French Verb Tenir

There are so many ways to use the French verb “tenir”.  It’s a very commonly used verb, and it’s conjugated just like “venir”.  When you look it up in the dictionary, it says it means “to hold”, but hold on . . . There’s a lot more to this verb than that! Scroll down for a free lesson guide all about the irregular French verb tenir.

“Tiens” and “tenez” can be used in a variety of ways depending on the context of the sentence.

Most common ways to use the French verb tenir:

As an interjection to express surprise or interest:

“Tiens, voilà ton livre!”

Hey, here’s your book!

“Tenez, c’est pour vous.”

Here you go, it’s for you.

To hold or give something to someone:

“Tiens, prends cette pomme.”

Here, take this apple.

“Tenez-moi ça s’il vous plaît.”

Hold this for me, please.

To indicate a change of topic or direction in conversation:

“Tiens, à propos de ça…”

Speaking of that…

“Tenez, en parlant de vacances…”

Speaking of holidays…

To express an idea or opinion:

“Tiens, je crois que tu as raison.”

Hey, I think you’re right.

“Tenez, je pense que c’est une mauvaise idée.”

Well, I think it’s a bad idea.

To express an order or command:

“Tiens-toi bien!”

Hold on tight!

“Tenez-vous tranquille!”

Be quiet!

Expressing surprise or excitement:

“Tiens, je ne savais pas que tu étais là!”

Oh, I didn’t know you were here!

“Tenez, vous revoilà!”

Oh, you’re back!

Getting someone’s attention:

“Tiens, ton carnet!”

Here’s your notebook!

“Tenez, madame, votre parapluie!”

Here you go, madam, your umbrella!

Offering or handing something to someone:

“Tiens, voilà le livre que tu m’as demandé.”

Here, here’s the book you asked for.

“Tenez, je vous ai préparé des sandwichs.”

Here, I made you some sandwiches.

Expressing agreement:

“Tiens, c’est une bonne idée.”

Hey, that’s a good idea!

“Tenez, vous avez bien raison.”

Oh, you’re quite right.

Making a suggestion:

“Tiens, et si nous allions au cinéma ce soir?”

Hey, how about going to the movies tonight?

“Tenez, et si on mangeait chez l’Indien pour le déjeuner?”

Hey, how about eating at the Indian restaurant for lunch?

As you can see from all of these examples, it’s important to know that the French verb “tenir” means so much more than just “to hold”.  It’s so versatile, and for that reason I’m sure you can start using it right away!  

French Relative Pronoun DONT – Top Ten Rules and Tips

Knowing how to use the French relative pronoun dont is essential for anyone wanting to communicate on a higher level in French.

“Dont” is a relative pronoun that is used to replace the object of a preposition, allowing speakers to connect ideas and describe relationships between different parts of a sentence.

Here are ten rules and tips to help you use “dont” correctly:

  1. “Dont” is used to replace the object of a preposition, such as “de” or “à”. For example, “Le livre dont je parle” means “the book I’m talking about”.
  2. “Dont” can also be used to replace a possessive phrase. For example, “L’homme dont le chapeau est rouge” means “the man whose hat is red”.
  3. “Dont” can be used with both people and things. For example, “Le pays dont je viens” means “the country I come from”.
  4. “Dont” can be used in both restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. For example, “La fille dont je t’ai parlé” means “the girl I told you about”, while “La fille, dont j’ai oublié le nom” means “the girl, whose name I’ve forgotten”.
  5. “Dont” can be used after verbs that require the preposition “de”, such as “parler de” or “se souvenir de”. For example, “Le film dont nous avons parlé” means “the movie we talked about”.
  6. “Dont” is often used in formal French and can help you sound more sophisticated and educated.
  7. It’s important to pay attention to the gender and number of the noun that “dont” replaces. For example, “Les livres dont je parle” means “the books I’m talking about”, while “Les maisons dont je parle” means “the houses I’m talking about”.
  8. “Dont” cannot be used to replace the subject of a sentence. For example, you cannot say “Le livre dont lit” to mean “the book that he is reading”.
  9. Be careful not to confuse “dont” with other French pronouns, such as “qui” or “que”. “Qui” is used to replace the subject of a sentence, while “que” is used to replace the direct object.
  10. Finally, the best way to master the use of “dont” is to practice, practice, practice! Try using “dont” in different contexts and pay attention to how native speakers use it in conversation.

French Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns – Top Ten Tips and Rules

When learning French, you quickly come to understand that pronouns are extremely important. In particular, direct and indirect object pronouns are crucial to master.

They are always the first set of pronouns that I teach, and here are three reasons why:

1.  They shorten your sentences: Using object pronouns allows you to avoid repeating the same noun over and over again in a sentence, which makes your French sound much more natural.

2.  They help you communicate more precisely: Object pronouns allow you to specify exactly who or what is the object of your sentence. This can be especially important in French, where word order is not as flexible as it is in English.

3.  They are used all the time: Direct and indirect object pronouns are used in virtually every French conversation, so if you want to be able to speak French fluently, you absolutely need to learn how to use them.

How do you identify direct and indirect objects in French?

A direct object is the noun that receives the action of the verb directly. For example, in the sentence “Je regarde la télévision” (I am watching (the) television), “la télévision” is the direct object because it is the thing being watched.

An indirect object is the noun that receives the action of the verb indirectly, often in the form of a benefit or harm. For example, in the sentence “Je donne un livre à mon ami” (I give a book to my friend), “mon ami” is the indirect object because he is the one receiving the book.

Follow the links below to watch my YouTube video lesson on direct and indirect object pronouns, take my free quiz, observe some sentence structure charts, and then use my set of 75 challenge cards to practice and solidify everything you learn in the lesson. 

Scroll down for my top rules and tips for using direct and indirect object pronouns!


1.  The French direct object pronouns are “me,” “te,” “le/la,” “nous,” “vous,” and “les.”

2.  The pronoun comes before the verb in the present tense, before the helping verb in the passé composé, and before the infinitive in the futur proche.

3.  If the direct object is feminine and starts with a vowel or silent “h,” use “l’ ” instead of “la.”

4.  If the direct object is plural, use “les.”

5.  If the verb is negative, the pronoun comes between “ne” and the verb, and “pas” comes after the verb. For example, “Je ne le mange pas.” (I don’t eat it).


1.  The French indirect object pronouns are “me,” “te,” “lui,” “nous,” “vous,” and “leur.”

2.  Like direct object pronouns, the pronoun comes before the verb in the present tense, before the helping verb in the passé composé, and before the infinitive in the futur proche.

3.  “Lui” is used for both masculine and feminine singular indirect objects.

4.  If the indirect object is plural, use “leur.”

5.  When the verb is negative, use “ne” before the pronoun and “pas” after the verb. For example, “Je ne lui donne pas le livre.” (I’m not giving him/her the book).

Download the latest version of my Scope and Sequence to guide you through my French Course for Self-Learners

French Definite, Indefinite, Partitive Articles

Even if you aren’t a beginner, it’s important to think about the importance of French definite, indefinite, and partitive articles.  It’s easy to forget how tricky it can be to choose the right ones.  

I have several video lessons on French articles that you can watch on YouTube to better understand them. There’s just no way to get around using articles in French,  and each one plays an important role in determining what nouns mean and how they is used in sentences.

Definite Articles:

LE – LA – LES mean THE.  They change according to the gender of the noun and whether it is singular or plural . LE is for masculine nouns, LA is for feminine nouns, and LES is for all plural nouns.

Indefinite Articles:

UN – UNE are used to refer to non-specific nouns.  They also change according to the gender of the noun.  UN is used for masculine nouns and UNE for feminine nouns.

Partitive Articles:

DU – DE LA – DE L’ – DES are used to indicate a part or quantity of a specific noun. DU is for masculine and singular nouns, DE L’ is used before masculine nouns that begin with a vowel, while DE LA is used before a feminine noun. DES is used before plural nouns.

French definite, indefinite, and partitive articles cannot be avoided They are used to determine the noun’s meaning and usage in a sentence, making it easier to communicate effectively.

Watch my video lessons, do the video exercise with me, and for a BIG challenge you can do the practice cards over and over again!

French Relative Pronouns – Qui, Que, Où, Dont

I’ve written many lessons about relative pronouns. Maybe you’ve watched my lessons about them. Maybe you’ve done my exercises, dictées, practice cards and even taken classes with me, but you know what?  I’m going to write about them again, because you really need to know how to connect clauses, and it’s not that hard once you know the rules. 

Let’s focus on the four main relative pronouns:  qui, que, où, dont. Whether you are brand new to this or if you just need a review, my video lessons are the best place to start (scroll down for videos).

I used to teach all four pronouns at the same time.  I would introduce them all at once and just wait for my students to tell me how confused they were.  It really wasn’t fun at all.

The frustration point was easy to identify.  The problem was knowing when to use dont.  It became my mission to find a solution to this problem, and I found it!!

I now teach dont all by itself before even mentioning the other pronouns.  Problem solved.  Most of my students these days tell me that dont is actually easier than the other ones. 

Watch my YouTube video lessons in this order, and then you can follow up with my practice cards if you want to master these relative pronouns.

“This tutorial went above and beyond what is presently available on Youtube. I love the attention to detail and the helpful discussions between the differences in French and English.”

“I had a lesson for one hour trying to understand que, qui and où. But this video took only 13 minutes for me to understand even dont which I always avoided using because I just could not get it.”

Qui – This pronoun is used to refer to people and means “who” or “whom”. 
Example: “La personne qui parle est mon ami” (The person who is speaking is my friend).

Que – This pronoun is used to refer to things and means “that” or “which”. 
Example: “Le livre que je lis est intéressant” (The book that I am reading is interesting).

 – This pronoun means “where” and is used to refer to a place. 
Example: “Le parc où je vais est grand” (The park where I am going is big).

Dont – This pronoun is used to refer to possession and means “whose” or “of which”.
Example: “Le chat dont je parle est très joli” (The cat I am speaking about is very cute).

I hope my lessons have helped to clarify how and when French relative pronouns. It’s important to keep practicing. Before you know it you’ll be using them with ease in your conversations!

French Phone Numbers Exercise

If you’ve learned how to count to 100 in French, it’s time to practice your listening comprehension! French numbers can be tricky, especially 70 – 99.  

Have you ever needed to say a French phone number to someone? Better yet, have you ever had someone tell you a French phone number and your mind goes blank?  Learning the numbers just isn’t enough.

Let’s talk about French phone numbers and how they are different from other numbers in the language. This is an important aspect of your French listening comprehension and it’s important to practice a lot so that you won’t be lost when it happens to you!

In French, phone numbers are usually composed of ten digits. The first two digits represent the area code, followed by an eight-digit phone number.  Example:

It is important to practice listening to French phone numbers because it can help you improve your listening comprehension skills. This way you will be able to understand what people are saying on the phone, which is especially useful if you are traveling to France.

One of the best ways to practice listening to French phone numbers is through a dictée exercise. A dictée is a French dictation exercise where you listen to a series of words or phrases and write them down. 

I have a free French phone numbers dictée exercise that you can try out and see how you do! This exercise will give you a chance to practice your listening skills and improve your understanding of French phone numbers.

So, grab a pen and paper and let’s get started! I encourage you to do this 11 minute exercise over and over and over and over again!  

Test Your Knowledge of French Culture

One of the best parts about learning French is getting to know the rich and fascinating culture behind the language.

I’ll bet one of the reasons you are learning French is because you are a true francophile!

Learning French should be a fun experience, and that’s why I have created a free B2 level French Culture Quiz to give you an engaging and enjoyable way to learn more about France.

In this quiz, you will be presented with questions about French art, history, cuisine, and many other aspects of French culture. Some of the questions are pretty challenging, so you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge and learn something new in the process.

In case you were wondering, the quiz is 100% in French! You’ll be able to practice the language while quizzing yourself on culture.  Yay!

By taking the quiz, you will not only improve your French language skills, but you will also gain a deeper knowledge of French culture.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner, this quiz is a great opportunity to learn something new and have some fun at the same time.

Take my free French Culture Quiz today and see how much you already know.  Keep on having fun while learning French and exploring the rich culture of France!

French Reading and Listening Comprehension

French teachers know how important it is to incorporate listening and reading comprehension in our classroom, but how do you like to do it? 

Is there something in particular that you like to use at different times of the year? How about when you’re teaching new French tenses and conjugations?

One approach that I like to use is to have students read and listen to the same story in different tenses, and it’s an engaging method that keeps students on their toes all year long!

How is this technique beneficial for students?

1.  It helps them practice and improve their conjugation skills in various tenses.

2.  They get exposure to the same vocabulary and concepts multiple times, reinforcing their learning.

3.  They can work on listening skills simultaneously while learning and working on new and previously learned verb tenses.

4.  Students can compare and contrast the differences in sentence structure and verb usage across tenses as some things obviously need to change in order for the stories to make sense.

5.  It provides a fun and engaging way to practice multiple skills at once.

If you want to use this technique in your classroom, here are three simple steps to writing the same story in different tenses:

1.  Choose a story that is appropriate for your students’ level of proficiency, or better yet, write one yourself!

2.  Rewrite the story in the different tenses you want to teach making all necessary changes so that it will make sense.

3.  Use the stories in class to practice listening, reading, and conjugation.

If you love this idea,  but don’t have the time to create your own stories, don’t worry! I have ready-to-use lessons in my TPT store that require no prep on your end.

I have written a unique story in 6 different tenses that will help your French students improve their reading and listening comprehension, and keep their attention throughout the exercise as they conjugate using the tense you’re currently working on.

I’ve put the 6 stories together in a bundle that includes the present tense, passé composé, imperfect, futur simple, conditional, and futur antérieur.

Each lesson includes: 

MP3 audio recording
French-only text version
French and English text version
Gap fill exercises for verbs and vocabulary

To use these lessons, simply follow the five steps outlined in the lesson plan that is provided.

My French stories in six tenses are also perfect for emergency sub plans when you unexpectedly need to miss a day.

Just scroll down to take a look!  You will be able to use these stories and lesson plans year after year with every level that you teach (or that you may find yourself teaching in the future). 

What’s that French tense?

If you’re a beginner to low-intermediate level learner, you can get along for a good while speaking basic French using the present tense, le passé composé, and the futur proche (aller + infinitive).

I think it’s a really good idea to focus on mastering those three tenses and to get to where you feel comfortable using them before venturing out into the great big world of French verb forms.  This will give you the opportunity you need to learn other important grammatical aspects of the language and to actually use them!

The present, basic past, and near future tenses will serve the purpose of getting your point across, and your main objective of communicating in French will be achieved.  

Once you’ve reached this point, you will naturally want to communicate on a higher level so that you can say what you really mean.  Expressing the time frame in which an action is taking (or took) place becomes more and more important as your level increases.  

In French, there are many different tenses and verb forms. Learning to conjugate verbs can be challenging, but it’s very manageable.  You just learn the rules and practice until you remember everything.

Knowing when to use all of the different tenses is the tricky part, and I’m here to help!  Let’s work on this together.  We’ll begin by doing a 17 minute exercise.  Just click on the button below to watch the video. When you’re ready, you can take my free “Name That Tense” quiz. 

I created this exercise and a comprehensive set of practice cards with video instruction to help you master the tenses and feel confident about speaking French.  If you took the quiz and found it to be a bit challenging, try out my review activity!

This is a big review that includes 200 cards.  In the first set of 100 cards, you’ll look at sentences written in French and name the tense that’s being used. In the second set, you’ll look at sentences written in English and translate them to French using the correct tense.

To make sure you get the most out of these practice cards, I’ve included two hours of video instruction in which we study each and every card together. This way, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to use each tense and how to apply it in a sentence.

Here are the 11 tenses and verb forms included in the practice cards: 

le présent
le futur simple
le passé composé
le conditionnel
le plus-que-parfait
le conditionnel passé
le futur antérieur
le subjonctif
le subjonctif passé
le passé récent

Use these practice cards when you have studied and learned how to form the different tenses, but sometimes get confused knowing when to use them.  

I use the same comprehensive approach to explaining French grammar that you’re used to seeing in all of my YouTube videos. I explain everything in English during the two hours of video instruction included in this exercise. 

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but exercises and review activities like “Name That Tense” will certainly help you move toward being able to switch between tenses with confidence.

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.