Finesse your French: how to make French grammar easy – part 5
You’re rapidly moving forward through the intermediate part of your French language journey – congratulations! And now that you’ve reached this point, with your French learning plateau behind you, it’s crunch time – you can no longer afford to put off some serious grammar study. But don’t be afraid, let us show you how to make French grammar easy!
Luckily, you have MyFrenchLife™ to help prevent ‘serious’ from turning into ‘daunting’: we’ll make French grammar easy for you. Before you know it, you’ll have confronted your worst grammatical worries – and won the battle!
The French grammar myth
For many of us, the very idea of having to knuckle down on grammar is enough to induce cold sweats.
But it shouldn’t be this way.
Despite the myth, French grammar isn’t so hard! Learning grammar will actually make things easier!
As language learners, we all tend to freak out when we hear mention of learning about indirect object pronouns or the difference between preterite and imperfect – but the fact is, grammar is both universal and helpful.
As Kerstin Hammes at French Together puts it:
Grammar is not a burden, it’s a support system and not a foreign one at that.
Learning French grammar is simplified by the fact that, compared to most languages, French really is grammatically simple. In fact, almost all the basic grammar structures in French are equivalent to those in English. For instance, as English speakers, we also make the preterite/imperfect distinction when we say:
I went to the market yesterday” as opposed to “I used to go to the market when I was younger.
Furthermore, French grammar doesn’t include nearly as many exceptions and tricky irregular constructions as we Anglophones have to face in our own language. Just think of how we distinguish in English between “she was happy” and “they were happy”, but not between “she smiled” and “they smiled.”
All this is good news for you!
This is part of the reason why French is actually one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.
Important French grammar
Of course, you must get some basic grammar out of the way first – learn all nouns (including genders), know how to conjugate present tense etc. But in any case, the ‘why’ is as important as the ‘what’ – find resources that explain the equivalent in English and how the rule works.
While structures often overlap more than you might think, others, such as “I am hungry” versus “J’ai faim”, are vastly different.
Don’t just memorise, understand!
How to make French grammar easy
So, how to translate this advice into French grammar fluency and competence?
Firstly, it’s important to have access to at least one very clear and accurate resource that you can rely on.
- For instance, French Linguistics has a comprehensive and easy-to-use database that’s great for learning French grammar stress-free
- And Columbia University has a thorough series of lessons and drills for a variety of levels
As long as you work through these grammatical levels with determination and confidence, you will soon come to see that the grammar of a language is an integrated structure of meaning.
If you look at it this way, French grammar becomes a series of steps – like a gently sloping staircase. And the difference between creating a basic sentence and expertly using the subjunctive mood is just a matter of climbing enough steps.
French grammar: easy as un, deux, trois
As we’ve seen, making French grammar easy is as simple as letting yourself realise how easy it’s been all along. Ultimately, it’s all about perspective: la grammaire française can’t intimidate you if you don’t let it!
So, why would you let French grammar stress you out?
Have you had any troubles with French grammar? What’s worked for you to make it easier? Share your stories and strategies in the comments section below!
Enjoyed this article?
Currently at a different level of French learning?
Click through to discover more articles in our ‘Finesse your French’ series:
You CAN learn French this time: a breakthrough method – introduction
How to overcome your French learning frustration – part 1
Moving beyond French conversation basics – part 2
French language and culture – part 3
The intermediate French learning plateau and how to overcome it – part 4
How to make French grammar easy – part 5
How to engage with contemporary France – part 6
How to push towards French fluency – part 7
How to have advanced French fun – part 8
How to maintain and build your advanced French skills – part 9
1. Dictionary by PDPics, via Pixabay
2. Grammar by PDPics, via Pixabay
3. Coffee meeting by Startup Stock Photos, via Pexels
4. Steps by Free-Photos, via Pixabay
5. Grammar book by Tom Page, via Flickr