Basic grammar for language learners

As I was teaching French in US universities, I realized that many of my students didn't know much about grammar - they knew the rules of their languages as they were using it every day, but they were not able to explain them. I decided to build a simple reference sheet for them to use, so they would know the appropriate vocabulary to explain grammar. It has helped many of them, not only to better learn French and go beyond memorization but also to better understand how their own language works.

I wouldn't say that they appreciate our initial lesson on basic grammar, but they did appreciate its outcomes as it made the rest of our classes easier. If your students are especially struggling, the book "English Grammar for Students of French" is a great resource for both teachers and students.

A good exercise to make students review grammatical terms:
Give them a short (relatively easy) paragraph. Ask them to identify the grammatical class of each word, ask them to identify which words are grouped together to perform a single function in the sentence.

Here is the reference sheet that I give them (I also have a version of it with the terms in French for higher level students)

Grammar 101

  1. Grammatical classes, their function and use

Verb
  • the action made by the subject of the sentence
  • the subject and the time of the action determine its conjugation

Noun
  • word representing an abstract idea, a person, an animal, a thing ...
  • always requires an article (except for proper nouns/names)

Article
  • introduces a noun
  • agrees in gender and number with the noun it refers to

Adjective
  • Tied to the noun, expresses its quality, a relationship, etc.
  • agrees with the noun it qualifies

Pronoun
  • Replaces a noun to avoid repetition
  • agrees in gender and number with the noun it replaces

Adverb
  • modifies a verb
  • doesn't change

Conjunction
  • links two words or two sentences
  • doesn't change

Preposition
  • Introduces a complement
  • doesn't change (exception: au / de)


  1. groups of words
  • nominal group
most basic form: article + noun
can be exended with the following:
  • adjectives ( une maison rouge)
  • complements (Il roule avec un vélo de course).
  • relative clauses (Le voisin qui a un drôle de chapeau est venu ce matin.).
You will notice that these additions go after the noun they refer to

  • structure de base d'une phrase:
subject + predicate (= verb + object)

  • word order in a sentence
subject - verb - adverb - object - circumstantial complements
Exception: If you are using a pronoun, it goes between the subject and the verb.




4 août 2017
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Caroline Mosser

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Flag
Français
globe
France
time
1 086
Parle:
Français
Langue maternelle
,
Anglais
C2
,
Espagnol
B1
,
Allemand
B1
Bio: Caroline Mosser is an educator, translator, writer and independent scholar. She has lived and worked in both France and the United States, and is looking forward to more adventures. After earning her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of South Carolina, she has taught French as a postdoctoral fellow at Utah State University. As a graduate student, she participated in and taught for the competitive Social Advocacy and Ethical Life scholarship program at USC. Having always been fascinated by both the sciences and the humanities, she has focused her work on their connection through the study of the representations of science and technology in popular culture. A life-long learner, she enjoys sharing her knowledge through teaching and participating in various academic and cultural projects (such as translating, interpreting, and editing). In her free time, she enjoys watching science fiction movies and TV shows as well as skating and hiking to make up for her cookin...
Flag
Français
globe
France
time
1 086
Parle:
Français
Langue maternelle
,
Anglais
C2
,
Espagnol
B1
,
Allemand
B1
Bio: Caroline Mosser is an educator, translator, writer and independent scholar. She has lived and worked in both France and the United States, and is looking forward to more adventures. After earning her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of South Carolina, she has taught French as a postdoctoral fellow at Utah State University. As a graduate student, she participated in and taught for the competitive Social Advocacy and Ethical Life scholarship program at USC. Having always been fascinated by both the sciences and the humanities, she has focused her work on their connection through the study of the representations of science and technology in popular culture. A life-long learner, she enjoys sharing her knowledge through teaching and participating in various academic and cultural projects (such as translating, interpreting, and editing). In her free time, she enjoys watching science fiction movies and TV shows as well as skating and hiking to make up for her cookin...
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