Reflexive verbs are so called because of the inclusion of reflexive pronouns (‘me’ ‘te’, ‘se’, ‘nous’, ‘vous’, ‘se’) before the verb. The idea is that you are in some way performing an action to yourself:
- Je me lave – I wash (myself)
- Il se calme – He calms (himself) down
In other instances, the reflexive pronoun is indirect:
Ils s’écrivent des lettres – They write letters to one another.
Here is an example of how to conjugate a reflexive verb:
Se laver – to wash (oneself)
Je me lave
Tu te laves
Il/Elle/On se lave
Nous nous lavons
Vous vous lavez
Ils se lavent
Note the following reflexive verbs examples:
- se dépêcher (to rush),
- s’habiller (to dress),
- se rendre compte (to realise),
- s’appeler (to be called),
- s’ennuyer (to be bored), etc.
The French are very fond of reflexive verbs. Didier uses 18 of them in chapter 3 of his story. Here are the first two:
- ‘Il a envie de s’arrêter’ – he wants to stop. The verb s’arrêter appears again at the beginning of the second paragraph.
- ‘Il se demande’ – he wonders/asks himself.
See if you can find the remaining 10 in this game.
The Imperative (giving orders)
The Imperative has only three forms and is generally the same as the present tense without the pronoun. It is simply a way of giving an order or making a suggestion. Fais tes devoirs – do your homework Faisons nos devoirs – let’s do our homework Faites vos devoirs – do your homework
Below are a few examples of imperative verbs:
|Regular imperatives||irregular imperatives||irregular imperatives similar to irregular present verbs||Imperative with Reflexive verbs||imperative in the negative|
|With a regular verb
Parler – to speak
Ne parle pas
Ne parlons pas
Ne parlez pas
S’asseoir (irregular verb)
|With a reflexive verb
Se lever – To get up
Ne te lève pas
Ne nous levons pas
Ne vous levez pas
A couple of examples with être and avoir in the negative:
- Ne sois pas idiot
- N’ayons pas peur
Note that with a reflexive verb in a negative sentence, the pronoun is placed in front of the verb again:
- Ne te lève pas !
- Ne vous asseyez pas !
- Now, imagine that you are working for Failte Ireland. you have to give advice to French tourists. Give a list of things to do and things not to do while in Ireland. Use verbs such as: Arriver, faire attention, prendre, ne pas oublier, Se promener, essayer, visiter, finir, goûter
Can you think of other times when you will need the imperative? Can you think of other ways to give advice?
An expression often encountered in a letter is:
Veuillez accepter l’expression de mes sentiments les meilleurs – meaning ‘please accept’ from the verb “vouloir” in the imperative
Adverbs are used to describe actions.
- He walks slowly.
- They are constantly on the telephone.
To form adverbs in French, you usually get the feminine form of the adjective and add ‘ment’.
Take the adjective ‘heureux’, which means happy.
Feminine form is ‘heureuse’, so the adverb happily is ‘heureusement’.
There are naturally a few exceptions.
Adjectives ending in ‘ant’ change to ‘amment’. Constant – constamment.
Also, beware of ‘vite’, which means quickly.
Il court vite – He runs quickly.
There are 5 examples of adverbs in the third chapter of the Didier story.
The first two are ‘timidement’ and ‘doucement’. Can you find the remaining 3? Try this game!
Now take this short test on this unit!