In this section, you will find easy to understand explanations to help you get the most out of your French Study Card. It goes through the layout and charts, and it gives you a brief explanation of each topic with examples.
If you come across an English grammar word you are not familiar with, such as pronoun, verb tense, etc., feel free to check the Glossary section on the website.
The French Study Card – Intermediate to advanced, displays 30 independent tables.
If you have used the basic to intermediate card, you may already be familiar with the colour-coded system; if that’s the case, you can skip this explanation if you want to.
There are three main colours used in the grammar charts, yellow, purple and green. The persons, the PRONOMS SUJET, determine the use of such colours throughout the card:
As you can see, the table has three colours with two shades, light and dark. The light column shows you the persons in the singular, and the dark column shows you the persons in the plural form.
WHAT ARE THE PERSONAL PRONOUNS?
Always think of the subject personal pronouns as the persons or things that do the action. In English they are the words I, you, he, she, it, we, you and they.
They are divided into 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons, in singular and plural.
Note that French has masculine and feminine pronouns. In English, you use the word they, whether it’s a group of men or a group of women. In French, you need to use the specific word according to the gender, ils or elles.
Get familiar with the colour pattern so you can easily find the word or ending you need.
With your card in hand, go through this section to find the chart’s explanations.
The section below is intended to be a general explanation of grammar created for you to understand the layout of your card in order to take full advantage of it. By no means should this section be considered a course on its own.
L’impératif is a mood that you use to give an order or suggestion to one or more people.
The imperative exists in the second person singular and plural (tu, vous).
Sometimes we include ourselves in the command (nous).
On your card, the first top table starting from the left, shows you the endings needed for tu, nous and vous with -ER, -IR and -RE verbs.
To form the imperative, you need the same endings as the present tense for tu, vous and nous but without the pronouns, except with the ending for tu:
tu manges drops the -s:
Manger – Mange! Mangons! Mangez!
Finir – Finis! Finissons! Finissez!
Attendre – Attends! Attendons! Attendez!
When the pronouns en and y are used with the imperative in affirmative in the tu form with -ER verbs, the –s is recovered for pronunciation reasons. You also need to put a hyphen (–) between the verb and the pronoun.
Your card also displays a table with the irregular verbs conjugated in imperative. avoir, être, faire, savoir and vouloir.
This table shows the structure of the imperative with pronouns.
Ne me donne pas.
This is the structure for the negative imperative:
ne + pronoun + verbe + pas
Ne me le donne pas.
There are two tables beside it. They show you the order the pronouns follow with the infinitive in affirmative and in negative. These tables are handy to have as a reference when you are not sure about the position of the pronouns.
This table shows you what the different pronouns can substitute, for example, le, la and les substitute someone or something.
Je vois un circle noir. – Je le vois.
Remember that the pronoun you use needs to agree with gender and number, le for masculine, la for feminine and les for plural.
Je parle à Louise. – Je lui parle.
Je pense à la mer. – J’y pense.
Elle est dans la gare – Elle y est.
Je veux du cafe. – J’en veux.
J’ai deux frères. – J’en ai deux.
This table shows you a summary of these explanations with examples of when you need to use le, la, les, lui, leur, y and en so you can use the pronouns correctly when you substitute information.
In English, certain verbs and expressions need a specific preposition like:
I’m interested in…, I think about…, I believe in…, I’m sure about…
In French, the prepositions may not be the same as in English. Some verbs in English may not even need a preposition, but they do in French, so these types of verbs need to be memorised.
On your card, these couple of tables give you a list of 10 common verbs that need the preposition à or de.
Je pense à la mer.
Je joue de la guitare.
When you want to substitute whatever comes after à or de, you need the prepositions y and en respectively.
Je pense à la mer.
Je joue de la guitare
Look at the case of jouer, for example. In French, there is jouer à (to play a sport), and jouer de (to play an instrument).
If you use substitution, this is the way they will be:
Both sentences say, I play it, but you can imply the meaning of what it is played, an instrument or a game, by knowing that:
en substitutes de,
and y substitutes à.
In English, the relative pronouns are who, which, of which, that, whom, where.
Her dad, who is a doctor, told us that the symptoms were normal.
Her dad told us that the symptoms were normal. Who is a doctor, is extra information about her dad.
The phone that I bought has the same functions as the old one.
Which phone is the one that has the same functions as the old one? Not yours, not the one my dad gave me, the one that I bought.
Qui (who, which or what). It gives you more information about the subjetc.
La femme qui parle est ma mère.
Que (who, whom, which or what). It gives you more information about the object.
Les livres qu’elle écrit sont bons.
Le film que j’ai vu est merveilleux.
Lequel (which) is used after a preposition, and it refers to things or persons. It has to agree with them in gender and number.
La maison dans laquelle j’habite est très spacieuse.
Les gens parmi lesquels il vit sont gentils.
La reunion à laquelle je participe est animée.
La pont prés à duquel nous mangeons est joli.
Dont (whose, of whom, of which) can be used to refer to persons or things. This pronoun is used when the original expressions contain de.
Je cherche la maison dont la porte est jaune. (La porte de la maison es jaune)
Où (where, when, which or that) is used for places and time.
La ville où je suis né.
Le jour où je suis parti.
Á qui, de qui, avec qui (to whom, with whom) is used for people.
La fille à qui vous parlez est belle.
Á quoi, de quoi (about what, on what) is used for ideas or abstract concepts.
Je sais de quoi il s’agit.
“Nous allâmes à Paris”.
“J’envoyai le télégramme”.
The conjugation is not as regular as with other tenses. This table on your card, shows you the endings that you need to add to verbs that end in –ER, -IR, -OIR and –OIRE.
You are also given a table with 5 irregular verbs conjugated in passé simple, avoir, être, faire, tenir and venir..
The table on the top right gives you a few examples of verbs with irregular roots. The verb shows you the root, and you can follow the conjugation given on the main table.
écrire – j’écrivis, tu j’écrivis, il j’écrivit, nous j’écrivîmes, vous j’écrivîtes, elles j’écrivirent
“J’écrivis, il y a, quelques jours, à l’Abbé, ce que je penfois fur la…”
LES TEMPS COMPOSÉS are formed by two parts, the helping verb, avoir or être, + the past participle of the main verb.
Je vends – temp simple
J’ai vendu – temp composé
J’aurai vendu – temp composé
Ils sont partis – temp composé
The table on your card shows you four common tenses, passé composé, plus-que-parfait, futur antérieur and conditionnel passé. The helping verb avoir and être are conjugated accordingly.
Here is an example of the table with the first two persons, je and tu.
Your basic to intermediate French card has a table with 24 of the most used irregular participles.
LE PASSÉ COMPOSÉ
It is used to express that an action was completed in the past. It uses expressions such as hier, la semaine dernière, la nuit dernière, etc.
The helping verbs avoir and être, are conjugated in the present tense.
Hier, je ne suis pas allé à l’école.
J’ai eu faim.
To form the conjugation, you need the auxiliary verbs être or avoir conjugated in the imparfait, and the participle of the verb.
J’étais partie en vacances – Note the agreement of the verb and the subject (elle) partie.
Il n’avait pas mangé avant de faire ses devoirs.
This tense is used to say that something that will have happened in the future. For example, Robbie will have arrived this time tomorrow.
It’s also used to express predictions or suppositions about what might have happened in the past. Example: He must have missed the train, that’s why he’s late.
To form the conjugation, you need the auxiliary verbs être or avoir conjugated in the futur, and the past participle of the verb.
Il aura oublié notre rendez-vous.
Vous serez sortie de la session.
LE CONDITIONNEL PASSÉ
This tense is used to express what someone would have done. For example, I would have returned the money.
It is also used to express hypothetical situations in the past.
To form the conjugation, you need the auxiliary verbs être or avoir conjugated in the conditionnel, and the past participle of the main verb.
Je t’aurais trouvé à l’aéroport
Elle ne serait pas arrivée si tôt.
This table displays the three types of conditional. It shows the formulas to follow and an example as a reference that you can model.
Si tu as le temps, tu étudies.
Si tu as le temps, tu étudieras..
Si tu as le temps, étudie.
Hypothèse irréele au présent.
Si tu avais le temps, tu étudierais.
Hypothèse irréele au passé.
Si tu avais eu le temps, tu aurais étudié.
In French, it is essential to know where the pronouns go in the sentence, especially when there is more than one pronoun.
This table gives you a guide of the pronoun placement in a sentence.
The third page on your card has eight tables related to the subjonctif.
The first table at the top shows you how to form the subjonctif in the present.
You already know the conjugation of the present for nous with verbs that end with -ER, -IR and -RE.
Parler – nous parlons
Finir – nous finissons
Vendre – nous vendons
Take the stem from that conjugation and add the ending shown on the table.
Parler – je parle, tu parles, il parle, nous parlions, vous parliez, ils parlent.
Finir – je finisse, tu finisses, il finisse, nous finissions, vous finissiez, ils finissent
Vendre – je vende, tu vendes, il vende, nous vendions, vous vendiez, ils vendent
Je veux que tu saches.
Il faut que je parte.
Je étudie beaucoup afin de recevoir de bonnes notes. One person
Il crie pour que tu l’entendes.
There is also a table with seven extremely irregular verbs and their conjugation in subjonctif. Just like all the cards, it follows the colour-coded system.
There is also another table with six examples of verbs with two roots.
A root that is applied to je, tu, il, elle, on, ils and elles
And another root that is applied to nous and vous.
CROIRE – elle croie – nous croyions
LE SUBJONCTIF PASSÉ
The next table below shows you the conjugation for the subjonctif passé.
To form the subjonctif passé, you need to use the verb avoir or être in subjonctif + the past participle of the verb.
Just like the subjonctif in présent, it is used when you have specific conjunctions, or to express doubt, desire, order, suppositions, uncertainty, a possibility or judgements, but about something that happened in the past.
The first clause can be in présent or imperfait; the second clause is in subjonctif.
Je doute qu’il ait fini ses devoirs.
Je doutais qu’il ait fini ses devoirs.
Next, you will see a table with 24 examples of verbs to express uncertainty desire, feelings, doubt, orders and some conjunctions that need the subjonctif.
IMPARFAIT DU SUBJONCTIF
The next table at the bottom of your card displays the conjugation for the imparfait du subjonctif.
It gives you three different endings for each person.
1. Verbs that end in -ER – asse, -asses, -ât, -assions, -assiez, -assent
2. Verbs that end in -IR, and -RE -isse, -isses, -ît, -issions, -issiez, -issent
3. Verbs that end in -OIR and -OIRE -usse, -usses, -ût, -ussions, -ussiez, -ussent
The imperfait du subjonctif is generally used in formal writing and for narration. You will not be using it much, but you should be able to recognise it.
LE PLUS-QUE-PARFAIT DU SUBJONCTIF
This is also a rare tense in French, you will not be using it much, but you will have to know how to recognise it. It is used in formal writing and literature, history texts and journalism.
To form it you need to use the auxiliary verbs être or avoir and the past participle of the verb.
AVOIR – eusse, eusses, eût, eussions, eussiez, eussent
ÊTRE – fusse, fusses, fût, fussions, fussiez, fussent
The table on your card shows you clearly with examples what tense you need to change the direct sentence to.
Time expressions also change.
Discourse direct: « Je l’attendrai demain. »
Discours indirect: Il a dit qu’il l’attendrait le lendemain.
Your card has a table with 14 useful expressions in the direct and the indirect form.
Active voice: L’élève fait les exercises.
Passive voice: Les exercises sont faits par l’élève
This table in your card displays the six Reflexive Pronouns, each in its own colour to identify each person.
Se lever – to wash/shower
Je me lave. I wash (myself).
s’appeler – to be called
Je m’appelle. I call myself / My name is
The centre pages have plenty of information on verbs. To take full advantage of the French Study Card, it’s essential to understand the layout and colour-coded system.
The main topic on this page is the Present Tense. This page has an upper and lower U table. The upper section contains 19 VERBES RÉGULIERS.
The bottom U table has 15 VERBES IRRÉGULIERS. On each box, you will find the verb in French, habiter, and its meaning in English, to live. The first box on the bottom U table indicates the six endings for each person to use with the irregular verbs:
Each box in the U table shows the verb, the meaning in English, and the stems of the verb in bold. The first stem is for the singular persons, and the second stem is for the plural persons.
In the centre of the page, you will find the regular endings for the er, ir and re verbs for each person in the colour coded system:
This table displays all the endings needed to conjugate the verbs in Present for er, ir and re regular verbs. 90% of French verbs end in er. Learn this conjugation very well, and you’ll be able to conjugate most of the verbs.
Qu’est-ce que tu fais? Je mange. What are you doing? I’m eating.
Je retourne à Dublin demain. I’m going back to Dublin tomorrow.
John habite à Londres. John lives in London.
Je finis à 18 heures. I finish at 6PM.
To form the Present tense is easy:
parler – to speak
finir – to finish
vendre – to sell
Je parle (I speak)
tu parles (you speak)
il/elle/ons parle (he/she/one speaks)
nous parlons (we speak)
vous parlez (you speak)
ils/elles parlent (they speak).
Use the table called FREQUÉNCE on your table, to form complete personal sentences.
Remember to practise them out loud.
To conjugate any irregular verb, add the endings on the red box in the bottom U table to the stems given in the irregular verb boxes:
Each verb box in the bottom U table shows the verb, the meaning in English, and the stems of the verb in bold. The first stem is for the singular persons, and the second stem is for the plural persons.
partir – to leave
par– (stem for: I, you, he, she, it)
part– (stem for: we, you, they)
FALLOIR- IL FAUT This is an impersonal verb. This means that it only has one grammatical person, the third person singular.
Il faut manger. It’s necessary to eat.
This table displays 7 of the most common and most irregular verbs in French. They are very common so you should know them well. Each conjugation is shown in the colour that corresponds to each person.
This table shows the pronouns used to emphasise a subject. They are displayed in the colour-coded system for easy reference.
C’est lui qui habite à Paris. It’s he who lives in Paris.
Moi, j’habite à Miami. I live in Miami.
Michèle et moi ne travaillons pas. Michelle and I don’t work.
après lui – after him
avec elles – with them
sans moi – without me
Qui va a la piscine? Moi! Who’s going to the pool? Me!
J’ai faim, et toi? I’m hungry, and you?
This table displays the demonstrative pronouns in masculine, feminine, neuter in singular and plural.
Quel film veux-tu voir? Celui-ci? Which film do you want to watch? This one?
This table displays the Direct and Indirect Objects in the colour-coded system.
J’ai mangé la pomme. I ate the apple.
Je l’ai mangé. I ate it. I ate it.
Est-ce que tu parles à ta voisine? Do you speak to your neighbour?
Oui, je lui parle. Yes, I speak to her.
This table shows different ways of negating in French.
Je ne fume pas. I don’t smoke.
Je ne mange jamais de la viande. I never eat meat.
Je ne cherche personne. I’m not looking for anyone.
The main topic on this page is the Passé Composé.
This page has an upper and lower U table. The upper section contains 14 verbs that are conjugated with être. The bottom U table has 19 verbs that are conjugated with avoir.
On the top U table, you will find infinitive verbs in French: aller. Their past participle underlined: allé, and their meaning in English: to go.
On the bottom U table, you’ll find infinitive verbs that are conjugated with avoir. The ending of the verb is underlined: manger, and the meaning is given in English: to eat.
In the centre of the page, you will find the regular endings for Passé Composé for the er, ir and re verbs for each person in the colour-coded system:
Tu es allée à Paris. You went to Paris.
Forming the Past Participle of the verb:
parler – to speak
finir – to finish
vendre – to sell
parler – parl + é = parlé
finir – fin + i = fini
vendre – vend + u = vendu
Forming the Passé Composé with être:
Elles sont arrivés au restaurant. They arrived at the restaurant.
Elle est restée dans sa chambre. She stayed in her room.
Tu es allée à Paris (the person is a woman). You went to Paris.
Je me suis lavée. I washed myself.
Use the time expressions in the table called EXPRIMER LE PASSÉ to create longer sentences.
Forming the Passé Composé with avoir:
J’ai parlé. I spoke.
Nous avons fini. We finished.
Tu as vendu. You sold.
For further practice, you can join or contrast sentences with the words in the table called KEY WORDS at the back of your card.
This table displays 24 irregular Past Participles.
J’ai eu une voiture. I had a car.
Elle a bu le café. She drank coffee.
This table displays the endings needed to conjugate the Imperfect.
finir- to finish
nous finissons – we finish
L’année dernière, je travaillais avec Pierre. Last year I worked with Pierre.
J’étudais le Français à l’école. I used to study French at school.
Il faisait chaud pendant l’été l’année dernière. It was hot during the summer last year.
Il était trois heures. It was three o’clock.
Quand j’avais 10 ans. When I was 10 years old.
J’avais très faim hier. I was very hungry yesterday.
Pendant que tu étudiais, je regardais la télé. While you were studying, I was watching t.v.
This table displays all the conjugated forms for the verb être in Imperfect.
The verb être in Imperfect can’t be formed like the other verbs with the verb conjugated in the present with nous. This is an irregular verb, and you have to memorise it.
Il était à la banque. He was at the bank.
Tu étais un enfant sage? Were you a well-behaved child?
This table displays the endings needed to conjugate the verbs in Conditional.
parler, finir, vendr +
Je parlerais – I would talk
tu finirais – you would finish
elle vendrait – she would sell
Je serais disponible si les conditions étaient plus favorables. I would be available if the conditions were favourable.
Je voudrais de l’eau minérale, s’il vous plaît. I’d like mineral water, please.
This table displays the endings needed to conjugate the verbs in Future.
Je te téléphonerai la semaine prochaine. I will call you next week.
parler, finir, vendr +
Je parlerai – I will talk
tu finiras – you will finish
nous vendrons – we will sell
Quand il voyagera en France, il mangera beaucoup de fromage. When he travels (will travel) to France, he will eat a lot of cheese.
Nous aurons bientôt notre propre maison. We will soon have our own house.
This table displays the verb aller conjugated, needed to form the Futur Proche.
Elle va chanter. She’s going to sing.
Nous allons travailler. We’re going to work.
Ils vont voir Jerome. They’re going to see Jerome.
Ils vont voir Jerome demain matin. They’re going to see Jerome tomorrow morning.
Unlike English, nouns in French have a masculine and feminine gender. Some endings and categories can follow a pattern; however, there might be a few exceptions, so it’s advisable to learn the noun with an article.
This table in your card displays some masculine and feminine endings.
le fromage (the cheese)
la chaussure (the shoe)
In French, some verbs are followed by the prepositions à or de. This table displays 12 common verbs with the prepositions.
Je vais téléphoner à Richard. I’m going to call Richard.
Je joue de la guitare. I play the guitar.
He’s sleeping. Il dort or Il est en train de dormir.
I love cycling. J’adore le cyclisme.
I love dancing. J’aime danser.
Claude s’est endormi en regardant la télévision. Claude fell asleep while watching the television.
Paul écoute de la musique en faisant ses devoirs. Paul listens to music while doing his homework.
parl + ant = parlant
Il mange en parlant. He eats while he talks.
être – étant
avoir – ayant
savoir – sachant