Simply French for Beginners

Simply French for Beginners - telling the time


Quelle heure est-il ? =  what time is it ? (literally « which hour is it ?»)


Il est une heure  = it is one o’clock

Il est (plural numbers) heures = it is (plural numbers) o’clock

 e.g. il est huit heures = it is 8 o'clock


Il est une heure et quart = it is quarter past one

Il est une heure et demi = it is half past one


Il est deux heures moins le quart = it is quarter to two

(literally « it is two hours minus the quarter »)


For other times:

Use the hour and the number for X minutes past: (e.g. il est huit heures dix = 08:10)

Use the hour, “moins” and the number for minutes to: (e.g. il est huit heures moins dix = 07:50)


So as the minute hand works around the clock and we say quarter “past”, and half “past”, in French we say “and” (et) instead of “past”.

As the minute hands works around from 31 minutes past to 59 minutes past, we normally say “to” the hour, in French it is the hour “minus” (moins) the number of minutes or a quarter.


telling time


Simply French for Beginners - regular "er" verbs

Frequently used French verbs – regular

Conjugation of verbs (i.e. saying who is doing what).

There are three types of regular verbs in French: “er” verbs, “ir” verbs and “re” verbs

They are called this because they end in these letters (demander, acheter, partir, venir, savoir, vendre, prendre)

“er” verbs are the easiest and most regular. For “er” verbs, you remove the “er” from the word to get the “root” or “stem”. Then you replace it with the appropriate ending in its place:

“er” verb endings:

Je - ending = e (silent)

tu - ending = es (silent)

il / elle - ending = e (silent)

ils / elles - ending = ent (silent, emphasise previous consonant)

nous - ending = ons (pronounced “on”)

vous - ending = ez (pronounced "ay”)


so as an example - demander = to ask

Remove the “er” and the “root” is “demand”

Add the “er” verb endings

Je demande = I ask

tu demandes = You ask (singular, informal)

il demand / elle demand = He asks / she asks / it asks

ils demandent / elles demandent = They ask (masc. / fem.)

nous demandons = We ask

vous demandez = You ask (plural, formal)

Simply French for Beginners - times of the day

Times of the day.

Today = aujourd’hui

Tomorrow = demain

Yesterday = hier

Morning = le matin

Noon = le midi

Afternoon = l’après-midi

Evening = le soir

Night = la nuit

Midnight = le minuit (masculine)

BTW in French, “night” is basically very late, when most people are sleeping. They use “evening” for most things – so where in English we might say “tonight” to arrange a meeting or dinner or a party, they would use “ce soir” rather than “cette nuit”. It might help to remember that we have stolen the French word for an evening event, “soirée”.

(Also BTW - Just for fun - one of my favourite French words is twilight = la crépuscule – pronounced cray-puss-cool)

This = ce or cet or cette


This evening = ce soir

This afternoon = cet après-midi

This nuit = cette nuit (never heard “cette nuit” said or seen it written)

Tonight = ce soir

Tomorrow night = demain nuit or demain soir

Yesterday evening = hier soir

Last night = hier soir (if you are talking about some activity or basically any time before midnight. “hier nuit” sounds ugly and I have never seen it written or heard it said)

Tomorrow morning = demain matin

Yesterday morning = hier matin, etc. etc.



Simply French for Beginners - Listening exercise, directions and “there is”

Listening exercise 2, directions and “there is”:

Lenoir: Ah monsieur, excusez-moi. Est-ce que vous pouvez m’aider ? Je suis ici pour les vacances, et je suis un peu perdu. Pour aller à la plage s’il vous plaît ?

Chaudron : La plage ? C’est simple monsieur, prenez cette rue à gauche, et après prenez le troisième à droit.

Lenoir: Bon, la rue à gauche, le troisième à droit. Merci monsieur.

Chaudron : Ah, je n’ai pas finit.

Lenoir: Non ?

Chaudron : Non. Après le troisième à droit vous devez traversez la Place Romains, et au coin il y a un petit bistro qui s’appelle « Bistro Roger ». Entre le bistro et la banque, il y a un petit chemin. Prenez ce chemin et enfin vous arriverez à la plage.

Lenoir: Bon, merci Monsieur. C’est loin ?

Chaudron : Non, peut-être dix minutes à pied.

Lenoir: C’est très occupé, la plage ?

Chaudron : Comme d’habitude non, mais quelquefois, oui. Aujourd’hui c’est le weekend. Tout le monde est là !


Listening exercise 2 Vocabulary:

vous pouvez = you can (from pouvoir = to be able)

m’aider = help me (from aider = to help / me = me)

perdu = lost (from perdre = to lose)

vous devez = you have to / you must (from devoir = to have to)

un chemin = a path

enfin = finally (literally, “in the end”, “en” + “fin”)

vous arriverez = you will arrive (future tense for “arriver” = to arrive)

mais = but

aujourd’hui = today.

Tout le monde = everyone (literally, all the world)



Why is the man here?

What is he looking for?

What are the directions he receives?

How long will it take him to get there?

What else does he ask and what is the reply?



Simply French for Beginners - listening exercise introductions and family

Listening exercise 1, introductions and family:

A : Bon soir monsieur, je m’appelle Jean.  Comment vous appelez-vous ?

B : Je m’appelle Pierre.

A : Enchanté Pierre. Je voudrais présenter ma femme, Madeleine.

B : Bon soir Madeleine, enchanté.

A : Où habitez-vous, Pierre ?

B : Moi, j’habite ici, à Paris. Et vous, Jean ?

A : Nous habitons à Orléans. Habitez-vous ici de longtemps, Pierre ?

B : Oui, je ne suis pas né ici, mais j’habite ici depuis plus de vingt-cinq ans.

A : D’où venez-vous Pierre ?

B : Je viens de Rouen.

A : Ah, une jolie ville, bien sûr. Êtes-vous marié, Pierre?

B : Oui, j’ai une femme, qui s’appelle Valérie. Malheureusement elle travaille ce soir.

A : Avez-vous des enfants, Pierre ?

B : Oui, nous avons deux enfants, un fils et une fille.

A : Quel âge a votre fils ?

B : Il s’appelle Mathieu et il a douze ans.

A : Et quel âge a votre fille ?

B : Elle s’appelle Dominique et elle a huit ans.

A : Avez-vous des sœurs ou des frères, Pierre ?

B : Non, je suis un enfant unique.

A : Merci, Pierre. Au revoir.


Listening exercise 1 Vocabulary:

Je viens de = I come from / Nous venons de = we come from / Vous venez de = you come from

J’habite à = I live at/in  /  Nous habitons à = we live at/in  /  Vous habitez = you live at/in

de longtemps = a long time (literally “of long times”)

je suis né(e) = I was born (literally I have been born)

moins de = less than    /    plus de = more than

depuis = since (see below comment)

(Alert! Special French syntax – “je suis ici depuis moins de dix minutes” in English is “I have been here for less than ten minutes”, but literally says “I am here since less than ten minutes”. And good news! Depuis always takes the present tense not the past tenses)

Être marié(e) = to be married


Questions :

What are the names of the people meeting?

Where do they live?

Are they from there originally?

Who is married to whom?

What is B’s wife doing this evening?

Has B any family? If so, what are their names and how old are they?

When B is asked if he has any brothers or sisters, what does he reply?


Venir  = to come

Je viens = I come    /    Tu viens = you come (singular, informal)

Il / elle vient = he/she/it comes

Nous venons = we come    /    Vous venez = you come (plural, formal)


Ils / elles viennent = they come

Simply French for Beginners - sentence practice, our hometown

I like Whitley Bay because it is a pretty town

J’aime Whitley Bay parce que c’est une jolie ville


In Whitley Bay there are many bars and restaurants

À Whitley Bay il y a beaucoup de bars et restaurants


Tynemouth is situated beside the sea

Tynemouth est situéau bord de la mer


Cullercoats is a small town in the north east of England

Cullercoats est une petite ville du nord est d’Angleterre


I don’t like Newcastle, it is too big and too busy

Je n’aime pas Newcastle, c’est trop grand et trop occupé


On Thursdays there isn’t a lot of traffic in Whitley Bay

Les jeudis il n’y a pas beaucoup de circulation à Whitley Bay


Between Tynemouth and Whitley bay there are many beautiful beaches

Entre Tynemouth et Whitley Bay il y a beaucoup de belles plages


I like to eat fish and chips at the beach

J’aime à manger le poisson et pommes frites à la plage


There are two lighthouses at Tynemouth

Il y a deux phares à Tynemouth


In Cullercoats sometimes you can see Souter lighthouse

À Cullercoats quelquefois vous pouvez voir le Phare de Souter


We have several pretty parks in Tynemouth

Nous avons plusieurs de jolis parcs à Tynemouth


In Cullercoats we have a small library, opposite some shops

À Cullercoats nous avons une petite bibliothèque, en face de quelques magasins


The sea is very cold here, but the children like to swim sometimes

La mer est très froide ici, mais les enfants aiment à nager quelquefois


Often we buy ice cream at the beach, of course!

Souvent nous achetons une glace à la plage, bien sûr !


Normally I take the metro from Cullercoats to Tynemouth, it’s easy!

Comme d’habitude je prends le Metro de Cullercoats à Tynemouth, c’est façile !


Where is Whitley Bay? It’s simple, take this road next to the beach and continue straight ahead.

Oú est Whitley Bay? C’est simple, prenez cette rue à côté de la plage et allez tout droit


There is a little restaurant on the beach at Tynemouth. The fish is magnificent!

Il y a un petit restau à la plage à Tynemouth. Le poisson est magnifique !


I would like to take a taxi to Newcastle. Is it far from here?

Je voudrais prendre un taxi à Newcastle. Est-ce que c’est loin d’ici ?


I would like to play football, but we don’t have a ball. Where can I buy a ball?

Je voudrais de jouer au football, mais nous n’avons pas un ballon. Oú peut-je acheter un ballon ?


Vocabulary :

Things to do with location:

·         There is/there are = il y a

·         Opposite = en fâce de

·         Beside = au bord de

·         Next to = à côté de

·         Between (somewhere) and (somwhere else) = entre (somewhere) et (somewhere else)

·         Is situated  = est situé

·         North east = le nord est


Things to do with quantity or time :

·         Many of / a lot of = beaucoup de

·         Too (much) = trop

·         Several = plusieurs

·         Sometimes = quelquefois


Other words:

·         The traffic = la circulation

·         The lighthouse = le phare

·         The ball = le ballon

·         Busy = occupé

·         Easy = facile

·         Of course = bien sûr

 To swim = nager

Simply French for Beginners - our hometown

Our hometown, talking about where we live.

For this exercise we use “there is”. We will also use the exercise to remember some of the places and buildings we learned about in our session on taking and giving directions.

Il y a = there is or there are ….

Il n’y a pas = there is not or there are not ….

(Note you may see “il y en a deux, trios, etc.” = there are two of them, three of them, etc but this is not often used in conversation)

We also will give our opinion of where we live

J’aime Whitley bay = I like/love Whitley bay

Je trouve Whitley bay chouette = I find Whitley bay great

J’aime Whitley bay bien = I like Whitley bay a lot

Je n’aime pas Whitley bay = I don't like Whitley bay

Je déteste Whitley bay = I detest Whitley bay

J’aime la plage bien = I like the beach a lot

So the exercise:

Où habitez-vous? = where do you live?

J’habite à Whitley Bay = I live in Whitley bay (literally I live “at” Whitley bay)

Où est Whitley bay? = where is Whitley bay?

C’est situé du nord est d’Angleterre = it is in north east England (literally “it is situated at…”)

Est-ce que vous aimez Whitley bay? = do you like Whitley bay?

Oui, j’aime Whitley bay bien.

Pourquoi? = why?

Parce que Whitley bay est une jolie ville = because Whitley bay is a pretty town

Parce que c’est au bord de la mer = because it is beside the sea

Est-ce que Whitley bay est une grande ville? = Is Whitley bay a large town?

Non, pas particulièrement = no, not particularly

Qu’est qu’il y a à Whitley bay? = what is there at Whitley bay, what does Whitley bay have?

À Whitley bay Il y a ….. = in Whitley bay there is …… ( a beach, many bars and restaurants, etc. This is where your vocabulary from the directions will help you!)

Other helpful vocabulary:

Joli(e) = pretty

Bel(le) = beautiful

Le bel bateau = the beautiful boat / La belle mer = the beautiful sea

C’est très occupeé = it is very busy

Le weekend, c’est plein = on the weekend it is extremely busy, literally “full”

Beaucoup de = a lot (of), many (of)

Peu de = few (of), not many (of)

Le weekend, il y a beaucoup de voitures = at the weekend there are many cars

Pendant le soir, il y a peu de voitures = during the evening, there are few cars

La circulation = the traffic

La voiture = the car

La camion = the lorry

La camionette = the van

Assez = quite

Whitley bay est assez grand = Whitley bay is quite big

La plage est assez jolie = the beach is quite pretty

Aussi = also

La plage est assez longue, aussi c’est assez jolie = the beach is quite long, also it is quite pretty

Je ne sais pas = I don't know (if you don't know something, a fact, or information)


Quelle est votre restaurant favorit? = which is your favourite restaurant?

Simply French for Beginners - role play camping

Arriving at a camp site.

Camper: Ask if they have a space free for one week.

Site owner: Ask if they want a space for a tent or a caravan? Do they want to stay starting tonight?

C: Answer you have a large tent and a car. You want to stay tonight for one week.

SO: Ask how many people will stay.

C: Say three people, oh and are you allowed to have a dog on site?

SO: Say yes, you have a site next to the toilets and one next to the park.

C: Say you would like the one next to the toilets please. Ask how much it costs per night?

SO: Say it costs €25 per night, and €5 more for electricity.

C: Say that’s fine, and yes you would like electricity please. Ask if the water on site is drinkable.

SO: say no the water is not drinking water. Bottles of drinking water can be bought from the shop.

C: Ask where is the shop?

SO: Say the shop is behind the toilets.

C: Ask what time does the shop open and does it sell bread in the mornings.

SO: say the shop opens from 7:00am until 9:00pm and yes, it sells bread in the mornings.

C: Say thanks, do I need to pay my bill now or when I leave?

SO: Say you can pay when you leave. You have to leave site by 11:00am on your day of departure. Tell the guest the camping slot is straight ahead, take the first left and drive 250 metres. At the small roundabout turn right towards the toilets. The space is there. Say, enjoy your stay.


C: Say thank you and goodbye.



Caravan = une caravane/roulotte

Camping space = un emplacement

To stay = rester

To start = commencer

Tent = une tente

Per night = par nuit

To be allowed = Etre permis

Drinking water = l’eau potable

Shop = le magasin

To sell = vendre

Open / Closed = overt / fermé

To have to = devoir


Towards = vers

Simply French for Beginners - important verbs

Verbs practise:

I am =  Je suis

It is = Il est

We are = Nous sommes

You are = Vous êtes


I have = J’ai

It has = Il a

We have = Nous avons

You have = Vous avez


I make = Je fais

It makes = Il fait

We make = Nous faisons

You make = Vous fâites


I do = Je fais

We do = Nous faisons

It does = Il fait

You do = Vous fâites


I go = Je vais

It goes = Il va

We go = Nous allons

You go = Vous allez


I take = Je prends

It takes = Il prend

We take = Nous prenons

You take = Vous prenez


I must = Je dois

It must = Il doit

We must = Nous devons

You must = Vous devez


I see = Je vois

We see = Nous voyons

It sees = Il voit

You see = Vous voyez


I buy = J’achète

It buys = Il achète

We buy = Nous achetons

You buy = Vous achetez



Simply French for Beginners - recap lesson 11

Simply French recap session – warm up exercise:

My name is ….. = je m’appele

I live in Whitley Bay = j’habite à Whitley Bay

I would like …. = je voudrais

I would like to introduce Mr(s)….. = je voudrais presenter ….

Have you any butter please? = avez-vous du beurre, s’il vous plait?

Excuse me, where is the bank? = excusez-moi, oú est la banque?

Is it far from here? = c’est loin d’ici?

Where is the nearest restaurant? = oú est le restaurant plus proche?

How much is that? = c’est combine?

The hospital is behind the cathedral = l’hôpital est à derrière la cathedrale

I live next to the swimming pool = j’habite à côte de la Piscine

When is breakfast served? = à quelle heure servez-vous le petit-déjeuner ?

Can I have the bill please? = l’addition s’il vous plait?

Can I see the menu please? = est-ce que je peux voir la carte s’il vous plait?

Do you have any vegetarian meals? = est-ce que vous avez des repas végétariens ?

Please take a seat, madam = installez-vous, madame, s’il vous plait

Is the flight delayed? No, it is on time. = est-ce que le vol est en retard? Non, c’est à l’heure

The toilets are at the back, next to the kitchen = Les toilettes sone la bas, presque la cuisine

From which platform does the train to Lyon leave? = de quell quai part le train pour Lyon?

Can I have a second class return ticket to Marseille please? = Je voudrai un aller retour deuxième classe pour Marseille, s’il vous plait.

I have a problem in my bedroom, the electricity is not working = j’ai un problème dans ma chamber, l’électricité ne marche pas


The bus station is quite far from here, perhaps 20 minutes’ walk? = le routier est assez loin d’ici, peut-être vingt minutes à pied

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