https://www.duolingo.com/LakerCat14

French is so hard and I am so frustrated :(

I'm getting really frustrated because French comes so hard for me even though I already have experience with learning another language. With just the demonstrative adjectives and nouns there are ceci, cela, celui, ceux, ce, ces, cette, cella...they are so confusing and I can't get them straight in my head, and I don't know when to use which one. Not to mention all the little quirks in the French language. I just want to cry. :( It's just like a big tangled knowledge in my head...

Breathe Ok, I feel better already from my rant.

March 22, 2015

80 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/AaronTupaz

It's okay to feel confused. Most things worth learning are not easy. Accepting that some parts of language learning will be difficult is part of the journey. Embrace that part and you'll feel that much better when you look back in the future, and realize how much you've learned and overcomed.

March 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Perseph1955

I have a suggestion that may help with your frustration. Go back to the Basics One section and redo one or two of the exercises. My guess is that you will now find them to be ridiculously simple, child's play, almost. Then remember how difficult those same exercises were the first time you encountered them, nine levels ago. What that tells you is that you CAN indeed learning things that seem to be difficult at first when you stick to them. Focus on how far you have come. There's no reason to believe you won't be able to conquer these other lessons, and those at even higher levels. Frustration is just an annoying guest along for the ride. Let him tell you when to take a little break, but never let him tell you when to quit!

March 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Tessallation

That's a great tip - thanks!

December 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward

I got super frustrated when I got to that point in French, too. Enough so that I bought a grammar book (or three). Here is what my grammar books said that really helped me out. The following is just the basics. There are exceptions and there is more to know about these points of grammar but hopefully it will sort things out a little for you. It is a lot. Don't try to memorize it all. Just go over it and refer back to it as needed. With time and repetition it will begin to sink in. Also, if things are getting jumbled in your head that's a sign that it's time to stop, slow down, and spend some time reviewing.

-*-

Demonstrative Adjectives - have to have a noun to go with them. They're adjectives, so they modify a noun.

Ce - masculine singular. Ce garçon est beau.
Cet - masculine singular before a vowel sound or mute h. Cet artiste est intelligent.
Cette - feminine singular. Cette fille est belle.
Ces - plural (masc. or fem.). Ces livres sont intéressants.

To distinguish between this and that you add -ci or -là to the noun
Ce livre-ci, Ce livre-là - this book, that book
Cet homme-ci, Cet homme-là - this man, that man
Cette fille-ci, Cette fille-là - this girl, that girl
Ces crayons-ci, Ces crayons-là - These pencils, those pencils

-*-

Demonstrative Pronouns - don't have a noun to go with them; they ARE the noun.

Celui - masculine singular. This one/that one
Ceux - masculine plural. These/those
Celle - feminine singular. This one/that one
Celles - feminine plural. These/those

To distinguish between this one/these and that one/those you add -ci or -là to the demonstrative pronoun
Quel livre recommandez-vous ?
Celui-ci est plus intéressant que celui-là - This one (book) is more interesting than that one (book).
Quelle est la différence entre les robes ?
Celles-ci sont pus chères que celles-là - These (dresses) are more expensive than those (dresses).

-*-

Indefinite Demonstrative Pronouns

Ce - often the subject of the verb être. Refers to an idea previously introduced. The adjective following ce is always masculine.
Les erreurs qu'elle a faites! C'est idiot!
The mistakes she made! It's so stupid!
Cette ville en hiver ! C'est si beau !
This city in the winter! It's so beautiful!

Ceci This. May initiate a statement and also announce a following sentence.
Cela That. May reflect on something already mentioned.
Ça This/That, familiar
All of them (ceci, cela, ça) refer to indefinite things or ideas.
Mangez ceci ! Eat this!
Enlevez cela ! Remove that!
Ceci n'est pas une pipe. This is not a pipe.
Ça, c'est de l'art ! That's (really) art!
Ça ne fait rien. It does not matter.
Ça m'est égal. I don't mind.

-*-

Going back to ce for a moment, it is really hard for me to know when to use c'est and ce sont instead of il est and ils sont. Here is the best list of "rules" I've found so far on when to use c'est.
1. Before a noun that is modified.
C'est un grand pianiste. He is a grand pianist.
C'est ma soeur. She is my sister.
2. Before a proper noun.
C'est André Pierron. It is André Pierron.
3. Before a pronoun.
Est-ce le votre ? Is it yours?
4. Before a superlative.
Ce sont les meilleures cerises de la ville. These are the best cherries in the city.
5. Before an infinitive.
Le problème c'est de savoir où commencer. The problem is to know where to begin.
6. Before an adverb.
C'est maintenant ou jamais. It's now or never.

March 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/LakerCat14

WOW! This is incredibly clear. This would have been very helpful in the notes and tips section! Thank you!

March 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/cal2025

Something I wish duolingo would really focus more on is the tips and notes section; it's one of the most useful tools, and even a short paragraph on what the section is covering would be amazing.

March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/xpaulk

I agree, these tips would be so useful. When I got to that point I actually gave up temporarily. I have since started back again, but without feeling the need to do it everyday. I also decided to accompany my duolingo learning with other resources. I think my problem was in expecting duolingo to do all the work for me. Instead I started to learn grammar rules and so on from other sources. I has really helped me and it doesn't feel so difficult and "random" as it did before. I still have my moments though ;)

March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Cephlin

When I read my French Grammar book, pennies were dropping left right and centre, it was just like wow!

March 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII

That's a very good explanation. But I'd like to point out two little things, especially for all of you French learners :

  1. Elevez cela ! Remove that! - Either it's supposed to be Enlevez cela ! or Élevez cela! If it's the second one, then the translation should be "Raise that !"
  2. Ceci n'est pas une pipe. This is not a pipe. - Be careful with that word (pipe), although the literal meaning is indeed "pipe", it is also used figuratively to mean "blow job". Use it carefully.
March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/BobbieL

I believe I'll just make an effort to avoid discussing plumbing or smoking, so that I never have to worry... lol

March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII

You could do that, but it's useless for plumbing, as in this case, "pipe" has another translation in french : tuyau which doesn't have that double meaning.

March 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/AussieCraig

Best to avoid philosophy as well :-)

March 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward

Oh, thank you!! My grammar book did not mention that alternate meaning for "pipe" and I probably made a typo with the Enlevez/Élevez. I'll fix that.

March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII

My grammar book did not mention that alternate meaning for "pipe"

I don't believe any official and serious book would do that ;-).

March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/bumblefizzle

OK! WOW! That was very nice of you to expound on your comment as much as you did! Thanks! I also have found your comment helpful! Way to go! :D You rock dude

March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/howardsends

You are fantastic Lrtward! They should add these as notes on the Demonstrative Adjectives section. Have some lingots :-)

March 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

I want to join the others in thanking you for your remarkably clear breakdown of French grammar! This will help a lot of us. Again, thank you so much!

March 23, 2015

[deactivated user]

    thank you, thank you!

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/sandeepa2

    Lrtward, Merci Beaucoup ! That's an amazing explanation.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/kmacv22

    so helpful.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/AugusteGusteau

    Ceci is the contraction of ce + ici (this + here).

    Cela is the contraction of ce + (this + there).

    Ci indicates a close reference, and is short for the already short “ici”, which makes sense that “ci” referes to…"this" (something here )…while "là" indicates a more remote reference, over there i.e. "that."

    From the amazingly helpful Duolinguist Blog: https://duolinguist.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/first-month-of-studying-french/

    Not mine, simply very grateful.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabethcx

    Merci beaucoup! Votre explication m'a vraiment aide(: C'est tres bien.

    March 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/cal2025

    Sort of off topic, but how? How can you get a 400 day streak? That sort of dedication..

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward

    I have my goal set to 1 XP. I keep a streak freeze purchased. I always have a "double or nothing" going. It's pretty easy to do at least one lesson a day, especially if you have a smart phone. Even on days I don't have time to study, I can do a review on my phone while I eat, or wait for a class or meeting to start, or while I wait on a ride or right before bed.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Taloua

    I would like to get this explanation in Spanish.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Jasminedesi16

    I know what you mean. I get super frustrated too with French because it gets so confusing sometimes.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/james-welch4

    Thank you so so so much

    May 14, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/ChrisMccarty16

    Thank you so much this helps greatly!

    January 30, 2019

    https://www.duolingo.com/sandeepa2

    I also found French grammar tough, but that was before I tried my hand at German. And believe me, German grammar takes the cake :)

    On a lighter side, do have a look at the famous American author Mark Twain's take on the German language here - http://german.about.com/library/blmtwain01.htm

    However to come to the point. I found that by doing the French grammar skills repeatedly, after some time, it slips into the subconscious. I do a skill set at least 4 to 5 times over a period of time. So do a skill set and move on and come back to it later and somehow it does not seem as daunting as it looked before,

    I have also found that by reading simple books in the language, one can get an intuitive feel of the language. Here is my favourite site for reading French Books on-line - http://www.thefrenchexperiment.com/stories/

    I would also recommend listening to songs in the target language and one can get the wordings from the net and sing along. You tube may a good bet for this.

    Hope that helps. All the best.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/TheLizzyIzzi

    "So do a skill set and move on and come back to it later and somehow it does not seem as daunting as it looked before,"

    I've really found this to be true. Knowing the rules and grammatical structure behind everything can be very helpful_ but sometimes just relaxing and going with the flow is just as important. When I stopped trying to analyze everything and focused on getting an intuition for the language things got better. Just as with English_ I can't always explain why something's correct_ I just know that's the correct way. The incorrect way starts to sound wrong or off after awhile.

    March 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/sandeepa2

    Great. All the best for French.

    March 28, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/consultjohan

    Mark Twain! What a read! Thank you!

    March 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/sandeepa2

    Welcome :)

    March 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Taloua

    You will find the language difficult at the beginning but you will adapt with it afterwards.

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/-TashaJ-

    Yes, it can be confusing, but with practise you'll learn to remember when to use demonstratives. Don't give up :)

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Raisinnoir

    I understand exactly how you feel. There were times I felt like just throwing in the towel. But I stayed with it. and over time French really has come easier for me. Once you accept that the French express things differently, it gets less difficult. I've reached the point where I actually look forward to my French lesson. I'm sure you'll get there too. Bonne chance!

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Sue.Bee

    Trying writing them in a notebook along with the definition and whether they are masculine or feminine. I find writing things in a notebook gives my brain one more way to remember. Then practice in Duo until it sticks in your head.

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/mjs37

    Yes, definitely a good idea! I write down Duo lessons, the Tip & Notes sections for each lesson section, and I also have a French textbook that I write down everything in. And most of my duolingo XP/lingots are from practice, not new stuff. It takes a while of repeating things over and over without really understanding the mechanics, but if you review enough, write down the grammar rules, practice, repeat... it'll click all of a sudden! PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. The XP, Streak & lingots are definitely good incentives... I just wish there were more items in the Shop to purchase, even if it was just Owl costumes or something...

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/lazouave

    Stay strong, it's normal to feel discouraged at times. hen it happens to me, I leave it at that, go to sleep, and the following day I take a deep breath and try again. It will come, you can be sure of that, and one day you'll look back thinking "how could I ever not understand that?" ;)

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/PatriciaSimms

    When you rant, do it with a really nasal French accent until you laugh out loud. Laughing really helps you breathe and voila! you're ready for another round! Courage!

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/LakerCat14

    Hahahahaha. You actually made me laugh out loud. Thank you friend, lingot for you. :D

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/luvmybabes

    LOL! Thanks for the giggle, Patricia :)

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/tbvjshqk017

    If you think french grammar has too many small exceptions, find a good, easy and well explained grammar book for beginners.

    It's really important that you don't rely only on 1 source, and it's better to study, review the same subject i.e. le passe compose multiple times by various different sources made with slightly different point of views. Try multiple youtube beginner grammar channels like imaginiers, you learn french.

    If you find a certain subject particularly difficult, it really helps watching lessons from different channels covering the same subject.

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Jean_Morgan

    Maybe, it's not French. It's learning a language. Progress is not only slow, it's getting up and down. Once you feel you are rather good at it and a few hours later you feel at lost. Actually, it's when you feel a need to give up that you are on the verge of new sound improvements. Best wishes.

    March 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/agent001

    Fake it til you make it

    March 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/cze-aus-fre

    It's terribly important to not set unreasonable expectations and to truly appreciate your achievements. Every time you Duolingo you learn something you didn't know before - something others have not bothered to find time to try to learn - something more you know about all the fascinating amazing things out there in this world.

    There's a formula to learning - AIDA - attention, interest, desire, action. If it grabs you, and you get into it, it will excite you, to action. If it's what you want - just do it!

    March 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/IAmJon

    I have actually found a lot of French suprisingly easy, mainly because of how similar it is English.

    There are some very hard sections of the tree and I 100% agree with you with regards to ceci, cela etc. I really hate those words. They don't come up so often outside those specific lessons either, so they are hard to learn. They seem sort of uncessary too as Duo just seems to use ce rather than those other versions. It is hard to understand how often they are used in the language. I know I still don't understand those words, that has been the hardest section of the tree so far for me.

    But I take it really slowly. It is not a race for me. Language learning is hard and you shouldn't put pressure on yourself or expect to immediately get it, it is foreign after all!

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Foxyfoe

    Yeah, you're right, as a French, I can tell you: when speaking, we practically never use "ceci", "cela" and "cet/cette" x) it is only used when writing... and even french people always mispell "ce/se", and I'm not even talking about "c'est/ses/s'est/ces" !! It drive the Academician guys crazy ^^

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Nicola526448

    That comforting! It's nice to hear that at least some French people are as terrible at speaking 'correct French' as the English are :-)

    December 8, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/xaghtaersis

    You get used to the quirkyness of a new language. It is like a marathon. You get there. Even the stuff that seems pretty much impossible will become easy in time.

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/AussieCraig

    Off topic, but I've run several marathons, and they never get easier with time. They are however, each their own challenge just like languages that can be prepared for, practiced, and yes, even endured during the tough times. Like a marathon, completion is the goal and it requires dedication, practice and persistence to overcome the negatives. (I use French lessons and French songs regularly on my long runs to complement my other French learning processes).

    March 25, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/LakerCat14

    Thank you so much everyone for your encouraging words and tips! I see many of you sometimes feel the same too.

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/kacenka9

    Ceci, cela, ce are confusing but those are not frustrating as much to me, maybe because I come from a language that has those and follows similar gender approach. What completely kills me are articles, that my native language does not have, and the fact that, unlike in English, the articles change forms depending on a preposition they are next to - au, du, de.... Shoot me now

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/lilypadden

    I understand your really frustrated. Everyone's been there. Trying finding someone who feels the same as you - you can work together. Learning a new language is like learning to ride a bike.If you keep falling, you have to pick yourself up and try again even if it's scary and hard. If you want to learn, you have to keep trying to be successfull. :-)

    March 23, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/cbatt

    Just don't give up on the language. If you just keep reviewing words over and over again you will soon be able to master them. I felt the exact same way for a while.

    March 24, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Wonderboy6

    Yeah learning french has been alot more frustrating for me even wiht a secondary school education in it, finished my french tree yesterday and expected the ding, only to find with the recent french tree update i have to complete an extra 30lessons for duo to register the tree as complete >/

    March 22, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/Maurice314

    Here is another resource that should help : https://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/pdf/pro11.pdf

    March 22, 2015

    [deactivated user]

      I have been having some of the same problems in French too! Over time I seem to be making such mistakes less often, but still, yes. I also find pronunciation hard to understand. But my plan is to just charge through it anyways! I also have a French pen pal and am going to download a bunch of French podcasts for the drive to/from work. I'm determined to get it! Keep at it, you'll get it!

      March 22, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/bumblefizzle

      I feel ya........French is very difficult for me, too! I know this may sound weird, but I speak Chinese, one of the hardest languages in the world, and I have been tutored for many years, yet I find French very hard!!! French IS very hard, I know! It's very hard for me, too, and I am very discouraged about it too. Now I kinda temporarily stopped it, and am turning towards German, which I find much easier. if you want to, we can be friends and motivate each other! ;)

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/LakerCat14

      That's exactly what I feel. I speak Chinese too! Yes, let's be friends!

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/bumblefizzle

      You speak Chinese too? WOW! that's cool to find somebody else here on DL who also speaks Chinese! Cool! Are you Chinese yourself? I am. I find it a teensy bitsy ironic that we both speak Chinese and find French difficult! ;) We can motivate each other to work at it no, amigo/amiga!

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/LINHARS

      I think my husband feels the same. He is on level 5, and stuck there. However, he speaks his own grammar-less French and most people are very understanding. Try to find a '' French' for beginners'' in your own language. Then you will understand more. And ceci, cela is quite difficult, especially if English is not your own language and you have to translate these difficult things from one foreign language to another.

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/DuoDaisuki

      Don't feel too bad! My native language is Spanish and I find French super hard! I've been studying for three years on my own and I still can't understand some basic stuff. I guess I haven't had enough opportunities to speak with a native speaker. I understand most of what I read but listening is different. My accent is also very strong. I think even Japanese is easier... every time I want to say something in French I end up thinking in Japanese, haha :D Learning French is a long-term goal for me.

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/kmacv22

      all you have to do is write them down, with examples, and look them over everyday. it helps

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/PatrickMurta

      I have to agree with you. French is quite hard to learn. Right now I'm struggling with the verbs and a lot of minor rules that doesn't exist in english or portuguese. But I'll not give up so easly.

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/lilypadden

      And Yambao_kitty, people don't just go around giving lingots. You need to earn them. ;-)

      March 23, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/lilypadden

      I know that French is really hard but is a beautiful language and super helpful in the world. Don't give up. For me it is also hard to do it online because sometimes people have accents and it is harder to understand them.

      December 9, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/s-winklerm

      I think French can be easy sometimes I also take French I school so...that helps when you have a teacher to help you

      March 24, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/jborgford

      so true it is so hard even how much i try this is stupid

      March 24, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/Lililovesmoon

      French is vertaalt not the Essent but Yeah try German and Swedish omg they steal the show

      March 25, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/Lililovesmoon
      • certainly
      • easiest
      March 25, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/kewlboy90

      i have the same problem! Exept, i have different words that i have trouble with. I always get confused with; the -ER verbs! (the ones i am learning at school.) but they confuse me, just like those words you posted confuse you! but there are many different verbs i havn't learned before, and maybe those wont confuse me? hey, i don't know. i havn't learned them! XD But i still have trouble with a lot of different French words. but there is a lot (few) i do know by heart! eh. but if i were you, i would try quizlet. it really helped me, and i thin it would do the same to you. P.S: if i were practicing those words, i would be even more comfused on those words than you. :D

      March 24, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/AussieCraig

      I can't tell you how happy I am to see the main point in the O.P. is Demonstratives. I have areas of French that seem to come naturally, and then do a Demonstrative lesson that shoot me down in flames. They are my Kryptonite, and I WILL master them. Lrtward, I sent you a lingot and bookmarked this page!

      March 25, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/Lililovesmoon

      Ikr, but Google really helps because of the speaker

      March 25, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/MarshmallowWolf

      its okay French is hard so…;)

      March 25, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/lululover123

      French is a very hard thing to learn, but you have to take it one step at a time! You will get it sooner or later!!!!! :)

      March 26, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/341085470

      I know how you feel. I got to that part once and sometines i wish i colui test out and have20 hearts rather than 3. Review your words. It might be easier. Me, I make a rhyme/beat to memorize it.

      March 27, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/Kaleyb12

      you know? at first I was mad becuz I had to learn French, I really wanted to learn Spanish instead.. but I don't know how to do too languages at once so eh

      February 15, 2017

      https://www.duolingo.com/alanahrywkiw

      Hey, rants are okay! Chin up :) All things get better with practice. Best of luck in all your French studies!

      June 14, 2017

      https://www.duolingo.com/alexthered1

      it helps to listen to french songs, you can listen to how some of the words flow together. i'm a bit biased, considering that i grew up speaking Spanish(because of the languages similarities). English like every other language has many words that mean the same thing, but you have to correct grammar when speaking. its the same thing with french. you're not wrong but it's not the correct "way" to say or write it. i hope this can help!

      September 18, 2018
      Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.