Lesson: “Où se trouve…” vs “Où est…”

One thing that confuses a lot of new French speakers is how to ask about location. Technically, there are two different ways this could be done. However, in any given situation, there is only one that will sound natural. So, I’ll show you the way I was taught to differentiate between the two.

Où se trouve…?

“Where is it located?” / “Where does it find itself?” (lit.)

Used when asking for directions or about the geographical location of a street or landmark. Basically, you use this when talking about big-picture locations.

Où est…?

“Where is it?”

Used when trying to locate an object. One of my teachers taught it this way: “If you’re looking for something you could probably carry, this is most likely what you should say.”

Let’s look at an example.

Say you’re looking for your pen. You could technically use both phrases. But really, when you’re looking for your pen in class, do you elbow your friend and ask “Hey. Do you know where my pen is located?” No. You could. It’d be grammatically correct. And your question would be understood. But it’d sound overly proper and a bit uncomfortable. So you ask “Hey. Do you know where my pen is?” So in this case, I would use “Où est”.

However, if I was looking for a hospital, I could definitely use “Où se trouve”, because in English, that’s something I would naturally say. In a normal conversation, if I was asking for directions, I might ask someone “Do you know where the nearest hospital is located?” So, since that’s how I’d say it in English, that’s how I’d say it in French.

Maybe you were taught differently, or maybe you were taught that there isn’t a difference between the two phrases. And if so, there’s nothing wrong with it. They both work. But I was always taught that in each circumstance, there will be one version that is more natural to say.

Lesson: Expressions With Faire

Earlier, we covered some common expressions that are formed using the word “avoir“. There is another powerful verb that is versatile in the same manner, and that verb is “faire“, which means “to do/make”. The expressions that follow are common phrases and idioms using the word “faire“. It’s important to know them. These phrases are not just slang, they are part of the language.

  • Il fait chaud/ froid/ du soleil/ etc.
    • Faire can be used to express many weather conditions and ask about the weather.
  • Faire du sport
    • To do sports
  • Faire des cours
    • To do the shopping .Typically grocery shopping or some other related chore, not usually recreational shopping
  • Faire la queue
    • To wait in line. Similar to the British expression of “queueing”
  • Faire la grasse matinée
    • To sleep in. Literally “to make a fat morning”
  • Faire peur
    • To scare. Literally “to make fear”
  • Faire attention
    • To pay attention
  • Faire une promenade
    • To take a walk

Lesson: Alphabet

The alphabet is one of the first things we learn as children, and somehow, when we’re learning a new language, we tend to gloss over that. It can actually be a huge inconvenience if you’re asking a native how to spell something and you realize you don’t know what the letters sound like. So, at a friend‘s request, I made an audio of your general ABCs in the standard order, but pronounced in French.

You’ll notice a couple of things:

The sounds for G & J are switched. Don’t get them confused.

The sound for sounds like the English sound for E. Don’t get them confused. The French form of the letter sounds like “euh”.

Lesson: Ordering Food

I haven’t done many lessons specifically for tourism. I’m not particularly a fan of language courses centered around tourism, mainly because I don’t think one should learn a language just to “get by”. I think one needs to know how to ask for a taxi or directions just as well as they can explain how much they hated a certain movie. Still, I can understand the need for learning tourism vocabulary relatively quickly, so here’s a lesson about ordering at restaurants.

Phrases You’ll Need to Know

  • Je veux…
    • I want…
  • avec
    • with
  • sans
    • without
  • Je ne veux pas…
    • I don’t want…
  • S’il vous plaît
    • Please

Vocab You’ll Need to Know

  • un repas
    • a meal
  • une tasse
    • a cup/ glass
  • une fourchette
    • a fork
  • une cuillère
    • a spoon
  • un couteau
    • a knife
  • un petit déjeuner
    • breakfast
  • le déjeuner
    • lunch
  • le dîner
    • dinner

Items You’ll Need to Know

  • l’eau
    • water
  • le lait
    • milk
  • la viande
    • meat
  • le poisson
    • fish
  • le poulet
    • chicken
  • le pain
    • bread

Here are a video and article explaining the lesson in further detail.

Lesson: Negation

There are different ways to make negative sentences in French. You may be familiar with the “ne…pas” formula, but there are a few other negative statements you can make as well.

I’ll start with the basics and move forward.

  1. Ne (n’)…pas: To say that you do not do something, sandwich the verb you’re negating with “ne” and “pas”.
    1. Example: Je ne vais pas. I am not going.
  2. Ne (n’)…rien: “Rien” means “nothing”. If you’d like to say you “don’t…anything”, just sandwich your verb with those two words.
    1. Example: Je n’ai rien. I don’t have anything.
    2. Example: Je ne mange rien. I’m not eating anything.
  3. Ne (n’)…jamais: “Jamais” means “never”. If you’d like to say you “never…”, just sandwich your verb with those two words.
    1. Example: Je n’oublie jamais. I never forget.
    2. Example: Je ne mange jamais trop. I never eat too much.
  4. Ne (n’)…aucun: This one can be used similarly to “ne…rien”. If you’re trying to say you have something, you would say “J’ai <object>”. However, if none of the object exists, and you’re trying to say you have none of it, you would say “Je n’ai aucun <object>”. It can be a bit tricky to understand, but after you’ve used it a couple times, you should get a feel for when it’s appropriate to use it.
    1. Example: Je n’ai aucun ami. I have no friends.
  5. Ne (n’)…plus: This one means “anymore”. It’s pretty simple to use.
    1. Example: Je ne danse plus. I don’t dance anymore.

I’ve included some videos that I think would be useful in further studying this concept:

Video One

Video Two

Quiz One Answers

These are the translations to the oral comprehension quiz posted on Monday. I would recommend you go back and listen to the audio once more before comparing your translation with the answers, just to refresh your memory. Let me know if you have any questions, if you cannot open the files, or if there is an error in my files.

Links in PDF and DOCX form are located below.

Quiz One Translated (PDF)

Quiz One Translated (Word Document)