French: Exploring the town
When exploring a place, it is useful to know how to talk about key places and means of transport in French to help you to find your way around.
'Where are you going?' in French
To ask where someone is going in French, you can say:
Où vas-tu ?– Where are you going?
Où means 'where' and tu means 'you'. Vas is part of the verb
You use this verb in your answer and add the preposition
Je vais à– I am going to
|I am going to the cinema|
|I am going home|
|I am going to school|
|I am going to the hospital|
|I am going to the shops|
Did you know?
Did you notice that the spelling of the à changes, depending on whether it is followed by a masculine or feminine singular noun, a noun beginning with a vowel or a h or a plural noun?
You can learn more about masculine, feminine and plural nouns in Indefinite and definite articles.
Here's a table to help you to remember which form of à you use to say 'to the'.
|masculine noun||feminine noun||vowel or h||plural noun|
|au||à la||à l'||aux|
Places in a town
Here are some useful words so you can talk about places in a town.
|the leisure centre|
|the swimming pool|
Transport in French
If you want to say how you are getting somewhere, you can also use the verb
Je vais en bus– I go by bus Je vais en train– I go by train Je vais en voiture– I go by car
You can use a similar phrase for these expressions, but notice the different preposition -
Je vais à pied– I go on foot Je vais à vélo– I go by bike
Here are some different modes of transport so you can practise saying this.
Asking for directions in French
If you want to ask where something is, you need the verb
Où est le marché ?– Where is the market?
To answer, you need to use est (is) which is also part of the verb être. So you say:
C'est(it is) and explain where it is.
If you need to stop someone and ask them directions politely, you say:
Excusez-moi, où est le marché, s'il vous plaît ?- Excuse me, where is the market, please?
Prepositions of place
Here are some useful phrases you might need when describing where something is. They are called prepositions of place.
|on the corner|
|in front of|
|on the right|
|on the left|
Try using these prepositions to create your own phrases:
C'est devant le cinéma– It's in front of the cinema C'est derrière le centre de loisirs– It's behind the leisure centre C'est tout droit– It's straight on C'est à gauche– It's on the left C'est à droite– It's on the right
Giving directions in French
You might want to give directions to someone and to do this you need to give instructions. When you give instructions in French, you change the verb to its imperative form.
Imperatives are also known as 'bossy verbs', because they tell someone to do something.
For example, in English if you tell someone to 'sit down' or 'stand up', these would be imperatives and it is the same in French.
How do I use the imperative in French?
In French, the imperative verb changes depending on who you are giving an instruction to. Let's have a look at some examples using the verb
If you give a friend or someone you know instructions, you use the tu form of the verb, so you remove the -er and add -e:
If you're talking to more than one person or to someone you don't know that well, you use the vous form of the verb, so you remove the -er and add -ez on the end:
Did you notice that with imperatives, you don't need the tu or the vous at the beginning?
So to someone you know you could say:
Tourne à droite– turn right Tourne à gauche– turn left
To more than one person or someone you don't know you could say:
Tournez à droite– turn right Tournez à gauche– turn left
You do the same with the verb
To someone you know:
Continue– continue Continue tout droit– continue straight on
To more than one person or someone you don't know:
Continuez– continue Continuez tout droit– continue straight on
Key French sounds
Below are some important French sounds that you have heard in this topic. Try practising them yourself out loud.
This letter makes a similar sound to a in the English word apple. It can be written as a, â or à.
This is a short, sharp sound which you might use to attract the attention of someone.
A c before e, i or y and ç makes a s sound.
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