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Le Blog: Lingual Links

By angelaluke, Nov 18 2020 02:57PM

It’s often the little words in French that are most problematic and today’s grammar question is one that I often get asked. There are a couple of rules that can help:

1) Use ‘c’est’ when 'it' is followed by a noun. E.g. c’est une maison, c’est le printemps

2) Use ‘il est’ when you’re going to use an adjective on its own. E.g. Voici mon frère. Il est très marrant.

However, if the phrase involves an impersonal phrase such as ‘il est important’ then you can use either ‘il est’ or ‘c’est’ as they both mean a neutral ‘it’ here. So, ‘il est important de manger bien’ is as good as ‘c’est important de manger bien’ and both are followed by the preposition ‘de’. I’m sure you will have heard both, and that is where the confusion stems from – both sound correct and familiar… because they are!

You can also use, ‘c’est’ with an adjective if you are referring to an inanimate object. For example, ‘c’est ta voiture? C’est beau’. In this case, the adjective directly behind ‘c’est’ is always masculine, regardless of the gender of the object you’re talking about.

C’est claire? Or, il est difficile de s’en souvenir ? Do leave a comment, s’il vous plait :)

By angelaluke, Jan 11 2019 05:17PM

‘Perhaps’, in French, is maybe not as straightforward as it first seems (but at least French only has one word: ‘peut-être’ for our ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe’!)

There are three ways that ‘peut-être’ can be used if you want to be wholly accurate in French. The first way is to position the word in the middle of a sentence surrounded by commas. E.g. nous allons, peut-être, arriver en retard.

However, we often want to start a sentence with ‘peut-être’ and therefore there are two rules to choose from.

Firstly, you can follow ‘peut-être’ with ‘que’ and then the rest of the sentence. E.g. Peut-être que nous allons arriver en retard. Or you can invert the subject and verb directly after ‘peut-être’. E.g. Peut-être allons-nous arriver en retard. Just bear in mind that if the subject of the sentence is a name, you need to add the relevant pronoun too when you invert. E.g. Peut-être Paul et moi, allons-nous arriver en retard. And if you need the pronouns ‘il’, ‘elle’, ‘ils’, ‘elles’ or ‘on’, you need to add an extra ‘t’ to aid pronunciation. E.g. Peut-être Jean va-t-il arriver en retard.

So, if you just want to take just one thing from this blog entry, make it this: if you start a sentence with ‘peut-être’ in French, bolt the ‘que’ onto it and then continue with your sentence. French speakers will love your mastery of the language, peut-être!

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