French Language Blog

I Invoke The Right of Parley Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Grammar

Do some fautes (mistakes) people make in English annoy you? Mixing up then and than or effect and affect? Des fautes that make no sense grammatically, but still happen all the time.  Ces fautes might be annoying, but they provide a lot of insight into how people really parlent (speak).

La semaine dernière (Last week) I talked about the famous French cancan, and this week I’d like to continuer à développer l’idée, but with une autre faute that French speakers often make.

La conjugaison in French is one of the hardest things to master. There are so many variations of the same verb! You have to memorize l’imparfait, le passé composé, l’infinitif, le future simple, le conditionnel, le subjonctif… And if that wasn’t enough you have to dodge tous les verbes irréguliers (all the irregular verbs) as well!

Cependant (However), in spoken French, many of les conjugaisons aren’t as different as their written counterparts. This leads to a lot of francophones mistaking one conjugaison for another when writing.

This is especially true for des verbes réguliers (regular verbs). Take the verb parler (to speak) as un exemple.

Parler, parlé, parlait, parlez
infintif, participe passé, imparfait, deuxième personne du pluriel au présent de l’indicatif

All four are pronounced pretty much the same way: something like parLEY.

Regardons (Let’s look at) a few more conjugaisons that are pronounced slightly differently:

Parlerai, parlerez, parlerais, parlerait, pareraient
première personne du singulier au future simple, deuxième personne du pluriel au future simple, première personne du singulier au conditionnel, troisième personne du singulier au conditionnel, troisième personne du pluriel au conditionnel

All of those conjugaisons are pronounced like parleREY!

These fautes will ease the burden of memorizing the pronunciation of all those conjugaisons! It will also help you understand des fautes French speakers make when righting… I mean writing. “J’ai parler” doesn’t make much sense unless you know how people parlent.

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.