Pot pourri

In previous chapters we have seen how complicated verbs and their conjugations can be. Some verbs can be very capricious asthey change preposition and meaning. Here are a few more examples, just for the fun of it!

Verbs that use different prepositions

It is important to remember that the same verb can be used with no preposition, simply followed by a direct object noun, or followed by different prepositions. The meaning of the verb changes. Such verbs have to be memorized with their meanings.For example:


to finish, to end

As-tu fini ton café?

Have you finished your coffee?

Elle a fini le tournage du film.

She completed the shooting of the film.

Elle n’a pas fini d’écrire son article.

She hasn’t finished writing her article.

J’ai fini de manger.I am done eating.

Il a fini par lui dire la vérité.

He finally told her the truth.

Elle a fini par accepter.

She finally accepted.


to begin, to start

J’ai commencé un nouveau livre.

I started a new book.

Tu as bien commencé l’année?

Did you start the year on the right foot?

Il commence à pleuvoir.It’s starting to rain.

Tout à coup, il a commencé à pleurer.

Suddenly, he started crying.

Elle a commencé par se présenter.

She started by introducing herself.

On va commencer par des escargots.

We’ll start with snails.


to decide

C’est décidé.

It’s (has been) decided.

J’ai décidé d’aller au cinéma.

I decided to go to the movies.

Nous avons décidé d’aller au Japon.

We decided to go to Japan.

Ils se sont enfin décidés à se marier.

They finally decided to get (got around to getting) married.


Make up your mind!


to askIl lui


une explication.

He is asking her for an explanation.

Demande-moi tout ce que tu veux.

Ask me anything you want.

Elle nous a demandé de ne rien dire.

She asked us not to say anything.

Je vous demande d’attendre.

I am asking you to wait.

Je demande à voir les preuves.

I’m asking to see the evidence.

Le patient demande à quitter l’hôpital.

The patient is asking (permission) to leave the hospital.


to give
Je te le donnerai demain.

I’ll give it to you tomorrow.

Elle m’a donné sa réponse.

She gave me her answer.

L’hôtel donne sur la mer?

The hotel faces the sea?

Mon appartement donne sur la Place de la Bastille.

My apartment looks out onto Place de la Bastille.


to play
Il faut jouer le jeu.

You’ve got to play the game.

Marie et Émile jouent aux échecs.

Marie and Émile play chess.

Marc joue au poker tous les jeudis.

Marc plays poker every Thursday.

Ils jouent au chat et à la souris.

They are playing cat and mouse.

Thierry joue de la guitare.

Thierry plays the guitar.

Pierre joue de l’accordéon.

Pierre plays the accordion.

Valérie aime jouer des castagnettes.

Valérie likes to play castanets.


to speakLaisse-moi

parler à ta soeur.

Let me talk to your sister.Puis-je lui parler?

May I talk to her/him?

Il a parlé de toi à la radio.

He talked about you on the radio.

De quoi voulez-vous parler aujourd’hui?

What do you want to talk about today?

croireto believeLa police le croit.

The police believe him.

Je crois sa version de l’histoire.

I believe his version of the story.

Il ne croit pas à la magie.

He doesn’t believe in magic.

Je crois au progrès.I believe in progress.

Crois-tu en Dieu?Do you believe in God?

Je crois en toi, mon fils.

I have confidence in you, my son.

Je crois en l’humanité.

I have faith in mankind.

Je crois pouvoir vous dire ce qui s’est réellement passé.

I think I can tell you what really happened.

Il croit avoir garé sa voiture dans cette rue.
He thinks he parked his car in that street.


to holdJe

tiens à mes amis.

I am attached to my friends.

Je tiens à voir ce film.

I am eager to see that movie.

Tu tiens de ton père.

You look like your father.

Elle tient de sa mère.

She takes after her mother.


to dream

La nuit dernière, j’ai rêvé de lui.

Last night I dreamt about him.

Patrice rêve à une autre vie.

Patrice is dreaming of a different life.

Ils rêvent à un avenir meilleur.

They are hoping for better days (a better future).

The verb manquer

Note how the preposition (or lack of preposition) changes the meaning of the verb manquer (to miss) in these examples:

J’ai manqué le cours la semaine dernière.

I missed the class last week.

Elle a manqué le début de la pièce.

She missed the beginning of the play.

Cette pièce manque d’air.

This room lacks air.

Tu manques de générosité.

You lack generosity.Je ne manque de rien.

I lack nothing.Frédérique a manqué à sa promesse.

Frédérique failed to keep her word.

Laura a manqué à tous ses devoirs.

Laura neglected all of her duties.

Tu me manques.

I miss you (i.e., you are lacking to me)

Paris me manque.

I miss Paris.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever

The present subjunctive is used with the indefinite expressions that are the French equivalents of whatever, whenever, wherever, and whoever.

When the English whatever is followed by subject + verb, use the neuter quoi que + present subjunctive.

Quoi que tu fasses, je t’aimerai toujours.

Whatever you do, I will always love you.

Quoi qu’elle dise, je ne changerai pas d’avis.

Whatever she says, I will not change my mind.

When the English whatever is followed by a noun, use quel que (quelle que, quels que,quelles que) +the subjunctive of être +noun. Quel que agrees in gender and number with the noun that follows it.

Quel que soit votre conseil, je prendrai rendez-vous avec le patron.

Whatever your advice, I will make an appointment with the boss.

Quelle que soit leur décision, elle démissionnera.

Whatever their decision, she will resign.

Look at the following examples that express wherever (où que) in French:

Où que tu sois, appelle-moi.

Wherever you are, call me.

Où qu’elle aille, il ira aussi.

Wherever she goes, he will go, too.

The subjunctive is also used following the expression of whoever (qui que). For example:

Qui que tu sois, tu peux lui parler.

Whoever you are, you can talk to him.

Qui que vous soyez, ouvrez votre coeur.

Whoever you are, open up your heart.

Avoir beau and quitte à

The expression avoir beau + infinitive can usually be translated by although or however.Il a beau être aisé, il n’est pas heureux.Although he has a lot of money, he is not happy.

Il a beau dormir, il est toujours fatigué.

However much he sleeps, he is always tired.

Il avait beau habiter au bord de la mer, il n’a jamais appris à nager.

Although he lived by the sea, he never learned how to swim.

Elle aura beau essayer, ce sera inutile.

However much she tries, it will be useless.

The expression quitte à + infinitive can usually be translated by even if it means.

Je vais lui dire ce que je pense, quitte à me fâcher avec elle.

Even if it means arguing with her, I am going to tell her what I think.

Quitte à payer plus, je préfère voyager en première classe.

Even if it means paying more, I prefer traveling first class.

Je n’accepterai pas leur offre, quitte à être renvoyé.

I won’t accept their offer even if it means being fired.

Quitte à s’ennuyer, ils préfèrent rester chez eux.They prefer to stay home even if it means being bored.