French (fr Français, or la langue française) is a modern European language, a member of the Romance language family, which like others in this group owes much of its structure to Latin with some influence from the native languages of the pre-Roman Franks.
In medieval times, French had evolved into two groups, a northern branch known as the "Langue d'oïl," and a southerly group known as the "Langue d'Oc." However, after the political influence of the southerly group was crushed by the Albigensian Crusade, the northerly variety became dominant, and is the ancestor of modern "standard" French (though the southern variety still exists as the Occitan language). French is also spoken in many former French colonies in West Africa and the Caribbean, the Canadian province of Québec, by some people in Vietnam, in Mauritius, in many Pacific Ocean Islands and in other places. In Tunisia, a former French colony, French is still one of the primary languages spoken. In the US, French is spoken in several communities in northern Maine.
Unlike English, French vocabulary and grammatical rules (at least in France) are determined by an official body, l'Académie française (French Academy). The Academy publishes its own dictionary. While the Academy's recommendations have no legal power as such, they are instrumental in shaping the French language.
The Academy is often criticized for being a brake on the development of the language. For example, the last fully completed edition of its dictionary was completed in 1935 while it has yet to complete the next edition. Because of this, common usage dictates, as in English, what words can be used but are then often changed by the Academy later, especially if they are loan words from English.
- Je - I
- Tu - You (informal)
- Il - He
- Elle - She
- On - One (On le souhaite—one wishes it)
- Nous - We
- Vous - You (multiple OR formal)
- Ils - They
- Elles - They (only females)
French is a predominately SVO with some SOV aspects. For example:
Il mange une pomme à Paris (lit. He eats an apple in Paris)
Il y en mange une (He eats one there; note the change in word order)
Edouard va parler aux professeurs (Edouard is going to talk to the professors)
Edouard va leur parler (lit. Edouard is going them to speak)
Avez-vous vu Richard (lit. Have you seen Richard)
L'avez-vous vu (lit. Him have you seen)
The objects are substituted with object pronouns which are placed before the verb in present tense or before the auxiliary verb.
- Les - plural direct objects.
- Le - masculine direct object.
- La - feminine direct object.
- L' - placed before a verb that starts with a vowel or, in some instances,an h.
- Lui - refers to a single indirect object that is a person.
- Leur - refers to a plural indirect object that is a person.
- Y - refers to a place or an indirect object that isn't a person.
- En - refers to objects with a number.
Regular French verbs come in in three forms, with different conjugations for those ending in -er, -ir, and -re. Examples of such conjugations are listed below.