Read an Excerpt
Greetings and Salutations
In This Chapter
- Hellos and good-byes
- The irregular verb �tre (to be)
- Jobs and professions
- When you need information
While you're sitting on the plane on your way to a glorious vacation in a French-speaking country, you might want to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. If that person speaks French, you're in luck. This is an excellent opportu-nity for you to introduce yourself and, perhaps, to get a few helpful hints and recom-mendations about places to visit, restaurants to go to, and things to do in the country you're visiting.
Becoming FriendsEven though you've read every travel book in your local bookstore, you may still be a little nervous about your trip. What you really need to do is speak to someone from the country�someone who lives there and can fill you in on everything you can do and see and everywhere to go. Where can you find this person? Probably sitting right next to you on the plane! There's plenty of time before you arrive at your destination, so why not strike up a conversation?...
Getting Information 1-2-3
You're ready to make your move. What's your opening line? Something corny like,
"Excuse me, where are you from?" Or, "Where are you going?" Or perhaps you have a
more interesting question to break the ice. No matter
how you choose to pursue your line of questioning,
you'll find that the easiest way to ask for information is
to put the question word immediately after the verbal
phrase or thought. Here are some questions you might
want to ask a traveling companion:
Vous voyagez (Tu voyages) avec qui?
Vous voyagez (Tu voyages) pourquoi?
Vous voyagez (Tu voyages) comment?
Vous parlez (Tu parles) de qui? de quoi?
Note that French does not have separate words for who (subject)and whom (object).The word qui serves as both.
Vous regardez (Tu regardes) quoi?
Vous �tes (Tu es) d'o�?
Vous habitez (Tu habites) o� en France?
Le vol (the flight) arrive quand? � quelle heure?
Un soda co�te combien?
Getting Information Using est-ce que
Information questions can also be asked by using est-ce que. This is done by putting the question word at the very beginning of the sentence and then adding est-ce que before the verbal phrase or thought:
Avec qui est-ce que vous voyagez (tu voyages)?
Pourquoi est-ce que vous voyagez (tu voyages)?
Comment est-ce que vous voyagez (tu voyages)?
De qui? De quoi est-ce que vous parlez (tu parles)?
Qu'est-ce que vous regardez (tu regardes)?
D'o� est-ce que vous �tes (tu es)?
O� est-ce que vous habitez (tu habites) en France?
Quand? � quelle heure est-ce que le vol (the flight) arrive?
Combien est-ce que un soda co�te?
Getting Information Using Inversion Finally, you can use inversion to ask information questions. Put the question word(s) (as listed in the previous table) before the inverted subject pronoun and conjugated verb form:
En 10 Minutes
You can get information by using question words at the end of a thought with intonation,before est-ce que,or before an inverted verb form.
Quoi becomes que (qu ')before est-ce que: Tu veux faire quoi? Qu 'est-ce que tu veux faire?What do you want to do?
Avec qui voyagez-vous (voyages-tu)?
Pourquoi voyagez-vous (voyages-tu)?
Comment voyagez-vous (voyages-tu)?
De qui? De quoi parlez-vous (parles-tu)?
Que regardez-vous (regardes-tu)?
D'o� �tes-vous (es-tu)?
O� habitez-vous (habites-tu) en France?
Quand? � quelle heure le vol (the flight) arrive-t-il?
Combien co�te-t-il un soda?
You will probably ask for information in a variety of different ways. No doubt you'll choose the way that feels more comfortable and seems to flow. Most of the time, however, you will probably tack the question word or phrase onto the end of your statement (Vous �tes d'o�?). Why not? It's easy and it works. Using est-ce que may be your choice on occasion, especially if you have a noun subject (A quelle heure est-ce que l'avion arrive?). At other times, you might find it preferable to invert (Que cherches-tu?). Whichever way you choose, you will be perfectly understood and will get the informa-tion you need.
Quoi becomes que (qu ')when inversions is used:Tu veux faire quoi? Que veux-tu faire?
Getting the Scoop
Read each of the following paragraphs. Ask as many questions as you can, based on the information given to you in each selection. In paragraph A, you are asking about Robert. In paragraph B, you must ask Georgette questions about herself:
- >A. Robert est des �tats-Unis. Il voyage avec sa famille en France en voiture. Ils passent deux mois en France. Is d�sirent visiter tous les villages typiques. Ils retournent � Pittsburgh en septembre.
- >B. Je m'appelle Georgette. Je suis de Nice. Je cherche une correspondante am�ricaine parce que je d�sire pratiquer l'anglais. Je parle anglais seulement quand je suis en classe. J'adore aussi la musique. Je suis s�rieuse.
Be imaginative.Pretend that right now you are sitting next to an interesting person in an airplane bound for Martinique.Think of five questions you would ask that person to get to know him better.
The Least You Need to Know
- Choose your words carefully!The greeting words you use depend upon your familiarity with that person.
- The verb �tre is one of the most useful verbs in French.It is essential to memo- rize it because it is irregular.
- You can ask yes/no questions by using intonation,the tag n 'est-ce pas,est-ce que at the beginning of a sentence,and inversion.
- You can get information easily by learning a few key words and phrases,and by placing them at the end of the thought,before est-ce que at the beginning of the sentence,or before an inverted question form...