries, it’s not uncommon to use someone’s first name in a professional context, even if you’ve just met. In France, you must simply say Madame or Monsieur unless invited otherwise.

 

  1. Always use the formal “vous” never “tu In the same vein, you should always speak formally, even with people younger than you, unless the interviewer invites you to “tutoyer.” (Look here for more on “tu” and “vous” rules).

 

  1. No kisses in greeting. There’s lots of kissing in France, but not at an interview. In France, greet a potential employer with a firm handshake, not “la bise.”

 

  1. Be prepared to answer personal questions. It may come as a surprise to some non-French job applicants, particularly Americans, that it is acceptable for an employer to ask about your état civil (marital status) or whether you have children. If you’ve mentioned certain pastimes and interests (loisirs et centres d’intérêt) that you enjoy on your CV, you may expect a potential employer to ask about these.

 

  1. Cut the chit-chat. Other cultures may consider a bit of small talk acceptable at a job interview. In France, however, discussing anything other than topics relevant to the job is considered unprofessional and may even suggests that you’re not serious.

 

French Job Interview Language

No matter your industry, there are several phrases that you can reasonably anticipate hearing in a French job interview. Get familiar with these 12 phrases and prepare your responses accordingly.

• Parlez-moi de vous.

(Tell me about yourself).

 

• Quelle est votre motivation pour ce post?

(Why are you interested in this position?)

 

• Pourquoi voulez-vous travailler dans notre entreprise?

(Why do you want to work for our company?)

 

• Que savez-vous de notre société?

(What do you know of our company?)

 

•  Quelle est votre parcours professionelle?

(What is your work history?)

 

• Quelle expérience avez-vous dans ce domaine?

(What is your experience in this field?)

 

• Pourquoi pensez-vous que nous devrions vous embaucher?

(Why do you think we should we hire you?)

 

• Quelles langues parlez-vous?

(What languages do you speak?)

 

• Quel est votre niveau d’aisance en anglais ou allemand?

(What is your fluency level in English or German?)

 

•  Quels sont vos objectifs de carrière?

(What are your career objectives?)

 

•  A combien s’élevait votre ancien salaire?

(What was your former salary?)

 

• Quelles sont vos prétentions salariales?

(What do you expect your new salary to be?)

 

• Quand êtes-vous disponsible pour commencer?

(When are you available to start?)

 

Would you like to have a private French lesson in Paris to help you prepare for a French job interview? Contact us! We will design a special course tailored to your needs and industry.

 

 


Café Talk: 12 French Phrases for Hanging Out in a Parisian Café

Ah, il fait si beau! This spring, Paris is flirting with all of us by offering days and days of golden sun, bright blue skies and breezes soft as a caress.

When the weather is this lovely, it makes you want to do nothing more than settle on a café terrace with a glass of rosé and a pair of lunettes de soleil (sunglasses), and people-watch and daydream for as long as you please.

And in Paris, so many people do just that.

Here, les serveurs (the waiters) will never rush you out of a café. You may sit for hours with your laptop, a magazine or just un café (a cup of coffee). You can meet with a variety of friends over the hours or even have a French lessonAnd no one’s going to be angry or annoyed. In fact, once the staff has become familiar with you, you’ll likely be greeted with a smile and warm handshake and waved over to your favorite spot.

If you’re going to indulge in this classically Parisian pastime – and you should! –  you might as well “talk the talk.” Here are 12 key phrases of great use when hanging out in a Paris café:

 “Bonjour!” (Good morning/hello!) Whenever you enter a café, always start with this essential.

Pour manger?” (Are you here to eat?) – Approach a café around lunch or dinnertime, you’re likely to hear this question. If you’re eating, you can probably sit anywhere appropriate to the number in your party. If you just want a coffee or drink, you’ll be directed to a table that’s not been set for dining.

Juste un verre/juste un café” (Just a drink/just a cup of coffee) – If you’re not eating and would just like a drink or a cup of coffee, this is the response you’d give to the question “pour manger?”

Puis-je avoir la carte?” (May have the menu?) – Whether you’re eating or drinking, if you would like to see the café’s menu, this is the appropriate phrase. Note that “la carte” is the French word a listing of individual food and drink offerings, NOT “le menu.Le menu refers to fixed-price 2 or 3-course meals that cafés and bistros and restaurants offer daily.

“Je voudrais un café/verre de vin blanc  s’il vous plaît” (I would like a coffe/glass of white wine, etc. please.) Other common café drinks include:

  • un café (an espresso)
  • un café crème (coffee with milk/a white coffee)
  • une noisette (an espresso with a dash of milk. Although noisette means hazelnut in French, une noisette does not mean hazelnut-flavored coffee)
  • café américan (a cup of filtered coffee)
  • un déca (a decaffeinated espresso. You can also ask for a “déca crème” – a decaffeinated cafe crème)
  • jus d’orange pressé (freshly-squeezed orange juice)
  • un verre du vin rouge/blanc (a glass of red/white wine)
  • un chocolat chaud (a hot chocolate)
  • un thé glacée (an ice tea)
  • une citronnade (a lemonade – note that if you ask for a “limonade” in French,   you’ll get a Sprite or other lemon-flavored sparkling drink).
  • une bière (a beer)
  • une bière à la pression (a draft beer)
  • un demi (a quarter-liter/half-pint of beer)

“Est-ce que vous avez un accès Wifi?” (Do you have wifi?”) These days, many cafés in Paris offer free Wifi (pronounce wee-fee), but you’ll often need the password. In that case you’d ask:

Quel est le code d’accès wifi ?” (What is the password for the wifi?)

Puis-je avoir une carafe d’eau?”   This is what you’d say if you would like a bottle of tap water to accompany whatever else you’ve ordered. Note that if you ask for “une bouteillle d’eau” the waiter will think you want commercially bottled water and may ask: plat ou pétillant? (Flat or sparkling?)

Est-ce que vous avez des glaçons?” (Do you have ice cubes?) Americans are accustomed to being served water with ice, but in France this is not at all the custom. Some places may have ice cubes, but don’t be surprised if most don’t.

Excuse-moi monsieur…mademoiselle…madame…” (Excuse me sir, miss, ma’m). This is how you get your server’s attention. Or you may simply say: “S’il vous plait?” I think ­– I hope – that no one continues to have the idea that you call a waiter “garcon.” This means “boy” and it is not at all appropriate!

Pouvez-vous régler maintenant?” (Can you settle the bill now). Sometimes when there’s a shift change, a server may ask you to settle your bill before he or she leaves, particularly if you’ve only ordered a drink. This does NOT mean that the server is trying to hurry you out, as it likely would in the U.S., so don’t interpret it as such!

•“Excusez-moi, puis-je régler?” or “L’addition, s’il vous plaît” (Excuse me, can I settle the bill” or “the check, please.”) If you haven’t already received your check, this is how you ask for it. But sometimes you’ll get it the moment you receive your order. If you’re sitting at a café terrace, look for the slip of paper peeking out from beneath an ashtray.

Have any questions about cultural customs in French cafés ? Ask us below!


Verb Spotlight: "Faire" – Usages and Expressions

The verb “faire” is one of the handiest verbs in the French language, but it can be one of the most confusing for beginners. Not only is faire an irregular verb, but it has multiple uses and appears in numerous French expressions and idioms. Even trickier, faire sometimes isn’t used where you think it should be.

Let’s take the mystery out of this useful verb!

Basic Uses of the Verb Faire

Faire is defined as “to do” or “to make.” Most of the time, you’re on safe ground translating the verb directly from English. For example:

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Franck fait ses devoirs =

Frank does his homework / Frank is doing his homework

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Je déteste faire la vaisselle =

I hate doing the dishes.

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Aurélie a fait une promesse =

Aurélie made a promise.

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Qu’est-ce que je fais? Je fais un sandwich! =

What am I doing? I’m making a sandwich!

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Mais fait attention! (But pay attention!) There are a few instances where “faireisn’t the appropriate translation for “to make,” especially with regard to making a reservation or appointment. In these instances, prendre is the correct verb. So:[quote align=”center” color=”#424141″] 

Je voudrais prendre un reservation pour six personnes, s’il vous plaît =

I would like to make a reservation for six [people], please.

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Si tu es malade, prends un rendez-vous avec un medecin! =

If you are sick, make an appointment with a doctor!

  [/quote]

Broader Uses of Faire

Faire is also used in many ways that don’t allow for direct translation. It’s often employed in a range of phrases where Anglophones would use a different verb, such “to be” “to have” or “to play” and much more. Look for “faire” in these contexts:

Weather:

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Il fait beau aujourd’hui = it’s beautiful (out) today

Il faisait si froid jeudi soir! = It was so cold (out) on Thursday evening!

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Sports or activities:

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Franck fait du ski = Franck is skiing / Frank skis.

Ils font du golf = They are golfing / They play golf.

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(Note: for games, use “jouer”/to play. Ex: jouer au football, aux cartes…)

Measurement/Weight:

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La pièce fait 5 mètres par 5 = The room measures 5 by 5 meters.

Elle fait 60 kilos = She weighs 60 kilos.

[/quote]

 

To Play / To Act

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Georges, ne fait pas l’idiot! = George, don’t play the fool (with me)!

Marie a reçu le rôle principal; elle fait Lady Macbeth =

Marie got the leading role; she’s playing Lady Macbeth.

[/quote]

To Feel Something

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Aie! Cela fait mal! = Ow! That hurts! (That makes me hurt)

 

L’enfant est tombé et il se fait mal son bras =

The child fell and hurt his arm.

 

Non, je n’ai pas aimé ce film. Il m’a fait peur. =

No, I didn’t like the film. It scared me. (Made me feel scared)

 

Ça me fait plaisir de vous voir =

I’m happy to see you. (It makes me happy to see you.)

[/quote]

Popular Expressions with Faire

When it comes to idiomatic expressions, the verb faire is ubiquitous. Here are 10 common French expressions that use faire.

1. Faire attention – To pay attention or watch out.

 

2. Faire la queue – To stand in the queue/ to stand in line.

 

3. Faire des économies – To save money

 

4. Faire la sourde oreille – To turn a deaf ear

 

5. Faire la grasse matinée – To sleep in

 

6. Faire la fête – To party

 

7. Faire un tabac – To be a hit (as at a party)

 

8. Faire la tête – To sulk/ To be in a bad mood

 

9. Faire des cauchemars – To have nightmares

 

10.  Faire la manche – To beg

 

HOMEWORK: Write a sentence using one of these “faire” expressions in the comments section below. We’ll correct you!