Ask Alexa: May FAQ

Posted by Nancy on 28th May 2020 in the blog in the learning french category

In English

Last month, we received many French questions for Alexa via social media. Our community members on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube were very curious. We did our best to answer as many questions as possible during the month. Below you will find the most popular questions we received in May. We hope to share our top questions every month in order to help as many French learners as possible.


En français

Le mois dernier, nous avons reçu de nombreuses questions en français pour Alexa via les réseaux sociaux. Les membres de notre communauté sur Facebook, Instagram et YouTube étaient très curieux. Nous avons fait de notre mieux pour répondre à autant de questions que possible au cours du mois. Vous trouverez ci-dessous les questions les plus populaires que nous avons reçues en mai. Nous espérons partager nos principales questions chaque mois.

***Kindly note that the questions are copied as received on social media.

Ask Alexa (French Questions)

What is the difference between Marche and Promenade ?

The word ‘promenade’ means ‘a stroll’, we use it with the verb ‘faire’ to make it a verb ‘faire une promenade’ : to have a stroll, to go for a walk

Can you please tell me the difference between J’ai été and J’étais?

‘j’ai été’ and ‘jétais’ can both be translated as ‘I was’. As it is an auxiliary verb it is very versatile, the same applies for ‘j’avais’ ‘j’avais eu’. The imperfect tense can be used to describe memories and feelings such as ‘quand j’étais jeune’ when I was young.

I have been enjoying Alexa's videos, but I feel compelled to point out that some of the "irregular" verbs Alexa has in her video on irregular verbs in passé composé are not irregular, in fact. "Répondre," "vendre" and "entendre" follow the normal pattern for "re" verbs.

Re verbs are considered irregular though some re verbs are conjugated following the same pattern. There are 3 group verbs and RE verbs belong to the third group. The French Besherelle also splits the verbs into 3 categories and puts verbs such as ‘entendre’, ‘vendre’ etc in the third group. Other verbs in RE are ‘mettre’ ‘joindre’ ‘battre’: these verbs are highly irrgular and are considered 3rd group.

does feminime animals stay feminime even if its a male?

No a lot of animals will have a different spelling if they are femal animals: eg: le lion/la lionne, le chat/la chatte, le chien/la chienne, un coq/une poule, un canard/une cane, un cochon/une truie, un mouton/une brebis, un taureau/une vache etc…

What is the difference between Qu'est-ce que tu y penses? and Qu'est-ce que tu en pense ?

We do not say ‘Qu’est-ce que tu y penses?’ but ‘Qu’est-ce que tu en penses’ ? The ‘en’ refers to a point mentioned previously: ex: Et si on allait au restaurant ce soir, qu’est-ce que tu en penses ? The ‘en’ replaces the idea of going to the restaurant tonight.

Cet ado est bien dans sa peau - this teenager is comfortable with himself. Is the expression être sa peau?

Cet ado est bien dans sa peau - this teenager is comfortable with himself. Is the expression être sa peau ? ‘être bien dans sa peau’ is an idiom which literally means: to be good in his/her skin (to feel good in yourself)

Coucou Alexa, Je ne sais pas comment utiliser « au » Exemple: *Au cours de la dernière année *Les prix faibles provoquent un effet domino au sein de la communauté.

In this case ‘au’ is used with compound prepositional structure such as your examples and they must be learn by heart this way. ‘Au’ is also used as a simple preposition to replace ‘à le’.

Web subscriber question: Hi, Alexa, why do you have the past participle agree with number and gender sometimes but no all the time in the past tense. For example, Ils se sont pris en photo instead of Ils se sont prises en photo or Les enfants se sont brosse les dents instead of Les enfants se sont brosses les dents.

Bonjour Amy, there are 2 auxiliary verbs in French Etre and Avoir. Both are used to form the past tenses. One is use over the other depending which kind of verb is used : is the verb a reflexive verb? is the verb a movement verb? If this is the case then the auxiliary Etre should be used. Subsequently, any past participle used with Etre should agree in number and gender with the subject. In the example given :eIles se sont prises en photo’ ‘prises’ ends with an ‘es’ as ‘elles’ has been used with a reflexive ‘se prendre’ and therefore with être ‘sont’, so the ‘es’ reflects on the feminine plural of the subject.

As always, be sure to watch our YouTube videos to stay up to date with the latest lessons. We also mini-lessons daily on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Bonne chance et bisou bisou!

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