An Easy Introduction to French

by Geoffrey Barto of gbarto.com

Lesson 4

We begin, in the usual way, with a dialogue, so that you'll know what's coming. By the time we're done, it should all make sense. As has been the case, the first part should look familiar and get you started. Here it is:

  • Bonjour, monsieur.
  • Bonjour, mademoiselle.
  • Comment allez-vous?
  • Très bien, merci. Et vous?
  • Je vais bien aussi.
  • Euh... mademoiselle...
  • Oui?
  • C'est que... enfin... est-ce que je pourrais vous poser une question?
  • Oui?
  • Euh... Comment vous appelez-vous?
  • Je m'appelle Marie.
  • Marie, je suis enchanté. Euh, alors, au revoir, Marie.
  • Monsieur?
  • Oui?
  • Est-ce que je pourrais vous poser une question?
  • Oui.
  • Comment vous appelez-vous?
  • Que je suis idiot. Je m'excuse. Je m'appelle Marc.
  • Enchantée, Marc. Au revoir.
  • Au revoir, Marie.

This dialogue is a bit tricky. We'll discuss it in greater detail after going through the vocabulary. To briefly explain, Marc and Marie are passing one another in the hall, as often happens, when Marc finally gets up the courage to ask her name. But he is so flustered by the exchange that he fails to give his name. Marie asks, then wraps up the conversation with as much grace as possible. In the vocabulary, note that you don't need to memorize the first few (unnumbered) items. Here's the new vocabulary:

    C'est que... (SAY Ke). It's (just) that...
    We'll learn about C'EST later on. Marc is mumbling, trying, but not succeeding, in making a sentence.

    enfin (AWnFAn - the last syllable almost rhymes with "can"). finally, in the end.
    We'll learn to use this word properly later. Here, he's trying to get to the point.

  1. pourrais (POOH RAY). (I) would be able.
    With the power I have, I WOULD BE ABLE if JE POURRAIS.
  2. poser (POH-ZAY). to pose, to ask.
    If you want to pose a question, POSER is the way TO ASK.
  3. question (KEHSTEE-OHn). question.
    I think we can manage this one. Just remember to pronounce it in French.
  4. appelez (AHPPLE-AY). (you) call.
    If you want to give an apple a name, VOUS APPELEZ it what YOU CALL it.

    COMMENT VOUS APPELEZ-VOUS? means WHAT ARE YOU CALLED?
    Literally, it means HOW YOURSELF CALL YOU? or HOW ARE YOU CALLED?

  5. me (Me or Muh). me/to me.
    Just like English, so easy to remember. But pronounce in French and put it before the verb.
  6. appelle (AH-PELL). (I) call.
    Will it ring a bell if when I CALL I say J'APPELLE?
  7. JE M'APPELLE... means I AM CALLED...
    Literally, it means I MYSELF CALL... or I CALL MYSELF...

  8. enchanté (AWnCHAWnTAY). enchanted.
    This is how the French say "pleased to meet you." Here's a little rhyme:
    If it's "pleased to meet you" / That you want to say
    In French, you'll be ENCHANTED / to know it's ENCHANTÉ
  9. que (Ke or Kuh). that.
    We'll learn to use this properly later. For now, all you need to know is that if you put it in front of a sentence, it makes it stronger.
  10. idiot (ID-EE-OH). an idiot, idiotic.
    Like "question," just remember to pronounce it in French.
  11. QUE JE SUIS IDIOT means OH! I AM AN IDIOT.

  12. excuse (EX-CUES). (I) excuse.
    JE M'EXCUSE means I EXCUSE MYSELF or I'M SORRY.

Now that you have the vocabulary, let's take another look at the dialogue:

With the commentary, the passage should have been clear. But skim through the second half once more, just to make sure:

Got it? Doublecheck against the translation:

Whew! Ten new words but a lot of new phrases and phrasings. Now you've got some vocabulary and have seen a little of how it goes together. You may not be ready to negotiate that treaty, but at least you can make friends - and do lunch! Pretty cool.

This concludes Lesson 4. (60 words learned)

Lesson 3 - Language Page