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There are, in the French language, nine sorts of words, which are called Parts of Speech ; namely:

The Noun or Substantive, the Article, the Adjective, the Pronoun, the Verb, the Preposition, the Adverb, the Conjunction, the Interjection.

The Substantive announces the object : CHEVALhorse.

The Article shows the gender and number of the noun : LE chevalthe horse.

The Adjective serves to distinguish it from other objects of the same kind : le cheval BLANC—the white horse.

The Verb marks the action of it: le cheval blanc MARCHE- -the white horse walks.

The Adverb indicates a difference between actions of the same nature: le cheval blanc marche LENTEMENT the white horse walks slowly.

The Pronoun supplies the place of a noun, to avoid repetition : le cheval blanc marche lentement ; il est paresseux-the white horse walks slowly ; he is lazy.

The Preposition points out the relation which objects bear to each other; un cheval De somme-a horse of burthen.

The Conjunction shows the connexion between parts of a sentence : achetez-moi deux chevaux, et choisissezles vigoureux—buy me two horses, and choose them strong.

The Interjection expresses the passions, as grief, aversion, etc.: Ah! Hélas! Fi! ah ! alas! fie!


The Substantive is the name of a person or of a thing : as Pierre, Paul, livre, chapeau-Peter, Paul, book, hat.

There are two sorts of substantives or nouns, the noun common and the noun proper.

The noun common is that which belongs to many persons or things of the same nature : homme, cheval-man, horse, are nouns common ; for the name man belongs to Peter, to Paul, etc.

The noun proper is that which belongs to only one person or thing; as Adam, Paris, la Tamise-Adam, Paris, the Thames.

In substantives we must consider the gender and the number.

In French there are but two genders ; the masculine and the feminine. A substantive is masculine, when it denotes a man or any male animal; as père, lionfather, lion. It is feminine, when it denotes a woman or any female animal; as mère, lionne—mother, lioness. Then, by imitation, the masculine or feminine gender has been given to things that are neither male nor female ; as un livrea book, une tablea table *.

There are two numbers, the singular and the plural : the singular speaks of one person or one thing; as un homme-a man, un livre-a book ; the plural speaks of several persons or several things; as les hommes—the men, les livres--the books.

On the Formation of the Plural in Nouns.

Most substantives form their plural by adding s to the singular ; as roi—king, rois-kings.

Those which end in s, x, 2, in the singular, are the same in the plural ; as fils-son, fils-sons; voix-voice, voix-voices ; nez-nose, nez-noses. Such as end in u generally take a to form the plural ;

x as bateau-boat, bateaux-boats ; feu—fire, feuc-fires ; caillou—pebble, cailloux-pebbles.

Except clou-a nail, clous ; filou--a sharper, filous ; licou—a halter, licous ; cou— the neck, cous; troua hole, trous.

When the singular ends in al, ail, the plural commonly ends in aux; as mal-evil, maux-evils ; travailwork, travaux-works.

See, at the end of the grammar, rules for distinguishing the gender of nouns--page 82.

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Except the following, which take s in the plural ; attirail -implements; détaildetail ; éventaila fan ; épouvantail-scare-crow; gouvernail-rudder ; portail-portico; bal-a ball ; carnaval-carnival ; cal-callosity ; régalfeast.

The following nouns form their plural irregularly; aïeul -ancestor, aïeux ; ciel-heaven, cieux ; cil—the eye, yeux.

The Article is a word placed before nouns common,

and it serves to show their gender and number.

In French there is but one article, le, la, for the singular ; les, for the plural. Le is put before a substantive that is masculine and singular ; as le père—the father : la is put before a substantive feminine and singular; as la mère—the mother : les is put before all plural nouns, both masculine and feminine ; as les pères—the fathers; les mères—the mothers *.

We leave out e in le, and we leave out a in la, when the following word begins with a vowel or with h mute, and then, in the place of the letter that is omitted, we put this little mark (') called an apostrophe : thus we write l'argent—the money, instead of le argent.

To join a substantive to a preceding word, de-of, or à—to, is placed before that substantive; as fruit DE l'arbre~fruit of the tree ; utile À l'homme-useful to man.

But instead of putting de le before a substantive masculine and singular, which begins with a consonant, we put du.

Instead of à le we put au.

Before a substantive plural, de les is changed into des ; à les is changed into aux.


Singular masculine. Le roi—the king. Palais du roi-palace of the king (for DE LE roi). Je donne au roi—I give to the king (for À LE roi).

See page 146.

Plural masculine.

Les rois—the kings.
Palais des rois-palace of the kings (for DE LES rois).
Je donne aux rois--I give to the kings (for à Les rois).

Singular feminine.
De and à are

La reine—the queen.
never changed DE LA reineof the queen.
before la.

À La reine—to the queen.

Plural feminine.
LES reines—the queens.
des reines—of the queens (for de les reines).
AUX reines—to the queens (for À Les reines).


The Adjective is a word added to the substantive, to show the quality of a person or of a thing; as bon pèregood father, BONNE mère-good mother : the words bon, bonne, are adjectives, joined to the nouns père, mère.

We know that a word is an adjective if we can add the word person or thing to it: thus habile-skilful, agréable -agreeable, are adjectives; for we can say personne habile -skilful person ; chose agréable-agreeable thing.

Adjectives are of the two genders, masculine and feminine : the gender is commonly shown by the final letter.


On the Formation of the Feminine in French

Adjectives. In most adjectives the feminine is formed by adding e to the word, as petit, petite-little ; poli, polie--polite ; vrai, vraie-true.

Adjectives ending in e mute (that is to say, an e which is not sounded, as at the end of the word honnête) are the same in both genders ; as honnête homme—honest man; honnête femme-honest woman.

In some adjectives the last letter is doubled in the feminine before the e mute is added ; as cruel, cruelle-cruel ; in others the end of the word is altered ; as honteux, honteuse -bashful ; with few exceptions, these are shown in the following table :










. euse

f changed into

ien changed into ienne

..elle eil.

eille EXAMPLES :-Neuf, neuve-new ; réel, réelle-real ; pareil, pareille-like; ancien, ancienne-ancient ; trompeur, trompeusedeceitful ; heureux, heureuse-happy.

On the Formation of the Plural in Adjectives. The plural is formed in adjectives, as it is in nouns, by adding s or x to the end of the singular ; as bon, bons good ; beau, beaux-fine.

The following adjectives ending in u have s in the plural; bleu-blue, bleus; foumad, fous; mou-soft, mous.

Tout—all, is tous in the plural.

Agreement of Adjectives with Substantives. Every adjective must be of the same gender and number as the noun to which it relates.

EXAMPLES :- Le bon pèrethe good father ; here bon is masculine and singular, because père is masculine and singular.

La bonne mère—the good mother; bonne is feminine and singular, because mère is feminine and singular.

De beaux jardins—fine gardens; beaux is masculine and plural, because jardins is masculine and plural.

De belles fleurs-fine flowers ; belles is feminine and plural, because fleurs is feminine and plural.

When an adjective relates to two substantives of the singular number, the adjective is in the plural.

Ex.---Le roi et le berger sont égaux après la mort-the king and the shepherd are equal after death.

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