French Grammar

Verb or Adjective Inflections

There's no need to cram all French grammar before you have done any reading. The best way to acquire new knowledge is to experience it. So start reading and when you run into a peculiar verb form in French just look it up on a chart. Before starting to read French, it is useful to distinguish between language components and be able to recognize for example verb or adjective inflections.

The main component of French grammar is conjugation of the verbs. For verbs in the present tense this is the same as with the English difference between I, you, we, you, they on the one hand (stem) and he/she on the other (+s), i.e. the ending depends on person, mood and/or time:

tu manges, tu danses you eat, you dance
elle mange, il danse she eats, he dances


For other verb tenses where in English the verb stays the same no matter the person or number, in French each has a different conjugation:

 nous mangions, ils/elles mangeaient we ate, they ate


For adjectives, in French, inflection means that the suffix is different depending on gender and number:

 je (fille) suis heureuse I (girl) am happy
nous sommes heureux we are happy


It helps to know that the stem "mang" when you encounter it will have a different ending depening on the person, past or present, or mood.

For French especially verbs have a lot of different inflections while the adjective mainly has those for gender and number. For an example of the inflections of the word "danser" look here.


Once Upon A Time

As you will encounter in the French Fairytales products, the French way of starting a story or stating an event is done differently than in English. In French "It there" is used in conjunction with "to have". "Il y avait" literally translates to "It there had" and is meant to convey "There was". "Il y a" is also used to express the English "ago" for things that have already happened. See some examples here:

French sentence Literal meaning
Une fois, il y avait un petit lapin. One time, it there had a little rabbit. Once upon a time there was a little rabbit.
Il y a deux semaines, je l'ai vu. It there has two weeks, I him have seen. Two weeks ago, I saw him.


With the Bermuda Word method, we give the literal translation first as you're here to learn French, so you need to think according to the French order of words.


Negation in French

Another peculiar part of French Grammar is negation. This is mostly done using two words, "ne" and the negative adverb or pronoun given. A list of different forms that can occur with examples:

negation form literal meaning example French example English
ne jamais not never (never) Je ne danse jamais. I never dance.
ne plus not anymore Je ne veux plus. I don't want to anymore.
ne rien not nothing (nothing) Je ne vois rien. I don't see anything.
ne personne no person (nobody) Je ne vois personne. I don't see anybody.