Learn French from scratch!
Leçon 14

Lesson 14



Cecile :

Salut, Martin !


Hi, Martin!

Martin :

Salut, Cecile.


Hi, Cecile!

Cecile :

Comment ça va ?


How are you?

Martin :

Ça va bien. Comment va Louis ?


Good (lit.: it’s going well). How is Louis?

Cecile :

Il va bien, merci.
Et comment va Françoise ?


He’s doing fine, thank you.
And how is Frances?

Martin :

Elle va très bien, merci.
Au revoir, Cecile. Et bonjour à Louis !


She’s very well, thank you.
Goodbye, Cecile. And hello to Louis!

Cecile :

A la prochaine, Martin !
Bonjour à Françoise !


See you soon, Martin!
Hello to Frances!


salut ! hi! hello!
Martin Martin (male name)
Cecile Cecile (female name)
comment how
comment ça va ? how are you? how is it going?
ça it; this, that
bien well; good, fine
Louis [lui] Louis (male name)
il m. he; it
merci thank you

et and
Françoise [frãswa:z] Frances (female name)
Comment va Françoise ? How is Frances? How is Frances doing?
elle f. she; it
très very
au revoir ! goodbye!
bonjour à to say hello to (somebody)
à la prochaine ! see you soon!

Note. As you already know, the silent letter s at the end of the word très becomes pronounceable before the words starting in a vowel or the silent h (see lesson 5). However, this does not apply to those words with the initial letter h that are marked in our self-study course with an asterisk (*), for example: très *haut [trɛo] — very high. Large French dictionaries use the same designation — *h. Just remember that you don’t need to write the asterisk.


French Word Order in Basic Narrative Sentences.

Pronouns il, elle

Read the following sentences paying attention to the word order of the French phrases:

Louis va bien. (Louis is doing well.)
Il va bien. (He’s doing well.)
Marie va bien. (Mary’s doing well.)
Elle va bien. (She’s doing well.)

As you can see, French simple narrative sentences have the same direct word order as in English:

subject + predicate + other members of the sentence

Noun-subjects may be replaced by the masculine pronoun il or the feminine pronoun elle. The French pronouns il and elle do not have their own stress and so they merge with the verb like syllables in a word.

Do not forget that French words have genders. You need to use il and elle where you would use “it” in English. Compare:

Répétez la leçon (f) ! Elle est très compliquée. — Repeat the lesson! It is very complicated.

Apportez le livre (m) ! Il est sur la table. — Bring the book! It is on the table.

Always memorize new words with their genders.

Pronoun ça

The pronoun ça (it; this, that) differs from the ce that you know. Ce is a demonstrative pronoun indicating the object you are talking about (e.g. this object). Ça is more of standalone this and that and often used in colloquial speech as a subject while being a part of fixed expressions where it loses its meaning. Compare:

Ça va bien. All is fine. } (lit.: It is going well.)
I am good.

Question expressed by intonation

Read aloud two English phrases:

All is good? — All is good.

You can easily notice that the question is pronounced with a strong rise in pitch on the last syllable, and the answer on the contrary, with a fall, which can be visualized in the following form:

  All is good? —  All is good.

The French translations of these phrases have exactly the same intonation:

  Ça va bien ? —  Ça va bien.

In this case the question does not contain special question words. However, if such words are present in the question phrase, the intonation of the question is very close to that of the narrative phrase: there is also a lowering of the tone on the last syllable, but not as strong as in the affirmation. Compare:

Comment  ça  va ? (How are you?) — Ça va bien. (I’m good.)

Preposition à

In French, like in English, relations between words are expressed through prepositions. Compare the French phrases with their translations:

Bonjour à Françoise. — Say hello to Frances.

Bonjour à Madame Dubois. — Say hello to Mrs. Dubois.

These examples show that the preposition à used in French the same way as the English preposition to, showing direction (but it has other meanings too).

Exercise 1. Translate into French:

1. How are you, Frances?

2. Thank you, I’m very well.

3. How is Jean Jeacques?

4. Thank you, he’s doing fine.

5. How is Mary?

6. Thank you, she’s doing fine.

7. Goodbye, see you soon.

8. Say hello to Cecile.


Exercise 2. Look at the pictures and answer Oui... (Yes...) or Non... (No...).

Example: La table est sale ? — Oui, elle est sale.

1. Martin est malade ?

2. Marie-Louise est triste ?

3. Robert pleure ?

4. Cecile est belle ?


Mastering the language subtleties

I. The expression à la prochaine ! — see you soon! is used only in colloquial speech. Prochain means “next”.

II. The question Comment ça va ? (How are you?) is usually answered that everything is fine (Ça va bien). As in English, when you say How are you? you will get I’m fine. It’s a greeting, and not an invitation to talk about your issues. :)
P.S. Comment ça va ? can be reduced to Ça va ?