[Course Forum] French 1-7 by Memrise


(Zzzzz ) #144

But is this not the formal singular? Were it plural, you would have prêts instead of prêt, right?

(Jo Thelan) #145

@Zzzzz Hi Mari! Merry Christmas! Does this answer your question? [quote=“JoThelan, post:47, topic:1937”]
Vous can be both formal and plural. “Vous êtes prêt” is the singular formal form. “Vous êtes prêts” is the plural form. “Vous êtes prête” would be be the singular feminine form, and “vous êtes prêtes” would be the plural feminine form. Note that the plural feminine form is only used when the entire group being referred to is female.

(Henning Kockerbeck) #146

“Est-ce que vous êtes prêt ?” (watch the accents :wink: ) isn’t plural. In several languages there’s a polite form for the second person singular that grammatically uses a plural (or parts of it). You might say, when you’re polite to somebody, you address them as multiple. Maybe you’ve heard about the pluralis majestatis or the royal we, that’s a similar concept.

In German, for example, the “normal” personal pronoun for the second person singular is “du”. But you would use “du” only if you’re quite familiar with somebody or if you’ve agreed with that person to use it (“das Du anbieten”, “to offer the ‘du’”). In general and with strangers, you’d address people with “Sie”. That’s actually the personal pronoun for the third person plural. But you use it to address a single person in a polite (or rather, not casual-familiar) manner.

In French, there’s a very similar concept. The “normal” personal pronoun for the second person singular is “tu”. But again, you would use “tu” only if you’re quite familiar and casual with somebody, even more so than in German. In general and with strangers, you’d address people with “vous”. That’s actually the personal pronoun for the second person plural.

In English, there once was a similar concept, but since circa the seventeenth century the personal pronoun “you” is used for the second person singular and plural. Honorifics are expressed mostly by titles like “Sir”, “Madam” and the like.

In this specific case, you can see that “vous” is meant as singular and not as plural from the adjective. In French, the adjective takes the numerus of the subject (and the genus):

La femme est grande.
The woman is tall.

Les femmes sont grandes.
The women are tall.

In the sentence in question, “prêt” is singular. So,

“Est-ce que vous êtes prêt ?”


“Are you ready?”

concerning a single “you”, or second person singular. For the second person plural, you’d have to say

“Est-ce que vous êtes prêts ?”

As a side note, the difference between “prêt” and “prêts” can’t be distinguished in spoken language. And of course you don’t always have an adjective around to tell you whether “vous” is meant as singular or plural. So in most cases you have to take the context into account. If I remember correctly, the sentence is taught in a restaurant context. And a waiter asking the guest “Est-ce que tu es prêt ?” wouldn’t probably be employed for very long :wink:

(Kiboke) #147

Thank you, very informative.

But when I review it after a long time, I may not remember the context anymore. I would prefer if the question would be more precise, ie “Are you ready? (formal, singular)”

(Daniel Halld727) #148


I’m really enjoying the French course but just wanted to request fixes/improvements to a couple of issues.

  1. The French terms “genial” and “trop bien” are both translated as “awesome” in English. This means that when the word “awesome” appears during review sessions I don’t know which of the two French terms I should enter, and just have to guess 50/50,

  2. I’d like to second (third?) the users(s) who have pointed out that in instances where an English phrase could be translated using “tu” (informal) or “vous” (informal/plural) in French, the question should always specify what the context is, or accept either version as correct. At the moment, only about one third of such questions seems to specify informal or formal/plural in brackets after the English phrase, and it’s getting very difficult to remember which French version is required.

(Ora9) #149

A plea regarding the old French A1. The number 71 is spelled as “soixante-et-onze” there, while, unless I’m mistaken, it should be “soixante et onze”, without the dashes. At least that is what Google says. :wink: I’ve looked for the number in the new French 2, but it is not even present there, just as in many cases there are many words less in the new courses, which is why I still vastly prefer the old ones. Could someone, please, edit this item in the old A1 so that it accepts the correct answer?

(Yves Codet) #150

Google is right. There is no dash before and after et: soixante-deux, soixante-trois… soixante-dix, but soixante et un, soixante et onze.

(Yves Codet) #152

I must add that according to the reform of 1990 (which is not mandatory) all compound numerals must be written with dashes (soixante-et-un, soixante-et-onze). But if the reformed spelling is used for numerals, it should be applied to the whole course. Both spellings are accepted, a mixture of both is not, I believe.

(Ora9) #153

Ah, I see. But, yes, a single criterion would be very helpful, since the other words in the same course are spelled without the dashes.

(Guillaume Jaskula) #154

Good morning!
Unfortunately we are not updating the old courses any longer. I’ll be reviewing and changing the new official courses very soon and I’ll make sure everything is spelt according to the latest reform.

Hope that helps!

(Guillaume Jaskula) #155

Bonjour !

For génial and trop bien ! this has been fixed now and you can choose whichever you wish.
For the tu and vous issue, we are currently revamping the courses and this is one of our main concerns for the new version. If you bear with us a little more we’ll find a neat way to show the difference.

Thanks a lot for your comments!

(Ora9) #156

I understand that, but since many people are using them nevertheless, would it be possible to make some volunteer a contributor in the old ones, just so someone could fix the mistakes and so on? I’d happily switch to just the new ones if I didn’t have the strong impression (based on the German and French courses) that they are offering much less than the old ones in all terms except up-to-date moderation.

(Oz Pingouin) #157

Salut Guillaume. I’d like to add my thoughts on the use of French accents to those posted throughout the forum. I agree that we should be tested for accents as we learn because they are an important part of learning French. Currently, when tested you can leave out the accents and can be passed as correct. I would prefer the accents also be tested so we learn correct French from the beginning and not have to learn them later. That said, I am now up to French 3, I always try to include the accents, and I’m enjoying the courses immensely. Thank you Memrise. :heart_eyes:

Added note: For example, how are we to otherwise to tell the difference between ou and où? or a and à?

(Robert Knight8a) #158

I second that.

(Organell) #159

Incroyable strikes again. Since the last time I have learned the french use of white space before exclamation marks but I don’t understand why incroyable with and without exclamation mark is treated as two different words. So many phrases don’t care about them at all. Though it is easy to spot the difference here, when I first countered it I took the first correct translation regardless of punctuation which was marked incorrect.

(Javio777) #160

What about for B2 and C1…will these come soon ??? )))))

(Guillaume Jaskula) #161

Bonjour Organell,

Punctuation like the exclamation mark is the only way here to see the difference between a word and a statement. Think of the difference between just the word sure and the statement sure!.
We try to always match the punctuation between the English and French but please let me know if you see any discrepancies.

Hope that helps!

(Organell) #162

I see your point. It’s just that with the automatic correction most words are accepted before putting the punctuation and this example differs in that sense.

(Sir Cemloud) #163

Memrise will not carry on with these forms of courses (A1,A2…) They have gone for the new form 1 to 7.

I have read that their positioning is A1 to B2. For C1 to C2 you need a lot of practice in the language and being able to know many expressions and know the nuances of the language and its vocabulary. It is a mammoth task.

I am sure many contributors on Memrise have created independent courses in that sense. I would recommend that you explore all the courses available on Memrise and try those aiming for this objective. Expressions, low frequency vocabulary.

There are a few threads already in this section referring to learning French. but I would suggest to start a new one where you can all exchange on the other courses for advanced learners.

(there is also already a thread asking memrise to go beyond level 7). Look it up. :slight_smile:

(Guillaume Jaskula) #164

Thank you for that excellent explanation!