If you have used the basic to intermediate level card, you may already be familiar with the colour-coded system, so you can skip this explanation if you want to.
In this section, you will find easy-to-understand explanations of each grammar table to help you get the most out of your French Study Card.
You will find explanations of the layout, the content, and the grammar points 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.
Remember that you can use your French Study Card with any textbook you may be using.
The French Study Card – Intermediate to advanced, displays 30 independent tables.
The Subject Personal Pronouns or les Pronoms Sujet determine the three main colours used in the card.
The three main colours used in the grammar charts are yellow, purple and green.
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.
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 first, second and third person, in singular and plural.
Think of the persons in terms of priority. The first person is the most important to you. This pronoun includes you on your own, I, or with someone else, we. These are represented in light and dark yellow.
The second level of priority is the one you are talking to, you, in singular or in the plural. These persons are represented in light and dark purple.
The third most important person is whoever is not in the room, he, she, it, they. These persons are represented in light and dark green.
*It also means you singular but in a formal way. You conjugate it like a plural but it has a singular meaning.
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