Animals are generally (and perhaps unjustly) considered to be less intelligent than humans, which explains why the French word bête can mean both "beast" and "stupid":
Après tout, c'est bête la guerre.
After all, war is stupid.Play Caption
The related noun bêtise can mean anything along the lines of "stupidity" or "idiocy." You can use it in a general sense to talk about "something stupid":
Après les parents, ils me disent, quand ils font une bêtise...
Later the parents tell me, when they do something stupid...Play Caption
Or you might use it to refer to something more specific, such as a mistake. Une bêtise isn't just any old mistake, but a particularly stupid one:
Vous allez réparer vos bêtises.
You're going to repair your stupid mistakes.Play Caption
Of course, if you tell someone he or she has made a stupid mistake, you could be implying that the person him or herself is stupid. Une erreur is a more neutral word for "mistake" that doesn't connote stupidity:
Elle fait une terrible erreur.
She's making a terrible mistake.Play Caption
The plural bêtises is often used to refer to "nonsense," "mischief," or any kind of naughty behavior:
Arrête tes bêtises.
Stop your nonsense.
Mais si on fait des bêtises, on sait jamais...
But if we get into mischief, you never know...
Caption 90, Actu Vingtième - Le Repas des anciensPlay Caption
If you argue with someone over des bêtises, you're arguing over nothing:
Mes enfants se disputent toujours pour des bêtises.
My kids are always arguing with each other over nothing.
When it comes to learning a language, there's no such thing as a stupid mistake. So don't fret if you forget an accent mark or type in the wrong word in a Yabla game—you've just made a simple erreur, not une bêtise!
For fun, here's an 80s throwback for you: Sabine Paturel's "Les Bêtises," which was a smash hit in France in 1986.
In a recent lesson, we talked about the words bon/bonne and mauvais/mauvaise, which respectively mean "good" and "bad," but can also mean "right" and "wrong" depending on context. It's easy to confuse these with the words bien and mal, which have similar meanings ("well" and "badly/poorly") but different functions.
Bon/bonne and mauvais/mauvaise are adjectives, which means they change according to the number and gender of the noun they modify:
Alors justement je crois que c'est vraiment une très bonne chose...
So, exactly, I think that it's really a very good thing...
Caption 56, Alsace 20 - 100 recettes pour 100 vinsPlay Caption
Il y a eu la destruction de la partie de maison existante qui était en très mauvais état.
There was the destruction of the existing part of the house that was in very bad shape.
Caption 22, Thomas - Thomas et sa maisonPlay Caption
On the other hand, bien and mal are adverbs, which can modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Unlike adjectives, these never change in French:
...un grand orfèvre parisien que Balzac connaissait bien.
who was a great Parisian goldsmith whom Balzac knew well.
Caption 28, Exposition - Balzac, architecte d'intérieursPlay Caption
Il paraît que les voyages en train finissent mal en général
It seems that train rides generally end badly
Caption 54, Grand Corps Malade - Les Voyages en trainPlay Caption
Just as it's ungrammatical to say "whom Balzac knew good" and "train rides generally end bad" in English, in French you can't say que Balzac connaissait bon or les voyages en train finissent mauvais. You have to use bien/mal.
Bien and mal can also function as nouns. In philosophical terms, they refer to "good" and "evil":
Quelle est la différence entre le bien et le mal?
What is the difference between good and evil?
But they have more down-to-earth meanings as well. For instance, the plural les biens means "goods," as in commodities or possessions. And mal can also refer to illness or harm, as in the expressions avoir mal and faire mal:
J'ai mal à l'oreille.
I have an earache.
Ne me fais pas mal!
Don't hurt me!
In everyday speech, bon and bien are also used as interjections, in which case they're more or less interchangeable. They both correspond to the English interjection "well" in this context:
Eh bien, j'espère que vous avez passé un bon moment, ici, sur Arles.
Well, I hope you had a good time here, in Arles.
Caption 21, Arles - Un Petit Tour d'Arles - Part 3Play Caption
Bon, il y a des raisons personnelles évidemment qui jouent.
Well, obviously there are personal reasons that come into play.
Caption 17, Alphabétisation - des filles au SénégalPlay Caption
It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between good and bad, but at least now you know the difference between bon, mauvais, bien, and mal!
Stay tuned for our next lesson and tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent video, Lionel samples some beer at a local market in the town of Toul. In classic Lionel fashion, he delivers a witty pun:
Quand on boit de la bière Coin Coin il faut vivre dans une pièce sans coins.
When you drink "Coin Coin" [Quack Quack] beer, you need to live in a room without corners.
Captions 36-37, Lionel - Les bières artisanales Coin CoinPlay Caption
The name of the beer is derived from the onomatopoeic expression coin coin, or "quack quack," as in the sound a duck makes (check out this page for some more French animal sounds). When not repeated, the word coin has several meanings. As Lionel demonstrates, un coin usually means "a corner." He's talking specifically about the corner of a room, but un coin can also be a street corner:
Au coin de la rue Fabre et de la rue Laurier.
At the corner of Rue Fabre [Fabre Street] and Rue Laurier [Laurier Street].
Caption 39, Canadian Chocolate Seller - ChocolatsPlay Caption
The other word for "corner" in French is angle (which literally means "angle," as you may have guessed). So you could just as easily say l'angle de la pièce (the corner of the room) or l'angle de la rue (the street corner).
Sometimes, un coin can refer not simply to a street corner, but to a broader area of a town or city:
De l'extérieur, on dit que c'est un coin... un quartier chaud.
Outsiders say that this is an area... a rough neighborhood.Play Caption
Or it can have a more general locational meaning, like "spot" or "place":
J'ai trouvé un coin sympa au bord de l'eau.
I found a nice spot on the waterfront.
There's also the adjectival phrase du coin, which refers to all things local:
Pas de polémique: qu'ils soient du coin ou qu'ils viennent de loin...
No argument: whether they're from around here or from far away...
Caption 14, Le Journal - Un automne bien chaudPlay Caption
Nous sommes allés au bistrot du coin.
We went to the local bistro.
Coin is a false cognate of the English word "coin." The word for "coin" is pièce, which also means "room," as in Lionel's example above. Try not to get them confused!
C'est la pièce de dix euros, euh, qui représente la région.
It's the ten-euro coin, uh, that represents the region.Play Caption
You can find many expressions featuring coin on this page. Keep them dans un coin de la tête (at the back of your mind) for whenever you speak French!
Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to email@example.com.
We all know that when you're angry about something, it's better to talk about your emotions than to keep them pent up inside. If you ever need to vent in French, there are several constructions you can use to express your anger.
Two of these constructions employ the French word for anger, la colère (related to the English word "choleric," meaning "bad-tempered" or "irritable"). As in English, there's a distinction in French between being angry (être en colère) and getting angry (se mettre en colère, literally, "to put oneself in anger"):
J'étais très en colère contre Harold.
I was very angry at Harold.Play Caption
Elle devenait nerveuse, elle se mettait en colère.
She became nervous, she got angry.Play Caption
Note the preposition contre in the example above. Whereas in English you can be angry "at" or "with" someone, in French you're angry "against" someone.
If you're really angry about something, you can use the construction fou/folle de (which we discussed in a previous lesson):
Elles sont folles de colère, folles de rage, horripilées.
They are wild with anger, raging mad, incensed.
Captions 52-54, Le saviez-vous? - Les synonymesPlay Caption
Besides expressions with colère, the other main way of describing anger in French is with the adjective fâché(e) (angry) or the reflexive verb se fâcher (to get angry):
Tu es fâché contre Léon?
Are you angry with Leon?
Caption 2, Les zooriginaux - Léa jacta est - Part 3Play Caption
Ça va, vieux, te fâche pas!
It's OK, old pal, don't get upset!Play Caption
Don't confuse the adjective fâché(e) with the adjective fâcheux/fâcheuse, which has a slightly more subdued meaning. It can mean anything along the lines of "annoying," "unfortunate," "regrettable," or "aggravating":
C'est fâcheux qu'il ne puisse pas venir.
It's unfortunate that he can't come.
We hope there was nothing in this lesson that made you angry! Stay tuned for our next lesson and tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The adjective malin appears in two recent videos on Yabla, and it has two very different meanings in each. In the last segment of Le Jour où tout a basculé: Notre appartement est hanté, we finally get to the bottom of the spooky occurrences in Harold and Claire's apartment, thanks to Harold's clever investigations:
Mais cette fois-ci, le couple s'est attaqué à un adversaire plus malin que les autres.
But this time, the couple tackled an opponent who was more clever than the others.Play Caption
And in Lionel's visit to Toul Cathedral, we learn about the cathedral's gargoyles and what they represent:
Ici là-bas, on a une représentation, du diable, du malin, d'un démon.
Here, over there, we have a representation of the devil, of the evil one, of a demon.
Captions 27-28, Lionel - La Cathédrale de Toul - Part 2Play Caption
While malin is most often used as an adjective meaning "smart," it can also have darker undertones, especially when used as a noun. In the second example, the tour guide uses it as a synonym for the devil, but un malin can also just refer to a trickster or a wily person. And don't forget that "smart" can have a negative connotation in English too:
Ça sera peut-être d'avoir l'air malin dans l'interview, hein.
It might be looking like a smart aleck in the interview, you know?
Caption 21, Micro-Trottoirs - Un rêve récurrent?Play Caption
Bien sûr. Et nous aussi on voudrait du sucre, gros malin!
Of course. And us too, we would like some sugar, wise guy!Play Caption
Ne fais pas le malin avec moi.
Don't get smart with me.
Note that the feminine form of malin isn't maline, but maligne:
Et même, très maligne, ma petite Clémentine!
And even very clever, my little Clémentine!
Caption 51, Manon et Clémentine - Conjugaison du verbe êtrePlay Caption
You'll also see this -in/-igne ending in the word bénin/bénigne (benign, minor), which is actually an antonym of malin/maligne: une tumeur maligne is a malignant tumor, and une tumeur bénigne is a benign tumor.
Manu le Malin is a famous French hardcore DJ. You can check out some interviews with him on Yabla.
Thanks for reading! Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to email@example.com.
Habiter and vivre both mean "to live" in French, but they're used in slightly different contexts. Habiter is very similar in meaning to its English cognate, "to inhabit": it generally refers to where a person is living. While vivre can also have this meaning, it more often refers to a person's living conditions or general existence. Let's look at some examples to illustrate the difference between these two lively verbs.
It's very common to place a preposition such as à or dans after habiter to describe where you're living:
On habite à Still, on a eu une superbe opportunité.
We live in Still, we had a superb opportunity.Play Caption
J'habite dans une maison bleue.
I live in a blue house.
But technically, habiter doesn't require a preposition at all. You could just as well say on habite Still (we live in Still) or j'habite une maison bleue (I live in a blue house). The choice is yours! Here's another example of habiter without a preposition:
De là à habiter ce bout du monde isolé...
From there to inhabiting this isolated end of the world...
Caption 3, Le Journal - L'île de PâquesPlay Caption
Whereas habiter describes the specifics of a person's living situation, vivre is more about la vie en général (life in general). It describes how a person lives, or what their life is like:
Elle a permis à Michel, sinon de faire fortune, du moins de vivre bien, avec sa petite famille...
It has allowed Michel, if not to become rich, at least to live well with his small family...
Captions 17-19, Le Journal - L'île de PâquesPlay Caption
...un petit village, qui vit son quotidien de manière tranquille.
...a small village, that lives its daily life in a quiet way.
Captions 5-6, Lionel et Chantal - à FrémestroffPlay Caption
Vivre can also mean "to live through" or "to experience":
Moi je dirais que c'est magique et que ça se raconte pas, qu'il faut le vivre.
I'd say that it's magical and that it can't be described, that you have to experience it.
Caption 26, TV Vendée - "Nieul Village de Lumière"Play Caption
No matter where you're living or how you're living, we hope your French studies are going well!
Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two ways of saying "finally" in French: finalement and enfin. Though they have the same translation and are often used interchangeably in casual speech, these two words aren't exactly synonymous. There's a subtle difference between them that's illustrated in these two examples:
Le grand jour est enfin arrivé.
The big day finally arrived.Play Caption
Au début... j'étais braquée. J'avais pas envie. Puis finalement j'ai compris que c'était pour mon bien.
In the beginning... I was dead against it. I didn't want to. Then finally I understood that it was for my own good.Play Caption
When you say that something has finally arrived, you're implying that you've been expecting it to arrive for a while. But if you finally understand that something is for your own good after being dead against it, you're implying that you didn't expect to have this reversal of opinion. This is the fundamental difference between enfin and finalement: while enfin describes a foreseeable outcome, finalement describes an unforeseeable one.
Let's look at another example. If you say to someone, je suis enchanté(e) de vous rencontrer enfin (I'm glad to finally meet you), you're saying that you've been wanting to meet them for a long time. But if you say, je suis enchanté(e) de vous rencontrer finalement, you're giving the impression that you didn't really want to meet the person at first, but now you're happy that you did. Which is to say that you shouldn't use finalement in this case, unless you want to hurt their feelings!
Finalement can also mean "in the end," which also has the sense of something not turning out as expected:
Alors demain, finalement, on ira pas au château.
So tomorrow, in the end, we won't go to the castle.
Caption 55, Le Mans TV Mon Village - Malicorne - Part 3Play Caption
Another way of translating that caption would be, "So tomorrow we won't go to the castle after all."
Enfin is used very often in informal speech as a sort of filler word that can mean anything from "well" to "I mean" to "in any case":
Il y en a eu tant que ça? Oui, enfin, non, euh... quelques-uns, quoi.
Have there been that many? Yes, well [or "I meam"], no, uh... a few, you know.
Captions 37-38, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Notre appartement est hanté - Part 2Play Caption
...où nous sommes au métro Jaurès, enfin, où Paris-Plage a accès à l'eau.
...where we are at the Jaurès subway stop, in any case, where "Paris-Plage" [Paris Beach] has access to the water.
Captions 2-3, Lionel L - Paris-Plage - Part 2Play Caption
Enfin can also come in handy when expressing impatience or frustration:
Mais enfin, relève-toi!
Come on, stand up!Play Caption
Cette leçon est enfin terminée! (This lesson is finally over!) Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to email@example.com.
The words quelconque (any) and quiconque (anyone) can come in handy when you're talking about something general or non-specific in French. Though they look quite similar, you can easily tell these words apart by focusing on what comes before -conque: qui (who) and quel (what, which). There are a few key differences between these words. While quelconque can refer to both people and things, quiconque only refers to people. And while quiconque functions as a relative or indefinite pronoun, quelconque functions as an adjective:
Elle fouille la maison de fond en comble à la recherche d'un quelconque indice.
She rifles through the house from top to bottom in search of any clue.Play Caption
Mais la petite sirène était incapable de faire du mal à quiconque.
But the little mermaid was incapable of hurting anyone.
Caption 41, Contes de fées - La petite sirène - Part 2Play Caption
Quelconque and quiconque are very similar to two other expressions we discussed in a previous lesson, n'importe quel and n'importe qui:
ls la postent dans n'importe quelle boîte aux lettres en oubliant pas de mettre leur adresse retour...
They mail it in any mailbox, not forgetting to put their return address...
Captions 12-13, LCM - "Cher Père Noël..."Play Caption
Et qui l'achète? -Ah, n'importe qui.
And who buys it? -Ah, anyone.
Captions 4-5, Le Journal - La bougie du sapeurPlay Caption
Note that while the quel in n'importe quel changes depending on the gender and number of the noun it modifies (n'importe quelle, n'importe quels, n'importe quelles), the quel in quelconque never changes. However, since quelconque is an adjective, it takes an "s" when modifying a plural noun:
Si vous avez de quelconques questions, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.
Quiconque can mean "whoever" or "anyone who" in more formal contexts:
Quiconque arrive en retard ne sera pas autorisé à entrer dans le théâtre.
Anyone who arrives late will not be allowed to enter the theater.
And quelconque is sometimes used as a pejorative meaning "ordinary," "second-rate," or "mediocre":
Ce restaurant est très quelconque.
That restaurant is very mediocre.
Thanks for reading! Tweet us @yabla or send your newsletter topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel does a lot of walking in his Voyage en France series, showing us around some of France's most beautiful and historic cities and towns. He also uses several walking-related words during his tours:
Et d'emblée depuis cette promenade...
And right away from this walk...Play Caption
In English, "promenade" is a somewhat formal word for a boardwalk or a leisurely stroll. But une promenade is the standard French term for "a walk" or, when you're going somewhere in a vehicle, "a ride" or "drive":
Hier nous avons fait une promenade en voiture.
We went for a drive yesterday.
Its verb form, se promener, means "to take a walk":
Quand on se promène dans le vieux Conflans...
When we take a walk in Old Conflans...Play Caption
Daniel also frequently uses the word une balade (not to be confused with une ballade, "a ballad"), which has the same meaning as une promenade:
Pendant votre balade dans le vieux Conflans...
During your walk in Old Conflans...Play Caption
Just like une promenade, une balade also has a verb form, se balader:
A se balader avec lui dans les rues de Dakar, on mesure toute la dimension de l'artiste.
Strolling along the streets of Dakar with him, one gets a sense of the depths of the artist.
Captions 30-31, Le Journal - Youssou N'DourPlay Caption
C'est très, très agréable de se balader avec ces bateaux sur la mer.
It's very, very pleasant to go for a ride on those boats on the sea.
Captions 33-34, Jean-Marc - La plage - Part 2Play Caption
As you may know, marcher is the basic French verb for "to walk." But it's also often used informally to mean "to work," "to function," or "to go well":
Non, c'est juste pour voir si tout marche bien.
No, it's just to see if everything is working well.Play Caption
Elle est chez les seniors. Et ça marche bien.
She's with the seniors. And it's going well.Play Caption
Just as you can say "that works" to mean "OK" or "sounds good to me," in French you can say ça marche:
Tu veux prendre un café aujourd'hui à quinze heures? -Ça marche!
Do you want to get coffee today at three p.m.? -That works!
Now that you know all the different ways of saying "walk" in French, why not go take one?
In one of our newest videos, an interviewer asks people on the street to talk about their most beautiful dreams and most terrifying nightmares. One woman describes a particularly unsettling nightmare:
J'assiste à des accidents où y a des gens qui sont très blessés...
I witness accidents where there are people who are badly injured...
Cap. 83-84, Micro-Trottoirs: Rêves et cauchemars
She's not saying that she assists with these accidents (which would be even more unsettling!), but that she witnesses them. The phrase assister à doesn't mean "to assist," but rather "to witness" or "to attend":
Puisqu'un public assiste à une assemblée générale et à une réunion...
Because a crowd attends a general assembly and a meeting...
Cap. 8, Lionel L: Nuit Debout - Journée internationale - Part 2
"To attend" looks a lot like the French verb attendre, but like "to assist" and assister à, these two words are faux amis (false friends)—attendre means "to wait," not "to attend."
But once you take away the à, assister has the same meaning as its English cognate:
Le sous-chef assiste le chef dans la cuisine.
The sous-chef assists the chef in the kitchen.
There are a number of other French verbs meaning "to assist," like aider (to help) and accompagner (to accompany):
J'ai aidé ma grand-mère à nettoyer la maison.
I helped my grandmother clean her house.
...qui connaissent les parents et accompagnent les enfants les plus en retard
...who know the parents and assist the students who are the most behind
Cap. 29, Grand Corps Malade: Education nationale
Our new videos this week feature a wealth of vocabulary related to the performing arts. In the first, our newest presenter Mathilde talks about the Comédie-Française, one of France's most iconic state theaters. Though the theater has the word comédie in its name (and was founded by one of France's greatest comic playwrights, Molière), it stages all kinds of theater pieces, both comic and tragic. In fact, the word comédie doesn't only mean "comedy." It can also mean "acting" in general. Likewise, un comédien/une comédienne is not merely "a comedian":
Donc la Comédie-Française aujourd'hui a environ soixante comédiens dans sa troupe, parmi les plus célèbres comédiens français.
So the Comédie-Française today has around sixty players in its troupe, among the most famous French actors.
Cap. 40-41, Mathilde: La Comédie-Française
You can also simply say un acteur/une actrice for "actor/actress." And if you want to specify that you're talking about a comic actor (i.e., a comedian), you can say un/une comique or un/une humoriste.
The phrase jouer la comédie means "to act" or "to be an actor." Sometimes it's just shortened to jouer (which also means "to play"):
Ils jouent aussi pour d'autres théâtres.
They also act for other theater companies.
Cap. 43, Mathilde: La Comédie-Française
Don't confuse that expression with faire de la comédie, which means "to make a fuss" or "a scene."
In this tragic tidbit about Molière's final performance, we find two interesting theater-related words:
Molière serait mort en scène en interprétant le rôle mythique d'Argan dans une de ses plus célèbres pièces...
Molière supposedly died onstage while interpreting the mythic role of Argan in one of his most famous plays...
Cap. 36-38, Mathilde: La Comédie-Française
While une scène can refer to a scene in a play, it also refers to the stage on which the play is performed. The word for "play," une pièce, is short for pièce de théâtre (theater piece).
Our second video takes us from the world of theater to the world of film. It documents a Chinese film festival in the town of Richelieu headed by one of France's most famous film directors, Claude Lelouch. The video contains not one but three different words for "director":
...et des metteurs en scène prestigieux d'ailleurs qui ont des prix...
...and eminent film directors, incidentally, who won prizes...
Cap. 27, Festival du cinéma chinois: Coup d'envoi à Richelieu
Et pour rendre hommage à ces femmes si chères au cœur du cinéaste...
And to pay homage to these women who are so dear to the filmmaker's heart...
Cap. 40, Festival du cinéma chinois: Coup d'envoi à Richelieu
...en présence du réalisateur et de son actrice Anouk Aimée.
...in the presence of the director and of its actress Anouk Aimée.
Cap. 43, Festival du cinéma chinois: Coup d'envoi à Richelieu
On the other hand, there's only one word for "screenwriter"—scénariste (from scénario, "screenplay" or "script"):
...mais surtout scénariste de bon nombre de films signés Lelouch.
...but more importantly screenwriter of a good number of films signed "Lelouch."
Cap. 10, Festival du cinéma chinois: Coup d'envoi à Richelieu
Did you know that, in French, "good" can also mean "right," and "bad" can also mean "wrong"? This might sound sort of philosophical, but it's really just an issue of translation. Bon/bonne and mauvais/mauvaise are two of the most basic adjectives in French. They usually mean "good" and "bad" respectively, but depending on context, they can also mean "right" and "wrong":
C'est la mauvaise réponse à la question.
That's the wrong answer to the question.
Vous pouvez aussi me donner deux numéros de compte. Je vous dirai lequel est le bon.
You can also give me two account numbers. I will tell you which is the right one.
Cap. 20-21, Patricia: Pas de crédit dans le monde des clones - Part 3
When bon/bonne and mauvais/mauvaise mean "right" and "wrong," they're often preceded by a definite article (le, la, les). For example, take a look at the difference between the phrases un bon moment and au (à + le) bon moment:
Eh bien, j'espère que vous avez passé un bon moment, ici, sur Arles...
Well, I hope you had a good time here, in Arles...
Cap. 21, Arles: Un Petit Tour d'Arles - Part 3
Tout cet art, c'est de faire en sorte de mettre dans l'eau au bon moment, hein...
All this is an art to ensure that you put in the water at the right time, you see...
Cap. 8, Ostréiculture: Rencontre avec Gildas Mourier (Morbihan)
Using these adjectives isn't the only way to describe correctness and incorrectness. You can also use the verbal phrases avoir raison (to be right, literally "to have reason") and avoir tort (to be wrong, literally "to have fault"):
Oui, tu as raison. Je ne suis pas trop dans mon assiette.
Yes, you're right. I feel under the weather.
Cap. 25, Manon et Clémentine: Expressions toutes faites
J'ai peut-être eu tort de me fier à lui pour ce projet.
Maybe I was wrong to trust him with this project.
Cap. 53, Il était une fois - Les Amériques: 9. Cortés et les Aztèques - Part 3
In a previous lesson, we mentioned one other way to say "to be wrong"—se tromper:
Donc, tu crois que Colomb se trompe!
So you think that Columbus is wrong!
Cap. 6, Il était une fois - les Explorateurs: 10. Amerigo Vespucci - Part 3
In her new sci-fi series Pas de crédit dans le monde des clones, Patricia imagines a dystopian future in which all credit card companies have merged into one:
Du fait de nombreuses fusions, il ne reste plus qu'une société anonyme de cartes de crédit
Because of many mergers, there remains only one limited liability credit card company
Cap. 15, Pas de crédit dans le monde des clones: Part 1
Du fait de is one of several French expressions that mean "because" (you can learn more about these expressions in our past lesson on the topic). It's also one of many expressions featuring the word fait, which you might recognize as a conjugation of the verb faire (to make, to do). But fait is also a noun meaning "fact"—du fait de literally means "from the fact of." In this lesson, we'll review some other "fact"-based expressions in French.
Patricia uses a similar expression to du fait de earlier on in her video—de ce fait(therefore, literally "from this fact"):
De ce fait, toutes les procédures de paiement sont réalisées sans argent physique.
Therefore, all payment procedures are performed without physical money.
Cap. 13, Pas de crédit dans le monde des clones: Part 1
Now that you know that fait means "fact," you can probably guess what en fait means. Alessandro uses it when interviewing a flea market vendor:
Vous, c'est une véritable passion que vous partagez tous les jours en fait.
For you, it's a true passion that you share every day, in fact.
Cap. 6, Cap 24: Paris - Alessandro fait les Puces! - Part 1
The vendor responds in the next caption with another fait expression, tout à fait (exactly):
Oui, oui. Tout à fait.
Yes, yes. Exactly.
Cap. 7, Cap 24: Paris - Alessandro fait les Puces! - Part 1
Don't confuse en fait with au fait, which means "by the way" or "incidentally":
Ah, au fait, j'ai parlé à Vanessa de nos nouveaux voisins.
Oh, by the way, I spoke to Vanessa about our new neighbors.
Cap. 22, Le Jour où tout a basculé: Espion dans l'immeuble - Part 8
En fait and au fait are easily confused not only because they look similar, but also because the t is pronounced in both of them. In most other instances of the word fait, the t is silent.
If someone has done a good job on something, you can say, Bien fait! (Well done!) In this case fait isn't a noun but the past participle of the verb faire:
Oui, chef. Bien fait!
Yes, chief. Well done!
Cap. 6, Il était une fois... L'Espace: 3. La planète verte - Part 2
As a noun, fait doesn't only mean "fact." It can also mean "event" or "occurrence" depending on the context:
Cette histoire est inspirée de faits réels.
This story is inspired by real events.
Cap. 29, Le Jour où tout a basculé: Espion dans l'immeuble - Part 1
This lesson is now a fait accompli (accomplished fact). Thanks for reading!
In the latest segment of Le Jour où tout a basculé, Frédéric and Anne-Sophie meet Laetitia at a café to deliver some shocking news: their daughters were switched at birth. Upon hearing this, Laetitia is in a state of total disbelief. She says to the couple:
Mais qu'est-ce que c'est que cette histoire?
But what is this all about?
Cap. 37, Le Jour où tout a basculé: Nos bébés ont été échangés... - Part 5
Histoire is related to two English words, "history" and "story," and can mean either one depending on context:
Ici, donc une ville riche en culture et riche en histoire...
So here a town rich in culture and rich in history...
Cap. 8, Lionel: À Wissembourg
C'est vraiment une histoire d'amour, c'est parti d'une histoire d'amour.
It's really a love story, it started out as a love story.
Cap. 4, Annie Chartrand: Sa musique
But in informal expressions like qu'est-ce que c'est que cette histoire, the word means something more along the lines of "business" or "matter." It often has this meaning in the construction histoire de + noun:
Ici tout est histoire de récup, de quoi créer un beau Noël.
Here it's all a matter [or question] of recycling, enough to create a beautiful Christmas.
Cap. 53, Alsace 20: Alsace - les plus belles déco de Noël!
When histoire de follows an infinitive, it means "in order to," "just to," or "so as to":
Bats le beurre de citron, histoire de bien mélanger le tout.
Whisk the lemon butter, in order to mix it all well.
Cap. 33, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano: Médaillon de Homard - Part 3
Two other, less familiar ways of saying "in order to" are pour + infinitive and afin de + infinitive.
Be careful with the expression raconter des histoires. It can either mean "to tell stories" or "to tell lies":
La mère raconte des histoires aux enfants chaque soir.
The mother tells stories to the children every night.
Arrête de me raconter des histoires!
Stop telling me lies!
In her latest video, Patricia gives us an overview of French synonyms, or words with the same basic meaning but different nuances and intensities. To demonstrate, she illustrates some examples of synonyms for "happy" and "angry." She repeatedly uses the expressionêtre fou/folle de (to be mad or wild with) to describe the more intense degrees of those emotions:
Elles sont folles de bonheur.
They are mad with happiness.
Cap. 17, Le saviez-vous? - Les synonymes
You can use this expression to heighten just about any word describing an emotion:
Ils sont extatiques, fous de joie, béats.
They are ecstatic, overjoyed, blissful.
Cap. 17, Le saviez-vous? - Les synonymes
Elles sont folles de colère, folles de rage, horripilées.
They are wild with anger, raging mad, incensed.
Cap. 52-54, Le saviez-vous? - Les synonymes
Or, you can use it with any other noun or pronoun to describe something or someone you're "crazy about":
Non, je ne suis pas fou. Je suis seulement fou de vous!
No, I am not crazy. I'm only crazy about you!
Cap. 6, Charles-Baptiste: Interview
...qui montre la vie trépidante des jeunes, fous de voitures dans les années soixante-dix.
...that shows the hectic life of young people who are crazy about cars in the seventies.
Cap. 8, L'auteur: Bernard Colin
If you haven't already, check out Patricia's other videos in the Le saviez-vous? series for more of her excellent insights into French language and culture.
Did you know that the French word for the back of a space is the same as the word for the bottom of a space? The word is le fond, and determining its meaning is a question of perspective:
Et l'on voit encore des vestiges, des traces de cette époque avec notamment dans le fond,
une chapelle pour se recueillir...
And you can still see remains, traces from that time, with, in particular, in the back, a chapel for meditating...
Cap. 32-33, Lionel: Verdun - Part 2
L'eau de l'étang était si profonde que la princesse ne pouvait pas en voir le fond.
The pond water was so deep that the princess could not see the bottom of it.
Cap. 7, Conte de fées: Le roi grenouille - Part 1
We can tell what le fond means in each of these examples based on the type of space they're describing. The subject of the first example is the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Verdun. A chapel wouldn't be located on the bottom of a cathedral, but in the back. And in the second example, the princess is looking down into the pond, which means she's trying to see the bottom of it, not the back.
Whether it means "the back" or "the bottom," le fond refers to the depth of a space. But it can also refer to depth in a non-physical, metaphorical sense—even a spiritual one:
"Om", ça signifie le fond cosmique qui est le symbole de l'unité dans la diversité.
"Om" signifies the cosmic depth that is the symbol of unity in diversity.
Cap. 31, Paix et partage: Journée Internationale du yoga
Fond is used in quite a few expressions, such as dans le fond and au fond, both meaning "basically":
Dans le fond, c'est des grosses feuilles de betterave.
Basically, they're big beet leaves.
Cap. 13, Farmer François: Le stand de légumes
Parce que au fond, le fait de payer un stand, ça sert aussi d'abord à se rencontrer...
Because basically, the act of paying for a booth, that also helps first of all to meet each other...
Cap. 61-62, Actu-Vingtième: Le vide-grenier
Don't confuse au fond with à fond, which means "totally":
Ah, que griller des feux. -Griller des verts, donc. -À fond.
Oh, just running lights. -Running green lights, then. -Totally.
Cap. 49, Cap 24: Les cyclistes parisiens sont-ils indisciplinés?
There's also de fond, an adjective phrase meaning "fundamental":
Mais pour une baisse en rayon, la prochaine étape devrait être une réforme de fond
But for a reduction in stores, the next step should be a fundamental reformation
Cap. 22, Le Journal: Contrôle des prix alimentaires
If you'd like to explore the many expressions using this word de fond en comble (from top to bottom), we recommend this WordReference entry.
Être en train de is a handy French expression that describes an event in progress. It's always followed by an infinitive and is often translated as "to be in the process of" or "to be in the middle of":
Donc, je suis en deuxième année là; je suis en train d'achever ma formation.
So, I'm in my second year now; I'm in the process of completing my training.
Cap. 19, 4 Mains Pour 1 Piano: Médaillon de Homard - Part 1
Là je suis en train de régler les meules pour que le grain soit correctement écrasé.
Here I am in the middle of setting the millstones so that the grain is crushed correctly.
Cap. 4, Télé Lyon Métropole: Chaillé-les-Marais - Une biscuiterie 100 % familiale
But just as often, être en train de can simply be translated with the present progressive tense ("to be doing," "to be making," etc.):
Donc, en ce moment, on est en train de faire des truffes cacao.
So, right now, we're making cocoa truffles.
Cap. 7, Canadian Chocolate Seller: Chocolats
In French, there is no difference between the present tense and the present progressive tense: on fait can mean both "we make" and "we are making." So the above example could also be written:
Donc, en ce moment, on fait des truffes cacao.
So, right now, we're making cocoa truffles.
Être en train de emphasizes the fact that the activity is currently in progress (further emphasized above by en ce moment). In fact, "currently" is another possible translation of être en train de:
...je suis en train de travailler avec celui qui a fait "Pulp Fiction"
...I'm currently working with the person who made "Pulp Fiction"
Cap. 7, Melissa Mars: From Paris With Love
You can also use être en train de to describe a continuing event in the past. In this case, it's synonymous with the imperfect tense:
Quand j'ai fait cette photo, la baleine était en train de dormir.
When I took this picture, the whale was sleeping.
Cap. 25, Le Journal: Sillonner & photographier les océans
Quand j'ai fait cette photo, la baleine dormait.
When I took this picture, the whale was sleeping.
Here again, être en train de stresses the continuousness of the action: the whale was "in the process of" sleeping when the speaker took the picture.
Être en cours de has the same meaning and function as être en train de, except it's usually followed by a noun instead of an infinitive:
Un immense chantier est en cours d'achèvement.
A huge construction project is being completed.
Cap. 23, Voyage dans Paris: Cour de l'Industrie - Part 1
A final note: Make sure not to confuse en train with entrain, a noun meaning "enthusiasm" or "liveliness." Nous espérons que vous êtes en train d'étudier le français avec entrain! (We hope you're in the process of studying French with enthusiasm!)
In the latest episode of "Le Jour où tout a basculé," Frédéric accuses his wife Anne-Sophie of cheating on him with her ex, but Anne-Sophie insists he's mistaken. Both of them use the verb tromper to state their cases:
Quatre ans plus tôt, Anne-Sophie m'avait trompé. C'était une histoire sans lendemain.
Four years earlier, Anne-Sophie had cheated on me. It was a short-lived affair.
Cap. 40, Le Jour où tout a basculé: Nos bébés ont été échangés - Part 1
Tu t'es toujours trompé avec lui.
You've always been mistaken about him.
Cap. 8, Le Jour où tout a basculé: Nos bébés ont été échangés - Part 1
While Frédéric uses tromper to mean "to cheat" or "deceive," Anne-Sophie uses the reflexive form of the verb, se tromper, which means "to be mistaken" (literally, "to deceive oneself"). Frédéric also uses se tromper later in the video:
Je m'étais pas trompé. Ce fameux soir, c'est un mail de son ex sur lequel je suis tombé.
I was not wrong. That famous evening, it was an email from her ex I came across.
Cap. 43, Le Jour où tout a basculé: Nos bébés ont été échangés - Part 1
You'll have to stay tuned to find out who's really being deceived here. There's a lot more at stake in this episode than potential infidelity!
Tromper isn't only reserved for marital dramas. It's the best verb to use whenever you've been duped, tricked, fooled, or misled (which hopefully isn't that often!):
Le marchand m'a trompé. Il m'a vendu une montre cassée.
The shopkeeper misled me. He sold me a broken watch.
Being mistaken is usually not as serious as being cheated, so you'll often see se tromper used in more mundane situations. You can add de + a noun after it to specify what the person is mistaken about:
Bonjour, pourrais-je parler à Christine? -Désolé, vous vous êtes trompé de numéro.
Hello, may I speak to Christine? -Sorry, you've got the wrong number.
Je pense que nous nous sommes trompés de bus.
I think we got on the wrong bus.
You may be familiar with a painting technique known as "trompe-l'œil" (literally, "tricks the eye"), which creates an illusion of three-dimensionality. Daniel shows us an interesting example of this technique in a church in Provins:
Observez quelques instants au cœur de l'église cet effet de trompe-l'œil...
Observe for a few moments in the heart of the church this trompe-l'œil effect...
Cap. 33-34, Voyage en France: La ville de Provins - Part 3
We hope this lesson has helped you tromper l'ennui (stave off boredom)!