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GRAMMAR OF FRENCH GRAMMARS
COMPRISING THE SUBSTANCE OF
ALL THE MOST APPROVED FRENCH GRAMMARS EXTANT,
b'JT MORE ESPECIALLY OF THE STANDARD WORK,
"GRAMMAIKE DES GRAMMAIRES,"
SANCTIONED BY THE FRENCH ACADEMY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF PARIS.
WITH NUMEROUS EXERCISES AND EXAMPLES
ILLUSTRATIVE OF EVERY PULE.
BY DB. V. DE FIT AS, M.A., F.E.I.S.,
UT.MBER OF THE GRAMMATICAL SOCIETY OF PARIS, ETC.
LOCKWOOD & CO., 7 STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
EDINBURGH: OLIVER &BOYD; JOHN MEXZIES.
DL-BUN: M'GLASHAN & GILL.
1HIETY-8ECOND EDITION. 1869.
The Copyright for Great Britain and Ireland, France,
and Germany, is secured.
" Grammar, as the master-key of the human mind, is the
first object in the cultivation of the understanding."
"Presquepartout, deux liommcs d'osprit, donation diverse,
qui Be rencontrent, s'accordent & parlor francai*." .
(Prtf. du. Dtet. de TAead.frantJ
WE read, in a receut London publication, that there are about
one hundred French Grammars for the use of English students.
But, How many of these exhibit the orthography and rules of
the language as they are fixed at the present day ? It is the im-
possibility of satisfactorily answering 1 this question, that first
suggested to me the idea of producing a work which, without
being a mere compilation, should embody the substance of the
latest decisions of the French Academy, with the most lucid and
concise rules of the best modern French Grammarians. The
single fact of the French Academy having lately published
a new edition of their Dictionary, entirely revised and greatly
enlarged, shows in an obvious point of view the call that is
made for a new and improved French Grammar.
My plan, in this publication, has been to give everything
useful, and nothing superfluous.* I have studied to make the
* Some Crammarlans devote fifty pages to the declensions of nouns and pro-
nouns, while the French language has no declension, f Many encroach on the
province of the Teacher, and encumber their pages by giving a repetition of all the
conjugations interrogatively and negatively, when one, as a model, is quite suffi-
cient Others, give elaborate treatises on pronunciation, which can never be pro-
perly learned from books, and arc quite unnecessary, since a good French Teacher
can now be found in every town and village of the United Kingdom, from win m
more knowledge of pronunciation will be obtained In one lesson than in one year
from all the books ever published on this subject
t La Languc francnlse n'a point, et ne pent avoir.de dtcllnalsons) on doit pnrgor
nos (jrammaircs de tout ce fntras, de loutes ces supcrfluitea qui gont plus proprw
i nuirc qu'l scrvir & I'intclligence de la Languo.
PLMANDKE, Diet, de relocation
j v PREFACE.
definitions at once clear and precise, that they may be readily
understood and easily retained. When I judged it necessary,
I have also presented the rules in a new light, in order to adapt
them to the capacity of youthful students. I have further
endeavoured to arrange and distribute the matter, so as to
embrace, within a narrow compass, much more information than
is usually found in grammatical class-books. Indeed, there is
not a useful Rule or Observation in the largest grammar in
print that is not to be found in this.
The Exercises illustrate everything that can be reduced to
rules in the French language. This branch of the work has,
for several years, engaged my special attention. The phraseo-
logy is all founded on the highest French classical authorities ;
and it has been my study throughout to introduce a moral pre-
cept, an historical or a geographical fact, or a conversational
phrase ; and thus to impart useful information along with gram-
The present Edition of this Grammar has been carefully re-
vised, and a considerable number of words and remarks intro-
duced that are not to be found in any other Grammar. I have
also had the advantage of being able to avail myself of the
criticisms that the learned Authors of the " Grammaire
Nationale" have made on the " Grammaire des Grammatics,"
and of the answers to those criticisms by M. Lemaire, Professor
of Rhetoric at the College Louis-le-Grand, in Paris. " Tout
liomme qui veut bien ecrire," says VOLTAIHE, "doit corriger
ses ouvrages toute sa vie."
LO.VDOV, July 1SUO.
t 5 ]
The following are a few of the numerous Literary Notices
of tins Work:
" At once the simplest and must complete Grammar of the French Language
To tlie Pupil, the effect is almost as if he looked into a map, so w ell-defined is the
course of study as explained by M. de Fivas." (Literary (jazette.)
"This Grammar b the most systematic and distinct that we have seen : the
work id simple in its arrangement; clear nnd precise in its definitions; and Ihe
Exercises under each head, most appropriate and useluL" (Chronicle .)
"Its precision and conciseness arc admirable. We cordially recommend It to
Teachers and Students. Its excellence cannot fail to secure it an established
" This Grammar is the cheapest, most concise, philosophical, and satisfactory
which has come under our notice." (Edinburgh Journal.)
" The distinguishing features of this work are, its embodiment of the latest
changes and modifications of the French Language. In the writing and arrange-
ment of the work, M. de Fivas has displayed great skin." (Scotsman.)
" This is an excellent book lucid and comprehensive. It contains the latest
improvements made by the French Academicians." ((Jateshead Observer.)
" In this work everything Is plain and clear to the most obtuse understand-
ing ; the Exercises arc excellent, being individually easily understood, and con-
secutively so arranged as to carry the pupil step by step to a thorough acquaint-
ance with the language. One of the best recommendations of this well-written
Grammar is, that it is framed on the orthography and practice ol the language at
the present day, which we do not believe to be the case with 5 out of the 100 at
present in use," (Tyne Mercury.)
" This Is, beyond comparison, the best French Grammar we have ever met
with. It contains everything necessary to a thorough knowledge of the lan-
guage." (Dublin Monitor.)
l-'rom Professor MARCEL." J'al parcouru votre dernier ouvrage ' Grammali c
des Granimaircs,' et, frappc dc ?a clartg ft de sa concision, je lui ai reconnu sous
cc rapport une grandc superiority sur les autres grammaircs, aussi me suis-je
cmprc.-se de la recommamler a tous ccux qui desircnt se pCne'trcr des vrais prin-
cipes de notrc langue,"
from Professor VOGITE. " J'ai lu avec un vif intcret votre Grammaire francaiso.
Jo me suls convaincu dc ton me'ritc ctde son utilitu. Jc ne manquerai pas dc
la recomnunder comme claire, exact c, ct complete."
from Professor DUMAS " Votre ouvrage bien que pcu volumineux cst clair et
c' injilct. Je ne rccommanderai certainement jam.iis d'autrc grammaire."
from Professor DUVAL. " J'approuve beaucoup votre ouvrage et je me pro-
pose d'cn faire usage : il cst deja entre les mains de plusicurs de mes dlcves."
from Professor MESSIEVX " Je me de"cide a donner la pre'fe'rence a votre gram-
maire, ayant le mdritc d'etre mieux arranged, plus claire, et plus correete que
celle dont je me sers."
from Professor DE CANDOLE. " J'ai chenilie" du mal dans votre ouvrage, mais jc
n'en ai pas trouvg ; jc me suis fait critique, j'y at perdu ma pcine, car tout ijtait
juste, vrai. Vous avez retranchd bicn des Inutilitds dansle commemx me nt, ct duns
la -uitaxc quo j'ai parcouruc avcc Snin vous avrz franchemcnt alion'v les diffl-
culles ct lalt a'lir.irablemcnt sentir les d(51icatcs3es dc notrc langue,"
EXPLANATION OF THE ABBREVIATIONS AND MARKS
USED IN THE EXERCISES.
m. stands for masculine.
ind-2 stanch for imperfect.
f. . . .
ind-3 . . .
sing, or s. .
ind-4 . . .
ind-5 . .
hm. . .
ind-6 . . .
h asp. . .
ind-7 . . .
art. . . .
ind 8 . . .
pr. or prep.
cond-1 . .
pron. . .
cond-2 . .
inf-1 . . .
present of the infmi-
imp. . . .
iuf-2 . . .
infinitive past. [tive.
subj-1. . .
present of the sub-
inf-3 . . .
inf-4 . . .
subj-2. . .
ind-1 . .
present of the indi-
subj-3. . .
subj-4. . .
ACAD. for Academic franfaise (French Academy), a learned
Society, a literary Parliament, the highest authority on the French
The small figures 1, 2, 3, point out tlie order of the French construc-
tion when it differs from the English. The larger figures 32, 47, etc.
refer to the rule with that number, and which the student will do well
to consult in cases of doubt.
* The asterisk, or little star, denotes that the English word under
which it is placed, is to be omitted in French.
The line placed under an English word indicates that it is the
same in French.
( ) When several English words are included within a parenthesis,
they must be translated by the French word or words placed under them.
The English words printed in italics, are those to which the rules
prefixed must be applied.
The substantives are generally given in the singular, the adjectives in
the masculine singular, and the verbs in the present of the infinitive
the student being expected to put them in their proper gender, number
tense, and person.
N.B. The student shoflld make himself Avell acquainted with the use
of the Apostrophe, page 9 with the Contraction of the article, p. 14
and, with the General rule for the place of personal pronouns, p. 237.
The knowledge of these points will greatly facilitate his studies.
Bicn parlcr annoncc la bonno Education ;
Bien (Scrlre annoncc de 1'csprit
1. GRAMMAR is the art which teaches to speak and
write a language correctly.
To speak and to write, we make use of words.
Words arc composed of one or more syllables ; and
syllables are composed of one or more letters.
2. The French Alphabet contains 25 letters, viz. :
Xamts: ah bay say day a cflf jay nsh c jec kali ell enira
NOPQRSTUVX Y Z.
cnn o pay kuf err ess tay uf vay ecks ccgrcc zald.
L itfiolle: n bo c(S dc 6 cflo g6 aclic i jl ka cflc cmmo
cnno o p6 ku crro cssc 16 u \6 Iks Iprcc zfcde."|
.".. Letters are divided into vowels and consonants.
The vowels arc A, E, I, 0, U, and Y, which sometimes
has the sound of one i, and sometimes of two. All the
other letters arc consonants.
The French make use of the W only in words bor-
rowed from other languages ; as, Washington, whist.
*j hag here the sound of s In pleasure.
t The sonnd of u muat bo learned from the Teacher ; unless you know how to
pronounce u In the Scotch words gude (good), or schule (school).
OF ACCENTS AND OTHER MARKS.
OF ACCENTS AND OTHER MARKS.
4. THE orthographical signs used in the French lan-
guage are, the accents, the apostrophe, the hyphen, the
di&resis, the cedilla, the parenthesis, and the different
marks of punctuation.
OF THE ACCENTS.
5. Accents are small marks placed upon vowels, either
to point out their true pronunciation, or to distinguish the
meaning of one word from that of another which is spelt
alike, but has a different meaning. Ex. peche, peach ;
pech&j sin ; pecher, to fish ; pecker, to sin.
6. There are three accents in French, the acute, the
grave, and the circumflex.
7. The acute accent (') is never used but over the
vowel e, as in ve'rite', truth ; ete, summer ; cafe, coffee.
8. The grave accent (' ) is used over the vowels a, e, u,
as in voila, there is ; pere, father ; regie, rule ; ou, where.
It is placed
Over the preposition a, to, in order to distinguish it
from the third person singular of the verb avoir, il a, he
Over the adverb la,' there, to distinguish it from the
article la, the, or the pronoun la, her, it ;
Over the adverb or pronoun ou, (where, in which, to
which), to distinguish it from the conjunction ou, or ;
Over the preposition des, from, since, to distinguish it
from the compound article des, of the, *ome.
9. The circumflex accent ( A ) is used with any of the
vowels, the sound of which it always lengthens; as in
age, age ; tele, head ; e'pitre, epistle ; dome, cupola ; flute,
flute ; apotre, apostle. It is placed
Over the adjective sur, sure, to distinguish it from the
preposition sur, upon ;
Over the adjective mur, ripe, to distinguish it from
the substantive mur, Avail ;
OF THE APOSTROPHE. 9
Over d>'i, participle past of devoir, to owe, to distin-
guish it from the compound article du, of the, some ; but
the accent is only used in the singular masculine of the
participle, as there can be no mistake in the feminine
singular, nor in the plural of either gender;
Over tu, participle past of taire, to be silent, to dis-
tinguish it from the pronoun tu, thou ;
Over crii, past participle of croitre, to grow, to distin-
guish it from cru, past participle of croire, to believe.
OF TIIE APOSTROPHE.
10. The Apostrophe is a small mark in the form of a
comma ( ' ), which is placed over the line between two
letters, to point out the elision or suppression of a vqwel
at the end of a word before another word beginning with
a vowel, or h mute, as in lame, the soul ; I'homme, the
man ; s'il, if he ; instead of la dine, le homme, si il.
A, E, I, are the only vowels liable to be thus cut off.
11. The A is suppressed only in la, article or pronoun.
12. The elision of the E occurs, not only in the mascu-
line article and pronoun le, but also in the monosyllables
je, me, te, se, ce, de, ne, que ; and, moreover
(1.) Injusque, before a, au, aux, id; a.s,jusqu'a Rome.
(2.) In lorsque, puisque, and quoique, before z7, Us, elle,
elles, on, un, une, or a word with which these conjunctions
are immediately connected; as Lorsqu'ils viendronl.
Puisquainsi est. Puuqu'U le vent. Quot'qu'elle soit.
(3.) In quelque, before un, une ; as, quelqu'un, qucl-
qitune ; and also in quel qu'il so//, quelle qu'elle soit. But
we write quelque autre ; quelque historien.
(4.) In presque, in the compound word presqu'Cle, pen-
insula; and likewise in grande, in the words grand'merc
and grand 1 tante.
We also say and write: La grand'messe. Avoir
grand '/aim. Faire grand 'chere. C'est grand 'pitie.
II eut grand'peur. Ce n'est pas grand' chose.
13. The I is cut off only in the conjunction si (if)
before the pronoun il and its plural Us, but never before
die or elles, nor any other word whatever.
10 OP THE HYPHEN, DLERESlS, AND CEDILLA.
14. But no elision of the a or e takes place in le, la, de t
cc, que, before out, huit, huitaine, huiiteme, onze, and on-
zieme ; neither in the pronouns le or la, after a verb in
the imperative mood, nor in the adverb la : so we say, le
out et le non ; le huit ou le onze du mois ; menez-le a Paris ;
ira-t-il la avec vous ?
15. The final e of the preposition entre is retained be-
fore the pronouns euz t elles, and before autres ; and is
only retrenched when entre forms a compound word with
another word beginning with a vowel; as entr'acte,
entr'ouvrir, s'entr' accuser, s'entr' aider.
OF THE HYPHEN.
16. The Hyphen (in French, tiret or trait d 1 union) is a
short horizontal line, thus - , which is used principally
in connecting compound words, and between a verb and
a pronoun, when a question is asked, as in arc-en-ciel,
rainbow ; chef-d'oeuvre, master-piece ; parlez~voiis ? do
you speak ? avez-vous * have you ?
OF THE DIAERESIS.
17. The Dicer esis (in French, tre'ma or die'rese] is a
mark of two points, thus , put over the vowels e, i, , to
intimate that they form a distinct syllable from the
vowels that precede them, as in the words cigue, hem-
lock ; Mo'ise, Moses ; Saul, Saul ; which are pronounced
Ci-gu-e, Mo-ise, Sa-ul.
OF THE CEDILLA.
18. The Cedilla is a small mark placed under the letter
(7, to indicate that it is to be pronounced like $, before
the vowels A, o, u, as in Franqais, French ; garqon,
boy 5 macron, mason ; requ, received.
The signs of punctuation, and all other marks and cha-
racters, are the same in French as in English.
OF NUMBER, CASKS, AND GKNI It
19. There arc two numbers in French ; the singular
and the plural. The singular denotes one person or tiling ;
the plural denotes more than one.
20. The French language has no Cases, properly so
called, and consequently no declensions. The French
express by prepositions, and especially by de (of or from),
and a (to or at), the relations which the Greeks and
the Romans indicated by the change of the different ter-
minations of their nouns.
21. The French language has only two genders, the
masculine and the feminine. The gender of animate or
living beings presents no difficulty, as all males are mas-
culine, and all females are feminine ; but it is only by
practice that one can learn the gender of inanimate ob-
jects, and of animals whose names are the same for the
male and female, such as elephant, elephant ; bujfte, buf-
falo ; cygne, swan ; perdrix, partridge ; baleine, whale ;
truite, trout; saumon, salmon.
It is not possible to give general and precise rules by
means of which one may, on every occasion, distinguish
the gender of a noun from its mere aspect. Several
Grammarians, however, have given treatises on the
genders ; but those treatises are extremely incomplete ;
gome of their rules are vague, and above all liable to
numberless exceptions. The truth i.s, the perfect know-
ledge of the gender of substantives can only be the work
of time. It is by reading with attention, and by having
recourse, in cases of doubt, to a dictionary, that one will
insensibly acquire a complete knowledge of the genders.
Nevertheless in cases of doubt, and in the absence of a
12 OP GENDER.
dictionary, it may be of some practical utility to know
that about nine tenths of the nouns ending in e not ac-
cented are feminine ; the final e mute being, in French,
the distinctive mark of the feminine gender.
The French call the termination in e mute, a feminine
termination ; any other is called masculine. This dis-
tinction arises probably from the circumstance that most
nouns of the feminine gender end with an e mute ; thus, la
table, la rue, la plante, la tete, la fenetre, la chambre, la
22. Names of states, empires, kingdoms, and provinces
arc of the gender which their terminations indicate ; thus :
Danemarck, Piemont, Tyrol, Portugal, etc., are masculine ;
but : Angleterre, Irlande, Ecosse, France, Espagne, Italie,
Suisse, Belgique, Hollande, Allemagne, Prusse, etc. which
end in e mute, are feminine. Le Hanovre, le Bengale, le
Mexique, and perhaps a few more, are exceptions.
23. The preceding rule is applicable to towns ; every