French Sentence

A sentence is a group of words that

  1. Is meaningful on its own.
  2. Contains a main verb (and therefore at least one main clause).
  3. Begins with a capital letter
  4. Ends with a full stop/period (or other strong punctuation).
Sentences are used to make statements, ask questions, make requests, give orders, and express exclamations.

There are two types of sentences in French:

  • Simple sentence (phrase simple) - consists of an independent clause.
    • Il buvait une pinte de bière. - He was drinking a pint of beer.

  • Complex sentence (phrase complexe) - contains a main clause and at least one other clause. Clauses can be linked in different ways:
    • Coordination (linked by a coordinating conjunction)
         Elle avait un travail génial et elle était très contente. - She had a great job and she was very happy.
    • Subordination (linked by a subordinating conjunction or relative pronoun)
         Je savais qu'il te dirait la vérité. - I knew that he would tell you the truth.
    • Juxtaposition (linked by punctuation)
         Le dauphin plonge, il explore, il ressort. - The dolphin dives, it explores, it resurfaces.

Phrases non verbales (non-verbal sentences) are organised around something other than a conjugated verb. For example:

  • Inondations terribles à Londres. - Terrible floods in London.
  • Pas du tout, Suzanne. - Not at all, Suzanne.
  • Impossible à croire ! - Unbelievable!
  • Quelle histoire à dormir debout ! - What complete nonsense!
Clever stuff happening!