Learning vocabulary can be an amusing part of learning any language; however, to truly understand French Wordsords, one needs to start with understanding how different parts of speech function in a language.
A part of speech is a category of words that share similar functions in sentences. There are many parts of speech including: nouns, verbs, adjective, articles, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Being able to identify these parts of speech can aid in the learning of any language. It is also helpful to memorize a few examples from each category and to understand the roles that each part of speech plays in a sentence.
Noun is one of the most basic parts of speech. A noun is generally defined as a person, place, or a thing. A noun is the basic building block of a sentence.
In French, nouns generally have a gender. Nouns are classified as either masculine or feminine. The classification does not always make logical sense. For example, the words for purse (un sac à main) and high heels (les talons hauts) are both masculine. The word for mustache (une moustache) is feminine. Language learners have to memorize the genders of nouns as they learn new words.
Articles help indicate whether a noun is masculine or feminine.
There are two main types of nouns: common nouns and proper nouns. Common nouns are nouns that are non-specific and can be used for any general item. These nouns are not capitalized. A proper noun is a specific person, place, or thing. These nouns are generally capitalized.
A verb is essential to making something happen in a sentence. A verb is a word that describes an action or a state of being in a sentence. Verbs also explain what the subject of a sentence is doing.
In the French language, there are many different types of verbs. Some follow a regular pattern such as verbs ending in –ER, -IR, and –RE. Others do not follow a regular pattern; these are known as irregular verbs.
Verbs also function in different tenses (past, present, and future.) There are multiple tenses and moods of verbs in the French language.
Adjectives (les adjectifs)
An adjective is a word that describes a noun. In French, the adjective must agree with the noun it is describing. This means that if the noun is masculine, the adjective must also be masculine. If the noun is feminine, the adjective must also be feminine.
French adjectives usually follow the noun they are modifying. However, adjectives will precede the noun when they are being used to describe beauty, age, goodness, and size.
There are two main types of adjectives: attributive and predicative. Attributive adjectives immediately precede or follow the noun they are describing. Predicative adjectives usually come after a linking verb such as to be (être.)
An article is used with a noun to explain whether the noun is specific or general. In French, an article also tells the gender and number of the noun.
All French articles have to agree with the noun in both gender and number.
There are two main types of articles: definite and indefinite. Definite articles indicate something specific. Indefinite articles indicate something that is not specific. The French definite articles are le, la, and les (the.) The French indefinite articles are un, une, and des (one/some.)
Adverbs (les adverbes)
An adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. It often answers the questions how, when, and where.
In English, adverbs that explain “how” often end in –LY. In French, these adverbs often end in –MENT.
Pronouns (les pronoms)
A pronoun takes the place of another noun. There are many French pronouns. They are helpful to use so you do not have to repeat a given noun many times. There are several different categories of pronouns.
Some of the most common pronouns are called subject pronouns. They function as the subject of a sentence.
Other common pronouns are known as object pronouns. These can replace and object in the sentence that has already been mentioned.
Prepositions (les prépositions)
Prepositions are words that connect to nearby words to provide more information in the sentence. They do not use it independently. Adding prepositional phrases can make your French more descriptive, precise, and fluent.
Conjunctions (les conjonctions)
Conjunctions are words that join together words and phrases. By using conjunctions, your French can be less repetitive by allowing two ideas to combine together.
Interjections (les interjections)
Interjections are words that express surprise or emotion. These are fun words that often begin a sentence to catch someone’s attention.
To learn more about the French language and to explore these parts of speech in more detail, be sure to check out our other articles!