Learn To Speak French: Chez Nous (Our Family)

Written byAmélie Pinon

French life centers around the family, work and school, in that order. Parents are very involved in their children's lives, and are still fairly strict. Children are expected to "Se comportez comme il faut" (behave as they should) or "soyez sage" (be good), and they work hard at school. Families take long three week or one month vacations in the summer, all together. Many families will have parents or grandparents in the country that they will visit on weekends. Children are expected to go on these visits with no protests. Many upper and middle class families may have a maid (la bonne), but children help with the housework, and the mother does the cooking, usually from scratch (maybe with a little help from one of the fine shops for fancy items like pate). Let's spend a day with a French family. Maman: Aujoud'hui il faut faire le menage et les courses pour la semaine prochaine. Mardi, c'est la rentree! Nous avons beaucoup choses a faire. Today, we have to do the housework and shop for next week. Monday is the start of school. We have a lot of things to do. Marie: Mais, maman, nous voulons aller au cinema! But mom, we want to go to the movies! Maman: Je comptois sur toi pour m'aider a faire le menage et les courses pour la semaine prochaine. I counted on you to help me do the housework and the shopping for next week. Marie: Je propose une solution: le matin je vais t'aider a faire le menage et les courses, et si nous finissons, nous allons au cinema. I propose a solution: in the morning, I'll help you with the housework and shopping, and if we finish, we'll go to the movies. La rentree is the start of school, and when everyone who goes away to the country or the shore for their summer vacations returns home to the cities. During the end of August, there are big traffic jams because of everyone coming home for la rentree. We use the infinitive in French the same as we do in English, but in English we say "to go", or "to help". In French, the infinitive stands by itself (Aller and Aider). Have a look at the infinitives that are used in this scene:








Au cinema

Aider a


Le menage




Te (but it is placed before aider and so becomes t'aider)

Try to use the same formula to make some sentences with infinitives: Some verbs to use: Try (Essayer), Be able to (Pouvoir), Should (Devoir) Some infinitives to use: To do (Faire), To help (Assister), Go (Aller)

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Learn To Speak French: Chez Nous (Our Family)
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Amélie Pinon
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