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Let yourself slide on the present tense... with a smile!

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

You just started to learn French. Or maybe you first opened a French grammar book a few months ago, a few years ago. Maybe you decided to learn all by yourself through videos.

It's all good. Each one of us has his own method and the right amount of time to spend on learning.

In any case, you realized soon enough that there is a huge difference between what you say/pronounce/hear and what you read/write. I know, it's disturbing.

Well, I don't have the magic potion to help you through that. (If I had, I guess I would be billionaire ;-) But what I can do, is help you slide on the present tense, help you master the present tense in oral French so that:

You are able to make sentences very quickly - without trying to rememorate your conjugation tables.
You are able to read a sentence at the present tense without pronouncing again "Juliette et Fred mangENTE".

Here is my tip for all the verbs ending in -ER (first group, except ALLER). (I will give you the tip for the other verbs in another blog post).

Learn to pronounce the infinitive form. For example : PARLER. It's easy, just smile at the end of the word (without pronouncing the R of course).

Now, if you want to address a few people, or one specific person in a formal conversation, you will use VOUS and then pronounce the verb as in its infinitive form: VOUS PARLER - smile at the end.

For all the other subject pronouns (je, tu, il, elle, on (we in spoken French, or everyone), ils, elles): forget the smile at the end (or put your imaginary fingers on the ending letters ER) and pronounce everything before. For example: JE PARL. TU PARL. IL PARL. ELLE PARL. ON PARL. ILS PARL. ELLES PARL.

Important note: if the verb starts with an a, e, o, i, u or h, you will add the sound "Z" between "vous", "ils", "elles" and the verb. For example: VOUS ZHABITER, ILS ZECOUT, ELLES ZADOR.

So. The two sounds you actually need to remember are: the infinitive with the smile at the end, and the infinitive without the smile at the end.

Your turn - pronounce the subject and the conjugated verb and add an end to form a sentence ;-) (Write me your sentences in the comments and RECORD yourself with the little yellow record symbol!)

Je / manger

Tu / regarder

Il / écouter

Elle / étudier

On / chercher

Ils / passer

Elles / jouer

Vous / préférer

It's a tip. It's not a grammar rule. And it is DEFINITELY not the way you write the conjugated verbs. And, since it's French, you have plenty of exceptions (that's the fun of it!). So accept this tip as a way to help you practice and talk in French. And not as a 100% rule.

Good luck and start talking at the present tense!

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