Lesson 6: Everyday Life

Dormir

Dormir, to sleep, is an irregular French verb.

French Verb • Present Indicative
dormir to sleep
(past participle – dormi)
Singular Plural
first person je dors jeuh door I sleep nous dormons noo doormoh we sleep
second person tu dors too door you sleep vous dormez voo doormay you sleep
third person il dort eel door he sleeps ils dorment eel dorm they sleep
(masc. or mixed)
elle dort ell door she sleeps
on dort oh door one sleeps elles dorment ell dorm they sleep (fem.)

Waking up and Getting Yourself Ready

  • se lever: to get up
  • se laver: to wash (oneself)
  • se raser : to shave
  • se doucher: to shower
  • se baigner: to bathe (oneself)
  • se brosser les cheveux/les dents: to brush one’s hair/teeth
  • se peigner les cheveux: to comb one’s hair
  • s’habiller: to dress (oneself)

If the subject is performing the action on him or herself, the verbs are reflexive. However, if the subject were to act on someone else, the verb is no longer reflexive; instead the reflexive pronoun becomes a direct object.

  • Je m’habille: I get (myself) dressed.
  • Je t’habille: I get you dressed.

In the passé composé, the participle must agree in gender and number with the subject.

  • Pierre s’est habillé.
  • Alice s’est habillée.
  • Georges et Martin se sont habillés.
  • Lisette et Rose se sont habillées.
  • Marc et Claire se sont habillés.
  • Je m’appelle Lucie, et je me suis levée à six heures.
  • Jean et Paul, vous vous êtes levés assez tard.

Pronominal Verbs

Pronominal verbs are verbs that, put simply, include pronouns. These pronouns are me, te, se, nous, and vous and are used as either direct objects or indirect objects, depending on the verb that they modify. There are three types of pronominal verbs: reflexive verbs, reciprocal verbs, and naturally pronominal verbs.

Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs reflect the action on the subject.

  • Je me lave. – I wash myself.
  • Nous nous lavons. – We wash ourselves.
  • Ils se lavent. – They wash themselves.

Reflexive verbs can also be used as infinitives.

  • Je vais me laver. – I’m going to wash myself.
  • Je ne vais pas me laver. – I’m not going to wash myself.

Reciprocal Verbs

With reciprocal verbs, people perform actions to each other.

  • Nous nous aimons. – We like each other.

Naturally Pronominal Verbs

Some verbs are pronominal without performing a reflexive or reciprocal action. Tu te souviens? – You remember?

Going to Work

At Work

travailler: to work
travailler pour: to work for (somebody)

Devoir

French Verb • Everyday life
devoir to have to, to owe
past participle: dû
Singular Plural
first person je dois jeuh dwah I have to nous devons noo dehvohn we have to
second person tu dois too dwah you have to vous devez voo dehvay you have to
third person il doit eel dwah he has to ils doivent eel dwahve they have to
(masc. or mixed)
elle doit ell dwah she has to
on doit ohn dwah one has to elles doivent ell dwahve they have to (fem.)

Falloir

  • falloir – to be necessary
  • il faut – it is necessary
  • il a fallu – it was necessary (passé composé)
  • il fallait – it was necessary (imparfait)
  • il faudra – it will be necessary
  • il faudrait – it would be necessary

The verb falloir differs from similar verbs such as avoir besoin de [faire quelque chose] (to need [to do something]) and devoir (must, duty, owe). Falloir is always used with the impersonal il only in the 3rd person singular, whereas devoir can be used with all subject pronouns in all tenses.
Falloir expresses general necessities, such as “To live, one must eat” or “To speak French well, one must conjugate verbs correctly.”
Devoir expresses more personally what someone must do; “I want to pass my French test, so I must study verb conjugations.”
Avoir besoin de [faire quelque chose] expresses need; “I need to study for my test, it’s tomorrow” – “J’ai besoin d’etudier pour mon examen, il est demain.”

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