Table of Contents
§60. Supplemental Auxiliary Verbs
The French call these verbs semi-auxiliaires. True auxiliary verbs (avoir, être) are not bearers of meaning; they function purely to “help” the meaning verb by indicating its tense and a few other things. Semi-auxiliary verbs, in contrast, have a little bit of meaning that they add to the whole. They are somewhat equivalent to, and will often be translated by, English modals (“can could will would shall should may might must”). Like the English modals, they are followed by the infinitive.
§61. The Pronoun Lequel (“Which”)
I have nothing to add at this time.
§62. The “Pronoun” En
Not to be confused with the preposition en, which comes from the Latin preposition in (in, into, to), this form comes from the Latin adverb inde (thence). In practice, you won’t confuse them, because en-preposition always precedes a noun phrase, whereas en-pronoun always precedes a verb form (a personal one or an infinitive).1
The Author calls it a pronoun, but it is a bit more than that, since it replaces not just a noun, but a noun preceded by the preposition de. You could call it a pro-prepositional phrase if you wanted to. The French call it a pronom adverbial or an adverbe pronominal (the same term is used for y).
The Author is not completely correct when he says that the pronoun en cannot be used to refer to persons. In one usage it can, and in another it cannot. The form en always replaces a phrase beginning with de; but de has taken on two very different functions in French.
A. En Replacing a Noun Phrase Introduced by a Partitive
Part of the time, de is not a preposition at all; it has become part of the partitive article that precedes nouns.
- J’ai des amis. (I have friends.)
- J’ai du talent. (I have talent.)
- J’ai de la mayonnaise. (I have mayonnaise.)
For a captivating account of the partitive article, see the French Language File Partitive Articles Justified.
Note that the phrases des amis, du talent, de la mayonnaise are not prepositional phrases, but simply noun phrases, functioning here as direct objects. They can refer to either persons or things, and still be replaced by en:
- J’ai des amis. J’en ai. (I have friends. I have some.)
- J’ai du talent. J’en ai. (I have talent. I have some.)
- J’ai de la mayonnaise. J’en ai. (I have mayonnaise. I have some.)
B. En Replacing a Prepositional Phrase
However, en can also replace de and what follows it when de really is a preposition; in this case, en replaces a prepositional phrase, not a noun phrase. Furthermore, in this case en cannot be used when people are involved; instead, one replaces the noun with the appropriate disjunctive pronoun form (moi, toi, lui, elle, soi, nous, vous, eux, elles).
- Je vais m’occuper des billets. Je vais m’en occuper.
(I’m going to take care of the tickets. I’m going to take care of them.)
- Je vais m’occuper des enfants. Je vais m’occuper d’eux.
(I’m going to take care of the children. I’m going to take care of them.)
§63. The Verb Vouloir
A remarkable and important verb.
§64. The Verb Devoir
The Author gives most of the meanings of devoir that you need. Along with the conditional of devoir (je devrais) meaning “should, ought to,” the past conditional (j’aurais dû) means, correspondingly, “should have, ought to have.”
Note that the passé composé (or the passé simple) has two possible meanings:
- Probability. Il a dû partir. (He must have left.)
- Obligation Fulfilled. Il a dû partir. (He had to leave.)
See, once again, my Language File on Devoir.
§65. The Verb Aller
Another terrific verb.
As a semi-auxiliary, aller indicates near future.
- Je vais tuer ce garçon. (I am going to kill that boy.)
Put aller into the imperfect, and you have got a near-future-in-the-past:
- J’allais tuer ce garçon. (I was going to kill that boy.)
- J’allais dire la même chose! (I was going to say the same thing!)
1. he knows / he will know OR he will learn / knowing the facts / he knows how to dance = he can dance
2. he can OR he may / it is possible that / we can = we will be able to / he will have been able to
3. I would like / the desire came to him at a particular point OR he tried (and failed) / he wanted / he does not want
 il a voulu – Normally, a verb indicating a mental state in the past will be in the imperfect:
il voulait = “he wanted.” il savait = “he knew.” il pensait = “he thought.”
The use of passé composé indicates either 1) a change of state or 2) special emphasis on the moment when the state began or ended. When you put a verb that indicates a mental state, and is usually put into the imperfect, into the passé composé instead, that can affect its meaning.
Now vouloir can mean not only “to want” (a mental state), but also “to will” (an action).
Hence vouloir in the passé composé may mean (with reference to 1, or 2/beginning): “to choose, to decide, to elect” (i.e., at a particular juncture, the subject had and acted on the desire to…)
Dieu a voulu naître et grandir dans une famille humaine.
(God chose to be born and to grow up in a human family.)
Vouloir in the passé composé can also have the special idiomatic meaning “to have tried (and failed) to do something,” perhaps with reference to 2/ending, in an imagined sequence such as: a. the subject wanted to do a particular thing; b. it proved to be impossible; c. the subject gave up wanting to do it.
Elle a voulu m’arracher ma mallette, mais j’étais trop fort.
(She tried to snatch my attache case from me, but I was too strong.)
4. I must (etc.) / I should = I ought to / he had to OR he probably [did something] / he was supposed to = he was intending to / he had to OR he probably [did something]
For the great variety of uses of devoir, I refer you once again to the Language File Devoir: A Semi-Auxiliary Without Peer.
5. he does OR he is going / he was going / he went / we will go
6. He will be able to = he will figure out how to solve this problem. / He learned the answer.
7. He could = He was able to understand. / He will be able to do the work = He can do the work.
8. She wanted to go into town. / She would like to visit the museum.
9. I must get the laborer to finish the work. / He had to leave yesterday OR He probably left yesterday.
10. in/by/while putting / in/by/while taking / in/by/while going / in/by/why looking for
11. he sees / he saw / he will see / in/by/while seeing
12. he holds / in/by/while holding / he held / she had obtained
13. He can dance = He knows how to dance. / She will manage to finish the work. / He knew the answer.
14. He can stay = He may stay. / It is possible that he/it should/will arrive. / He can = He will be able to travel.
15. He wants to leave. / He would like to leave. / We wanted to see this film.
16. He must study = He has to study. / He was planning on studying = He was supposed to study. / He ought to = He should study.
17. He is going to describe the device. / He was going to go out. / I am going to rest.
18. He lets the doctor get by = He allows the doctor to get by. / He dropped the dictionary. / We will leave this theory to one side.
laisser passer (sentence 18)
laisser passer can mean “to allow” (e.g., a person) “to pass (in, out, by, through, first).”
- Nous dûmes nous arriéter pour laisser passer le présdent et sa femme. (We had to stop in order to let the President and his wife get through.)
When the subject of passer is a thing, the phrase can mean: “to fail to take advantage of.”
- Il ne faut pas laisser passer cette occasion. (You mustn’t let this opportunity pass by.)
19. I had to study last night. / I was supposed to return home, but I stayed.
20. The boat must (= will have to) have available2 specially built docks.
21. One can (= One will be able to) immerse the cylinders in the sea.
22. He must summon the astrologer. / He can = He will be able to obtain a good price.
23. He knows the date. / He knows France = He is familiar with France. / He would like to (get to) know Germany.
24. He tried (and failed) to leave. / He wanted to take half the money.
25. He is holding two books in his hand. / He is intent upon = He insists on solving this problem = He is keen to solve this problem. / He obtained varied answers.
26. Do you take sugar? / He learned a foreign language. / Do you understand?
27. He will have this door opened. / They built a factory in England = They had a factory built in England.
28. He put his books on the desk. / He will transmit the information.
29. He found the solution by studying the data. / Knowing the facts, he was able to = he could explain them clearly.
30. Weak persons cannot be sincere.
31. Oxygen: most minerals contain some.
32. Two cards were taken = They (You, We) have taken two cards. There remain eleven.
33. The diameter around which the diurnal revolution takes place is called the axis.
34. Rousseau thinks that children do not understand what they learn. He concludes (from that) that they must learn nothing.
35. The sea has been divided into several sections, to which different names have been given.
36. One builds a farm in the expectation that one will be able to obtain a good price for it (“from it”).
37. Electricity is a discovery by which civilization was (= has been) transformed.
In real-time I never assigned either of the two readings in this chapter.
Thorium and Uranium 233 p113
 Discovered in 1829 by Berzelius, thorium is probably a very promising3 raw material for the nuclear industry, for it allows [us, one] to produce a fissionable isotope of uranium: uranium 233.
 Thorium exists in significant amounts in nature.  It is three times more abundant than uranium in the earth’s crust, and it presents the advantage over uranium of having been concentrated through natural erosion in beds (that are) easily exploitable and well distributed geographically.
 The principal ores of thorium are thorite (thorium and uranium silicate) and thorianite (thorium and uranium oxides), which one finds on the island of Sri Lanka, in Texas, Norway, and Madagascar.
 Extraction of the ore is accomplished by primitive methods, native labor loading it onto baskets and transporting it in this way to the processing plant; processing is done4 through magnetic separation, after sifting and enrichment.
 Monazites are the only sources of rare earths (that are) currently exploited.  Certain (of these rare earths) have industrial applications, such as cerium, lanthane, neodyme, and praseodyme. Others, such as samarium, europium, terbium, and erbium, serve only for laboratory research.  Rare earths (The rare earths?) are used in the production of carbon electrode cores5 for electric arcs.  Their oxides can serve in the polishing of optical lenses.  With lanthane, certain special lenses and filters for aerial photography are manufactured.
 Natural thorium is composed of 7 isotopes, of which thorium 232 is the most abundant.  This last, by absorbing a neutron, produces thorium 233, a radioactive substance that, through beta emission, with a period of 23 minutes, is transformed into protactinium 233.  A second beta emission, with a period of 27 days, produces the fissionable uranium isotope 233.  These operations can be carried out on an industrial scale in reactors with irradiation of the thorium, in the form of thorium carbonate or thorium tetrafluoride, by neutrons.
 Uranium 233 can be extracted by organic solvents, after a waiting period of 4 to 6 months, (this waiting period being) necessary for the near totality of the protactinium to have had the time to disintegrate (this delay is equivalent to five or six times the period of disintegration of protactinium); one is thus assured of the disappearance of the most trouble-causing products of fission, the period of which is short.
 Nevertheless, all the treatment processes must be conducted at a distance and with great precautions, the entirety of these products being highly radioactive.
The prose of the following reading is dreadful. I heartily recommend your not having anything to do with it.
 In the bygone [former, previous] conflict that, for so long, placed society and individual in conflict, no middle term seemed possible. On the one hand, social constraint, strict determinism: the individual was a social puppet; on the other, liberty of action, originality of invention, the contingency of laws: the individual was a social creator.  By introducing the notion of attitude into sociology, contemporary authors are trying (intend, mean, hope) to dissolve this so-called conflict, to find a compromise for the two extreme solutions. Unfortunately, for lack of a rigorous definition, the notion of attitude, despite all the hopes it quite rightly raises, in the end causes more problems than it solves.
 Attitude is defined, in brief, as a positive or negative disposition—to act or not to act—taken with regard to a stimulus. The nature of this stimulus is as little determined as the disposition or predisposition that it influences6: it can be organic, psychological, or cultural.  In such conditions the notion of attitude includes the entire domain of psychology and sociology, disciplines which could be defined,7 in the final analysis, as the scientific study of attitudes.  This intentional schematicization of the problem aims at bringing out the inadequacies of the proposed solution, or rather solutions. In reality very subtle distinctions are sometimes introduced. All the same it is true that too great a breadth is given to this notion for it to be useful.8
 faire ressortir – The author glosses this expression as “to reveal.” It is a causal-faire construction meaning: “to cause (a thing) to come out again of a place (where it has been hiding).” For it and similar expressions, see the topic Expressions Made With Causal Faire.
 Toujours est-il qu’… – On the phrase Toujours est-il que,” I have spoken before. Go to my commentary on Chapter 10 and do a search for toujours.
 In fact, from the sociological point of view, attitude defined as a disposition to action is far from giving all one has a right to expect from a key notion, for it is appropriate, it seems to us, to differentiate what is innate and individual (the domain of characterology) from what has a social origin.  And in the latter case9 one could distinguish, in order of decreasing generality and increasing importance, imposed attitudes (prejudices, cliches, all that comes from10 the collective consciousness), personal attitudes (behavior of the individual when he thinks through his action instead of reacting passively), and creative attitudes (initiatives undertaken by the reformer with a view to bringing to fruition the new ideal, still latent, but already vaguely conceived of by him).  Now, it is precisely through the consideration of the creative attitudes of the reformer that it becomes possible to explain what the synthesis elaborated (constructed, worked out) by him owes, on the one hand, to the social milieu that brought it forth, on the other, to his personal genius, which was able to envisage, before anyone else, the tendencies of the coming generation.
 tout ce qui relève de – This use of relever de, which the Author glosses as “to arise” (from) and I translate as “comes from [has to do with, originates with],” you are likely to come across elsewhere in formal prose. Literally relever means “to lift again, but relever de can mean: “be under the competence of” or “belong to the domain of.”
 quand il pense son action – “To think about something” is penser à quelque chose. Penser followed by a direct object (penser une chose) means “to seize something by thought, to construct the concept of a thing.” In this passage, penser son action seems to mean “to reflect on his action as he is performing it.”
 réaliser – In proper French réaliser means “to make real” (to carry out, to fulfill, accomplish), that is, to transfer what was merely conceptual into the real world. It does not mean “to become aware of” (for which proper French expressions are se rendre compte de, s’apercevoir de.
réaliser is what a film-maker (un réalisateur) does in making a film.
 la génération ascendente – That is, the generation “coming up.”
- True, there is what the French call le gérondif, in which you have the pronoun en preceding the -ant form of the verb. See the French Language File The -Ant Form of the Verb.
- disposer de = “dispose of, have at its disposition”
- Literally, “of great future”
- Literally, “…to the plant of processing, which (=processing) is done…” (à l’usine de traitment, qui opère).
- ?? The French: des noyaux d’électrodes en charbon
- Literally, “the which disciplines could be defined” (lesquelles disciplines pourraient être définies).
- More literally, “for one to be able to make use of it effectively”
- Literally, “this last case”
- = has to do with, originates with