French Grammar Glossary

active voice when the subject performs an action.

adjective a word that modifies a noun or a pronoun.

adverb a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

antecedent a word or group of words to which a relative pronoun refers.

articles small words that are generally classified as adjectives. They indicate that a noun or noun substitute will follow.

auxiliary verb one of two elements needed to form a compound tense. Also called a helping verb.

cardinal numbers the numbers we use for counting.

cognates words that are the same or similar in both French and English.

conditional a mood that expresses what a subject would do under certain circumstances.

conditionnel passé a mood that expresses what a subject would have done under certain circumstances.

conjugation the action of changing the ending of the verb so that it agrees with the subject noun or pronoun performing the task.

definite article an article that indicates a specific person or thing: the house.

demonstrative adjective an adjective that precedes nouns to indicate or point out the person, place, or thing referred to: this, that, these, or those.

demonstrative pronoun a pronoun that stands alone to indicate or point out the person or thing referred to.

direct object answers the question whom or what the subject is acting upon and may refer to people, places, things, or ideas. May be a noun or pronoun.

exclamation a word or phrase used to show surprise, delight, incredulity, emphasis, or other strong emotion.

false friends words that are spelled the same or almost the same in both languages but have entirely different meanings and can be different parts of speech.

future a tense that expresses what the subject will do or is going to do or what action will or is going to take place in a future time.

futur antérieur a tense that expresses what the subject will have done by a future time.

gender indicates whether a word is masculine or feminine.

idiom a particular word or expression whose meaning cannot be readily understood by either its grammar or the words used.

imperative a verb form used to give commands or make requests.

imperfect a past tense that expresses a continuous, repeated, habitual or incomplete action, situation, or event in the past that was going on at an indefinite time or what used to happen in the past.

indefinite adjective expresses any, no, other, certain, some, each, the same, several, some, all, etc.

indefinite article refers to persons and objects not specifically identified.

indefinite pronoun expresses any, no one, none, other(s), other one(s), certain one(s), some, each one, everyone, the same one(s), one, several, someone, anyone, some, a few, something, anything, nothing, all, everything, anything, etc.

independent (stress) pronoun a pronoun used to emphasize a fact and to highlight or replace nouns or pronouns.

indicative a verb tense that states a fact.

indirect object answers the question to or for whom the subject is doing something and refer only to people. May be a noun or pronoun.

infinitive the basic “to” form of the verb.

intonation the act of asking a question by inserting a rising inflection at the end of the statement.

inversion the reversal of the word order of the subject pronoun and the conjugated verb in order to form a question.

noun a word used to name a person, place, thing, idea, or quality.

partitive an article asking for an indefinite quantity (part of a whole: some or any).

passé composé a tense that expresses an action or event completed in the past.

passé simple a past tense that occurs primarily in formal, literary, and historical writings expressing a completed action.

passive voice when the subject is acted upon.

past conditional a tense that expresses what the subject would have done under certain conditions.

past participle a verb form expressing an action that has occurred in the past.

pluperfect or plus-que-parfait a tense that expresses what the subject had done.

preposition a word used to relate elements in a sentence: noun to noun, verb to verb, or verb to noun/pronoun.

present participle a verb form ending in -ing that expresses an action that is taking place.

present tense a tense that expresses what is happening now.

pronoun a word that is used to replace a noun (a person, place, thing, idea, or quality).

reflexive verb a verb that shows that the subject is performing the action upon itself.

relative pronoun a pronoun that joins a main clause (a clause that can stand alone) to a dependent clause.

subject the noun performing the action of the verb.

subjunctive a mood expressing wishing, emotion, doubt, denial.

verb a word that shows an action or state of being.