Des Mots Gros et Petit

That title is “Words Big and Small,” if you were wondering, but I bet you figured it out.

I posted on Instagram (@kristen_hg) about my adventures in century-old French, and an online friend in France offered to help me “with the big words.” I told her that it’s not the big words that are the problem; it’s the little words that I can’t ever remember how to use.

Big words in French are often very similar to big words in English. Either English straight-up borrowed the word at some point in the past thousand years or so, or it comes from a Latin root and both languages use it to mean the same thing. So les mots gros ne sont pas la problème.

I’m now being reminded of the usage and placement of little words, like dans. It means “in,” but it really means “physically inside,” like being in a box. For a less location-based in, French uses en.

I admit, like a lot of English speakers learning a language with gendered nouns, I get tripped up. Why do I consistently think jardin should be feminine? It is not. I also think livre should be feminine. It also is not.

Keep It Court

Each lesson is short and introduces a new set of grammar rules and a short vocabulary list. The exercises are long, however; it takes me thirty to forty-five minutes to write out each one. But I’m glad I chose to write rather than type. It’s etching every vocab word and sentence construction into my brain. Though I do feel a little like Bart Simpson at the chalkboard when I have to do a conjugation exercise.

Note, please, that that last conjugation is asking about having ink and pens. There are a lot of exercises about ink and pens, and I am still waiting for me ink refills and new pen to arrive. I’ve resorted to–shudder–a roller ball pen. Prior to having a fountain pen, this pen was perfectly acceptable, mais maintenant, non.

7. Où est votre encre?

Where is your ink?

8. Où est ton autre plume?

Where is your other pen?

Plume is an outdated word for pen; I learned stylo in high school. There are lots of old words in here. The people who learned French in 1913 apparently had different concerns than I do. I’ll dive into those in the next post.