Table of Contents
If you are experienced in the learning of languages, particularly if you know Latin or another Romance language reasonably well, you may want to pop back to the verb paradigms in the back of the book (Regular Verbs pp187ff, Irregular Verbs pp190ff).
Online verb paradigms are available, such as that of WordReference. Links for three model regular verbs (parler, choisir, vendre) are in the upper left-hand corner.
Otherwise, you may prefer to limit yourself to the pitiful driblets the Author gives you here, namely: infinitives and present stems of the regular conjugations (§20) and past participles (§21).
Those with knowledge of Latin may be interested to know these derivations:
Infinitives, French and Latin
–er verbs. The French -er infinitive ending corresponds to Latin -āre (first conjugation). Some (but not so very many) -er verbs in French correspond to English verbs ending in -ate: accélérer, compliquer, désintégrer, éliminer, intégrer, isoler, pénétrer.
–re verbs. The French -re ending corresponds to the Latin -ĕre (third conjugation).
-ir verbs. The French -ir ending corresponds to an -īre ending, though the present endings show the effect of an an -isc- or -esc- infix. Some French -ir verbs correspond to English verbs ending in -ish: bannir, finir, polir.
Past Participles, French and Latin
Participles are verbal adjectives (“the spoken word”), though they sometimes form part of a principal or personal verb (“I have spoken”). In Latin, they had adjective endings, which meant 30 possible “different” endings (5 cases x 3 genders x 2 numbers). However, past participles always had the same base, which usually ended in a -t-. The full formula was: Base + “Thematic” (Connecting) Vowel + -t- + Ending.
In what would become French “regular” verbs, the ending of the past participle always disappears, and so does the final -t- of the base, leaving behind just the preceding “thematic” vowel. Thus:
First conjugation. Past Participle base for Latin portare = “to carry” is portát- (i.e., port- + -a- + -t-) The -t- disappears, you are left with the -a-, which in this position always becomes in French -é: porté
Second conjugation. We have to imagine an un-Classical Latin participial form like *finít-, which leads to: fini.
Third conjugation. We have to imagine an un-Classical Latin participial form *vendút-, which leads to: vendu.
Exercises Series A
1-15 arrived / happened, finished, sold, sold, examined, developed, built, returned, returned, perfected, accelerated, penetrated, accompanied, diminished, enriched
Hurrah! At last the Author gives you sentences to translate.
Preliminary Note: The Indefinite Demonstrative Pronoun
Not to be confused with the demonstrative adjective, the forms of which are ce(t), cette, ces, is the “indefinite demonstrative pronoun”: ce, which you will mostly encounter as the subject of the verb “to be,” être. It is a kind of neuter form, but it will be translated many different ways depending on the context (that is, on what is on the other side of the verb “to be”). When you’re talking about a general idea, with an adjective on the other side of the verb, it / this / that will do as a translation:
- C’est vrai (affreux, attendrissant, drôle,…) = It’s true (frightful, touching, funny), or possibly: That’s true, This is true.
But when you have a noun referring to a person on the other side of the verb, often you will do better to translate it as a personal pronoun (he / she / they):
- C’est mon médecin. (He’s my doctor.)
- C’est le maire de notre ville. (He’s the mayor of our city.)
- C’est une femme très compétente. (She’s a very competent woman.)
- Ce sont des amis. (They are friends.)
- C’est un coiffeur. (He’s a hair-dresser.)
- C’est une coiffeuse. (She’s a hair-dresser.)
- Ce sont des coiffeurs. (They are hair-dressers.)
16. The director is busy.
17. The accident is observed.
18. The construction is finished.
19. This house is sold.
20. These cars are sold.
21. The results are examined.
22. Circuits are developed.1
23. complicated circuit1
24. an accelerated disintegration
25. an enriched mixture
26. a compound (= composite; not simple) sample
27. isolated phenomena1
28. a complicated program
29. reinforced concrete2
30. a concentrated effort
31. a disintegrated particle
32. This resistance is eliminated.
33. this complicated hypothesis
34. The disintegration of the atoms is very accelerated.
35. This compiler (? compiling program?) is perfected.
36. This man has many complicated hypotheses.
37. Two sorts of program are used.
38. The computer has integrated circuits.
39. It / This / is a computer built in the US.
40. The doctor is busy.
41. It’s a mixture enriched with gas(es).3
42. He’s / That is / a distinguished architect.
43. Nuclear physics is of the greatest importance.
44. The earth has an inclined axis.
45. He / That / is a doctor admired by everybody.
46. That’s / It’s / a currently eliminated hypothesis.
47. Cleopatra’s nose has an historical interest.
48. Comets have elongated orbits.4
49. French literature is very varied.
50. The linear accelerator is completed.
51. The acceleration of the (?) particles is observed.
52. The particle has a movement (that is) accelerated in the synchrotron.
53. An isosceles triangle has two equal sides.
54. Beethoven’s symphonies are often performed in Paris.
55. The great Sphinx of Giza is enigmatic.
Do as the Author directs you (when he tells you to divide each sentence up into its various phrases) only it you find it useful.
57. The aim of these experiments is the solution of several complicated problems.
58. The reading of (the) technical documents is an indispensable study for engineers.
59. This modern building in the center of the city is built of (?) reinforced concrete.
60. The site chosen for the new apartment building is extremely unsuitable for the desired construction.
61. In symphonies,5 (the) slow movements are spoiled in too large a concert hall (in a concert hall that is too large).
62. Cybernetics is a new science that deals with automatic machines.
63. Sociology is the scientific study of social institutions and their evolution.
64. A (? One?) complicated domain of physical science is nuclear physics.
65. The first applications (uses) of nuclear reactors “concern” (=are of concern to; involve) the propulsion of submarines.
66. The operas of this German composer join (literally: “wed”) poetry and music.
67 The main characters of this historical novel have a dynamic character.
What the Author gives you in the list here is irregular adverbs only. They are however very important and must be learned.
Regular adverbs always, as he mentions in passing, have a -ment ending. They are formed this way:
Formation: Feminine form of the adjective + -ment
- E.g., heureux > fem. heureuse + –ment > heureusement (fortunately)
§22B. Comparison of adverbs
Of course, adverbs aren’t the only part of speech that can be compared; adjectives can, verbs can, nouns can, and even numbers can!
For a complete account, see Degrees of Comparison.
Adverb peu. Note what the Author says, and refer to what I said in Chapter 02 Commentary to §16. Expressions of Quantity about the difference between peu and un peu.
§23. Attributes: à and de phrases
Whereas, in English, we can stick one noun in front of another and thereby make it a kind of adjective, in French by and large nouns can be attached to other nouns only by a preposition, usually the preposition de:
- “a French professor” = un professeur de français
- “a dog-catcher” = un ramasseur d’animaux
- “word-processing” = le traitement de texte
- “a fortune-hunter” = un coureur de dot
- “the speed limit” = la limite de vitesse
- “the gear-shift” = le levier de vitesses
Note that de, when it is connecting two nouns, can indicate other relationships than are embraced by our “of”:
- la clef de l’enigme = “the key to the enigma”
- la raison de notre choix = “the reason for our choice”
- un roman de Balzac = “a novel by Balzac”
As for connecting two nouns with the preposition à, this construction is used especially for
- what a thing runs on: une lampe à huile, un bâteau à vapeur, des moteurs à pétrole (an oil lamp, a steamship, gas engines)
- a thing’s purpose (with an infinitive): une machine à laver, machine à écrire (a washing machine, a typewriter)
- a salient characteristic of a thing: un animal à quatre pattes, un fils à papa…de la barbe à papa… (a four-footed animal, a papa’s boy…cotton candy)
§24. Materials: en and de
What he says.
§25. Regular Verbs, Present (Third Person)
If you’re like me, you won’t be able to stand not knowing the 1st and 2nd- person verb forms; in which case, go to pp187ff, or check out on-line verb paradigms such as at WordReference (model of –er verbs is parler; that of -ir verbs is choisir; that of –re verbs is vendre).
Present Endings in French & Latin
It may be helpful for you to know that, in Latin, the third-person verb forms always ended thus (the V represents a vowel):
- singular: -Vt
- plural: -Vnt
So, 1st conjugation Latin verbs: –at, -ant, 2nd conjugation: –et, -ent, and so forth.
For the 3rd-person plural present of (almost) all French verbs, the ending is –ent.
As for the -t of the 3rd-person singular present,
- It has disappeared from the –er verbs (but was once there: the Old French (very Old French) 3rd-person singular of porter was portet, [= modern French (il) porte])
- In regular –ir verbs, it is still plainly present (although, admittedly, not pronounced): finir: finit.
- In regular –re verbs, the –t is there in a sense, but invisible; it has been absorbed into the –d– of the base: vendre: vendit > vend.
In many other tenses, you will see this same pattern for the 3rd person, –Vt, –Vnt.
Translation of the present tense
Exercises Series B
1. a rarified gas / a very rarified gas / several rarified gases
2. a fairly complicated program / more-complicated programs / several less complicated programs
3. in a different medium (milieu) / slightly different mediums / in the middle of Lake Superior
Possible Meanings of milieu
- “(chemical) medium, (biological) environment”
- “middle, center”
- “(social) background, (social) class”
- “milieu” (as in the title of Teilhard de Chardin’s work The Divine Milieu)
- “criminal underground, mafia”
4. for the essential part of the dissertation / without the most essential part / against the Socialist Party
5. by (means of) vibrations / by (means of) rapid vibrations / by (means of) extremely rapid vibrations
6. a chemical element / an element (that is) widespread in nature / elements (that are) more widely spread in nature
7. most minerals / many minerals / several minerals
8. an active part / a great (large) part of the elements / the majority of (the) acids
9. an irregular polygon / a plane figure / a fairly regular curve
10. this precise evaluation / these fairly precise evaluations / several imprecise (not very precise) evaluations
11. for possible arrangements / five equally possible arrangements / this impossible arrangement
12. a spherical globe / a more or less spherical globe / several spherical globes
13. Halley’s Comet / Halley’s famous comet / the famousest comet6
14. a significant variation / more-significant variations7 / a few unimportant variations
15. several different systems / several entirely different systems / a few slightly different systems
16. so many authors / several famous authors / a few authors of scientific articles
17. a narrow section / several narrow sections / many fairly narrow sections
18. an industrial country / agricultural countries / several small underdeveloped countries
19. a complex decision / less complex decisions / too many unimportant decisions
20. the deep water / less deep (= shallower) water / shallow water
21. two steam boats
22. three typewriters
23. an electric typewriter
24. the first transistor-powered computers
25. an intermediate-neutron reactor
26. a cement floor
27. a large dining room
28. the meeting room / hall
29. the red-trouser uniform8
30. a gold tooth
31. a porcelain vase
32. a calculator, a calculating machine
33. a pendulum clock
34. the very large memory of a computer
35. the golden-domed town
36. elegant brick and marble villas
The d’=de of d’élégantes villas in number 36 is the form of the plural partitive article (des) used when an adjective precedes the noun. The adjective in this case, élégants, normally would follow the noun, but it has been put in front for stylistic emphasis. Other than stylistically, d’élégants villas = des villas élégants. (Why this strange transformation, des > d’ when an adjective precedes a plural noun? Unknown… But you can find it clearly formulated here.)
37. a silver basin
38. a three-stage rocket
39. torrents of molten metal
40. extremely sensitive relays
41. a huge star (a star of colossal proportions)
42. the same answer as for 25, I should think: an intermediate-neutron reactor
43. a classical-style symphony has 4 movements
44. a three-movement symphony
45. that black-haired man9
46. that man has black hair.
48. a computer for commercial & scientific use
49. Astronomers observe the stars by means of telescopes.
50. This astronomer is observing (observes) the stars by means of a radio-telescope.
51. (The) Physicists find this case very complicated.
52. The construction of musical instruments is based on the vibratory properties of the air.
53. The farmer furnishes nitrogen to the soil in the form of manure.
54. Now this farmer is furnishing, etc.
55. Oxygen forms the active part of air.
56. An author writes books.
57. This author is writing a detective novel.
58. Mathematicians classify algebra as a variety of pure mathematics.
59. Geometry is a science that measures that measures the extent (extension) of space.
60. The geometer is a technician who studies the…
61. A musician composes music. This musician is composing music at this moment.
62. Psychologists study psychological facts.
63. Psychology is the study of psychological facts.
64. Engineers build buildings, bridges, and machines.
65. This engineer is building a modern radio-telescope.
66. Police officers protect the public.
67. Detectives seek dangerous or suspicious persons.10
68. This detective is searching for a suspicious person.
69. Chemists are scientists who practice chemistry.
70. Chemistry is an exact science that studies the nature of bodies.
- Don’t translate the plural partitive article.
- If you’re talking about r.c. in general, then don’t translate the definite article.
- OR: “It’s a gas-enriched mixture.”
- Neither the definite article Les nor the partitive article des should be translated.
- If symphonies as a whole are meant, then don’t translate the article
- That is, “the most famous comet.”
- That is, “variations that are more significant,” not “a greater number of significant variations.”
- “the red-trousered uniform”?
- the ordinary word for dark (hair) is brun.
- I take it this is a general statement about detectives. Otherwise, the translation might be: “The detectives are seeking…,” similarly to number 68.