TNs, U01: Basics 1 (Genders, Personal Subject Pronouns, Subject-Verb Agreement)
Grammar notes like those below can be helpful if you're having trouble with the lessons, so consider trying the lessons above before reading the notes. They'll be more helpful once you have a context for understanding them.
French has two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. All nouns have a gender that you must memorize. Sometimes, the gender can be obvious: une femme ("a woman") is feminine. Other times, it's not obvious: une pomme ("an apple") is also feminine.
There is no rule of thumb to guess a noun’s gender, so make sure you learn every noun together with its indefinite article un or une as if the article were part of the noun, like “apple” is une pomme.
Personal Subject Pronouns
In every complete sentence, the subject is the person or thing that performs an action or is being described. This is often a noun, but a personal subject pronoun (e.g. "I", "you", or "he") can replace that noun. In both English and French, pronouns have different forms based on what they replace.
|I||je||Je mange. — I eat.|
|You (familiar singular)||tu||Tu manges. — You eat.|
|He/It||il||Il mange. — He eats.|
|She/It||elle||Elle mange. — She eats.|
Notice above that the verb manger (as well as its English equivalent, "to eat") changes form to agree grammatically with the subject. These forms are called conjugations of that verb.
Here are some conjugations for verbs you'll encounter in the first few units:
|Subject||Manger (To Eat)||Être (To Be)||Avoir (To Have)|
|je||je mange — I eat||je suis — I am||j'ai — I have|
|tu||tu manges — you eat||tu es — you are||tu as — you have|
|il/elle/on||il mange — he eats||il est — he is||il a — he has|
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Merci beaucoup pour votre aide ! Very helpful for a beginner like me.
This is awesome, thank you for your time and dedication. I will continue referring to the T&N frequently...jusqu'à ce que je comprenne
Jusqu'à ce que je comprenne...
This is the subjunctive you will find in U81: Verbs: Subjunctive Present (Rules & Trends, Conjugations) - not published yet! ;-)
This concept of gendered words is new to me. Am I going to upset someone in the transgender community by saying "un orange"? I mean, assuming I get the gender of a word wrong, people will still understand me; right? My grandparents speak French and I want to surprise them on Christmas. Suppose I screw up the whole gender thing, they'll get what I'm saying?
Having a gender attached to nouns is a grammatical concept. A table is une table and a bike un vélo, but that has nothing to do with their intrinsic femininity or masculinity, they are just things. If it helps, think of it as a way of separating all nouns into two different categories, category x and category y. If you mix them up, the only community you may upset is the grammar community.
To your second question if people will still understand you, most of the time yes. Only rarely does mixing up the gender of a word change the meaning. HOWEVER, it will sound very odd to native speakers and it will distract from your message. The best advice I can give you is to always learn the indefinite article with whatever word you are learning. Instead of memorizing clé = key, memorize une clé = a key. If you do this early in your studies, it will soon feel natural to assign the correct gender with the noun and you will save yourself a world of trouble later on when you know hundreds and then thousands of nouns.
Lastly, enjoy the journey. I'm sure your grandparents will be delighted by your interest in French and by your efforts. Please don't let fear of "screwing up" ever stop you from speaking and from trying. Making mistakes is all a part of the process; it's okay. Many native French speakers have a sort of pride that their language is challenging to speak (and write) well, and they applaud the efforts of non-native speakers to learn.
Error: In the Personal Subject Pronoun section, in the table, it shows "vous" as the French translation for "you (familiar singular)" when that is not the case. You should either get rid of the (familiar singular) or the "vous". Also you could add a new section for "vous" stating that it's you (plural) or (formal singular).
Despite that, these posts are very beneficial. Thank you for your contributions! :)
I understand that, but in this lesson it introduces "vous" in the table above (Personal Subject Pronoun) in an incorrect context. If "vous" isn't supposed to be covered until U04, you should probably remove it from this lesson. The table would make more sense without it (unless it is referring to the formal singular version of vous, rather than the familiar singular stated above).
I know it may have seemed like I was encouraging you to add "vous" to this table, but that is not the case. I was just suggesting a way to solve this issue. The main problem was the "vous" being introduced in an incorrect context. As I stated above, the most logical solution would be to eliminate the "vous" entirely from the table.
You are right; the table is confusing with vous. It's out of place for the first lesson. I've removed it. Thanks for the alert!