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Lesson 6 - The Family

Some sound files of this lesson are not available yet but I thought that it was worth releasing this lesson because I know how eager to learn French you are. The missing sound files will be added very soon.

Lesson plan :





Following is a short text describing the Dupont family ... in French off course !

headphoneMonsieur et Madame Dupont ont deux enfants
Mr. and Mrs. Dupont have two children

headphoneIls ont un garçon et une fille
They have a boy and a girl

headphoneLe garçon s'appelle Pierre.
The boy is called Pierre

headphoneLa soeur de Pierre s'appelle Caroline
Pierre's sister is called Caroline


L'institutrice : headphoneComment t'appelles-tu ?
The teacher : What's your name (literally: How are you called ?)

Pierre : headphone
Pierre : My name is Pierre (literally: I am called Pierre)

L'institutrice : headphoneQuel âge as-tu ?
The teacher : How old are you ?

Pierre : headphoneJ'ai dix ans
Pierre : I am ten

L'institutrice : headphoneEst-ce que tu as des frères et soeurs ?
The teacher : Do you have any brother or sister ?

Pierre : headphoneOui. J'ai une soeur.
Pierre : Yes, I have one sister

L'institutrice : headphoneQuel âge a-t-elle ?
The teacher : How old is she ?

Pierre : headphoneElle a huit ans.
Piere : She is eight

L'institutrice : headphoneQuel est ton nom de famille ?
The teacher :What's your family name ?

Pierre :Dupont
Pierre : Dupont

L'institutrice : headphoneOù est-ce que tu habites ?
The teacher : Where do you live ?

Pierre : headphoneJ'habite à Toulouse
Pierre : I live in Toulouse

Notes on Pronunciation

  1. One of the major characteristics of French pronunciation is the usage of what we call in French liaisons. Liaisons are links between words. As mentioned in the first lesson ("Guidelines for French Pronunciation"), most of the time, the final character of a word is not pronounced. This rule is generally true but its scope is limited to separate words. When words are assembled in a sentence, this rule is no longer applicable. Consider two words, for instance trois (three) andenfant (child). Each separate word is pronounced like this : headphone trois, headphone enfant. When put side by side (trois enfants), both words are pronounced as if they were linked together in only one word like this headphone trois_enfants [troisenfan]. That's what we call a liaison. In the next lessons, liaisons will be indicated by an underscore "_", but keep in mind that the words linked by a liaison are two separate words.
    You cannot use liaison between all words. A liaison takes place only when the first word terminates with a consonant and when the second word begins with a vowel. For example there is no liaison between trois (three) and voiture (car). In addition, some consonants do not sound a normal way when pronounced in a liaison.
  2. x sounds as z e.g. headphonedeux_enfants [deuzenfan] (two children),

    Unfortunately, as any good rule, the liaison rules have lots of exceptions. In particular, some liaisons don't sound good or sound very weird to a French ear and must be avoided. No logic can help non French speaking people know whether a liaison must or must not be done. I suggest you to rely on the indications I am going to add in the further lessons, as mentioned above (underscore character). To get liaison instructions for the conversation above, click here.

    1. The consonant combination ll is very frequent in French. The way you heave to pronounce it depends on the character that precedes "ll" :
      • when preceded by a i , "ll" is pronounced the same way as in Spanish, i.e. like a "y".
      • when preceded by a e, "ll" is pronounced like a "l" but changes the sound of the "e" to "è".
      • when preceded by any other vowel (i.e. a, o, u), "ll" is pronounced like a single "l".
  3. Let's apply this rule to some words introduced in this lesson :

Notes on Vocabulary

  1. French people have a prénom and a nom . The prénom is the first name (USA) or given name (UK) while the nom is the last name (USA) or surname (UK). The Pierre's prénom is Pierre. His nom is Dupont. The last name (or surname) is also referred to as nom de famille (family name).
  2. To express the age of people, French people don't use the verb être (to be) as English people do but the verb avoir (to have) instead. Thus, we say :
  3. Note that in French, one asks the age of people using the following form : quel &acircge as-tu ? (literally : what age do you have ?).


The conversation above illustrates two grammatical points : the usage of the genitive and the possessive pronouns


What is genitive ? Genitive is the grammatical name of something very simple, in fact. Genitive denotes the ownership. In English the ownership is indicated by adding 's to the owner when it is a human being, or by using of when the owner is a thing. For example :

In English, 's and of are used to denote the genitive form. In French, the genitive form is indicated by de in the same way as the English of . For instance :

In French, de is used to express ownership for either persons and things (or animals).

Possessive Pronouns

In English possessive pronouns are : my, your, his/her/its, our, your, their. Their French counterpart are more complex because they depend on the gender and the number of the object owned by the owner. For example, when I talk about my bicycle (vélo in French) I say mon vélo because vélo is a masculine singular noun. When talking about my car (voiture in French) I say ma voiture because voiture is a feminine singular noun. When talking about my shoes (chaussures in French) I say mes chaussures because chaussures is a plural noun. The following table shows how the possessive pronouns vary according to the gender and the number. Note that when plural, the possessive pronoun is the same whatever the gender.

Possessive   masculine  feminine  plural
Pronoun      singular   singular  
my           mon        ma        mes
your         ton        ta        tes
his/her/its  son        sa        ses
our          notre      notre     nos
your         votre      votre     vos
their        leur       leur      leurs

Note that as opposed to English, the French possessive pronouns don't depend on the gender of the owner. Consider the Mr and Mrs Dupont's car. Both Mr and Mrs Dupont say, when talking about their car : ma voiture .

In addition, let's review the sentences structure. The above conversation contains two kinds of sentence structure : normal and interrogative.

Liaisons Guidelines

Monsieur et Madame Dupont ont deux_enfants
Ils_ont un garçon et une fille
Le garçon s'appelle Pierre.
La soeur de Pierre s'appelle Caroline
L'institutrice : Comment t'appelles-tu ?
Pierre : Je m'appelle Pierre
L'institutrice : Quel_âge as-tu ?
Pierre : J'ai dix_ans
L'institutrice : Est-ce que tu as des frères et soeurs ?
Pierre : Oui. J'ai une soeur.
L'institutrice : Quel_âge a-t-elle ?
Pierre : Elle a huit_ans.
L'institutrice : Quel est ton nom de famille ?
Pierre :Dupont
L'institutrice : Où est-ce que tu habites ?
Pierre : J'habite à Toulouse

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