French C’est vs Il est – Top Ten Tips

If you’ve already learned how to conjugate and start using one of the most essential verbs in French – ÊTRE – Bravo!  

Now it’s time to move on to another crucial aspect of être – knowing when to use “c’est” and “il est.” This is a concept that will leave you feeling completely lost if nobody ever tells you about a few simple rules.  This is where I come in!

I have no idea why, but for some reason this lesson is almost always left out of French courses and grammar books.  That’s just crazy, because I have even had many B2 level students who tell me they just sort of guess at when to use “c’est” vs “il est.”

My video lesson on “c’est” and “il est” is less than 15 minutes long.  That’s not a huge time investment on your part, but it will keep you from making some very common mistakes that you may not even be aware of.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, you really need to watch this lesson in which I explain the differences between the two and give you solid rules on how to determine which one to use in different situations. 

In 15 short minutes I cover everything from basic grammar rules to more nuanced situations, so you can feel confident using these phrases in any context.

To help you practice and master this tricky grammar topic, I’ve created a set of 50 practice cards to accompany my video lesson. These cards will provide you with ample opportunities to practice using “c’est” and “il est” correctly in a variety of contexts. 


1.  “C’est” and “Ce sont” are followed by determiners, words that indicate the number and gender of the noun that follows. Look for determiners like:  un, une, de la , du, des, mon, ma, mes, ce, cette, etc.

2.  “C’est” and “Ce sont” are followed by proper nouns and disjunctive pronouns like moi, toi, lui, elle, etc. 

3.  “C’est” and “Ce sont” are followed by dates and adjectives for non-specific things.

4.  Use “c’est” to describe time, such as “C’est l’heure de partir.”

5.  Use “c’est” to express emotions or opinions, such as “C’est dommage.”

6.  “Il est – Elle est – Ils sont – Elles sont” are followed by adjectives that refer to specific people or things.

7.  “Il est – Elle est – Ils sont – Elles sont” are followed by professions.  Note that in French you don’t need UN or UNE before a profession. 

8.  Use “il est” to say what time it is, such as “Il est 17h00.”

9. “Il est – Elle est – Ils sont – Elles sont” are followed by prepositions, such as “Ils sont dans la cuisine.”

10. Remember that “c’est” means “it is”, and it can also mean “he is” or “she is” given the context!

Go ahead and start using these tips and rules help you better understand how to use “c’est” and “il est”, and you won’t find yourself still making the same mistakes years down the road.  It happens!

Don’t forget to check out my video lesson and practice cards to practice and master this important grammar skill.

French Pronouns Y and EN

French Pronouns Y and EN

Do you ever think it’s easier just to avoid these pronouns altogether because you can still make your point without using them?  That can be a tempting solution!  However, you’ll soon find that every native French speaker uses them consistently throughout their conversations.

Here are three of the main reasons why it’s important to learn how to use these pronouns:

1.  They are commonly used in French: The pronouns Y and EN are very common in the French language and are used in a variety of situations, especially when talking about places, quantities, and things.

2.  They can replace entire phrases: Y and EN can be used to replace entire phrases in French, making your speech more concise and efficient.

3.  They will improve your fluency: Mastering the use of Y and EN can help improve your French fluency and make your speech more natural.

Check out my video lesson on the pronouns Y and EN, where I go into more detail about how to use them correctly. 

To help you practice and master this tricky grammar topic, I’ve created a set of 75 practice cards to accompany my video lesson. These cards will provide you with ample opportunities to practice using Y and EN correctly in a variety of tenses and contexts. 


1.  Y is used to replace a prepositional phrase that indicates a place. For example, “Je vais à Paris” can be replaced with “J’y vais.”

2.  Y can also be used to replace an entire phrase that begins with “à” or “chez.” For example, “Je vais à la bibliothèque” can be replaced with “J’y vais” and “Je vais chez mon ami” can be replaced with “J’y vais.”

3.  Y can also be used to replace expressions like “à cela” or “à ce sujet.” For example, “Je n’ai pas pensé à cela” can be replaced with “Je n’y ai pas pensé.”

4.  Y can be placed before the verb or attached to an infinitive. For example, “Je vais y aller” or “J’y vais.”

5.  Y can never be used to replace a person.


1.  EN is used to replace a prepositional phrase that indicates a quantity. For example, “Je veux trois pommes” can be replaced with “J’en veux trois.”

2.  EN can also be used to replace an entire phrase that begins with “de.” For example, “Je parle de mon travail” can be replaced with “J’en parle.”

3.  EN can also be used to replace expressions like “du” or “de la.” For example, “Je bois du café” can be replaced with “J’en bois.”

4.  EN can be placed before the verb or attached to an infinitive. For example, “Je vais en acheter” or “J’en achète.”

5.  EN can sometimes replace places when they are preceded by “de”.  For example, “Je reviens de la banque” can be replaced by “J’en reviens.”  

April French Challenge

It’s Time for the April French Challenge

Le Défi du Mois d’Avril!

The April French Translation Challenge is for upper-beginner through advanced level learners. Every single day presents a brand new challenge to keep you on your toes while learning and practicing French. Many grammar topics in my complete French course are included.

Don’t be confused by the 9:00 start time on April 1st that you’ll see when you go to sign up. I just had to put something in that space. There are no group meetings to attend. Work at your own pace. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with others from around the world on the chat board who are taking the challenge with you!

If you did last year’s April challenge, you’re more than welcome to join again this year! Though the content is the same as what you worked with last year, this is an opportunity to go through it again with a new set of people who will have different questions than last year. Jennifer will show up daily in the stream / chat to answer all of your questions!

Watch this video to find out more about the challenge

Click here to watch a sample from the February French Challenge

Each day you will watch a video that is 8-12 minutes long, giving you time to pause and work on translations before going over them with me. We will translate 2-4 sentences per day depending on length and level of difficulty. We’re looking at what should be about 15 – 20 minutes a day.

Every day you will watch a different video in which we will work together to translate sentences from English to French. The grammar topics are quite varied, because this is what happens in real French conversations.

The translations include the grammar that you have been working hard to master. This is an opportunity to observe sentences that you would really say, and to figure out how to do that in French.

If you miss a day, you can make it up. All of the material will be made available to you on April 1st. You’ll have until May 1st to complete the challenge. During that time you will enjoy interacting with others who are taking the challenge and asking me all of your questions. All of the material will be yours to keep and review in the future, though the “group” will no longer be active.

Registration: March 26rd – March 31st

Cost: €30

Dates: April 1st – April 30th

Where: Google Classroom. I will email you the link on March 31st. Days 1 – 30 will be available in case you want to complete more than one per day.

Email me: When you sign up, send me an email to say “I’m in”! That way I will be sure to have your preferred email address when it’s time to send you the Google Classroom link:

Sample Contents:

🇫🇷 present conditional, imperfect tense, verb + à + infinitive, avoir envie de, expressing time(depuis), demonstrative pronouns, expressing time (il y a), pronoun Y, descriptive adjectives

🇫🇷 present conditional, relative pronouns, verb + de + infinitive,
direct object pronouns, present subjunctive, le verbe tenir, none of your business, I wish that, present subjunctive

🇫🇷 ways to talk about the weather, futur simple, idiomatic expressions, present conditional, pronoun Y, idiomatic expressions, “good”

🇫🇷 present conditional, alors, comparatives with adjectives, futur simple, inversion, it is necessary

🇫🇷 comparatives with adverbs, idiomatic expressions, quoi que, pronoun EN, forming questions

🇫🇷 direct object pronouns with the passé composé, quelque part, imperative commands, idiomatic expressions

🇫🇷 forming questions, idiomatic expressions, partitive articles, indirect object pronouns, pronoun Y, relative pronouns

🇫🇷 I can’t wait, qu’on / que l’on, idiomatic expressions, futur simple

🇫🇷 questions, interrogative words, depuis, pendant, imperfect tense, pronoun EN, negation

🇫🇷 arriver à + infinitive, avoir expressions, devoir, avoir mal, imperfect tense

🇫🇷 il y a, questions, present conditional, imperfect, faire causative construction, reflexive verbs, to need

🇫🇷 3 ways to say “need”, indirect object pronouns, falloir, present conditional, “to pick up a person at the airport”, prévoir + infinitive

🇫🇷 reflexive verbs, futur simple, si clause, possessive adjectives, passé composé, chez, direct object pronouns, faire causative

🇫🇷 passé composé, direct object pronouns, adverbs, “reschedule”, “they work for me”, futur simple, reciprocal verbs

🇫🇷 direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns, prendre, passé simple, descriptive adjectives, adverbs, quelconque, encore, pendant

🇫🇷 to be excited, present subjunctive, imperative commands, relative pronouns, verb + de + infinitive, comme, avoir in the passé composé, vouloir dire

🇫🇷 “how about if we…”, imperfect tense, reflexive verbs, idiomatic expressions, present conditional, chez, demonstrative pronouns, superlatives

Rebonjour – Saying Hello Again in French

When you meet a person for the first time of the day,


Never say bonjour when you meet a person for the second (or third, or fourth) time of the day because it can be considered rude.

If you say bonjour to someone you’ve already greeted at some point during the same day, it is assumed that you have forgotten.

Saying hello or bonjour to greet someone is a normal and polite thing to do in both English speaking countries and in France, but what should you say or do when you see the same person later in the day if you are not supposed to say bonjour again?


RebonjourHi again.
Re (leave off bonjour)

Rebonjour (or the extremely informal “Re”) is a way to acknowledge that you’ve already seen someone that day while still saying hello.  Sometimes you will feel like being more formal.


Smile and nod.(no words are necessary)
Bonjour à nouveau.Hello again.

French Verb Être – Passé Composé vs Imparfait

The passé composé form of the verb être is mostly used for the passive voice.

The passive voice is the form of a verb in which the subject undergoes the action of the verb. The passé composé is used to indicate an event, a change, or what happened. You can say j’ai été when something has changed. Use the imperfect tense for conditions or states of being.

Passive VoiceHe was hit by a ball.
Active VoiceA ball hit him.
La Voix PassiveIl a été frappé par un ballon.
La Voix ActiveUn ballon l’a frappé.
J’ai été surpris(e).At that specific moment in the past, I went from being unaware to finding out.
J’ai été malade.
le passé composé
I became sick at that moment, but now it’s finished.
J’étais malade.
I was sick. 
(condition or state of being) 

J’ai été malade can translate to the colloquial got, which indicates a change of state at a particular moment.  

J’ai été malade.

I got sick.

The passé composé form of être can be used as the equivalent of je suis allé(e) in colloquial French.

J’ai été en France.

Je suis allé(e) en France.
I was in France.
(definite point in time)
I went to France. 
J’étais en France.I was in France.
(no definite point in time)

Another common way to use the passé composé of être is when you ask someone how something went. 

We hear this a lot in restaurants to know if we enjoyed a meal. The most common response to this question is Très bien!

Ça a été?How was it?
How did it go?

Connaître and Savoir 

The verbs connaître and savoir also have different meanings in the passé composé and imperfect tenses.

Passé ComposéJ’ai suI found out
(something changed)
ImparfaitJe savaisI knew
Passé ComposéJ’ai connuI met
(something changed)
ImparfaitJe connaissaisI knew
(person, place, thing)

Is there a present perfect tense in French?

The verb tense called the present perfect in English doesn’t exist in French.

How is this be possible?

We use the present perfect tense all the time in English.

How do the French get along without it?

Examples of the present perfect in English:

She has lived here for three years.

We have (already) been to Italy.

They have (already) read this book.

Have you ever played tennis?

I have just broken my screen.

If this tense doesn’t exist in French, what do you use instead of the present perfect?

Depending on the context, the present simple tense or passé composé is generally used.

“She has lived here for three years” indicates that she started living here three years ago. 

We may also use the present perfect continuous and say “She has been living here for three years”.  Regardless, she still lives here. 

It’s not the same thing as saying “She lived here for three years”, which would be a completed action.

To indicate that something started in the past, and continues into the present, use the present tense with depuis.

Present Tense + Depuis + Amount of Time

She has lived here for three years.

Elle habite ici depuis trois ans.

We use the present perfect with past actions that aren’t defined by a specific time. In French, use the passé composé with déjà.

Passé Composé + Déjà

We have (already) been to Italy.

Nous avons déjà été en Italie.

They have (already) read this book.

Ils ont déjà lu ce livre.

You can also use the passé composé with déjà construction to ask if someone has ever done something.

Have you ever played tennis?

Tu as déjà joué au tennis?

We use the present perfect to indicate things that have just happened.  In French,  use venir de + infinitive.

Venir De + Infinitive

I have just broken my screen.

Je viens de casser mon écran.


I have been cooking all morning, and I just finished the dessert.

J’ai fait la cuisine toute la matinée et je viens de finir le dessert.

I have been eating too many sweets lately.

J’ai trop mangé de sucreries dernièrement.

You have been on the phone for two hours.

Tu es au téléphone depuis deux heures.
Ça fait deux heures que tu es au téléphone.

I have been playing tennis for a long time.

Je joue au tennis depuis longtemps.
Ça fait longtemps que je joue au tennis.

Love Learning Languages Lessons & Practice Resources

Free Lesson – Depuis, Pendant, Il y a

Practice Cards – Depuis, Pour, Pendant, Il y a

Free Quiz – Depuis, Pendant, Il y a

Free Sentence Structure Charts Depuis, Pendant, Il y a

Free Sentence Structure Charts Venir De + Infinitive

French Cinema / Movies Vocabulary List – Le Cinéma

French Cinema / Movies Vocabulary

Le Cinéma

Quizlet: Practice and Master This Vocabulary List

une salle de cinémaa movie theater
le cinémacinema, movies, a movie theater
un siègea seat
une placea place
un billet de cinémaa movie ticket
un guicheta ticket booth
se faire un cinégo to the movies
aller au cinémagoing to the movies
une bande annoncea trailer
une critiquea review
une publicité, une puban advertisement, an ad
un acteuran actor
une actricean actress
un(e) metteur/euse en scènea director
un producteur, une productricea producer
un(e) figurant(e)an extra
jouerto act
les sous-titressubtitles
la bande sonthe soundtrack
se retrouver au cinéto meet up at the movie theater
se donner rendez-vous au cinémato meet up at the movie theater
la séance (de cinéma)the showing
ce film est nulthis movie is bad
un chef d’œuvrea masterpiece
un projecteura projector, a spotlight
une boissona beverage
une friandisea treat
un dessin animéa cartoon
un film d’animationan animated film
un film d’horreura horror film
une comédiea comedy
un dramea drama
un film d’actionan action movie
une histoire vraiea true story
spoilerto spoil
doubler un filmto dub a movie
la joiejoy
la tristessesadness
une caméraa video camera
tourner un filmto shoot a movie
un décor de cinémaa movie set
un effet spéciala special effect
un budgeta budget
le chiffre d’affairethe revenu
un(e) spectateur-tricea spectator
le publicthe audience
la célébritéfame
une stara star
un cachetan actor’s fee
un cascadeur-eusea stuntman, stuntwoman
basé surbased on
un naveta really bad movie
une comédie musicalea musical
un film en 3da 3d movie
un centre commerciala mall
un film en VOa movie in its original language
une réductiona discount
une promoa sale
le bruitagesound effects
gênerto  bother

Faire, Donner, Rendre, Obliger, Construire, Fabriquer

French Verbs That Can Translate to MAKE in English



je fais
tu fais
il fait
nous faisons
vous faites
ils font
To make something in a very general sense.

Je fais le dîner.
I’m making dinner.

To have (make) someone do something.

Il me fait faire la vaisselle.
He’s making me do the dishes.
je rends
tu rends
il rend
nous rendons
vous rendez
ils rendent
To make in the sense of making you feel a certain way.

Ça me rend triste.

That makes me sad.

Use rendre to say something makes you sad, happy, nervous, ill, etc. 
je donne
tu donnes
il donne
nous donnons
vous donnez
ils donnent
To make in the sense of making you hungry, thirsty, hot, cold.

Tu me donnes faim.

You are making me hungry.
je fabrique
tu fabriques
il fabrique
nous fabriquons
vous fabriquez
ils fabriquent
To make in the sense of producing something.

Les Chinois fabriquent beaucoup de produits électroniques.

The Chinese make a lot of electronic products.
tu obliges
il oblige
nous obligeons
vous obligez
ils obligent
To make someone do something.

J’oblige mes enfants à lire tous les jours.

I make my children read every day.
je construis
tu construis
il construit
nous construisons
vous construisez
ils construisent
To make in the sense of building something.

Les enfants construisent un château de sable.

The children are making a sandcastle.

French Bakery Vocabulary List – La Boulangerie Pâtisserie

French Bakery Vocabulary

La Boulangerie Pâtisserie

Quizlet: Practice and Master This Vocabulary List

le painbread
une pâtisseriea pastry, a pastry shop 
la crèmecream
la pâtedough
la farineflour
faire réchaufferto reheat
le beurrebutter
une tarte aux fruitsa fruit pie / tart
un coulis de fruitsa fruit sauce
bien cuitwell baked
une fournéea batch
la croûtethe crust
une miettea crumb
la pâte sabléeshortcrust pastry
la pâte feuilletéepuff pastry
une michea loaf
le pain de seiglerye bread
le pain completwholewheat bread
pétrirto knead
le boulanger, la boulangèrethe baker
le pain d’épicesgingerbread
un glaçagea glaze
délicieux /délicieusedelicious
un(e) apprenti(e)an apprentice
un vendeur/ une vendeusea salesperson
le patron / la patronnethe boss
la caissethe cash register
par / en cartewith a credit card
la monnaiechange / money returned
un billeta bill
les horaires d’ouvertureopening hours
le croutonthe end of the baguette
badigeonnerto brush on
la ganacheganache
la garniturethe topping / the filling
la cannellecinnamon
une noisettea hazelnut
une noixa walnut
une amandean almond
saupoudrerto sprinkle on
le sucre glacepowdered sugar
la crème pâtissièrecustard cream
effilé(e)sliced really thin
une pépite de chocolata chocolate chip
le chocolat noirdark chocolate
salé(e)savory, salted
conserverto keep (food)
au fraisin a  cool place
consommerto consume
sur placefor here / on the spot
à emporterto go
il me fautI need

When to Make Agreement in the Passé Composé

When to Make Agreement in the Passé Composé

French verbs are conjugated in the passé composé either with avoir or être as their auxiliary verbs.

When using être as an auxiliary verb, past participles need to agree with their subjects in number and gender.

When using avoir as an auxiliary verb, you usually don’t need to make agreement with the subject.  However, there are specific times when avoir verbs require agreement.

If you want a very comprehensive passé composé quiz using both être and avoir as auxiliary verbs, with and without agreement, try out this one.  This is not a beginner level quiz.