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I'd like to know if there're some online resources for learning French phrases, for example, en train de, en cours de etc. I'm practicing listening and reading, but even though I understand each word separately, I cannot figure out when these phrases (phrase as in English, not French phrase=sentence!) show up. And also, I cannot use them since I don't know much!

closed as too broad by Gilles Oct 29 '16 at 18:28

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    @Mathmath If you search "expressions avec être (or avoir or whatever word you want)" you'll find lots of websites that will give you tons of examples. This one gives like 10 pages of examples, but all the explanations are in French. In any case, it's a great resource for the future! You'll even find "être en train de" on page 6 ;) linternaute.com/dictionnaire/fr/expression/etre/2 – cccg03 Jun 1 '16 at 14:26
  • @cccg03 Thanks for the suggestion, this was indeed the kind of answer/comment I had in mind when I asked the question. – Mathmath Jun 2 '16 at 4:28
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what you are referring to are called « locutions » in French. You see, there is 8 types (or categories) of words in French:

  • Noms -> Nouns (example: Voiture -> car);
  • Déterminants -> Determiners (example: La voiture -> The car);
  • Pronoms -> Pronouns (example: He played in the garden -> Il a joué dans le jardin);
  • Adjectifs -> Adjectives (example: Vert -> green);
  • Verbes -> Verbs (example: Apprécier -> To enjoy);
  • Adverbes -> Adverbs (example: Délicatement -> Carefully);
  • Prépositions -> Prepositions (example: De Paris à Londres -> From Paris to London);
  • Conjonctions Conjunctions (example: Clara et David -> Clara and David);

For each of those categories, there is what we call « locutions » and what you referring as « French phrases ».Therefore, we have:

  • « Locution nominale » : French phrases to make nouns;
  • « Locution déterminative »: French phrases to make determiners;
  • « Locution pronominale »: French phrases to make pronouns;
  • « Locution adjectivale »: French phrases to make adjectives;
  • « Locution verbale »: French phrases to make verbs;
  • « Locution adverbiale »: French phrases to make adverbs;
  • « Locution prépositive »: French phrases to make prepositions;
  • « Locution conjonctive »: French phrases to make conjunctions;

To learn some of them, just type « locution prépositive » or « locutions verbale » on google (« être en train de » is a « locution verbale » by the way).

As you can tell, there is plenty of them, and you cannot learn them all. Although, the more you know the more ways you have to vary your framing of an idea, thus avoiding repetition.

I did some research, and i found some comprehensive lists that represent 6 types of « locutions »:

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    Larousse: Groupe de mots figé ayant la valeur grammaticale et/ou sémantique d'un mot unique larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/locution/… Except for saying, C'est en train, en train de is only used with the verb être and unless one contrasts it with the regular present, one cannot understand it. – Lambie Jun 1 '16 at 22:10
  • @Lambie I agree, the « locution verbale » «être en train de» can be broken down to:« être » + « en train de »; « être » is a verb that means to be; « en train de » is a « locution prépositive » that means in the process of. There is no breaking down further. I don’t think you actually can understand the expression « en train de » by breaking it down further. It’s kind of an idiomatic expression. Though, I think that you develop a feel for some of those expressions with learning some of them and with using context. – elektro Jun 1 '16 at 23:34
  • Si on essaie "d'apprendre" en train de tout seul en dehors du contexte où ces mots apparaissent, le train sortira de la gare vide. Ce n'est pas une expression "idiomatique"; ces sont des mots qui apparaissent seulement et toujours avec: être en train de [faire quelque chose]. ou sans de dans: Oui, c'est en train sans de. – Lambie Jun 2 '16 at 17:50

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