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English to French cardinal numbers
In France and in most other countries which use the metric system, a comma is used to indicate a decimal and a period is used to indicate a thousand or a million, and so on.
Example: you would write 100.000.000,00 (instead of 100,000,000.00).
|1 One||un (masculine), une (feminine)|
English to French ordinal numbers
An ordinal number is written with an elevated e next to the number.
When expressing a date or the name of a monarch the only ordinal number used is 1st (premier or première). After this cardinal numbers are used.
|1st, First||1e, premier (masculine), première (feminine)|
|2nd, Second||2e, deuxième (masculine/feminine), second (masculine), seconde (feminine)|
|3rd, Third||3e, troisième (masculine/feminine), tiers (masculine), tierce (feminine)|
|4th, Fourth||4e, quatrième|
|5th, Fifth||5e, cinquième|
|6th, Sixth||6e, sixième|
|7th, Seventh||7e, septième|
|8th, Eighth||8e, huitième|
|9th, Ninth||9e, neuvième|
|10th, Tenth||10e, dixième|
Rules of stress
French syllables are evenly stressed. However, the last syllable of a word is slightly emphasized.
There are 3 variations of accent marks (diacritical marks) in the French language: The accent aigu is used to open up the sound of a closed e when it is not followed by a final d, f or z (Example: café, 'répétez, vérité). The accent grave is used on an open e at the end of a syllable or before a final s (Example: mère and très). To differentiate two homonyms (words spelled alike but which have a different meaning): où (where) and ou (for), à (to, in, at) and a (has), là (there) and la (the). The accent grave is also used on the vowel a in words like deçà (below), déjà (already), delà (of the) and voilà (here). Not in words like cela (it).
The accent circonflexe is used on any of the five vowels to indicate a formerly used vowel or an s has been dropped. Example: bâtir(build), tête (taste), âge (age). To elongate the sound of certain vowels: extrême (extreme), cône (cone). To differentiate two homonyms: dû (past participle of verb devoir) and du (construction of de + le); crû (past participle of verb croire); mûr (ripe) and mur (wall).
The tréma is placed above the vowels e, i, u to indicate they are pronounced independently of any preceding or following vowel sound: Haïti (Haiti) and Noël (Christmas).
The cédille is used beneath the letter c when preceding the vowels a, o, u to give it an s sound: façade (facade), leçon (lesson) and français (French).
French nouns are either feminine or masculine; in other words, they observe a gender difference. Of course, nouns that refer to males are usually masculine, and those that refer to females are usually feminine:
|le garçon||the boy|
|la jeune fille||the girl|
|le livre||the book|
|la chaise||the chair|
While there is no rule that determines why certain things are feminine and some masculine, some endings give a good indication of the gender of a word. The most common masculine noune endings are:
Days of the week, months, numbers and the letters of the alphabet are masculine.
Names of most trees and bushes are masculine.
Soft drink trade names are masculine: un Coca, un Perrier, un Orangina.
Words borrowed from other languages are generally masculine: le tennis, le parking.
The most common feminine noun endings are:
|Noune Endings||Example||Noune Endings||Example|
|-ade|| la limonade
|-ise|| la bêtise
|-aine|| la laine
|-sion|| la conversion
|-ance|| la naissance
|-ssion|| la mission
|-ence|| la différence
|-tion|| la nation
|-ère||la marière||-té|| la fraternité
|-esse|| la noblesse
|-trice|| la l'actrice
|-ette|| la serviette
|-ude|| la solitude
|-euse|| la danseuse
|-ure|| la parure
|-ie|| la boulangerie
Automobile trade names are feminine: une Ford, une Peugeot.
If you want to learn more about French nouns we have lots of French noun video tutorials for you to study and learn.
Common French Nouns
An -s is added to most singular nouns to form their plural: un livre/des livres (a book/books), une chaise/des chaises (a chair/chairs).
If the noun already ends in -s, -z or -x, the plural form remains the same: un fils/des fils (a son/sons), le nez/les nez (the nose/the noses), la croix/les croix (the cross/the crosses).
Most nouns ending in -al change to -aux : un canal/des canaux (a canal/channels), un cheval/des chevaux (horse/horses). Exceptions to this rule are several words which only add an -s to form their plural: bal (ball), cal (callus), carnaval (carnival), chacal (jackal), festival (festival), régal (treat).
Most nouns ending in -au or -eu form their plural by adding an -x: un cheveu/des cheveux (a strand of hair/hair), un bureau/des bureaux (an office/offices). Exception: un pneu/des pneus (a tire/tires).
Most nouns ending in -ail normally add an -s to form their plural. un sérail/des sérails (A seraglio/Of the seraglios). Exceptions to this rule are nine nouns which change -ail to -aux to form their plural: bail/baux (lease/leases), corail/coraux (coral/corals), émail/émaux (email/emails), soupirail/soupiraux (basement window or vent/basement windows or vents), travail/travaux (job or work/jobs or works), vantail/vantaux (door panel/door panels or leaves).
Most nouns ending in -ou add an -s to form their plural: un trou/des trous (a hole/Holes). Exceptions are the following seven words which add an -x: bijou/bijoux (jewel/jewelry), caillou/cailloux (Pebble/pebbles), chou/choux (cabbage/cabbage), genou/genoux (knee/knees), hibou/hiboux (owl/owls), joujou/joujoux (toy/toys) and pou/poux (louse/lice).
Some nouns have two forms for their plural forms, each form having a different meaning or usage: aïeul/aïeuls/aïeux (grandfather/grandparents/forefathers).
Proper French Nouns
Proper nouns are expressed in their plural if they are:
nouns of nationality or world-renouned names like les Russes (Russians) or les Bonapartes (the Bonapartes).
geographical names pertaining to several countries, mountains, such as les Amériques (Americas) and les Pyrenées (the Pyrenees).
As a rule, last names are not pluralized when they refer to:
the entire family: les Dupont (the Smith's), les Fortier (the Fortier's).
two or more individuals having the same name: les deux Blanchard (the two Blanchard's).
Did you know, the name France originated from the latin word Francia (Frankia, country or kingdom of the Franks).
The English love a good roundabout but did you know, more than half of all the roundabouts in the world reside in France. That's enough to drive you round the bend!
Did you know, in 1997 a Frenchman named Philippe Khan invented the camera phone in France.
Did you know, camouflage is a French word. During the first world war, French artists called camofleurs used to paint the vehicles and weapons. It was in 1915 that camouflage was first used by the French army. The first in the world!
English French Grammar
Top tip... before you can learn French grammar you need to understand English grammar, so you can relate the terms and meanings.