I am sad to inform you that for the present time, I will no longer be able to regularly post lessons and resources. The demands of school and other obligations take priority over this site, and I simply don’t have the time to regularly post. The site will remain live for a few more months, as I can tell from my stats that many of you are still using my site. But by this time next year, should my situation stay the same, my site will be gone. I apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your support up to this point.

Mini-Quiz: “La Rentrée” Review

We already had the quiz, but now I want to pick it apart. There were plenty of vocabulary words and phrases I used that I haven’t covered yet (or perhaps don’t remember covering), so I’ll go over them now. There’s a good chance I’ll cover them again in a later lesson, but there’s nothing wrong with being thorough.

  • “J’ai commencé à parler le français il y a treize ans.”
    • If any of you ignored my warning and put this through Google Translate anyway, this part would’ve been incorrectly translated. It literally says “there are thirteen years”, but it is an expression that means “____ years ago”. You can use it at the beginning of your sentence, followed by a comma, or you can add it to the end of your sentence, as shown above.
  • “Je veux devenir ingénieure logiciel
    • This is another phrase that generates an incorrect translation on Google Translate (thus the reason I recommended you not use it). Again, a literal translation is “I want to become software engineer”, which sounds kind of off in English. But in French, when you’re talking about your profession, you don’t say “a” with it. So, in French, you don’t say “Je suis un docteur”, you say “Je suis docteur”. Just think of it this way: In French, you’re not part of your profession, you are your profession.
  • “Evidemment je parle encore le français.”
    • Pretty much everyone knows “encore” means “again”. But the word is actually pretty versatile. In this context, it means “still” (though in retrospect, I think I could’ve tweaked the sentence and find a way to use the word “toujours” instead). You can also use the word “encore” to say “yet” (as in “not yet”).
  • “…je ne prends aucun cours…”
    • “I don’t take any courses”. If you use the “ne…aucun” formula, you cannot say “ne … pas aucun”. This is a double negative.
  • “…je ferais la grasse matinée chaque jour…”
    • “Faire la grasse matinée”: “To sleep in”. Literally, you’re “having a fat morning”.
  • “Peut-être jusqu’à 2h ou 3h dans l’aprem
    • “jusqu’à”: “until”
    • “l’aprem”: shortened form of “l’aprés-midi”, meaning “the afternoon”
  • “…vous avez le même problème de temps en temps.”
    • From time to time

Mini-Quiz: “La Rentrée” Answers

Translation for the previous mini-quiz:


I’m Katrice. When I was going to high school, my French name was “Anaïs”. I’m eighteen. I started speaking French thirteen years ago. I studied French during all my years of school. Now I go to college. I’m studying computer science. I want to become a software engineer, without a doubt. Obviously I still speak French. But lately, I don’t take any French courses. I really like school. I always liked school. Even when I was young, I liked to read and do math. That’s true now also. The problem is that I never liked to wake up in the morning. If it was up to me to decide, I would sleep in every day. Maybe until 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I like to sleep. And that’s a problem because I have to be in the classroom at 8:30. Hopefully I’m not alone and you have the same problem from time to time.

How did your answers match up?

Mini-Quiz: “La Rentrée”

The rest of this post is going to be entirely in French. The purpose is to see if you can grasp the meaning of what I’m saying, even if you haven’t learned every word I use. The next post will show the translation.


Je suis Katrice. Quand j’allais au lycée, mon nom français était “Anaïs”. J’ai dix-huit ans. J’ai commencé à parler le français il y a treize ans. J’étudiais le français pendant toutes mes années de l’école. Maintenant je vais à l’université. J’étudie l’informatique. Je veux devenir ingénieure logiciel, sans doute. Evidemment je parle encore le français. Mais dernièrement je ne prends aucun cours français. J’aime beaucoup l’école. J’aimais toujours l’école. Même quand j’étais jeune, j’aimais lire et faire les maths. C’est vrai maintenant aussi. Le problème, c’est que je n’aimais jamais me léver au matin. Si c’était à moi de decider, je ferais la grasse matinée chaque jour. Peut-être jusqu’à 2h ou 3h dans l’aprem. J’aime dormir. Et ça, c’est un problème parce que je dois être dans la salle de classe à 8h30. Espérons que je ne suis pas seule, et vous avez le même problème de temps en temps.

Please do not post any translations from the above paragraph or paste the text into Google Translate. The goal is that each of you have an opportunity to try the exercise without outside help.

I caught a couple typos when editing this post, so if you see one, don’t hesitate to let me know. I admit I did type this in a bit of a rush.

Duolingo Immersion

Now, I’m not sure if this feature is available for every language on Duolingo, but I saw it for French and thought it was amazing.

If you have a Duolingo account (and hopefully you do), there’s a tab above your language course called “Immersion”. If you click on it, it’ll take you to a translations page. On that page, there will be different stories, articles, and what have you. All of them are in French (or whatever language setting you are on). You have the option to upload a French document yourself, or edit someone else’s document. Just to give it a try, open the first document on your list (the documents are by default sorted by what is recommended for you). You’ll see a page of French text, and when you hover over the text, you can click on different translations of each word. If a translation for the text has already been provided by another user, you have the option to offer a different one.

Why is this feature so awesome? It’s a way for you to practice your French, that’s why! The articles are almost designed like typical French quizzes are. You practice your ability to translate what you see into terms you understand. If you have a Duolingo account, I recommend you use this feature actively.

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.