I'm a French native and you should NOT pronounce the "s" at "je lis". The "s" is silent in this context. The "s" at the end of a word are mostly silent except for few words like "tous" ("all" in plural... because there is also an "all" in singular: "tout"... and the "t" is silent here :p )
In general, at the end of a verb you almost never pronouce the "s", the "d", the "t", the "ent" (if so never... but you never know in French with all our exceptions!! Arrrgh!! :p )
Does alors que only indicate contrast, or does it also link actions together in time? Or, both? The English translation, while, can be used as in "my daughter is a major consumer, while i'm very anti-materialistic" with the intention of indicating total contrast, though "while" is also (and more commonly) used in English to make actions contemporaneous. Is this dual-function also true of alors que?
Alors que can indicate simultaneity or contrast or contradiction.
From the Tips and notes on this lesson at Duo's website:
Je mange alors que tu manges. — I eat while you eat.
Elle est grande, alors que je suis petit. — She is tall, whereas I am short.
Je mange alors que je n'ai pas faim. — I am eating even though I am not hungry.
I think that is because the "while" here is the conjunction "alors que" (http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/conjunctions_5.htm) rather than "alors" alone (which means so or then http://french.about.com/od/mistakes/a/then.htm).
Yeah agreed. It is necessary to combine those two thoughts together in a sentence. I had a similar question like that in another dicussion about verbs here in this thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1783882$comment_id=1823699
I just discovered that although is a rare synonym with while thanks to Google dictionary so yep, it's correct.
"alors" is an exclamation, something like "well!". The two words "alors que" means the one English word "while". Sometimes two words work together as one unit. This kind of thing happens in English too. For example, the one word "blow" has a different meaning to the two words "blow up". Also see Daveremy's answer to the same question earlier in this thread.
There are many, many prepositions that add "que" to become conjunctions. eg. "pendant" - it can be used on its own in a prepositional phrase (pendant trois mois), but in a conjunction, you need the "que." The clue is that the next word after the "que" will be another subject: "alors que je lis."
The English word "while" actually also has this dual function, so I don't think it's too surprising. You can think of it as "presenting two facts which coexist in the same setting and which contradict each other"
Curiously, completely unrelated Japanese "-nagara" also has the same dual function, and if more examples are present in other languages, I would postulate that an underlying mental "metaphor" of the human brain is at work. :p
I wonder if there is a confusion over which conjugation of lire this is supposed to be. My understanding is that "lis" has a silent "s" but the the subjunctive is spelled "(je) lise." And I'm still confused as to how one would use the subjunctive in the first person in a sentence. Can someone help me with this?
In this sentence, "lire" is conjugated in the present indicative. "Alors que" does not take the subjunctive. You are right on the other accounts. The subjunctive is typically used when the statement in question is not an established fact. Often (but not always) it is used to express a desire or a will. In most instances you just have to memorize the verbs and expressions that are followed by a subjunctive. The most common ones are probably:
Il faut que (it is necessary that): Il faut que je m'en aille. Pour que (so that): Il m'a donné son livre pour que je fasse ses devoirs à sa place. Vouloir que (to want that): Je veux que ma fille puisse me joindre à tout moment.
In all of these cases, the sentence in question is not a fact. If you need to do something, you haven't already done it and you don't know if you're going to. If someone does something so that something else happens, we don't know if that something else actually happens. If you want someone to do something, you also don't know if they actually do it. There's a whole bunch of verbs and expressions that you can find at https://www.talkinfrench.com/french-subjunctive-phrases/ if you want a more complete list. Or you can look in a textbook.
In some instances, a verb would take the subjunctive when it is negative and when it is in inverted question form, but not if it is affirmative or in a non-inverted question form. An example would be "penser que" and "croire que:"
Je pense qu'il est vieux = Il est vrai que je le trouve vieux même s'il ne l'est pas.
Je ne pense pas qu'il soit de mon côtê = Il se peut qu'il le soit, mais je n'en suis pas sûre.
The subjunctive is often also used when there is a superlative, expressed after expressions such as "le plus," "le moins," "le seul," etc.
Because they don't mean the same thing. "Even though" suggests that the fact that "I read" should normally prevent the "he talks" part from occurring, but that "he talks" IN SPITE OF it. "While" does not have that connotation. It simply means that they are doing something at the same time. It highlights the difference between the two, but one does not normally prevent the other from occurring.
I typed, "He speaks whereas I read", and it was marked incorrect... even though in one of the previous examples I typed "whereas" as I was marked correct. I am very confused as to why "alors que" sometimes means "while", and sometimes means "whereas"... which are two different concepts... but sometimes I am marked wrong if I try one instead of the other. What am I not understanding?
Alors (by itself)=then/so
Que (by itself)=that/what
Alors que is a conjunctive phrase. There are a large number of similar conjunctions, which usually end in que:
and many, many more. The que is an integral part of the conjunctive phrase. These can't necessarily be translated word-by-word; they have to be learned as a single concept. But sometimes it's obvious: avant by itself is a preposition or an adverb meaning "before"; if you want to use it as a conjunction (also meaning "before") to join two clauses, you must add "que."
Some discussion of it, not sure how accurate it is.