slide1 slide2 slide3

French, Fun, Language, Learn French,
Second Language, French Vocabulary, French Textbook

Explore a few pages. - Enjoy!


Unique Features of Funky French

 As the title indicates, Funky French is not a typical, comprehensive foreign language textbook. The positive educational value of the humorous approach is “a given.” Its surefire mnemonics, engaging exercises and entertaining stories serve a dual purpose; the learning process is more enjoyable while the subject matter is reinforced. Even the headings of structure explanations, the titles of practice assignments and the names of many characters, which are most effective when pronounced aloud, are clever. We tend to remember what makes us smile.

The chapter sequencing is another novel aspect of Funky French. Organized to reflect how a student actually learns to speak, read and write a language, this textbook is arranged neither by unrelated terms and usages nor by grammatical clusters. Instead, the material is presented by interlocking concepts.

Additionally, because repetition is imperative for language acquisition, vocabulary (first shown in bold type) and structures are not given just one shot, cameo appearances. After their intro- duction, these terms and grammar points stay ‘on stage’ throughout the book. Review sections precede the more advanced corresponding chapters. Following every twenty-five or so pages, students can check their progress by doing mastery exercises.

Funky French is a multipurpose, invaluable resource for school, business and travel. Students who want to learn the basics, supplement classroom instruction or converse on a rudimentary level will find this textbook to be a colorful cornucopia of information. Others may view it as a self-study guide and a means to ‘dust off and polish up’ skills learned in high school or college. Students taking AP and IB courses will notice that all major concepts are covered in detail to insure excellent results. Moreover, readers engaged in careers involving the use of French will be far better equipped to speak the language. Lastly, anyone planning a trip or a stay abroad should not leave home without Funky French.



 La Prononciation Française- French Pronunciation



1. The three options for dividing French words into syllables are between two vowels, between two consonants and between a vowel and a consonant. Separating the syllables between conso- nants and vowels is a non-non.

Notice how that three-choice rule applies to the following words, and say them aloud!

fran-çais, l’A-mé-rique, l’im-per-mé-a-ble (the raincoat), la ma-de-moi-selle (Don’t make her ‘mad’ by dividing the word between the consonant and the vowel!)

You should be able to separate the following words into syllables in ‘a split second’:

Paris, le café, le restaurant, le théâtre, la liberté, Pompidou, économique, l’indépendance, la révolution, l’administration

2. The French oi is pronounced like the English wa‘Oi’ not say these French words à haute voix- aloud?

Exs. trois- three, moi- me, l’oie-the goose, le roi- the king, la soie- the silk

Oi appears to be crying out in these sentences:

Ex. Moi, je crois que je vois trois rois. > Me, I believe that I see three kings.

Ex. La mademoiselle en soie boit beaucoup ce soir. > The mademoiselle in silk is drinking a lot this evening.

An exception: L’oignon- the onion does not start with wa. Rather, it has its ‘own’ sound.

3. A single s between two vowels is pronounced like an English z, even if one word ends with an s and the next one starts with a vowel. Linking two words is termed a liaison. (Incidentally, the s in liaison has a z sound.)

Try pronouncing these ‘ea-z-y’ French nouns!

 la chaise-the chair, choisir- to choose, la maison- the house, les arbres- the trees, les enfants- the children, les usines- the factories, les États-Unis- the United States

Say the following two phrases à haute voix, and underline the seven z sounds!

Ex. Françoise adore des maisons roses. > Françoise adores pink houses.

Ex. Lise choisit des éclairs et des fraises. > Lise chooses some éclairs and some strawberries. 

4. An h is not pronounced in French. (Think of the consonant as standing for hush!) If there is a very brief pause between the first word and the next one that starts with an h, that consonant is referred to as aspirant. The article in front of that h does not have an apostrophe.

Exs. le haricot- the bean, le hibou- the owl, le huitième étage- the eighth floor  

4a. With no hesitation indicated between the two words, the h is considered mute.

Exs. l’herbe- the herb, the grass, l’histoire- the history, the story, l’homme- the man 

5. The following letter combinations sound like a long a sound said quickly: ai, ais, ait, aient, é, ée, eil, er, es, est, et, ez

Say these French words aloud!

vrai-true, mais-but, le lait- the milk, le café- the coffee, le soleil- the sun, parler- to speak, et- and, chez- at the home of (You probably never had all A’s with such little effort.)

In the next two examples, underline six, long a sounds said briefly in each! 

Ex. Vous parlez français et anglais chez Émilie. > You speak French and English at Emiy’s.

Ex. Le monstre est laid. Il a un nez cassé et une oreille. > The monster is ugly. He has a broken nose and one ear.

6. The following letter combinations resemble a long o pronounced quickly in English: au, aux, eau, eaux, ôt. Some French words containing this sound are beau - handsome, chaud - warm, hot, l’agneau - the lamb, les rideaux - curtains, bientôt - soon

Show what you know by underlining the four long o sounds said briefly in each phrase!

Ex. Les beaux bateaux de M. Rimbaud sont au quai. > Mr. Rimbaud’s beautiful boats are at the pier. (They are OK au quai.)

Ex. À bientôt et au revoir, Claude Goudreaux. > See you soon and goodbye, Claude Goudreaux.

An important note: The x on -aux elides to the next word as a z if it precedes a vowel or a mute h. The phrase forms a liaison just as an s becomes a z in the same cases.

Exs. aux aéroports- to, at the airports, aux écoles- to, at the schools aux églises- to, at the churches, aux universités- to, at the universities, aux hôpitaux- to, at the hospitals,

7. If a French word ends with any of the consonants in the word careful, that letter is generally pronounced. (The helpful hint includes ‘a silent warning’ for consonants other than c, r, f and l.) 

Repeat these French words ‘carefully’!

sec- dry, noir- black, le mur- the wall,vif- lively, neuf- nine, new, l’œuf- the egg, l’arc-en-ciel- the rainbow, le fusil- the gun, le sel- the salt

Underline and say “the special consonant words” in the examples below!

Ex. Il y a un flic au fusil près du Pont-Neuf. > There is a cop with a gun near le Pont-Neuf.

Ex. La femme chic et le bel homme sont chez Dior pour choisir des bijoux. > The stylish woman and the handsome man are at Dior to choose some jewels.

Careful Exceptions

a. C is not pronounced, even though it is the last letter in these words: blanc- white, le banc- the bench, le franc- the French franc (former currency), le tabac- the tobacco

b. R following an e with no accent mark calls for a long a sound said quickly. This combination is found in infinitives of -er verbs.

8. When the last letter of a word is an unaccented e, the consonant in front of it is pronounced. Unless the speaker enunciates very clearly, the vowel is not heard. However, it is une lettre très  importante. One use of the enabling e is to signal feminine agreement.

Saying this set of adjectives aloud will reveal the feminine touch.

petit (masc.) > petite (fem.)- little, small

grand (masc.) > grande (fem.)- big, great

haut (masc.) > haute (fem.)- high

mauvais (masc.) > mauvaise (fem.)- bad (The s between the two vowels produces a  z  sound.)

9. An œ combination is typical in written French. The joined letters are pronounced much like the ur in purse.


 Nasal Sounds

10. And now for what makes the French sound so French! Though there are four sets of nasal sounds, they share one formula: a vowel + m or n + a consonant other than m or n or no letter at all. The m or n can be the last letter of the word.

10a. The four combinations am, an, em and en have the same pronunciation. (If said together, they sound similar to a foghorn.) L’enfant- the child contains two nasal pairs. (The kids’ combos include ‘a two-for-one deal.’)   

Think how an English person would pronounce can’t or France! Then say these words aloud: le champagne- the champagne, chanter- to sing, danser- to dance, la tante- the aunt, le croissant, employer- to employ, to use, seulement- only, mentir- to lie, l’encre- the ink

10b. With your top and bottom lips in a straight position, voicing the im/in variation produces a smile. Le pain, the bread, a ‘staple’ word of reference, can be shared with la faim- the hunger, simple- simple, le timbre- the stamp, grimper- to climb, la fin- the end, le lapin- the rabbit, mince- thin, le prince- the prince

10c. The nasal combination om/on is not difficult to pronounce since your mouth forms an o in the process. While it is open, you might pop in des bonbons- some candy, and say these French words aloud: le nombre- the number, tomber- to fall, le pompier- the fireman, mignon- cute, nice le mouton- the sheep, le pont- the bridge, l’oncle- the uncle

10d. Looking in a mirror, you will notice your bottom lip making a U-turn for the um/un duo.  

Because un means one and is also the masculine form for a and an, French speakers get plenty of mileage from this nasal sound. Start out by saying these French words aloud: emprunter- to borrow, le rhum- the rum, brun- brown, lundi- Monday

An interesting note: If you pronounce the nasal sounds in order (10a. thru 10d.), you form the sequence emitted from the UFO in the movie Encounters of the Third Kind. (That might explain why nasal combinations sound alien.)

A reminder: A consonant other than m or n or nothing at all must follow one of those letters to produce a nasal sound. Pommes in les pommes frites- the French fries are not in a nasal combo. 

Underline the seventeen nasal sounds in the following sentences!

Le printemps et l’automne sont deux saisons. > Spring and fall (autumn) are two seasons.

La mince femme blonde a trente et un ans. > The thin blond woman is thirty-one years old.

Nous n’en avons que cinq. > We have only five of them. 

Mme Lebrun prend du vin blanc et du champagne. > Mrs. Lebrun takes some white wine and some champagne.


11. When an i is not included in a nasal combination, its pronunciation is close to a long e said quickly. You’ll get l’idée as you hear yourself say le midi- noon, le minuit- midnight, joli- pretty, bâtir- to build, venir- to come, vite- quickly

12. A y, like the non-nasal i, has a quick long e sound. ‘Y’ not listen for it in typique- typical, le cygne- the swan, le gymnase- the gymnasium and le mystère- the mystery?   


 Accent Marks

13a. The hook under a c in front of an a, o or u is a cedilla (une cédille). Its presence makes the consonant retain its soft pronunciation. (The harsh sound of ‘a sea’ appeals neither to gulls nor to Gauls.) Familiar words ‘hooked on’ the c are François, le garçon-the boy, la salade niçoise and (le) français.

Accent marks frequently top off French Es.

13b. The accent aigu (é) slants from right to left and signals a clipped long a sound. This slash, meaning sharp, ominously leaves marks over two es in l’épée- the sword.

Some examples are l’épice- the spice, l’éponge- the sponge, l’école- the school, l’étudiant- the stu- dent, étudier- to study.

13c. The accent grave (è) slants from left to right and gives the e a short vowel sound. You may find it ghoulish that the accent grave rests in le cimetière- the cemetery.

Repeat these French words with accents pointing left and right until you get them straight:

désolé- sorry, l’élève- the pupil, Genève- Geneva, l’été- summer, l’infirmière- the female nurse, le médecin- the doctor, la mère- the mother, le musée- the museum, le père- the father, le thé- the tea, marié- married, tiède- lukewarm

13d. A word with un accent circonflexe (^) over a vowel typically has an English cognate with s as the next letter. See what happens to la forêt, l’interêt, l’hôpital and les vêtements- the clothing when the roof (^) is lifted off, and the consonant is let in! (The circumflex is l’hôte-the host.)  Instead of an imaginary s after a vowel with a circumflex, the French usually offer ‘t.’ (It is not just a British custom.)

Without the translations given, try to decipher the meanings of the following words!

le plâtre, la fête, la bête, l’île, le maître, coûter

13e. Un tréma, ë, the pair of dots above the second of two consecutive vowels, indicates that the word is split into syllables between them. This accent mark distinguishes two terms that would otherwise look and sound identical. Mais- but becomes le maïs- the corn. (It has been ‘popped’.) In addition, Noel, a first name, converts into le Noël for Christmas. (Were you previously naïve about this?)



Though a good French accent is très important, if the correct sounds are not applied in conversation, the speaker is limited to impressing French animals. Knowing how to address people is your chance to get in the first and last words. 

Calling the Meeting to Order

1. When approaching or being approached by a French-speaking person whom you know well, expect to kiss or to be kissed on both cheeks. (Either party may start the exchange. There isn’t any ‘pecking order.’)

2. One not familiar with an individual proceeds directly to bonjour. “Hello” is its most common translation, but it actually means good day. Bon après-midi- good afternoon can only be used at a specific time of day, whereas bonjour serves from sunrise until sunset. Bonsoir- good evening starts or ends a conversation. Bonne nuit- good night is the final greeting of the day. (However, the conversation is still very ‘light.’)

Important notes: You will not make un faux pas- a mistake if you add a title of address such as Monsieur- Mr., Madame- Mrs., and Mademoiselle- Miss/Ms to all greetings. An example of the correct format is “Bonjour, Mademoiselle LaFrance.” An older woman should be addressed as Madame. (Referring to her as mademoiselle infers that she ‘missed the boat.’)

By not adhering to la politesse française- French politeness, a speaker might encounter another  kind of ‘cross culture.’

3. Abbreviations are perfectly acceptable in written French. You will not be considered ‘short’ with people for writing M. for Monsieur, MM. for Messieurs, Mme for Madame, Mmes for Mes- dames, Mlle for Mademoiselle and Mlles for Mesdemoiselles.

4. When meeting somebody the first time, an obvious question is, What is your name? The two translations are Quel est votre nom?  > What is your name?, and Comment vous appelez-vous?, which literally means “How do you call yourself?”

The answer for the first form starts, Mon nom est _________. > My name is _________. The re- sponse for the second begins, Je m’appelle __________.  > My name is/I call myself _________.    

4a. The above individual should be addressed in the formal vous form at the first meeting.  

4b. However, when you are being introduced to someone your age or younger, it is appropriate to use the informal tu form.

The questions in 4. become Quel est ton nom?, and Comment t’appelles-tu?

5. Hi! is expressed by Salut! (That’s a short salutation.)

6. One frequently hears Ça va? exchanged among friends and family. That is an informal way of sayingHow are you?” Its literal translation is “It’s going?”

Typical responses to Ça va? are:

Ça va (bien.)  > I am doing (well.)/It is going (well.) The intonation in the speaker’s voice distinguishes the question from the answer.

Ça va comme ci comme ça. > It’s going so-so./I’m doing just OK.

Ça va mal. > It’s not going well./I’m not doing well.

7. There are two very popular ways to express “How are you?” in French.

7a. When speaking to a stranger or to more than one person, regardless of how well you know him/her/them, the appropriate question is Comment allez-vous? Its exact meaning is  “How are you going?” Vous is a formal form and the only plural pronoun for you.

7b. To ask somebody with whom you are familiar how he or she is, the most typical question is Comment vas-tu? Tu is the informal subject pronoun in “How are you going?” Comment means how. When answering, the person(s) will comment on how he/she/they is/are.

8. The most common responses to the questions in 7a. and 7b. are:

Je vais (très) bien, merci.  > I am (very) well, thank you. 

Je vais comme ci comme ça.  > I am doing so-so. Je ne vais pas mal.  > I am not doing badly.

Je ne vais pas (très) bien.  > I am not (very) well.

Je vais mal.  > I am doing poorly. (The prefix mal has nothing good to say in either  language.)

A very important note: Ne before a verb and pas after it make a sentence negative.

9. Dialogues are often peppered with the following phrases:

9a. S’il te plaît and s’il vous plaît! > Please! The word-for-word translation for both terms said before or after a request is “If it pleases you.” (Pronounced correctly, s’il vous plaît won’t sound like an outdated wedding gift.)

Ex. S’il te plaît, apporte-moi du vin rouge! > Please bring me some red wine! 

Ex. Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît! > Speak slowly, please!

9b. Merci and Merci beaucoup. > Thank you and Thank you very much.  Choose either de rien or pas de quoi to say, “You are welcome.” The former means of/from nothing; the latter translates as not of what. “Think nothing of it” draws from both French responses.

Ex. La boîte de chocolats est pour moi? Merci beaucoup. > The box of chocolates is for me? Thank you very much.

De rien or pas de quoi would be a tasteful way to acknowledge gratitude for the sweet gesture.

10. Even a brief rendez-vous precedes a choice of closing remarks. Of course, the most popular  goodbye is au revoir. Because its exact translation is “to see again,” it implies that there will be another meeting. Adieu, (Go) with God, is more formal and more final.

You can also leave ‘a lasting impression’ with à bientôt! or tout à l’heure!- See you soon! Those anticipating meeting again soon might say à demain- until tomorrow or à + the scheduled time. The international ciao can replace all of the previous possibilities.

PS: Before leaving relatives and friends, it is appropriate to plant one more bisou- kiss on each other’s cheeks.  


Let’s Talk!- Circle the letters of the correct answers to complete the sentences below.

1. Bonjour is an appropriate greeting for _____.

a. the morning only            b. the afternoon only           c. anytime of the day            d. the evening

2. Good night is translated by _____.

a. bonne soir                       b. bonne nuit                       c. bon après-midi                  d. bonbons

3. The written abbreviation for madame is _____.

a. M.                                   b. MM.                                c. Mlle                                   d. Mme

4. One who asks the question Comment vous-appelez-vous? _____.

a. wants to know a young person’s name                       b. has already asked Quel est votre nom?         

c. is using informal pronouns                                         d. wants to know the name of someone older

5. When greeting friends, children or young adults, one often says _____!

a. Salut                                b. Ciao                                 c. Ça ne va pas bien             d. Adieu

6. Comment allez-vous? is the formal form of _____?

a. Allez-vous mal?                      b. Ça ne va pas bien.                    c. Comment vas-tu?  

d. Allez-vous comme ci comme ça? 

7. Je vais mal is similar in meaning to _____.

a. Vous allez mal          b. Ça va comme ci comme ça             c. Ça va            d. Ça ne va pas bien.

8. To request a favor from more than one family member, one should add, _____.

a. s’il te plaît!                b. s’il vous plaît!             c. Comment ça va?              d. Vous allez bien 

9. You are welcome is expressed in French by de rien or _____.

a. pas de quoi                b. la politesse                   c. un bisou                           d. merci beaucoup  

10. À bientôt and tout à l’heure are synonyms which translate as _____!

a. Please go                   b. See you soon               c. See you tomorrow          d. With God