French For Beginners
par Olivier Malet

 

Chapter Twelve

 

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28

 

 

> The unstable ‘e’ sound

The vowel sound of ne is said to be unstable; it is automatically dropped before another vowel sound which is reflected in the spelling (ne becomes n’). The vowel of ne is unstable because its retention or fall depends on the nature of the following sound.

The final e of reste and entre is also an unstable vowel sound; it must be pronounced when the commands are followed by a consonant sound.

Reste - 1 syllable

Ne reste pas - 1 2 3 4 (4 syllables)

Entre - 1 syllable

N’entre pas - 1 2 3 (3 syllables)

The following commands contain the unstable vowel sound in the first syllable. When these commands are shifted to the negative form, we have two consecutive unstable vowels:

Look! Regarde

Don’t look! Ne regarde pas

Look! Regardez

Don’t look! Ne regardez pas

Let’s look! Regardons!

Let’s not look! Ne regardons pas

It is customary in such cases not to pronounce the second unstable vowel.

> Exercise: Translate the following commands orally into French

  • Don’t look! (fam) Ne regarde pas!
  • Listen! Écoutez!
  • Let’s swim! Nageons!
  • Don’t talk! Ne Parlez pas!
  • Walk! Marchez!
  • Don’t stop! (fam) N’arrête pas!
  • Don’t sing! Ne chantez pas!
  • Dance! Dansez !
  • Don’t ask! Ne demandez pas!
  • Let’s not eat! Ne mangeons pas!
  • Let’s not start! Ne commençons pas!
  • Study! (fam) Étudie!
  • Work! (fam) Travaille!
  • Don’t stay! Ne restez pas!
  • Don’t come in! (fam) N’ entre pas!

 

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French at HKU
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