1. Grammar and Spelling
Section One - Grammar and Spelling
1. Gender: There are no cases in French and two genders - Masculine and Feminine.
Lots of words ending with “e” are feminine but there are a lot of
2. Articles: Definite articles are LE (masculine), LA (feminine), LES (plural). Indefinite articles are UN (masculine), UNE (feminine), DES (plural).
3. Spelling: There are a few letters that could be mistaken for errors such as: à, ç, œ, ê, î, ï. These letters are usually in a word. E.g.: façade, vœu, à (one word), ouïe, être.
It is a grammatical mistake not to use the accents on the upper case characters. Also, they make it easier to understand the text.
Plural forms end with an ‘s’ or an ‘x’ and are preceded by LES or DES (meaning SOME).
The rules are:
- Nouns ending with OU forms the plural with an S except: bijoux, cailloux, choux, genoux, hiboux, joujoux, poux
- Nouns ending with EU forms the plural with X except for bleus, pneus
- Nouns ending with -(E)AU forms the plural with X except for landaus and sarraus
- Nouns ending with -AL forms plural with S except for bail, corail, émail, ferrail, travail, vantail, vitrail, which change to AUX (travaux). Attention:
FINAL is not an exception and becomes FINAL(E)S when plural.
- Nouns ending with S, X and Z keep the same ending in the plural.
The following shows how plurals are formed for various compound nouns:
Noun + noun: Usually, both nouns take the plural ending: des oiseauxmouches, des locations-ventes. There are some exception but they can be quite logical: des timbres-poste (= des timbres pour la poste), des annéeslumière, des gardes-chasse (de la chasse)
Noun + preposition + noun: Only the first noun takes the plural ending: des arcs-en-ciel. Here again, there are some exceptions: des tête-à-tête, des pot-au-feu.
Adjective + noun: Both nouns take the plural ending: des basses-cours.
Exception: the adjective grand + feminine noun takes the plural but does not take the feminine ‘e’: des grands-mères.
Adjective demi + noun : doesn't change: des demi-journées. Also they are always separated by a hyphen.
Adjective + adjective: Both adjectives take the plural ending: des sourdsmuets.
Verb + noun: 1. Only the noun takes the plural ending: des tire-bouchons; des tourne-disques.
2. Neither the verb nor the noun take the plural ending: des abat-jour
Invariable word + noun: Only the noun takes the plural ending: des avantscènes; des non-lieux.
Verb + verb: No plural agreement: des laissez-passer.
Foreign words: The last noun takes the plural ending: Des snack-bars, des pull-overs, les week-ends
No plural agreement: des post-scriptum
The formal forms of address are not capitalised apart from Madame,
Monsieur, Messieurs, Mademoiselle. These are written in lower-case in the following circumstances:
- In a letter when you write about a person that is known to the addressee.
E.g.: J’ai eu l’occasion de rencontrer votre cousin, monsieur Durant.
- In a dialogue. E.g.: Voyez-vous, monsieur, je pense que… - Merci, madame.
- When an article, a possessive or a demonstrative is placed before Monsieur and others.
E.g.: J’en ai parlé à ce monsieur et il est d’accord.
Section Two - Punctuation
1. Full stops: Full stops are not used at the end of headings, titles, subtitles, addresses, dates, no. of pages. E.g.: Le 20 mars 1984 - Page 11.
Please note that etc is followed by one full stop and not … (etc.)
2. Speech marks: The French quotation marks must always be used: « and ». “ and ” are English and should not be used in French text. On the other hand, ‘ and ’ can be used when a quote or a speech is within another quote orspeech.
Unlike English, French does not always have to have closing and re-opening speech marks around a phrase, like 'he said' when it is embedded within dialogue.
« Je veux plus de travail ! », cria Chloé. (“Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe.)
« Et il s’est exclamé ‘Quelqu’un veut du thé ?’ comme il aime à le faire. ». (“Would anyone like some tea?” asked George.)
« Je m’ennuie. » dit Michelle, « Puis-je rentrer chez moi ? » (“I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said.)
3. The apostrophe: The apostrophe is used for elision purposes, especially with an article followed by a vowel. E.g.: L’anglais, l’imprimante.
4. Colons and semi-colons: Colons and semi-colons are preceded by a space (preferably non breakable) and the word following them is not capitalised. The word following ellipsis is usually capitalised.
5. Brackets: The brackets are as follows: ( and ). The following rules apply:
- If the text in brackets is a complete sentence (subject + verb at least), there is a full stop BEFORE the closing bracket. E.g.: Nettoyez l’imprimante. (Utilisez de préférence un chiffon doux.)
- If the text in brackets is a part of another main sentence, there is not full stop before the closing bracket. E.g.: Utilisez un chiffon (doux et non pelucheux) pour nettoyez l’imprimante.
The square brackets are used when there are already brackets.
6. Capitalisation: The capitalisation rules are similar to English in the use of capitals
at the beginning of sentences and for proper names,
but French doesn't use capitals as often as English.
Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations
1. Measurement: Metric system is used except for computer monitors (inches), inner diameter of pipes/tubes, nautical miles and size of computer disks.
Numbers use a comma to denote decimals and a non-breakable space as the thousands separator (not a dot!). E.g.: 4,5 cm - 4 500 - 50 000.
10h30 / midi / 16h30 / minuit (always use the 24-hour clock)
There should always be a space before a % symbol
There should be a space before °C (preferably a non-breakable space). E.g.: 30°C.
2. Currency: 230 £ / 230 livres sterling / 45 € / 45 euros / 98 milliards de dollars / 98 $ / 5 EUR / 5 USD.
The international 3-letter code e.g. GBP for £, should appear in place of the symbol – they should not be used at the same time.
Days of the week (Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun): lund, mar, mer, jeu, vend, sam, dim
Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec: Janv, Fév, Mars, Avril, Mai, Juin, Juil, Août, Sept, Oct, Nov, Déc
Seasons are not normally abbreviated in French.
UE = EU - CEE (Communauté Economique Européenne) = EEC - c.a./c.c. (courant alternatif/courant continu) = AC/DC - PAO (Publication assistée par ordinateur) = DTP - Heure T.U.: UT - réf.: = reference - TVA = VAT - Mo =MB and Go = GB - P-S = post-scriptum - SVP = please - PDG = CEO - p. = pg. (p. 127 et 128) - MHz = megahertz - ppm = page/minute - bps = bit(s)/second - fig. = figure (illustration) - Tél. or Tél. = telephone - TTC = all tax included
Section Four – Hyphenation
Hyphens are used in:
1. Forbidden hyphenations:
- Never split a number.
2. Other Divisions
Words joined together using hyphens are quite commons especially with compound nouns and verb pronouns.
The prefixes extra, super, multi, semi, ultra are used to form compound nouns.
E.g.: Printer - Driver installation and configuration
Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities
Usually, the ending “burg” is “bourg” in French.
Usually surnames are given before the first name (and lists of names
are classified according to surnames)
French uses italics as a stylistic form but not the same way as English does.
Section Six – Geographic Distribution
The official language of France is … French! but there are also regional languages such as Breton (in Brittany), Basque (in the Basque area), Corsican in Corsica and dialects such as Flemish, French Alsatian, Occitan, Picard, etc. Different Creole languages are also spoken in French Guyana, French West Indies, and Reunion. There are also different languages and dialects in New Caledonia.
French is one of the world's great languages, rivalled only by English as the language of international society and diplomacy. Besides being spoken in France, it is one of the official languages of Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada; it is the official language of Luxembourg, Haiti, more than fifteen African countries, and various French dependencies such as St. Pierre and Miquelon (off the coast of New-Foundland), Guadeloupe and Martinique (in the Caribbean), French Guyana (in South America), Reunion (in the Indian Ocean), and New Caledonia and Tahiti (in the South Pacific). In addition, French is the unofficial second language of a number of countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. All told, it is the mother tongue of about 75 million people, with millions more familiar with it, in some degree, as a second language. French is one of the Romance languages, descended from Latin.
French is spoken/used in the following countries:
Algeria, Belgium, Benin, Bora Bora, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros (Federal Islamic Republic), Congo (Zaire), Congo Republic, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast),Djibouti, Europa Island, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, French Southern & Antarctic Lands, Gabon, Glorioso Islands, Guadeloupe (French), Guernsey, Guinea, Haiti, Italy, Jersey, Juan de Nova Island, Laos, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Martinique (French), Mauritius, Mayotte (French), Monaco (Principality of), Morocco, New Caledonia, Niger, Reunion Island (France), Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles Islands, St. Pierre & Miquelon (French), Switzerland, Syria, Tahiti (French), Togo, Tunisia, United States of America, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Virgin Islands (U.S.), Zaire.
Source: http://www.worldlanguage.com/Languages/French - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.
Here are other useful links for reference:
Section Seven – Character Set
[ ] = Alt key codes
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