If you are learning something new, a good foundation sets you on the right path for the long run.
When you understand the basic concepts that set a base to build your French, it will motivate you to learn the language with a keen interest and love.
The French fundamentals
Usually, we tend to associate the vocabulary as the base for learning any language. We begin our language lessons by memorizing the most useful words and phrases depending on our needs.
However, I believe that a language like French should be well understood on a deeper level and not be limited to just satisfying our needs with a few words.
It is important to understand why a sentence or a phrase is framed a certain way and the rules that go with it. The French vocabulary section is a never-ending process of exploring as many words as you can to speak in French.
Nevertheless, the words that you learn find meaning only when it is utilized in the right way with certain basic concepts to structure a proper sentence.
Learning the basic concepts doesn’t necessarily mean “easy concepts”. In other words, doing all the hard work at the beginning will ease your work or your understanding at the advanced level.
Therefore, let’s analyze the basic and important concepts to master the French fundamentals.
1. Identifying the gender of the word
If you are able to identify whether the word you are dealing with is masculine or feminine, every other aspect of the sentence formation like pronouns, verbs, and adjectives falls into place.
As English speakers, it can be quite bizarre to classify the chair or water bottle as a boy or girl but that’s how it works. This concept of gender classification goes a long way back to the time of our ancestors.
Proto-Indo-European is an ancestral language wherein the nouns were classified into animate and inanimate objects. The animate objects were further classified into masculine and feminine. The inanimate objects were considered neuter.
In English, this concept of classification was dropped after a period of time. The French decided to drop the inanimate classification of objects and stick with the animate objects.
Every word in French is followed by a definite or indefinite article which provides an indication of the gender.
In general, there isn’t any rule to classify the gender of the nouns but on a smaller spectrum the words ending with “e” and “ion” are categorized as feminine and the rest is grouped as masculine.
Nevertheless, on a large spectrum, there are multiple exceptions to this rule and it is comprehensible with time and practice.
2. Importance of irregular verbs
We all know that verbs are classified into regular and irregular verbs. When it comes to learning, the regular verbs have always been our go-to choice owing to the similar pattern it follows while conjugating the verbs.
The good news is that a large group of verbs come under the regular category. However, the most important verbs lean towards the irregular side.
We tend to avoid the conjugations of the irregular verbs at the initial stages and end up with a pile of them. So, let’s understand the importance of irregular verbs in the first place.
Most of the verbs that we utilize in our daily life fall into the irregular category. To communicate efficiently even at a basic level these verbs are important.
The two verbs that top this “list of essentials” are être (to be) and avoir (to have) followed by aller, dire, faire, pouvoir, vouloir, and savoir to name a few.
A majority of irregular verbs follow a unique pattern and have to be learned individually but a handful of words fall into a similar pattern. Grouping these verbs together will help you to conjugate without memorization.
In our day-to-day life, we often begin our conversations with the current scenario in most cases. Therefore, it is essential to learn the conjugations of the commonly used verbs in the present tense, followed by the past tense and future.
3. Placement of the words
This is a vast topic to cover as a beginner. Initially, it is good to understand the position of adjectives and pronouns as we learn to describe and associate a lot of things.
In French, the adjectives can go before or after the noun. Occasionally, there can be two adjectives, one in front of the noun and the other one after it.
The position of adjectives doesn’t follow any particular rule. The describing words are often placed after the noun but words that depict specific qualities like old, good, etc are placed before the noun.
At times, the same adjective can be placed before or after the noun to change the meaning of the sentence. So, it is important to place it in the right place to convey the right meaning.
There are different types of pronouns in French as in English. It comes with its own set of rules for each type. It is advisable to practice pronouns along with a sentence so that it becomes useful during conversations.
Understanding this basic concept of placing the adjectives and pronouns will help you to get clarity of how the other concepts work at the higher levels.
4. French liaisons
The liaisons make French sound like French. French would be incomplete without them. The intonations, silent sounds, and liaisons bring that perfect blend to the language.
Now, what is this liaison? It is a distinguishing feature of the French language wherein the final consonant of one word is linked to the following word that begins with a vowel.
There are three types of liaisons in French: Liaisons obligatoire, facultative, and interdite. If you learn to listen and repeat the sounds right from the beginning, it will be easier to understand how complex words are pronounced at the advanced level.
Brush up on some basics
There you have it, the five basic things to get your fundamentals right. Learning something new might be hard but it’s worth the effort. No matter which level you are in you can always brush up on some basics and recollect all the topics that you forgot to rekindle your love for the language.