Although this lesson is about peine (pain), it need not be painful. There are a variety of expressions using the word whose meaning does not involve “pain.” Let's explore both the painful aspects of the word peine and the idiomatic expressions derived from it.
We'll start with the primary meaning of peine, the English cognate “pain.” In the song below, from the musical Pour la peine, set during the French Revolution, the word peine is part of the refrain depicting the turmoil of the times. Note that unlike "pain" in English, peine only refers to emotional pain or mental suffering in French:
Au nom des larmes qui nous désarment, on doit pouvoir changer l'histoire pour la peine
In the name of the tears that disarm us, we must be able to change history for the pain
Caption 24, 1789: Les Amants de la Bastille Pour la peinePlay Caption
In another part of the song, we come across a synonym of peine, douleur, which can refer to both emotional pain and physical pain. In this context, the word douleur means “sorrow”:
On veut des rêves qui nous soulèvent, on veut des fleurs à nos douleurs
We want dreams that lift us up, we want flowers for our sorrowsPlay Caption
In any case, do use the word douleur, not peine, to describe physical pain, as in douleurs dentaires (dental pains):
Je connais ce que c'est ces douleurs dentaires.
I know what those dental pains are like.
Caption 21, Le saviez-vous? Conversation entre étrangersPlay Caption
Going back to psychological pain, the word peine encompasses a range of feelings. For example, the expression faire de la peine (literally, to “make pain”) means to cause pain/sorrow or to elicit compassion and pity. In the video below, we know from the context that the speaker feels sorry for the person, in a compassionate way:
Elle me fait de la peine.
I feel sorry for her.Play Caption
However, there is a fine line between compassion and pity. In a less charitable context, one might say tu me fais de la peine (I pity you), showing utter contempt:
T'es vraiment pitoyable mais tu fais vraiment de la peine.
You're really pathetic, but I really pity you.Play Caption
Faire de la peine is a tricky construction that involves the use of indirect object pronouns (me, te, lui, nous, vous), which you can learn more about in this lesson. When you come across these, as in te fait de la peine in the video below, you may want to first consider the literal meaning (“is causing you pain”) to get at the true meaning ("is upsetting for you") dictated by the context:
Je... je sais que ce que je te demande te fait de la peine
I... I know that what I'm asking you is upsetting for youPlay Caption
So, pay close attention to those personal pronouns!
Je te fais de la peine.
I hurt your feelings.
Tu me fais de la peine.
You’re upsetting me.
You may need to turn the sentence around to understand the meaning, as we did earlier:
Elle me fait de la peine.
I feel sorry for her. (Literally, "she's causing me pain.")
Peine can also have the sense of “trouble/effort”:
C'est pas la peine.
It's not worth the trouble./It's not worth it.Play Caption
Likewise, peiner, the verbal form of peine, means “to struggle”:
Sabine peine à se débarrasser de Gabriela.
Sabine is struggling to get rid of Gabriela.Play Caption
You can use either peine or peiner to express trouble or difficulty:
Il marche avec peine.
He walks with difficulty.
Il peine à marcher.
He struggles to walk./He has trouble walking.
Another variation here would be to use the expression à peine (barely/hardly):
Il peut à peine marcher.
He can barely walk.
On the other hand, it is of course possible to perform a task sans peine (without difficulty):
Mais lorsque Cendrillon entra sans peine avec son pied dans la chaussure...
But when Cinderella inserted her foot in the shoe without difficulty...
Caption 49, Contes de fées Cendrillon - Part 2Play Caption
But if you switch the preposition sans (without) to sous (under), the meaning will totally change!
J'ai fait pression sur Baptiste pour qu'il porte plainte contre Florence sous peine de couper les ponts
I put pressure on Baptiste so he would lodge a complaint against Florence under the threat of cutting off the bridges [all contact]Play Caption
In a legal context, sous peine de means “under penalty of”:
Il est interdit donc sous peine d'amende
So it is forbidden, under penalty of a fine
Caption 34, Voyage en France Soissons - Part 2Play Caption
And then there's the ultimate punishment, la peine de mort (the death penalty). According to humorous singer Oldelaf, even the most minor offenses merit la peine de mort:
La peine de mort / Pour les mamies avec les cheveux tout violet
The death penalty / For grannies with completely purple hair
Captions 45-46, Oldelaf La peine de mortPlay Caption
Thankfully, making mistakes while learning French is allowed at Yabla and will not incur any peine (pain or penalty). We hope this lesson en valait la peine (was worth it). Merci d’avoir pris la peine de lire tout ça! (Thank you for taking the trouble to read all this!)
The word force is self-explanatory. It means “force” or “strength." However, what makes the cognate force interesting is that it has other meanings besides “strength." Indeed, there are a variety of idiomatic expressions such as à force (over time), en force (in force), de force (by force), among others.
Before we start focusing on the idiomatic expressions mentioned above, let’s look at force as a cognate. In the video below, Caroline notes that it takes a certain amount of force to play badminton:
Voilà. Y a beaucoup de... y a... de la force en fait.
There you are. There's a lot of... there's... force, in fact.
Caption 17, Caroline et le badmintonPlay Caption
“Force” being synonymous with “strength," it makes sense that la force also translates as “strength." For example, eating your vegetables, especially carrots, will give you plenty of force:
Cela donne beaucoup de force. Surtout les carottes, là.
It gives you a lot of strength. Especially the carrots here.Play Caption
Avoir de la force not only means “to have strength,” but also “to be strong”:
Il a beaucoup de force dans les bras.
He has very strong arms (literally, he has a lot of strength in the arms).
The word force loses its original meaning when combined with other nouns, as in un tour de force (an amazing feat, or, as we also say in English, a tour de force). In the video below, a fashion genius a réussi un tour de force (managed an amazing feat) by “turning a leather goods brand into a fashion brand to be reckoned with":
Le petit prodige du groupe LVMH, qui a réussi un tour de force
The little prodigy of the LVMH group, who managed an amazing feat
Caption 17, Le Journal Défilé de mode - Part 4Play Caption
While the gifted can réussir un tour de force, others, like the singer IAM, make un retour en force (a comeback, literally "a return in force"). Notice the switch to the preposition en here:
Avec ce disque, IAM fait un retour en force.
With this album, IAM makes a comeback.
Caption 9, LCM IAM fait son retour en force!Play Caption
By itself, en force means “in force” or “in large numbers”:
Seuls nos guerriers, et en force, peuvent y aller.
Only our warriors, and in numbers, can go there.Play Caption
En force (in force/in large numbers) should not be confused with de force (by force). Again, pay attention to prepositions:
Alors ils m'ont embarqué au poste, de force.
So they took me to the police station, by force.Play Caption
You can also combine force with other prepositions. The construction à force de + verb means "by doing/by dint of," implying some repetitive action. In other words, by continuing to be/do something, consequences will follow—some good, some bad, and some hilarious. In the video below, à force de maltraiter (by mistreating) the door a few too many times, Barbara and Isabelle caused their apartment number six to turn into a number nine, leading to all sorts of trouble:
Effectivement, à force de maltraiter cette pauvre porte d'entrée, la vis qui tenait le numéro a fini par tomber.
Indeed, by mistreating that poor entrance door, the screw that was holding up the number ended up falling off.
Captions 74-75, Mère & Fille C'est le bouquetPlay Caption
On the other hand, you can expect a better outcome à force d’être sage (by being good). In his song "Petit Pays," rapper Gaël Faye describes the consequences of being trop sage:
À force d'être trop sage je me suis pendu avec mon auréole
By being too good I hanged myself with my halo
Caption 57, Gaël Faye Petit PaysPlay Caption
The phrase c’est à force de can mean “it’s due to/it’s from" doing something. Magali tells Sébastien that his stomach pains are a result of his constantly pressuring her to leave her husband:
Mais ça, c'est à force de me presser.
But that's from pressuring me.Play Caption
The expression à force can also stand on its own to mean “over time":
À force, Cynthia s'est mise à gruger mécaniquement sur les devis.
Over time, Cynthia started fudging the estimates automatically.Play Caption
Or “after a while”:
Non, du tout. C'est un petit peu fatigant à force, mais ils sont géniaux, donc, euh... -Ah bon.
No, not at all. It's a bit tiring after a while, but they're great, so, uh... -Ah, good.Play Caption
Finally, force is also a present-tense form of the verb forcer (to force/to force oneself):
Je me force un peu des fois
I force myself a bit sometimes
Caption 46, Giulia Sa marque de bijoux 'Desidero'Play Caption
There are more ways to use force as well. You can find some of them here.
And don't forget: à force de regarder (by watching) many Yabla videos, you will be able to improve your skills in French à force (over time). Thank you for reading this lesson!
Who has not gazed at le ciel (the sky) to check the weather or enjoy a sunset or a sunrise? Indeed, the sky can take on many colors, from somber gray to magnificent sunset-red. There are many ways, colors, and expressions to describe the wild blue yonder. Poets, songwriters, weather forecasters, and ordinary people are all adept at describing le ciel. So, let's join them and explore some sky-related vocabulary. But first, let us find out where le ciel (the sky) is…
In this video, sweet cartoon character Piggeldy wants to know where le ciel (the sky) begins, and he asks his older brother Frédéric to take him there:
Piggeldy voulait savoir où commence le ciel.
Piggeldy wanted to know where the sky begins.
Caption 1, Piggeldy et Frédéric Le cielPlay Caption
Piggeldy’s mission to reach the heavens (on foot, no less) is bound to fail because, as the saying goes, la limite, c'est le ciel (the sky is the limit):
La limite, c'est le ciel, tu sais de qui c'est
The sky is the limit, you know whose it is
Caption 53, Disiz la Peste Dans tes rêvesPlay Caption
Though it's impossible to walk up to le ciel, it is certainly possible to gaze at it and enjoy its bright blue hue. In his humorous song, "Cha Cha du Marin," singer Cré Tonnerre sings about a ciel bleu (blue sky) that reflects his happy mood:
Tout heureux, tout amoureux, tout bleu comme le ciel bleu
All happy, all in love, all blue as the blue sky
Caption 26, Cré Tonnerre Cha Cha du MarinPlay Caption
In his video about dog training, trusty guide Lionel also enthuses over a ciel radieux (glorious sky) as he finishes his visit to a canine club:
Nous allons prendre congé sous ce ciel radieux, bleu-azur.
We're going to take our leave under this glorious, azure-blue sky.
Captions 52-53, Lionel au club canin - Part 5Play Caption
And in Metz, Lionel enjoys another ciel estival (summer sky):
Nous sommes donc ici toujours à Metz, sous un ciel estival, ciel bleu
So we're still here in Metz under a summer sky, a blue sky
Caption 1, Lionel à Metz - Part 2Play Caption
While un ciel estival is a blue summer sky, un ciel gris (a gray sky) usually means drab winter days. And yet, people like Sophie and Patrice see beauty in les dégradés du gris (the shades of gray) in the Parisian skies:
Entre les dégradés de gris du ciel et les dégradés de gris des toits c'est vrai c'est super beau, hein?
Between the shades of gray in the sky and the shades of gray of the roofs, it's true it's super beautiful, huh?
Captions 9-11, Sophie et Patrice Paris, c'est grisPlay Caption
Still, most people seem to prefer un ciel dégagé (a clear sky) over un ciel couvert (an overcast sky) or un ciel nuageux (a cloudy sky):
Cette nuit le ciel est dégagé avec huit degrés pour les températures... Et puis pour la journée de jeudi un ciel couvert avec quinze degrés le matin
Tonight the sky is clear with eight-degree temperatures... And then for daytime on Thursday an overcast sky with fifteen degrees in the morning
Caption 9, 14, Grand Lille TV Prévisions Météo (Juin)Play Caption
Un ciel dégagé est plus agréable qu’un ciel nuageux.
A clear sky is more pleasant than a cloudy sky.
In any case, not everyone is as fond of gray skies as Sophie and Patrice. Most would agree with the speaker in the video below, who describes gray skies as maussade (gloomy) and pluvieux (rainy):
Malheureusement avec un ciel maussade et un peu pluvieux...
Unfortunately under a gloomy and somewhat rainy sky...
Caption 15, Lionel Le club de foot de Nancy - Part 1Play Caption
Sometimes the sky is bleak and pale instead of gray, and when it comes to describing pale skies, who does it better than renowned poet Charles Baudelaire? In his poem "À une passante" (To a Passersby), Baudelaire depicts a bleak sky with the adjective livide, which means “pale” or even “deathly pale." (Unlike its English cognate, the French livide does not mean “livid/angry.")
Dans son œil, ciel livide où germe l'ouragan
From her eye, pale sky where a hurricane growsPlay Caption
Still on a bleak note, singer Zaz portrays the sky in an even gloomier way:
Je mettrais du ciel en misère
I would put some sky in misery
Caption 9, Zaz SiPlay Caption
In yet another sad song, singer Lesieur laments over un ciel sans avenir (a sky without a future), projecting even sadder feelings, a sense of hopelessness into a sky that refuses to rain:
Un ciel qui vous oublie... -Un ciel sans avenir
A sky that's forgetting you... -A sky with no future
Caption 26, Lesieur Des RicochetsPlay Caption
Thankfully, le ciel does not always spell gloom. What could be a happier sight than un arc-en-ciel (a rainbow, literally an “arc-in-the-sky”)? In his humorous song, Oldelaf sings the praises of the colors of the rainbow in his own unique way:
Et j'avoue que j'aime aussi / Toutes les couleurs de l'arc-en-ciel / Le rouge, le jaune, le vert-de-gris / Le pourpre, le mauve, même le bleu ciel
And I'll admit that I also like / All the colors of the rainbow / Red, yellow, verdigris / Purple, mauve, even sky blue
Captions 30-33, Oldelaf J'aime les bêtesPlay Caption
If un arc-en-ciel is close to a heavenly sight, le ciel is most certainly heavenly. It's synonymous with “heaven” when talking about the afterlife:
...et que le roi est leur meilleur guide sur terre en attendant d'aller au ciel.
...and that the king is their best guide on earth while they wait to go to heaven.
Captions 45-46, d'Art d'Art Vitraux de la Sainte-ChapellePlay Caption
Whatever you may see or choose to see in le ciel, you are now armed with extra vocabulary that will enable you to better paint the sky in words—French words, of course—or just talk about the weather. Thank you for gazing at le ciel (the sky) or les cieux (the skies) with Yabla!
In The X Factor, we focused on the various pronunciations of the letter x. We learned that x is usually silent at the end of words, including a few numbers. There are just three numerals (not including the larger numbers composed of them) ending in x in French: deux, six, dix (two, six, ten). These numbers are a breed apart, as they follow their own set of rules.
As mentioned in our earlier lesson, the final x in a word is silent in most situations, such as when the word is isolated or followed by punctuation. Note how Patricia pronounces deux (i.e., does not pronounce the x) in her lesson on numbers:
The same rule applies to all numbers ending in deux. This time, soixante-deux (sixty-two) is followed by a comma, also making the final x silent. (We'll deal with the x in soixante in a moment.)
Captions 24-25, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 2Play Caption
In addition, the x in deux, six, and dix is silent when followed by a word beginning with a consonant, as in six minutes (six minutes) and dix premiers (first ten):
On va dire approximativement cinq à six minutes.
We'll say approximately five to six minutes.Play Caption
On appelle les dix premiers nombres composés de deux chiffres les dizaines.
We call the first ten numbers composed of two digits the tens.
Captions 34-35, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1Play Caption
Note, however, that there is a second pronunciation that is also correct. You might hear the x sounded like a soft s: diS premiers, siS minutes. The s sound helps emphasize quantity. Strangely enough, this never occurs with deux (two), whose x stays silent.
On the other hand, the liaison rule is not optional and applies to all three numbers. The presence of a vowel or silent h will trigger a change in pronunciation, and the final x in deux/dix/six will sound like a z to form the liaison. Listen to the examples in the videos below. Do you hear the z sound in deuZ enfants (two children), siZ ans (six years), and diZ-huit (eighteen)?
Je suis avec mes deux enfants et mon mari.
I'm with my two children and my husband.
Caption 64, Actus Quartier Devant la SNCFPlay Caption
Et nous sommes mariés depuis six ans maintenant.
And we've been married for six years now.
Caption 15, Ahlam et Timothé Des conversations basiquesPlay Caption
Interestingly, a liaison also occurs with the number dix-neuf (nineteen), pronounced diZ-neuf, even though neuf starts with a consonant!
Pareil pour dix-neuf.
Same for nineteen.Play Caption
Going back to a more regular pattern, you will also hear the z sound in ordinal numbers, as in sixième (sixth), deuxième (second), and dixième (tenth), since the x is between two vowels:
Il nous avait assurés qu'il n'y aurait pas de deuxième confinement.
He had assured us that there would be no second lockdown.
Caption 12, Lionel L Le deuxième confinementPlay Caption
Donc au sixième étage tu peux manger
So on the sixth floor you can eat
Caption 72, Amal et Caroline Centre Georges PompidouPlay Caption
So far so good, but here comes another set of exceptions: the rogue sixties (and seventies)! All numbers containing soixante (sixty) escape the z-sound rule. Whereas usually an x between two vowels is pronounced like a z, in soixante it sounds like an s instead. Listen to Patricia again. Do you hear the s sounds in soiSSante (sixty) and soiSSante-siS (sixty-six)?
Et soixante. Soixante et un.
And sixty. Sixty-one.
Captions 22-23, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 2Play Caption
Besides the exception above, there are other regular instances when the x should sound like s. When isolated or separated by punctuation, dix and six sound like diS and siS. (But as mentioned, deux keeps its silent x.) Here's Patricia again:
Après dix, on aura donc dans les dizaines...
After ten, we will thus have, in the tens...Play Caption
You're more likely to use the s sound when counting or doing math:
Dix-sept, c'est dix plus sept.
Seventeen is ten plus seven.
Captions 49-50, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1Play Caption
These frequent switches between sounds come naturally to native French speakers but can be a bit of a puzzle for new learners. Note how Patricia toggles between diZ and diS effortlessly:
Pareil pour dix-huit. Dix plus huit.
Same for eighteen. Ten plus eight.
Captions 52-53, Le saviez-vous? Les chiffres et les nombres - Part 1Play Caption
In short, the pronunciation of the numbers deux, six, and dix may seem very inconsistent and challenging at times. But with practice and listening to many Yabla videos, things will become easier. Here's a summary to help you:
The x is silent when a consonant follows the number:
deux parapluies (two umbrellas)
six voitures (six cars)
dix maisons (ten houses)
And when deux is isolated or separated by punctuation:
Un, deux, trois. (One, two, three.)
The x sounds like a Z when a liaison occurs:
deux amis (deuZ amis, two friends)
six enfants (siZ enfants, six children)
deuxième, sixième, dixième (deuZième, siZième, diZième, second, sixth, tenth)
dix-huit (diZ-huit, eighteen)
Exception: dix-neuf (diZ-neuf, nineteen)
The x sounds like an S when six or dix is isolated or separated by punctuation, and in numbers containing soixante:
dix plus six (diS plus siS, ten plus six)
Cinquante-six. (Cinquante-siS, fifty-six)
Soixante. (SoiSSante, sixty)
soixante-six, soixante-dix (soiSSante-siS, soiSSante-diS, sixty-six, seventy)
Thank you for reading. And remember that you can always count on Yabla videos to help you out!
This lesson is brought to you by the letter x, an exaspérante (exasperating) letter that can morph into several different sounds. How do you extract a meaningful rule out of this unruly letter? Are you ready to explorer (explore) this exciting letter x? Fear not, the French pronunciation of the letter x is similar to English, at least at first glance. However, there are some notable differences that we will explore.
You may have noticed that some of the cognates mentioned in the previous paragraph share the same x sound in French and in English. Here is an example using the word explorer (to explore):
Il faut les explorer, les décrire, en faire une carte et en découvrir d'autres.
We have to explore them, describe them, map them, and discover some more.Play Caption
Here is another example, with exacte (exact):
Du coup, c'est très compliqué d'avoir la date exacte.
As a result, it's very complicated to get the exact date.
Caption 37, Lionel Le musée de Jeanne d'Arc - Part 2Play Caption
In a few instances, an x at the end of a French word will render the same x sound as in English. The video below refers to l’Académie des Lynx, named after the wild animal le lynx (lynx), renowned for its sharp eyesight:
Le prince Federico Cesi, fondateur de l'Académie des Lynx
Prince Federico Cesi, the founder of the Academy of the LynxesPlay Caption
Likewise, words ending in -ex are usually pronounced as in English:
C'est-à-dire, vous faites un barré avec votre index
That is, you do a barre with your index finger
Caption 10, Leçons de guitare Leçon 3Play Caption
But words ending in -ex or -nx are not that common in French and tend to be of foreign origin. Instead, typical x endings come in the following combinations: -oux, -aux, -eaux, and -eux, which all call for a silent x. (We’ll explore exceptions further on.)
In the video below, the speaker, a British server, has never heard of a silent x… She tries to entice Sam and the gang with some “gâtox," which has everyone flummoxed. Fortunately, Sam saves the day and explains that she meant to say gâteaux (cakes), with a silent x. Listen carefully to learn how NOT to say gâteaux:
"Gâtox"... Je crois qu'elle veut dire "gâteaux".
"Gâtox"... I think she means "cakes."
Caption 45, Extr@ Ep. 11 - Les vacances - Part 6Play Caption
Here is an example with the correct pronunciation of nouveaux ("new," plural):
Les nouveaux livres qu'on a reçus.
The new books that we've received.
Caption 14, Gaëlle Librairie "Livres in Room"Play Caption
Since the x is silent, gâteaux and nouveaux are pronounced the same as singular gâteau (cake) and nouveau (new). But listen carefully to this sentence with the same word, nouveaux (new). Why does the x now sound like a z?
Afin de développer de nouveaux outils de pilotage...
In order to develop new steering tools...Play Caption
This is not a mistake. The speaker formed what we call in French une liaison by joining two words together—the first one ending with a consonant, nouveaux, and the following one starting with a vowel, outils (tools)—rendering a z sound: nouveaux-Z-outils. (Notice how the speaker runs the two words together without pausing to make them sound like one word.) You will find more information on liaisons in the lesson Liaisons, Numerous and Dangerous.
So, look out for nouns (sometimes adjectives) starting with a vowel. It is a signal that you should sound the x like a z! Here's another example:
Les vieux époux ont décidé de mener leur vie
The old couple decided to lead their livesPlay Caption
And here's one with a very short word, the determiner aux ("to the," plural):
Nemours a un passé particulièrement intéressant et très intimement lié aux États-Unis pour deux raisons.
Nemours has a past that is particularly interesting and very closely linked to the United States for two reasons.
Captions 5-6, Voyage en France Nemours - Part 2Play Caption
So we have: les vieux-Z-époux and aux-Z-États-Unis.
In short, when a word ends in x, the x is usually silent unless there is a liaison. If you are still unsure, don’t worry. Many liaisons are optional, and French people don’t apply the liaison rule to the letter, so to speak. Just remember, though, that in some situations, liaisons are de rigueur. The examples given above are very common and always call for a "liaiZon."
On the flip side, when a French word begins with x, it does not sound like a z, as it would in English. Instead, it's pronounced more like the x in exemple (example):
D'un symbole d'unité française, ce drapeau a été utilisé parfois comme symbole de xénophobie.
Once a symbol of French unity, this flag has sometimes been used as a xenophobic symbol.
Caption 41, Le saviez-vous? Histoire du drapeau françaisPlay Caption
Stay tuned for another X-rated lesson on the numbers deux, dix, et six (two, ten, and six) and find out what is special about them. Thank you for reading!
Imitating the sound of an object or an animal is not easy to convey in writing, but it can be done! In fact, there is a special word derived from Greek for just that purpose, onomatopée (onomatopoeia), which is a close cousin to an interjection. (The distinction is open for debate as grammarians have conflicting views.)
Every language has its own version of onomatopoeia. For example, the sound of a rooster crowing will be rendered differently in various languages:
• In French: cocorico
• In English: cock-a-doodle-doo
• In German: kikeriki
• In Italian: chicchirichì
Animal sounds are a great source of onomatopée:
Le coq fait cocorico tous les matins.
The rooster goes cock-a-doodle-doo every morning.
However, you might be surprised to know that in French, some onomatopoeias can double as interjections, a type of exclamation where the emphasis is not on the sound so much as the sentiment behind it. Indeed, in the video below, cocorico is more of an interjection, a cry for victory, and an expression of national pride, as the Gallic rooster is the symbol of France:
Cocorico, bleu, blanc, rouge, pour nous les Nubians, pour la France
Cock-a-doodle-doo, blue, white, red, for us the Nubians, for France
Caption 33, Les Nubians PrésentationPlay Caption
Here is a more clear-cut example of onomatopoeia from the animal kingdom. A “French-speaking” dog goes ouaf! while its “English-speaking” counterpart goes "woof!" In the video below, "Ouaf!" is the name of a production involving dancing—and perhaps barking—dogs:
Des chiens dansants dans "Ouaf!"
Dancing dogs in "Woof!"
Caption 49, Extr@ Ep. 3 - Sam a un rendez-vous - Part 7Play Caption
Onomatopoeic words are not limited to representing animal noises. They can also mimic sounds of nature, such as plouf (splash), describing something falling into the water. Plouf is used as a noun in this video:
On fait un petit plouf et on se retrouve demain même heure
We're making a little splash and we're meeting again same time tomorrow
Caption 57, Le Mans TV Mon Village - Malicorne - Part 3Play Caption
Onomatopeoic words can also convey manmade sounds, such as loud explosions:
Et ça fait quoi le nucléaire pour les gens? -Ça fait boum!
And what does nuclear energy do to people? -It goes boom!
Caption 49, Manif du Mois Fukushima plus jamais çaPlay Caption
The sound of gunfire, pan (bang), certainly qualifies as onomatopoeia:
Le fusil fait pan, pan, pan.
The gun goes bang, bang, bang.
However, in the example below, the focus is not so much on sound but instantaneity, making pan an interjection. The subject of this video is famous French photographer Cartier-Bresson, who knew when to click the shutter at just the right time:
Il y a une méditation. Dans la photo, il n'y en a pas. Pan!
It involves meditation. With photography, there is none. Snap!
Caption 21, Le Journal Le photographe Cartier-BressonPlay Caption
Like pan, the word paf will translate differently depending on whether we are talking about an onomatopoeia or an interjection. In the first instance, paf conveys the sound of something heavy hitting a hard surface:
Paf! Le livre est tombé par terre.
Thwack! The book fell on the floor.
In the second, paf is an interjection that conveys swift action. In this video, Sophie talks about quickly snipping cuttings in a public garden… without permission:
Paf! Tu coupes.
Bam! You cut.
Caption 44, Sophie et Patrice La maison vertePlay Caption
Still with scissors in hand, Sophie uses tac instead of paf to imitate the snipping sound:
Tac! Je coupe et...
Snip! I cut and...
Caption 47, Sophie et Patrice La maison vertePlay Caption
In another video, Sophie again uses tac to convey the sound of her homemade lamp turning on: Tac! (Click!)
Regarde, est-ce que ça marche? Tac!
Look, is it working? Click!
Caption 43, Sophie et Patrice Les lampes de Sophie - Part 2Play Caption
In yet another situation, Sophie says tac tac tac (tap tap tap) while making madeleines to imitate the sound of breaking eggs:
Tu prends tes trois œufs, tac tac tac.
You take your three eggs, tap tap tap.
Caption 40, Sophie et Patrice Les madeleinesPlay Caption
Fortunately, Sophie kept her fingers intact during all her ventures. If she hadn't, she might have used the interjections ouille! (ouch!) or aïe! (ow!)
Ouille là, c'est chaud, là!
Ouch, that's hot, there!Play Caption
Aïe! Mais pourquoi tu as fait ça?
Ow! Why did you do that?
Caption 11, Extr@ Ep. 10 - Annie proteste - Part 8Play Caption
Had she cut herself, she might have had to call on emergency services, with their distinctive sirens:
Woo-woo! Woo-woo! [sound made by a two-tone siren]
Caption 2, Les zooriginaux Repos corsé - Part 2Play Caption
As this lesson draws to a close, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief—ouf! (phew!)—like the princess in the video below:
La princesse était très soulagée. -Ouf! Celle-là, je ne la reverrai pas de si tôt.
The princess was very relieved. -Phew! I won't be seeing that one again any time soon.
Captions 11-12, Contes de fées Le roi grenouille - Part 2Play Caption
For more examples of onomatopoeia, you may want to explore Yabla's animated series or simply browse through our video library. Ouf! La leçon est terminée!
Let’s talk garbage! While it’s not something on everyone’s mind around the dinner table, it bears thinking about. France’s environmental concerns are real, and responsible citizens are looking for ways to safely and responsibly dispose of their garbage and unwanted goods. So, let’s embark on this dirty subject and look at some interesting vocabulary surrounding garbage and its disposal.
Let’s start with les ordures (garbage/trash/rubbish) and les détritus (scraps). In the video below, the speaker explains that seagulls are avid consumers of both:
Bah, c'est des oiseaux basiques qui volent au-dessus de l'eau et qui souvent uivent ne serait-ce que les détritus et les ordures.
Anyway, they're just regular birds that fly above the water and that often go after anything, even if it's just scraps and garbage.
Captions 24-25, Jean-Marc La plage - Part 1Play Caption
Détritus can sometimes mean “litter,” as there is no specific term for that type of waste:
On peut voir sur cette plage qui est très propre, elle est équipée comme il faut pour tout ce qui est détritus.
We can see on this beach, which is very clean, it's set up the way it should be for everything concerning litter.
Captions 26-27, Jean-Marc La plage - Part 2Play Caption
Though it mainly refers to garbage, ordure can also be used as an insult:
T'es vraiment la dernière des ordures.
You're really the worst scumbag ever.Play Caption
The best way to deal with détritus and (non-human) ordures is to dispose of it in poubelles (garbage cans):
On a des belles poubelles qui sont vertes, une très bonne initiative d'ailleurs.
We have some nice green garbage cans, a very good initiative by the way.
Caption 28, Jean-Marc La plage - Part 2Play Caption
The contents of the poubelles will end up in a déchetterie/déchèterie (waste collection center):
On dispose des objets dans une déchetterie.
Items are disposed of in a waste collection center.
Responsible citizens showing genuine concern for the planet may wonder what to do with their organic waste, such as old Christmas trees, which les ordures ménagères (household waste collection) won’t accept:
Nombreux sont ceux qui ne savent jamais quoi faire de leur sapin après Noël puisque les ordures ménagères n'en veulent pas toujours.
There are many who never know what to do with their fir trees after Christmas since household waste collections don't always want them.
Captions 14-15, TV Tours Une seconde vie pour vos sapins de Noël?Play Caption
Unfortunately, many Christmas trees end up being dumped illegally in des décharges sauvages (illegal dumps):
Un petit peu partout, euh... des décharges un petit peu sauvages.
A little bit all over, uh... dumping that is somewhat uncontrolled.Play Caption
In Brittany, some people turn their déchets (waste) into “gold” by starting une filière de compostage (a composting stream):
Certaines tentent même de valoriser ces déchets dans une filière de compostage.
Some are even trying to capitalize on this waste in a composting stream.
Caption 33, Le Journal Marée verte en BretagnePlay Caption
In addition, French people are becoming more and more creative at finding ingenious solutions to reduce mounting waste by setting up des ressourceries (upcycling centers):
Aujourd'hui, c'est l'inauguration de la ressourcerie du vingtième arrondissement
Today is the inauguration of the upcycling center of the twentieth arrondissementPlay Caption
Others try to extend the life of their devices by repairing them:
On est censé faire réparer des objets qui ont quelques problèmes.
We're supposed to bring items that have some problems for repair.
Caption 2, Actus Quartier Repair CaféPlay Caption
Repairing objects instead of les jeter (throwing them away) prevents faire du gâchis (creating waste):
C'est important d'essayer de conserver les objets le plus longtemps possible au lieu de faire du gâchis.
It's important to try to keep objects for as long as possible instead of creating waste.
Captions 6-7, Actus Quartier Repair CaféPlay Caption
C'est d'inciter les gens à dépanner eux-mêmes, à chercher avant de jeter.
It's to incite people to fix things themselves, to try before throwing away.
Captions 47-48, Actus Quartier Repair CaféPlay Caption
Not only is it best to avoid throwing away manufactured goods, it’s also important to avoid gaspillage (squandering/wasting) natural resources such as water:
On va construire et opérer des usines de nourriture partout à travers le monde, et cela sans utiliser aucun produit de pesticide et aucun gaspillage d'eau.
We're going to build and operate food factories all over the world, and this without using any pesticide product or any wasting of water.
Captions 20-21, Agriculture verticale TerraSpherePlay Caption
And what should we do with les eaux usées (waste water)? Clean it of course!
Mais on peut lui demander des tas d'autres choses, comme nettoyer les eaux usées, manger les déchets.
But we can request loads of other things from it, such as cleaning waste water, eating waste.
Captions 20-22, Il était une fois: Notre Terre 25. Technologies - Part 7Play Caption
So il n’y a pas de temps à perdre (there is no time to waste)! Now that you have expanded your vocabulary surrounding waste—déchets, gaspillage, ordures, eaux usées, gâchis—and are more aware of solutions such as déchetteries, ressourceries, and compostage, you will be better equipped to follow our Yabla videos on the subject, and maybe…help save the planet.
The ubiquitous verb faire is a very versatile word. Not only can you use faire to talk about what you “do” or “make," but you can also use it in a myriad of situations, including when talking about the weather, feelings, and past events. Let’s explore some of the most common idiomatic expressions involving faire beyond doing and making.
Before we start focusing on faire as a verb, note that its past participle, fait (done/made), also works as a noun: le fait (the fact, the event).
Et le fait historique que l'on retient principalement ici à Bitche, c'est le siège de dix-huit cent soixante-dix
And the historical event that we mainly remember here in Bitche is the eighteen seventy siege
Captions 33-35, Lionel à la Citadelle de Bitche - Part 1Play Caption
You can read more about le fait in our lesson Getting the Facts Straight. But let's get back to faire as a verb. Early on in your French learning, you may have come across the construction il fait + noun/adjective to describe the weather. In this context, faire is equivalent to “to be." In the following video, Sophie and Edmée are enjoying a nice day out. Sophie says:
Il fait super beau aujourd'hui.
It's super nice out today.
Caption 1, Sophie et Edmée Le beau tempsPlay Caption
Here is another instance where faire translates as “to be”: the expression faire partie de (to be part of).
Et il faut savoir que jusqu'en mille huit cent soixante, la Villette ne faisait pas partie de la ville de Paris.
And you should know that until eighteen sixty, La Villette wasn't part of the city of Paris.
Captions 23-24, Adrien Quai de la SeinePlay Caption
Faire is also used to convey how much time has passed in the construction ça fait + expression of time:
Et ça fait longtemps que tu veux devenir professeur?
And have you been wanting to become a teacher for a long time?
Caption 92, Claire et Philippe Le boulot d'enseignantPlay Caption
This construction is equivalent to il y a + expression of time (it's been, ago). In Sophie et Edmée - Le beau temps, Sophie might have said:
Ça fait plus d’une semaine qu’il fait super beau.
It's been super nice out for over a week.
Good weather is a perfect opportunity to faire un tour en vélo (go for a bike ride), as Amal suggests:
On va faire un petit tour
We're going to go for a little ride
Caption 28, Amal VélibPlay Caption
Note that you can use faire to talk about all kinds of sporting activities.
Sophie and Edmée agree that on a sunny day, ça fait du bien (it feels good) to get out and about. Indeed, you can use the construction faire + noun/adverb to express how something feels, either in a positive or negative way:
Ouais, ça fait du bien un peu de pouvoir sortir et se promener.
Yeah, it kind of feels good to be able to go out and take a walk.
Captions 3-4, Sophie et Edmée Le beau tempsPlay Caption
Conversely, something might faire du mal rather than faire du bien:
Mais la petite sirène était incapable de faire du mal à quiconque.
But the little mermaid was incapable of hurting anyone.
Caption 41, Contes de fées La petite sirène - Part 2Play Caption
You can also say faire de la peine instead of faire du mal:
Ça me fait de la peine.
It pains me.
Caption 17, Sophie et Patrice Après NoëlPlay Caption
Speaking of feelings, you can reassure someone with the expression, Ne t’en fais pas! (Don’t worry!) That's what Nico tells Sam, who is worried about getting a job:
Ben, ne t'en fais pas. Je vais t'apprendre.
Well, don't worry about it. I'm going to teach you.
Caption 43, Extr@ Ep. 4 - Sam trouve du travail - Part 2Play Caption
In any case, Sam would be wise to act responsibly and avoid faire l’enfant (acting like a child) if he wants a job. As Margaux and Manon explain in their video on this subject, you can use faire to describe many different types of behavior and activities:
Attention, petite subtilité! Faire un enfant, c'est avoir un bébé. Mais faire l'enfant, c'est se comporter comme un enfant.
Careful, a slight subtlety! "Faire un enfant" is to have a baby. But "faire l'enfant" is to behave like a child.
Captions 17-18, Margaux et Manon Emplois du verbe fairePlay Caption
In conclusion, ne vous en faites pas (don’t worry) if you’re not familiar with all the many uses of faire yet. Help is at hand! Allez faire un tour de nos vidéos sur Yabla (take a tour of our Yabla videos) and explore many more ways of using faire.
The measure of a chef lies in the precise and careful measuring of ingredients to achieve consistent quality in every cooking endeavor. Rest assured: every cook can obtain good results, too, with the help of a few simple weighing and measuring devices readily available around the kitchen. Let’s find out what this equipment is called in French and how the system works.
As you may have noticed in Yabla's cooking videos, all the recipes use the French metric system as opposed to the imperial system. So, everything is given to you in grammes, kilogrammes (grams, kilograms) and mililitres, litres (milliliters, liters) instead of cups, pints, and ounces. In the video below, the chocolate log recipe calls for many ingredients, all of them measured in grammes (grams):
Ensuite, vous ajoutez cinquante grammes de beurre en morceaux
Then, you add fifty grams of butter cut in pieces
Captions 34-35, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de NoëlPlay Caption
That same recipe uses mililitres (mililiters) for liquids:
Vous ajoutez deux cent cinquante millilitres de crème chaude
You add two hundred fifty milliliters of hot cream
Caption 31, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de NoëlPlay Caption
If you are not familiar with the metric system, you can choose to convert measurements, which can be a complicated process, or you can simply use une balance (a kitchen scale) set to grammes. In the video below, the baker uses une balance électronique (an electronic scale):
Le boulanger a tout d'abord mesuré les ingrédients sur une balance électronique.
First of all, the baker measured the ingredients on an electronic scale.
Captions 5-6, Apprends les métiers BoulangerPlay Caption
Alternatively, you can use a variety of devices such as un verre doseur (a measuring cup):
Tu rajoutes de la farine sans verre doseur, pas besoin
You add some flour without a measuring cup, no need
Captions 26-27, Sophie et Patrice Les crêpesPlay Caption
Or, if precision is not crucial, you can resort to a drinking verre (glass), which is roughly equivalent to une tasse à mesurer (one measuring cup). (In France, drinking glasses generally come in smaller sizes than American ones.) In the video below, JB uses un verre d’eau (a glass of water) for his tarte aux mirabelles (mirabelle plum tart):
Et ensuite ajouter l'équivalent d'un verre d'eau
And then add the equivalent of a glass of water
Caption 17, JB La tarte aux mirabellesPlay Caption
To measure smaller quantities, you can use une cuiller à mesurer (a measuring spoon). “A teaspoon” is une cuiller à café (“a coffee spoon") or une petite cuiller ("a small spoon"). Une cuiller à café holds cinq millilitres (five milliliters). In the video below, the cook adds a little flavor to his crêpes with une petite cuiller de rhum (a teaspoon of rum):
Comme on est entre adultes, une petite cuiller de rhum.
Since we're among adults, a teaspoon of rum.
Caption 77, LCM Recette: CrêpesPlay Caption
The same recipe calls for deux cuillers à soupe (two tablespoons, literally "soup spoons") of melted butter:
Et deux cuillers à soupe de beurre demi-sel fondu.
And two tablespoons of melted, lightly salted butter.
Caption 49, LCM Recette: CrêpesPlay Caption
Note that cuiller (spoon) has two spellings that are equally common: une cuiller or une cuillère. The pronunciation and gender remain the same.
You can also say une cuillerée (a spoonful) for indicating quantities, as in this natural remedy for sore throats:
Presser un citron bio. Ajouter deux cuillerées à café de miel pour les maux de gorge.
Squeeze an organic lemon. Add two teaspoons of honey for a sore throat.
Now that you know how to measure ingredients, you need to be able to turn on votre four (your oven) at the correct temperature. The oven can be set at various temperatures: doux, moyen, chaud (cool, medium, hot). In the video below, Sophie bakes her madeleines in un four chaud (a hot oven), approximately equivalent to 230-250 Celsius:
Et ensuite je mets à four chaud
And then I put it in a hot oven
Caption 63, Sophie et Patrice Les madeleinesPlay Caption
Indeed, France uses the metric system, which includes Celsius, while the US and a few other countries use Fahrenheit. To give you an idea, the most common baking temperature is 180 degrés Celsius, which is almost equivalent to 400 degrees Fahrenheit:
Et vous pouvez préchauffer votre four à cent quatre-vingts degrés.
And you can preheat your oven to one hundred eighty degrees [Celsius].
Caption 56, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de NoëlPlay Caption
In addition to oven temperatures set in Celsius, some gas ovens have un thermostat (a thermostat) ranging from 1 to 6. As indicated in the video below, thermostat cinq (thermostat five) is equivalent to 160 degrees Celsius:
On les placera au four à cent soixante degrés ou thermostat cinq, pendant quinze minutes.
We'll place them in the oven at one hundred sixty degrees [Celsius] or thermostat five, for fifteen minutes.
Captions 40-41, Aurélien et Automne Oreo fait maison - Part 2Play Caption
Now you that you can calculate quantities in French recipes, it’s time to measure your success in the kitchen and… in French!
In our previous lesson, we focused on vocabulary associated with the verb cuire (to cook). But cooking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You will need a few essentials such as baking pans, bowls, and other kitchen utensils. Let’s find out what these things are called in French.
One of the must-have kitchen utensils is un saladier. Un saladier comes from the word salade (salad), so it’s “a salad bowl,” as its name would suggest. Having said that, un saladier can also accommodate any type of food or even liquids, acting as a mixing bowl. In the following video, Patrice and Sophie use un saladier (a mixing bowl) for their crêpe batter:
Tu rajoutes de la farine sans verre doseur, pas besoin, directement dans le saladier.
You add some flour without a measuring cup, no need, directly into the mixing bowl.
Captions 26-28, Sophie et Patrice Les crêpesPlay Caption
Instead of un saladier, you can use un bol (a bowl) for mélanger (mixing) ingredients:
Mélange au bol oignons, mozzarella, on se gêne pas, champignons...
Mix in the bowl onions, mozzarella, don't be shy, mushrooms...
Caption 18, F&F Pizza Chez F&F - Part 2Play Caption
Traditionally, though, un bol is what most French people use to drink their café au lait (coffee with milk). In the video below, the restaurant owner shows us where the breakfast bols (bowls) and assiettes (plates) are available:
Nous avons des assiettes et des bols
We have plates and bowls
Caption 38, Nils L'auberge de jeunesse à AvignonPlay Caption
In any case, you will need a utensil to stir the contents of your bol or saladier. You might use une cuillère/cuiller (a spoon) or un fouet (a whisk) to mix your ingredients. Automne isn’t sure which one she should use:
Tu mélanges, Automne. -Avec une cuiller ou un fouet? -Avec une cuiller.
You mix, Automne. -With a spoon or a whisk? -With a spoon.
Captions 24-25, Aurélien et Automne Oreo fait maison - Part 1Play Caption
Or to speed things along, you can use un batteur (a hand mixer):
Tu n'as pas un batteur fantastique à nous proposer? -Si.
Don't you have a fantastic mixer to suggest to us? -Yes I do.
Captions 31-32, Aurélien et Automne Oreo fait maison - Part 1Play Caption
Un batteur électrique is an "electric mixer," used for fouetter les blancs en neige (beating egg whites until stiff):
Vous fouettez les blancs en neige
You beat the egg whites until stiff
Caption 44, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de NoëlPlay Caption
To mix cake batter, you might prefer a more robust appliance like un robot ménager (yes, a robot!). Un robot (a food processor) is a more modern device that can perform many functions, from mixing cake batter to making soups and even baking bread:
Quel robot de cuisine choisir? Découvrez notre sélection des meilleurs robots de cuisine, accompagné d'un comparatif détaillé.
Which food processor should you choose? Discover our top selection of food processors, with a detailed comparison.
Once your mixture is ready to be taken out of your robot, you will need une spatule to scrape the batter off the bowl. In the video below the chef is removing the dough from the cookie cutter using une spatule (a spatula):
On le défait, avec une petite spatule. Et on vient le poser à côté, prêt à aller au four.
We take it out, with a little spatula. And we go and place it aside, ready to go into the oven.Play Caption
Then it’s time to mettre au four (bake) your creation. For this, you will need un moule à gâteau (a baking pan). (In other contexts, un moule can mean “a mold” as well.)
Et une fois cette action réalisée, je vais placer la pâte sur un papier sulfurisé, la mettre dans un moule
And once this is done, I'm going to place the dough on a piece of parchment paper, place it in a baking pan
Captions 20-22, JB La tarte aux mirabellesPlay Caption
When you bake cookies or even a chocolate log, you will use une plaque (a baking tray):
Vous versez la préparation sur une plaque recouverte de papier cuisson.
You pour the mixture onto a baking tray covered with baking paper.
Caption 57, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de NoëlPlay Caption
Once this is done, you can serve your dessert in un plat (a dish):
Je la mets dans un plat.
I put it in a dish.
Caption 19, JB La polentaPlay Caption
Now that you are familiar with some ustensiles (utensils) and kitchen essentials, you're all set to explore Yabla’s delicious food and cooking videos. Bonne cuisine! (Happy cooking!)
The mention of French cuisine conjures up images of mouthwatering food prepared with loving care. How do ordinary French people manage to produce delicious meals every day? One of the key ingredients to success is how you cook the food. In this lesson, you will learn various expressions associated with cuire (cooking). À vos fourneaux! (Let’s get cooking!)
As mentioned earlier, the generic verb for “cooking” is cuire. In the video below, JB explains how he prefers to cuire ses légumes ensemble (cook his vegetables together) for his ratatouille:
En effet selon certaines traditions il faut les cuire séparément ou tous ensemble. Moi, je préfère les cuire tous ensemble.
Indeed, according to certain traditions, you have to cook them separately or all together. As for me, I prefer to cook them all together
Captions 16-18, JB La ratatouillePlay Caption
As for Lucette, who is making apricot jam, she uses the expression faire cuire, which means the same thing as cuire (to cook):
Dans le temps, on les faisait cuire dans la bassine en cuivre,
In past times, we used to cook them in a copper basin,
Caption 6, Lucette La confiture d'abricotsPlay Caption
Lucette puts her apricots in une cocotte de cuisson (a cooker), a kind of Dutch oven for slow cooking:
Je vais les mettre dans la cocotte de cuisson.
I'm going to put them in the cooker.
Caption 30, Lucette La confiture d'abricotsPlay Caption
On its own, the verb mettre usually means “to put," but mettre à cuire is yet another equivalent to cuire and faire cuire. Having said that, note that in the context of the video below, mettre à cuire departs from its usual meaning and translates as “to bake” since it’s implied that the food is going in the oven:
Et nous allons la mettre à cuire
And we're going to bake it
Caption 89, Christian Le Squer Comment cuisiner les figuesPlay Caption
In fact, there is no concise French equivalent of the verb “to bake”! You have to say cuire/faire cuire au four (literally, “to cook in the oven”). Watch JB bake a delicious Mirabelle plum tart in the video below:
Il s'agit de la faire cuire au four
It's a matter of baking it in the oven
Caption 36, JB La tarte aux mirabellesPlay Caption
On the other hand, the verb enfourner is much more concise than its English translation, “to put/load into the oven." This skilled baker is going to enfourner les madeleines (put the madeleines in the oven):
Steven va à présent enfourner les madeleines.
Steven is now going to put the madeleines in the oven.Play Caption
Then again, English has a verb for “steaming,” which doesn’t exist in French. You have to use the construction cuire + noun + à la vapeur (literally, “to cook with steam”):
Cuire les légumes à la vapeur permet de conserver les vitamines.
Steaming vegetables helps preserve vitamins.
Not only can you use the verb cuire to talk about steaming and baking, but you can also cuire at various temperatures: à feu doux (on low heat) or à feu vif (on high heat):
Tout dépend de la chaleur du feu; il faut toujours le faire à feu doux.
It all depends on the stove temperature; it always has to be done on low heat.Play Caption
Je fais revenir le tout à feu vif pendant trois minutes.
I brown everything over high heat for three minutes.
Caption 24, JB La ratatouillePlay Caption
After browning (faire revenir) everything, JB turns down the heat to mijoter (simmer) his ratatouille:
Je laisse encore mijoter pour une quinzaine de minutes.
I let it simmer again for fifteen minutes or so.
Captions 38-39, JB La ratatouillePlay Caption
You'll often see mijoter or its synonym, mitonner, in the expression mijoter/mitonner de bons petits plats, which translates as “cooking up nice little dishes." Yet no expression in English quite conveys the love, care, and time that goes into mijoter/mitonner des bons petits plats, which is exactly what the chef and his staff are doing in the video below:
En effet, le chef et l'équipe de cuisine s'emploient à leur mitonner de bons petits plats chaque jour.
Indeed, the chef and the kitchen staff are working on cooking up nice little dishes for them every day.
Caption 22, TV Tours Défendre les fromages au lait cruPlay Caption
If spending hours in the kitchen is not for you, you can resort to le micro-ondes (the microvave). The grandmother in the video below needs a little technical help with son micro-ondes (her microwave):
Rien... savoir comment marcher le micro-ondes.
Nothing... just how to work the microwave.Play Caption
The word “microwave” only exists as a noun in French. If you want “to microwave," you have to again resort to the construction cuire + noun: cuire/faire cuire au micro-ondes (literally, "to cook in the microwave”):
Faire cuire au micro-ondes 5 à 10 minutes suivant la puissance du four. Mélanger.
Microwave for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the oven. Mix.
In conclusion, whatever cooking method you may prefer, you’re likely to use the verb cuire (to cook). Yabla cooking videos will help you mijoter de bons petits plats (cook up nice little dishes) while learning French. Thank you for spending time in our Yabla “kitchen”! Stay tuned for another lesson on kitchen-related vocabulary.
À vos fourneaux! (Get cooking!)
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.Play Caption
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 dû (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 SénégalPlay Caption
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:
...et les gens qu'elles avaient vus là-bas.
...and the people they had seen there.
Caption 21, Contes de fées La petite sirène - Part 1Play Caption
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 1Play Caption
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 technologiePlay Caption
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 1Play Caption
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 4Play Caption
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 -cs: je 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!Play Caption
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 SNCFPlay Caption
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 LimogesPlay Caption
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!
Partir normally means “to leave,” as in nous sommes partis (we left). However, c’est parti is an idiomatic expression that has little to do with its literal meaning, "it left." So, without further ado, let’s explore the various shades of meaning of this very popular catchphrase. C’est parti! (Here we go!)
When it’s clear from the context that we’re talking in the past tense, c’est parti has a fairly straightforward meaning: “it started." In the video below, the speaker discusses how the Belleville upcycling center began:
Et puis voilà. C'est comme ça que c'est parti.
And there you are. That's how it started.Play Caption
So far so good. However, c’est parti doesn't always refer to something in the past, despite its verb being in the past tense. In fact, c’est parti usually describes an event that hasn’t happened yet. It tells us that something is about to start. Moreover, c’est parti is often accompanied with an exclamation mark to reflect the enthusiasm of the person starting an activity:
Et nous, on goûte. Allez, c'est parti! Fourchettes! Bon appétit!
And we're going to taste it. OK, here we go! Forks out! Bon appétit!
Caption 116, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3Play Caption
You can even add a little color to the expression by saying, Cest parti, mon kiki! Kiki is a colloquial term for "throat," but it only appears here for the rhyme:
C’est parti, mon kiki!
Let’s get cracking!
In any case, c’est parti used on its own is something people say when they want to get started, like Amal setting off on a bike ride in the following video:
Voilà! C'est parti.
There! Let's go.
Caption 46, Amal VélibPlay Caption
Later in the same video, you will find another variation in the English translation of c’est parti:
Voilà. C'est bon. Le vélo... Et c'est parti!
There. It's good. The bike... And off you go!
Caption 50, Amal VélibPlay Caption
Similarly, c’est parti can also mean “we’re off”:
C'est parti, on y va.
And we're off, here we go.
Caption 44, Delphine et Automne Le gâteau au yaourt - Part 2Play Caption
Saying c’est parti is a perfect way to announce the start of a race. It's equivalent to on y va (let’s go/here we go):
Bon ben c'est parti. -Top chrono, c'est parti.
Good, well, here we go. -Starting now, here we go.
Caption 37, Joanna La course à pied: ConseilsPlay Caption
Another variation of c’est parti is c’est parti pour (for) in combination with a time period, to indicate duration:
C'est donc parti pour trois jours de concert. Au programme, musique classique et jazz
So it's off for a three-day concert. On the program: classical music and jazz
Caption 2, Grand Lille TV Un piano dans le métro!Play Caption
C’est parti pour can also introduce what’s coming, as in “it’s time for” something:
Huit heures, le suspense prend fin. C'est parti pour quatre heures de réflexion.
Eight o'clock, the suspense is over. Time for four hours of recollection.
Caption 4, Le Journal Le bacPlay Caption
You can also use c’est parti pour to discuss what you might expect. In the video below, Sophie and Patrice speculate about the weather. Sophie thinks “they are in for" some rain:
Ah mais là, on est parti pour une semaine, hein?
Ah but here, we'll be in it for a week, huh?
Caption 9, Sophie et Patrice La pluiePlay Caption
Here Sophie replaces c'est with on est. Note, however, that on est parti is usually not an idiomatic expression, but retains its literal meaning (we left):
On est parti de Rome...
We left Rome...
Caption 48, Lionel et Automne Lionel retourne à l'écolePlay Caption
In addition to the phrase c’est parti pour, you can qualify c’est parti with an adverb like bien (well) or mal (badly) to indicate whether things are going to turn out well or badly. So, the expression t’es bien parti means “you’re off to a good start/on the right track”:
Je pense que t'es bien parti.
I think that you're on the right track.
Caption 109, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3Play Caption
And of course, c’est mal parti means the opposite, “to be off to a bad start," like Amal's awful singing:
C'est très mal parti quand tu... -J'ai fait cinq ans de conservatoire.
It's off to a very bad start when you... -I did five years of conservatory.
Caption 52, Amal et Caroline Je n'aime pas quand tu chantesPlay Caption
Note that Caroline could have put it another way and said:
T’es très mal partie.
You’re off to a very bad start.
Finally, you can add the suffix re- and say c’est reparti (here we go again) to indicate repetition, which can be meant as a good thing or a bad thing. In the video below, Nico expresses his frustration with Sam and says:
Here we go again!
Caption 19, Extr@ Ep. 4 - Sam trouve du travail - Part 7Play Caption
And Barbara is also frustrated with her mother, who does the same annoying thing over and over:
Et voilà, c'était reparti pour l'interrogatoire de police.
And then she went off again with the police interrogation.
Captions 39-40, Mère & Fille La soiréePlay Caption
As you can see, there are many ways of interpreting c’est parti. In general, it's an idiomatic expression that marks the beginning of an action. With a little practice, you'll be able get a sense of its nuances in context. Keep watching Yabla videos, dear readers, and vous serez bien partis (you’ll be off to a great start)! Thank you for reading!
The French devote an average of two hours to physical activity each week. They love to walk. They also play sports and go to the gym. They like to exercise in various ways, but what expressions do the French use to convey the idea? How many ways are there to say “exercise” in French? Let’s find out in this lesson.
One form of exercise is faire du sport (playing sports), and according to Patricia in her video on Antibes, there is no shortage of people qui font leur sport (doing their sporting activities) in Antibes:
Des gens qui font leur sport également... du jogging, du roller, du skateboard, des arts martiaux
Also people who are doing their sporting activities... jogging, rollerskating, skateboarding, martial arts
Caption 17, Mon Lieu Préféré AntibesPlay Caption
In addition, note that when you hear the French talk about faire du sport, they don’t necessarily mean practicing a sport. In fact, faire du sport simply means "to exercise":
Y a pas d'âge pour faire du sport.
There's no age for exercising.Play Caption
People like Amal and Caroline often talk about how they wished they’d exercise more:
Ah, il faudrait que je fasse du sport. -C'est vrai? T'es prête à faire du sport?
Ah, I should exercise. -Is that true? Are you ready to exercise?
Captions 102-103, Amal et Caroline La cigarettePlay Caption
Faire du sport is synonymous with faire de l’exercice (to exercise), so Amal could have said this instead:
Ah, il faudrait que je fasse de l’exercice.
Ah, I should exercise.
Note that when talking about exercising the body, you use the expression faire de l’exercice, which always comes with the definite article l’ (the). Faire un exercice, with the indefinite article un (a), has a slightly different meaning. It just means “to do an exercise." This can be a physical activity:
On va faire un petit exercice.
We're going to do a little exercise.
Caption 72, Marie & Jeremy Candice et son coachPlay Caption
Or it can be any type of exercise, such as a learning exercise:
L'élève qu'on voit ouvrir son manuel pour faire un exercice, peut-être voir une partie de cours
The student that you see opening his book to do an exercise, maybe to see a part of the lesson
Caption 14, Le Journal Manuels scolairesPlay Caption
As you many have noticed, exercice as a noun is more or less a direct cognate of "exercise." Its verb form, exercer, mainly means "to exercise" in the sense of exercising or practicing a profession:
Le prévenu encourt une interdiction d'exercer.
The defendant risks being banned from exercising his profession.Play Caption
The reflexive form s’exercer takes on another meaning: “to train” or “to practice” any type of activity.
On peut s’exercer à chanter.
One can practice singing.
Finally, “to exert oneself” in English is not s’exercer in French but rather se dépenser, with the emphasis on expending some energy. In the example below, aller se dépenser involves a physical workout:
Et si vous alliez vous dépenser avec Maxime?
What if you went for a workout with Maxime?Play Caption
The term “workout” doesn’t have a direct translation in French. There are only equivalents like l’exercice physique (physical exercise):
Après l'exercice physique...
After the workout...Play Caption
Or you could say un entraînement for “workout”:
Des vidéos d'entraînement.
Caption 30, Sports Shop D'un sport à l'autrePlay Caption
There you have it. Exercez-vous tous les jours avec Yabla en faisant des exercices! (Practice every day with Yabla by doing exercises!)
In the Yabla video Sophie et Patrice - On m'a volé mon téléphone, Sophie had her phone stolen and shares her frustration with Patrice, who offers a few suggestions to solve her problem. In their conversation, you will learn plenty of phone-related vocabulary. Throughout the video, Sophie and Patrice use the generic term un téléphone, but they could have used the term un portable (a cell/mobile phone) instead:
Personne. -Personne. Sauf une fois, il s'est fait voler son... portable...
Nobody. -Nobody. Except once, he had his... cell phone stolen...Play Caption
Sophie and Patrice also didn’t use the English loanword un smartphone, which you might also hear:
Des témoignages que les visiteurs pourront bientôt découvrir sur leur smartphone
Accounts that visitors will soon be able to discover on their smartphonePlay Caption
Patrice simply uses the French cognate téléphone when he advises Sophie to faire bloquer son téléphone (have her phone blocked):
Tu as appelé pour faire bloquer le téléphone?
Did you call to have the phone blocked?
Caption 11, Sophie et Patrice On m'a volé mon téléphonePlay Caption
It might preserve her privacy, since her whole répertoire (address book) was on her phone, as well as all her contacts:
Moi, j'ai... j'ai tout mon répertoire... Tu te rends compte? J'ai tous mes contacts.
I have... I have my whole address book... You realize? I have all my contacts.
Captions 6-7, Sophie et Patrice On m'a volé mon téléphonePlay Caption
Losing her phone also means that Sophie can no longer access her agenda électronique (electronic calendar):
Mon agenda, il était dans... C'était mon agenda électronique dans mon téléphone.
My calendar was in... It was my electronic calendar in my phone.
Caption 52, Sophie et Patrice On m'a volé mon téléphonePlay Caption
Unfortunately, she never thought to do une sauvegarde (a backup):
Pourquoi j'ai pas fait la sauvegarde?
Why didn't I do a backup?
Caption 78, Sophie et Patrice On m'a volé mon téléphonePlay Caption
Still searching for a solution, Patrice asks Sophie if she has une puce (a chip) or une carte SIM (a SIM card) on another appareil (device):
C'est la seule puce que tu as, euh... T'as pas un autre appareil avec la même carte SIM?
Is that the only chip that you have, uh... You don't have another device with the same SIM card?
Captions 58, 61, Sophie et Patrice On m'a volé mon téléphonePlay Caption
You might be interested to know that in other situations, une puce is something entirely different. It’s actually "a flea"! In any case, Sophie has neither une puce nor une carte SIM on another appareil. She's going to have to call son opérateur (her provider):
Je vais appeler l'opérateur...
I'm going to call the provider...
Caption 84, Sophie et Patrice On m'a volé mon téléphonePlay Caption
Sadly, it looks like Sophie and Patrice have run out of solutions. It might be time for her to start shopping for un nouveau portable (a new cellphone)—perhaps un smartphone compatible avec la 5G (a 5G smartphone)!
It’s no secret that many English words have become part of the French language. What is not so well-known, however, is how much Arabic has influenced European languages. From the Moorish occupation of Spain to the latest waves of North African immigrants, Arabs have had a strong presence in Europe. So, it’s no surprise that Arabic terms have crept into the French language. Let’s explore some of them.
Many of these words were adapted to sound more like French over time, so much so that French people use words of Arabic origin every day without realizing it. For example, a typical day may start with un café, derived from the Arabic word qahwa:
Les adultes boivent plus du café ou du thé
Adults drink coffee or tea more
Caption 9, Arles Le petit déjeunerPlay Caption
Arab cuisine has also become part of the French cooking repertoire. For example, you can find the spicy Maghrebi sausage called merguez in most supermarkets nowadays. In the video below, Parisians can’t resist the smell of merguez:
les odeurs de merguez, de frites, euh...
the smells of merguez, of French fries, uh...Play Caption
People even use Arabic terms when talking about routine activities, like aller au magasin (going to the store), a word borrowed from the Arabic makazin, which originally referred to a warehouse. The meaning of introduced words often departs from the original:
Alors, nous sommes dans un magasin.
So, we're in a shop.
Caption 24, Extr@ Ep. 2 - Sam fait du shopping - Part 3Play Caption
Other times, loanwords have remained close to the original Arabic meaning. French borrowed the term souk, which is a marketplace in Northern Africa. But the word has also become slang for a messy place and is often accompanied by an exclamation mark:
What a mess!
The somewhat dated expression faire la nouba (to party) kept its Arabic sound but lost its original meaning. La nouba refers to traditional songs and dances performed by Algerian women. The term later became slang, first used in the military, for partying and living it up:
J’aime trop faire la nouba.
I love to party a lot.
While young people may not use the same Arabic expressions as their parents, today’s youth adopted their own new set of Arabic words to add to their vocabulary and complement their favorite verlan expressions. In his conversation with Anna, Louis greets her using the term wesh, borrowed directly from Algerian slang, which is equivalent to "hi," "yo," or "what's up":
Wesh ["salut" en arabe] Anna.
Wesh ["hi" in Arabic] Anna.
Caption 1, Anna et Louis Le vocabulaire des jeunesPlay Caption
Louis also uses the word kiffer (to love). Kif originally served as a slang word for drugs, equivalent to "dope" or "hash" in English. By extension, the verb kiffer came to mean "to smoke hash." Nowadays, though, kiffer mostly functions as a general synonym of aimer:
En vrai, Louis, je kiffe bricoler
For real, Louis, I love tinkering
Caption 45, Anna et Louis J'ai besoin d'un coup de mainPlay Caption
Conversely, something that is pas kiffant is not fun:
Enfin c'était pas kiffant, quoi
Well, it wasn't fun, you know
Caption 14, Anna et Louis Hier soirPlay Caption
Speaking of pas kiffant, you might hear someone in trouble use the expression avoir le seum, slang for being depressed, frustrated, or in a bad spot:
Moi, j'ai trop le seum.
Me, I'm really frustrated.
Caption 14, Sophie et Edmée Les études de médecinePlay Caption
Ben, euh... moi j'ai un peu le seum
Well, uh... I'm kind of in a bad spot
Caption 8, Edmée et Fanny Les présidentielles à 20 ansPlay Caption
The reason for all this seum (trouble) might be a lack of moula (moolah), which is one of several slang terms for money:
Pour les langages des jeunes et plus récemment: "la moula", "la moulaga", "les lovés", "les bifs" et "les waris."
In youth language, and more recently: "la moula" [moolah], "la moulaga," "les lovés," "les bifs," and "les waris."
Captions 24-26, Lionel L L'argentPlay Caption
The lack of moula might well prompt the use of the Maghrebi expression c’est la hess ("it’s hell," "it’s a struggle"). Imagine a hungry teenager opening an empty refrigerator, saying:
Le frigo est vide, c’est vraiment la hess.
The fridge is empty, it’s hell.
The Algerian term hess or hass originally referred to licking the plate clean, in other words starving.
As you may have noticed, many Arabic loanwords come into French as slang, and thus change from generation to generation. However, many of these words, such as café and magasin, have been part of the French vocabulary for many years, centuries even, and are not at all slang. In any case, there is no shortage of Arabic words in the French language. Watch for new ones in Yabla videos!
As the saying goes, French is the language of love. So, let’s take this opportunity to delve into peoples’ hearts and minds and discuss expressions featuring the theme of love, ever so present in conversations, literature, and songs.
Grand Corps Malade sings about le grand amour (true love) in his song "Les Voyages en Train":
Le grand amour change forcément ton comportement
True love inevitably changes your behavior
Caption 13, Grand Corps Malade Les Voyages en trainPlay Caption
The masculine noun amour also exists in the plural form, as in the expression la saison des amours, which means "the season of love" when referring to humans:
Ah oui, oui, oui, c'est la saison des amours là.
Ah yes, yes, yes, it's the season of love now.
Caption 44, Lionel à Lindre-Basse - Part 5Play Caption
And "the mating season" when referring to animals:
Et là, c'est la saison des amours là?
And now, it's the mating season now?
Caption 43, Lionel à Lindre-Basse - Part 5Play Caption
The term conjoint (mate) applies to both the animal and the human kingdom:
Elles trouvent le temps long parce que le conjoint, il tarde à venir là.
They feel that time is moving slowly because their mate is taking his time to arrive now.
Caption 45, Lionel à Lindre-Basse - Part 5Play Caption
You'll often come across conjoint (partner/spouse) when filling out an administrative form:
L'utilisation du nom du conjoint nécessite certaines démarches.
Adopting a partner’s name requires certain steps.
Alternatively, you will also come across the word époux/épouse (spouse) which works in the same way as "spouse" in English—as a slightly more formal alternative to le mari (husband) and la femme (wife):
Voilà. Je désire prendre votre fille pour épouse.
Here's the deal. I want to take your daughter as my wife.Play Caption
Vous acceptâtes de me prendre pour époux
You accepted to take me for a husband
Captions 26-27, Oldelaf interprète "Bérénice"Play Caption
Speaking of époux, young girls in fairy tales often dream of épouser (marrying) le Prince Charmant (Prince Charming):
Seule dans sa chambre elle rêve encore au Prince Charmant
Alone in her room she still dreams of Prince Charming
Caption 8, Wallen DonnaPlay Caption
These days, people might look for their Prince Charming on un site de rencontre (a dating site):
Je m'inscris sur un site de rencontre pour retraités.
I'm subscribing to a dating site for retirees.Play Caption
Of course, faire une rencontre (meeting someone) or rencontrer l’amour (finding love) can happen in any setting, even unusual ones, as Nico can attest in this video:
Nico rencontre l'amour à un feu rouge.
Nico finds love at a red light.
Caption 34, Extr@ Ep. 5 - Une étoile est née - Part 8Play Caption
With a little luck, Nico may have found une âme sœur (a soulmate):
Petites fées du cœur accueillent les âmes sœurs
Little love fairies welcome the soulmates
Captions 25-26, Melissa Mars Music Videos Army of LovePlay Caption
In any case, Nico and his neighbors Sacha and Annie have a complicated love life. They are all amoureux (in love), but with the wrong people!
Elles ont un voisin, Nico, qui est amoureux de Sacha, et Annie est amoureuse de Nico.
They have a neighbor, Nico, who is in love with Sacha, and Annie is in love with Nico.
Captions 3-5, Extr@ Ep. 1 - L'arrivée de Sam - Part 1Play Caption
Nico wants Sacha to be sa petite amie (his girlfriend), while Annie wants Nico to be son petit ami (her boyfriend). They could simplify their lives by being amis (just friends), but that's not how love works! The adjective petit (little) is just an endearing term of affection that bears no relation to size at all. It simply implies a more exclusive relationship:
Ça va être ta petite amie qui doit être jalouse.
It's your girlfriend who must be jealous.Play Caption
Instead of using the term petit ami/petite amie, they could have said une petite copine (a girlfriend) or un petit copain (a boyfriend).
Traditionally, the next step is to progress from petits amis to mari et femme (husband and wife), and perhaps to sing together, like the couple in the video below:
Tout comme sa femme, le mari chante bien.
Just like his wife, the husband sings well.Play Caption
But before jumping into marriage, the pair may first se fiancer (become engaged). Hence the term un fiancé/une fiancée, which English borrowed from French:
Comme par exemple... ta fiancée? T'en as une? C'est ça?
Like, for example... your fiancée? You have one? Is that right?Play Caption
Fiancés might celebrate their fiançailles (engagement) with an engagement party, though perhaps not as grandiosely as Anne of Austria and Louis the Thirteenth, who had the famous Place des Vosges in Paris built for the occasion:
...à l'occasion des fiançailles de Louis Treize et d'Anne d'Autriche.
...on the occasion of the engagement of Louis the Thirteenth and Anne of Austria.Play Caption
Les fiançailles usually lead to another celebration, the wedding (le mariage or la noce):
...à l'occasion de son mariage entre mille huit cent quatre-vingt-douze et mille neuf cent deux.
on the occasion of his wedding, between eighteen ninety-two and nineteen hundred two.
Caption 36, Le Mans TV Mon Village - Malicorne - Part 5Play Caption
La noce se fera en automne.
The wedding will take place in the fall.
Two things worth noting about the word un mariage (marriage). It’s spelled with only one r, and it can mean either “wedding” (the ceremony) or “marriage" (the relationship). La noce, however, only means "wedding."
While marriage is usually a union based on love, in some cases, a marriage might be un mariage blanc, which literally means “white/blank marriage,” as Patricia explains in her video:
Un mariage blanc, c'est un mariage arrangé, ou pas consommé.
A white marriage is an arranged marriage, or not consummated.
Captions 56-57, Le saviez-vous? La couleur blanche et ses expressions - Part 2Play Caption
Usually though, a marriage is a happy occasion on which la mariée (the bride) and le mari (the groom) exchange vows:
La mariée et le marié sont aussi au rendez-vous
The bride and the groom are also at the rendez-vous
Caption 16, Amadou et Mariam Beaux dimanchesPlay Caption
Many newlyweds (nouveaux mariés) go on une lune de miel (honeymoon):
Celle-là, c'était l'année de notre rencontre. Et notre lune de miel.
That one was the year we met. And our honeymoon.
Captions 35-36, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon passé - Part 3Play Caption
Of course, le mariage is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people may decide to vivre en couple (to live together as a couple) instead. The word couple can refer to the number of people in the relationship, as in English, or to the relationship itself:
Notre couple allait mal.
Our relationship was going badly.Play Caption
Finally, those who remain unattached are called célibataires (single), like the lady mentioned in this video:
Et elle est toujours célibataire.
And she's still single.Play Caption
On November 25th, la Sainte-Catherine (Saint Catherine’s Day), single, unmarried young girls celebrate their catherinette by saying a special prayer for a suitor, before they reach the age of twenty-five.
As much as le grand amour (true love) may seem like the perfect recipe for happiness, one cannot vivre d’amour et d’eau fraiche (live on love alone). On the other hand, as the Beatles' song goes, all you need is love!
How do you pronounce ville (city) and fille (daughter)? In all logic, the pronunciation should be the same, but is it? The French language has its idiosyncrasies that make learning interesting and challenging at times. Words like ville, fille, fil, fils (city, daughter, thread, son) have their own stories to tell. Are you ready?
Words ending in -ille (with a double ll), such as brille (shines) and fille (girl/daughter), follow a specific pronunciation rule. The -ille sound is roughly equivalent to the sound “ee-yuh” in English, as in “giddy-up."
Listen to Sam, who sees the sunny side of life in this video, and pay attention to the way he says brille:
Le soleil brille dehors.
The sun is shining outside.Play Caption
Most words ending in -ille end with same “ee-yuh” sound. Hence, it’s no surprise to hear that brille (shines) rhymes with fille (girl/daughter):
Sa fille lui expliqua et lui demanda conseil.
His daughter explained it to him and sought his counsel.
Caption 42, Contes de fées Le roi grenouille - Part 1Play Caption
However, you guessed it, there are exceptions! No need to panic, though, as there are only three: mille, tranquille, ville (thousand, tranquil, city). In these words, the -ille is pronounced differently, like “eel” in English. (Note, however, that the word for "eel," anguille, rhymes with fille!)
Listen to the way mille, tranquille, and ville are pronounced in the following videos:
Notre amour brillera de mille feux
Our love will shine a thousand firesPlay Caption
L'avantage, c'est qu'on peut s'y promener de façon vraiment tranquille
The advantage is that you can walk here in a really tranquil fashion
Caption 17, Antoine La Butte-aux-CaillesPlay Caption
Nous sommes maintenant dans la vieille ville de Chartres
We are now in the old town of Chartres
Caption 6, Voyage en France La Ville de ChartresPlay Caption
If a word ends in -ile, with a single l, this is no longer an issue, as you simply sound the l as you would normally.
Et des automobiles qui se suivent en file et défilent
And of automobiles that follow in line and drive pastPlay Caption
The feminine noun la file (line) has a masculine homophone, le fil (thread/wire), with no e at the end. They both sound the same but mean different things:
la prêtresse grecque qui déroula son fil
the Greek priestess who unravelled her threadPlay Caption
In the plural form, le fil becomes les fils (threads/wires), and they share the same pronunciation since the s in the plural is always silent:
Bon, enfin. -Et les fils?
Well, anyway. -And the wires?Play Caption
So far so good. However, the word fils has another trick up its sleeve! Les fils (threads/wires) could also be les fils (sons). Fortunately, these two words are easy to tell apart as they have a different pronunciation. When talking about les fils (sons), the l is silent while the final s is pronounced.
Il transmit à ses fils tout ce qu'il possédait.
He passed on to his sons everything he possessed.
Caption 5, Contes de fées Le chat botté - Part 1Play Caption
Furthermore, le fils (the son) also ends in a sounded s, even though it’s singular:
Il cherche son fils à l'école.
He looks/is looking for his son at school.
Caption 9, Farid et Hiziya Chercher et trouverPlay Caption
The only way to tell how to pronounce fils—and whether it's referring to threads, wires, or sons—is through context.
Merci mille fois (many thanks) for following le fil (the thread) of this newsletter!