Do you want to learn French but don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you are already learning French and getting a little slowed down in French grammar? Whatever your case is, know that learning French grammar is crucial and you will always need a concise summary of French grammar on hand as you learn the ins and outs of the language.

Are you getting confused with the basic rules to learn French grammar? If so, you have come to the right place.  In this guide, we will discuss a brief overview of basic French grammar ranging from vocabulary to sentence formation and structure. If you want to become good at French, try grasping all the French grammar rules and apply them in your daily French conversations.

Basic French grammar

1.    Vocabulary

French and English have a lot in common. It has similar word types, as well as some common vocabulary and grammatical structures. Although Latin and Greek account for eighty percent of French vocabulary, we also use words from other languages, including English.

Many common French words have been directly borrowed from English, including Boss, jet, weekend, manager, and many others.

2.    Nouns

– French nouns almost always require an article before them

– Gender is assigned to French nouns

– Nouns in French have a number

– There are both common and proper nouns (A common noun is un chat “a cat” while proper nouns include Jupiter and Miyazaki etc)

3.    Articles

Remember that articles are essential in French. When it comes to gender and numbers, articles agree with nouns. There are basically three types of articles: Indefinite articles, Definite articles, and Partitive articles.

Indefinite articles (Not specific): Un, Une, Des

Un oiseau (“A bird”), Une loutre (“An otter”), Des papillons (“Butterflies”)

 – Definite articles (Specific): Le, L’, La, Les

We use them when talking about a specific noun: Le parc (“The park”), when there is only one object: Le soleil (“The sun”) or for a general notion: La vie (“Life”), L’art (“Art”), etc.

Partitive articles (a certain amount): Du, De La, Des

Du fromage (“Cheese”), Des fruits (“Fruits”)

Learn French on italki

Join the global community of language learners today! Sign up for italki and start improving your language skills with native-speaking teachers from around the world.

Create an italki account

4.    Adjectives

They are words that are used to describe a noun. Adjectives in French grammar agree in gender and number with the noun. For example:

– Un petit chemin (“A small path”)

– Une petite route (“A small road”)

5.    Possessive adjectives

Possessive adjectives specify who owns the noun. Undoubtedly, they agree in gender and number, as they do in everything related to nouns.

For example:

– Mon jardin (“My garden”)

– Ma maison (“My house”)

– Mes affaires (“My belongings”)

– Ton adresse (“Your address”)

– Sa faute (“His / Her fault”)

6.    Demonstrative adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives are used to indicate or emphasize the importance of something (this / that / these / those). We have ce / cet, cette, ces in French.

For examples:

– Ce jardin (“This / That garden”)

– Cet arbre (“This / That tree”)

– Cette maison (“This / That house”)

7.    Adverbs

Adverbs are invariable in terms of gender and number. They provide information about a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. They specify how something is done (slowly/ violently), how much (a little / a lot), and when and where (often / yesterday).

For example:

– Je mange lentement. (“I eat slowly.”)

– Elle a beaucoup de fromages. (“She has a lot of cheese.”)

– Je ne dors jamais l’après-midi. (“I never sleep in the afternoon.”)

8.    Verbs

French verbs are classified into three types based on the spelling of their infinitive form and their behavior. The three types of verbs are as follows: ER verbs (manger, parler, toucher), IR verbs (dormir, partir, venir) and RE verbs (répondre, prendre).

Conjugation occurs in French grammar for a variety of tenses (past, future, etc.). Some reflexive verbs begin with se, such as se réveiller (“to wake up”), se lever (“to stand up”), and s’arrêter (“to stop”). They are frequently used to describe things you do on a regular basis or changes in state that have an effect on yourself (such as “to wake up,” “to fall asleep” etc).

9.    Pronouns

French pronouns have a great variety. For example:

Personal pronouns

1. Personal subjects: Elle a faim. (“She’s hungry.”)

2. Stressed pronouns: C’est moi! (“It’s me!”)

3. Direct pronouns: Nous le donnons. (“We give it.”)

4. Indirect pronouns: Ils vous parlent. (“They talk to you.”)

5. Reflexive pronouns: Je me lève. (“I stand up.”)

Impersonal pronouns

1. Impersonal subjects: Ça commence maintenant. (“It starts now.”)

2. Adverbial pronouns: Je veux y aller. (“I want to go there.”)

3. Relative pronouns: Je sais que tu es là. (“I know that you are here.”)

4. Demonstrative pronouns: Celles de gauche. (“These on the left.”)

5. Interrogative pronouns: Qui es-tu? (“Who are you?”)

6. Indefinite pronouns: Tout est possible. (“Anything is possible.”)

10. Sentence structures

The first thing you must learn in order to construct sentences in French is word order. Otherwise, no matter how much vocabulary you learn, it will always be difficult to identify the keywords and general meaning of what you hear or read.

The SVO (Subject Verb Object) pattern is used in French. That is, the default word order is: Subject – Verb – Object. For example: Je bois du vin. (“I drink wine.”)

11. Verbs and tenses

Conjugation in French are similar to English conjugation, but it adds a hairy layer of complexity because the verb ending varies depending on the person, mood, voice, and tense.

It may appear overwhelming at first. Fortunately, most verbs follow a set of rules and patterns that you can quickly learn.

Singular pronouns:je / j’ (“I”)tu / vous (Casual “you” / Formal “you”)il / elle (“he” / “she”)Plural pronouns:nous (“we”)vous (“you”)ils / elles (Male “they” / Female “they”)

The ending of the verb depends on the person (or pronoun):

– Je marche (“I walk”)

– Nous marchons (“We walk”)

– Elles marchent (“They walk”)

12. The two most important verbs

There are two most important verbs in French that don’t follow the rules:

Être (“To be”)

Je suis, Tu es, Elle est, Nous sommes, Vous êtes, Elles sont

For example: Je suis heureux. (“I’m happy.”)

Avoir (“To have”)

J’ai, Tu as, Elle a, Nous avons, Vous avez, Elles ont

For example: Nous avons un chat. (“We have a cat.”)

13. French negative sentences

The particle Ne + one or more negative words are used to construct negative sentences in French. Negation is accomplished in French grammar by arranging these two parts around the verb as follows: [Subject] ne [verb] pas.

For example:

– Je mange. (“I eat.”)

– Je ne mange pas. (“I don’t eat.”)

You can also choose a number of other responses, such as:

– Je ne mange jamais. (“I never eat.”)

– Je ne mange rien. (“I don’t eat anything.”)

– Je ne mange personne. (“I don’t eat anyone.”)

– Je ne mange plus. (“I don’t eat anymore.”)

– Je ne mange nulle part. (“I’m not eating anywhere.”)

– Je ne mange aucune viande. (“I don’t eat any meat.”)

– Je ne mange que de la viande. (“I eat nothing but meat.”)

Learn French grammar with italki

Just don’t get scared of all these French grammar rules. You just need the right guidance to absorb all these rules in an organized manner. If you want to learn French online and looking for an authentic language-learning platform, italki is undoubtedly the right spot for you.

Learning grammar is easy with italki French teachers as they will take you right from the basics to advanced French levels. The best part is that you can choose the French teacher according to your desired learning schedule. This platform promotes learning with greater flexibility in terms of schedules and learning styles.

Find Your Perfect Teacher

At italki, you can find your French tutor from all qualified and experienced teachers. Now experience the excellent language learning journey!

Book a trial lesson

Final thoughts on French grammar

Now that you have learned all of the essential French grammar rules, from basic structures to conjugation, agreement rules, and negation, you can use this overview as a small grammar pocketbook whenever you need quick access to the basic French grammar rules, whether you are just starting out or consolidating your knowledge.

No matter if you are learning French at home or taking some French classes, this guide is going to help you a lot. Remember, grammar is the backbone of every language and you need to master it in order to become a fluent French speaker.

Want to learn a language at italki?

Here are the best resources for you!