What day is it?
Quel jour sommes-nous?
What day is it? - Quel jour sommes-nous? Literally, this means "What day are we?"
Monday is the worst day of the week
Le lundi est le pire jour de la semaine
Monday - lundi. Note that if you are not referring to a specific day (a specific Monday), but to the day in general, you must put le before the day.
I have a test on Tuesday
J'ai un examen mardi
Tuesday - mardi. When referring to a specific Tuesday, you do not need to use an article.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
lundi, mardi, mercredi, jeudi, vendredi, samedi, dimanche
Note that days are not capitalized in French.
I am fifteen years old
J'ai quinze ans
a year - un an. Recall that when dealing with age, you must use the verb avoir instead of être.
We will play sports all year
Nous allons faire du sport pendant toute l'année
a year (duration) - une année. Année is used instead of an when emphasizing duration rather than a division or amount of time. This is similar to the difference between jour and journée.
I've been in Paris for two years
Voilà deux ans que je suis à Paris
When choosing between the basic time words an, jour, soir, matin and their feminine counterparts année, journée, soirée, matinée, note that the former should generally be used with numbers. One exception is when you are describing duration: pendant toute la journée.
The school (scholastic/academic) year is difficult
L'année scolaire est difficile
When choosing between the basic time words an, jour, soir, matin and their feminine counterparts année, journée, soirée, matinée, note that the latter should generally be used with adjectives.
When does he leave? He leaves in three months
Quand est-ce qu'il part? Il part dans trois mois
a month - un mois. Note how you can ask questions by placing any question word (quand in this case) in front of est-ce que.
It's always cold in January
Il fait toujours froid en janvier
January - janvier. Note that months are never capitalized and are used with the preposition en. En is used with months, years, and seasons to describe when something takes place.
February is the shortest month of the year
Le mois de février est le mois le plus court de l'année
February - février. Note that you could also begin the sentence Février est le mois...
My uncle's birthday is in March
L'anniversaire de mon oncle est en mars
March - mars
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
janvier, février, mars, avril, mai, juin, juillet, août, septembre, octobre, novembre, décembre
I have an appointment with Claude next week
J'ai un rendez-vous avec Claude la semaine prochaine
an appointment - un rendez-vous. Note that this can also mean "meeting place."
Are they going to return today?
Vont-ils retourner aujourd'hui?
to return - retourner. Note that both revenir and rentrer could also work here. All three verbs essentially mean "to return," although there are slight differences between them: retourner is best translated as "to go back," revenir as "to come back," and rentrer as "to come/go home."
How do you form the basic past tense in French?
(present tense of) auxiliary verb + past participle
The past tense (called the passé composé) is a compound tense. It's created with the present tense of an auxiliary verb -- either avoir or, less commonly, être. This verb is then followed by the past participle of the main verb. For instance: il a chanté -- "he sang."
How do you form past participles in French?
For regular verbs, the past participle is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and replacing it with é, i, or u.
For instance, the past participle of chanter is chanté.
Today, I played basketball
Aujourd'hui, j'ai joué au basket
Note the past tense of jouer, which takes the auxiliary verb avoir. Avoir is first conjugated in the first-person singular of the present (to agree with the subject), then followed by the past participle of the main verb, jouer. The past participles of regular -ER verbs are formed by removing the infinitive ending and adding é.
Then, Maxine spoke
Ensuite, Maxine a parlé
This morning, Carl watched TV
Ce matin, Carl a regardé la télé
We finished our work
Nous avons fini notre travail
The past participles of regular -IR verbs are formed by removing the infinitive ending and adding i.
We did not finish our work
Nous n'avons pas fini notre travail
Note the use of negation here: the ne... pas construction is used with the auxiliary verb, before the past participle.
The boys heard their aunt
Les garçons ont entendu leur tante
The past participles of regular -RE verbs are formed by removing the infinitive ending and adding u.
I saw something weird
J'ai vu quelque chose d'étrange
Recall that voir is an irregular French verb, and thus also has an irregular past participle, vu.
I saw nothing
Je n'ai rien vu
Note the use of rien here. It comes after the conjugated auxiliary verb and before the participle.
Have you seen this new television series?
As-tu vu cette nouvelle série télé?
Note that the subject and the auxiliary verb are inverted when asking a question in the passé composé. Also note that there is no distinction between "did you see" and "have you seen" in French.
Julie is addicted to this new song
Julie est accro à cette nouvelle chanson
addicted to - accro à. Accro is an informal, shortened form of the adjective accroché, formed from the past participle of accrocher, "to hang (up)." Chanson is a feminine noun.
What is the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs?
Transitive verbs are action verbs that have a direct object, whereas intransitive verbs don't have objects. "I ate cake" (transitive) vs. "I arrived" (intransitive)
How do you choose between the two French auxiliary verbs?
Most verbs use avoir as their auxiliary verb. Verbs that use être are typically intransitive verbs that denote movement -- aller, venir, partir, sortir, arriver, etc.
What should you pay close attention to when using être as an auxiliary verb in compound tenses?
When used with être, the participle has to agree in gender and number with the subject. This is not true for verbs conjugated with the auxiliary verb avoir (with the exception of some rare cases that you will learn about elsewhere).
For example, "she went" is elle est allée (with the extra "e").