April 15, 2011 | French

Grappling with French Grammar

French keeps surprising me.

Grammar books often give the funniest sentences as examples. Yesterday I came across the translation for this in one of the books I am using: “As soon as he had left, she would open the windows.”

Spring Has Arrived at Columbus Circle

Spring Has Arrived at Columbus Circle

In case such a French sentence might come in handy for you in the future, here it is: “Dès qu’il était parti, elle ouvrait les fenêtres.” 

On another subject: are réussirons and réussiront really pronounced the same way? They both mean “will succeed,” but the first is the conjugation for nous (we), and the second is the conjugation for ils (they). So many French verbs are like that: spelled differently, and matching different subjects, but pronounced the same. 

French is frustrating that way. You spend all this time learning to spell, and then when you speak, no one can even tell the difference.

In my French Verb Tenses book by Trudie Maria Booth, I read something that really surprised me: the e before the r is silent in future-tense verbs such as j’oublierai, il continuera, tu créeras, nous jouerons, vous jetterez, etc. In other words, the first verb in this list is more like oo-blee-ray than oo-blee-uh-ray, the second more like con-tee-nu-ra than con-tee-nu-e-ra, and so on.

So, according to what she says, in all of these verbs I have been wrongly adding an extra syllable for the e when I pronounce them. Wow. Did I ever know this? I don’t remember ever saying these the right way. I bet English speakers of French mispronounce them a lot.

Or rather, I guess I hope I am not the only one.

Comments (1)

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