28 Comments This discussion is locked.
If you say "une vieille femme" (an old woman), it's very pejorative, you have to say "une vieille dame" (a old lady). "Dame" is used when you want to be very formal and respectful.
"Les femmes sont belles", can't be "Les dames sont belles", because it's ridiculously formal. We can think you talk about old ladies or about medieval princesses...
But if you want to show respect, you would say "Cette dame" instead of "Cette femme", that can be a lack of respect if you talk about someone you owe respect or that can hear you.
As a rule, if I have a formal relationship with the person with who I speak, I will say to this person "Regarde la dame qui..." -Look at the lady who... , but if my speech is free, I can say "Regarde la femme qui.."
We taught children: "Dis bonjour à la dame" = Say "Bonjour" to the lady. and not "à la femme", it would be too rude.
That is a good question. This is currently what I have been told:
1. adjectives usually come AFTER the noun they are describing, except in cases of Beauty, Age, Numbers, Goodness/badness, and Size - 'BANGS'. 'BANGS' come BEFORE the noun.
The other way I have found it described is that colors, nationality and long adjectives generally come AFTER the noun they describe.
Short and frequently used adjectives come BEFORE the noun.
2. In English we usually use the adjective BEFORE the noun, that is why this is something English speakers need to be aware of.
I have a thread I have developed for Adjectives 1, which if you click on the gray writing, it will take you there. To get back here, press the return or back arrow key in your browser.
In my list for Adjectives 2 - word list ,
I am beginning to note which adjectives come before the noun.
I hope that helps :)
femme and femmes is pronounced the same, you can't hear the difference. You have to pay attention to how the article is pronounced. You can hear the difference between le (sounds like /luh/.), la, and les (sounds like /lay/). Pay attention to that and you will be able to distinguish singular from plural.
It is because, I understand - that you need to add the correct preposition before the noun of "women". You have a few to choose between: le, la, les, un, une. And then there are "some" : du, de la, des ( I believe ). In french you can not just use the noun. You need to also add the correct defining "preposition".
You can NOT just say in french:
"J'aime femmes" - this is grammatically wrong in french. It is like how you hear foreigners speak other languages. This is not the way the french speak their language.
You have to say either:
"J'aime les femmes" = I like women - meaning all women.
"J'aime des femmes" = I like some women. ALL nouns in french are preceded by the correct defining preposition.
Does that make sense to you?
It is called an elision - we do similar things in english.
ie. It is / It's ; do not / don't.
However in french - when elision happens it MUST always happen. It is not optional as it is in English. This is important for us English speakers learning French to know.
To read some more - check out :
- languageguide - it is one of my favorites - as it explains things simply and includes sound files. However you have to go down to the bottom of the web page.
Or perhaps do a google search, for say - youtube - on elision in French.
If you find any that you think were good - perhaps post their links up here :)