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How can you tell the difference between "il parle" and "ils parlent"?

Phonetically speaking, you can't tell the difference between them; they are pronounced the same. And yes, it goes for all the other verbs where the third person singular is pronounced the same as the ...
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19 votes
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Why are "acheter" and "jeter" conjugated differently?

The phonetic value of the letter e which could represent the sounds [ә], [e] or [ɛ] has been a lasting ambiguity that has established itself over the centuries. This is an inheritance of the Latin ...
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17 votes
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What does "en train" mean?

Être + en train + de + the infinitive of the verb is the french structure of the english progressive form : To be + gerund. The progressive form is used to express an ongoing action. Ex: Je me ...
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15 votes
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Un mot français pour "to smirk" dans un dialogue vidéo

En dehors de ricaner, qui n'a pas tout à fait le même sens, il n'y a pas de verbe correspondant à smirk en français, on utilise le nom sourire que l'on qualifie : petit sourire narquois, sourire ...
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15 votes

“Quand j'étais né” or “Quand je suis né”

Quand j'étais né is impossible in French. The root cause of the confusion many English speakers have with être né is the fact that there is no verb for naître in English. "Born" doesn't ...
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15 votes

Do French speakers not use the subjunctive informally?

Personnellement je dis : Je suis content que tu l’aies aimé. Je n'ai pas souvenir d'avoir entendu dans mon entourage quelqu'un utiliser l'indicatif dans ce genre de phrase. Mais, bien que Français,...
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15 votes
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Usage of "offrir" and "donner"?

Offrir is to give someone a present. Mes parents m'ont offert un stylo pour mon anniversaire. It can also be used for non material things, for example : Il m'a offert son amitié.1 Il m'a offert ...
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14 votes

Why is not "Je t'aime", "Je aime te"?

The simple answer is "because it is the rule". The rule says that object pronouns are always placed before the verb except in imperative affirmative sentences. J'aime la France. → Je l'aime. J'...
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14 votes

"Venir" in the indefinite form after "il"?

In the sentence: J'entends quelqu'un venir du hall d'entrée. Quelqu'un is the direct object of entendre and it is not the subject of venir. It means that venir has no subject. You could also write ...
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13 votes
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Conger vs Partir

One not subtle but major difference is that the verb conger doesn't exist... I guess you are thinking about the expression prendre congé de ... which is a formal way to say dire au revoir et quitter ...
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12 votes
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Why is avoir used when referring to age?

Just to get a feeling for why such a meaning is possible, you can take it as meaning I have 16 years (of age under my belt). or think of it as similar to the past perfect tense in English (have+...
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What does "en train" mean?

English divides time up differently from French. It might help you to understand the subtleties in English first -- most native speakers haven't ever had to think about it. In English, we (...
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12 votes
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Coucher vs se coucher in "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)" ?

(Se) coucher has several meanings Se coucher = to lie down, to go to bed Je me couche tôt en semaine. Tu viens te coucher ? Coucher quelqu'un = to put someone in bed J'ai couché les enfants. ...
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11 votes

Why is avoir used when referring to age?

Because it's how one says ages in french. We can revert the question: Why is to be used instead of to have when expressing/referring to age, in english?
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11 votes
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Difference between "Retirer", "Enlever" and "Supprimer"

retirer, enlever et ôter are very much interchangeable, the later being a bit old and some expressions commanding more one than the other. They all imply that what you remove still exists but is put ...
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Les années qu'il a vécu, pas vécus

Certains verbes intransitifs comme courir, coûter, dormir, durer, marcher, mesurer, peser, régner, reposer, valoir, vivre, etc., peuvent être accompagnés d'un complement circonstanciel qui exprime la ...
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11 votes
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I am a little bit confused due to the difference between dictionaries on the verb "ficher". Can native speakers take a look?

Ficher can have several meanings but it is not a verb we would use very much except for the colloquial use. 1- The oldest and primary meaning of ficher is faire entrer par la pointe, it comes from ...
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10 votes

"Je ne veux pas d'un éléphant dans un boa": why d'un and not un?

Ne pas vouloir de is something of an emphatic construction that specifically rejects a situation that could befall you for some reason, as here, because the Prince is being offered one. This is why ...
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10 votes
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"Je suis fini" ou "J'ai fini"?

« Avoir fini » → to be done, to be finished. « Être fini » → to be done for, finished with, kaput! That is, the fini you want is the past participle, not the adjective. (And if it's the past ...
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10 votes

"Used to" in French?

You don't have to add "avant " every time, if you just use the "imparfait" tense, it will be enough in most situations. If needed, you can add an adverb to make your statement clearer, but it is not ...
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Le pronom « je » avec le verbe conjugué à la première personne du pluriel : valeur, raison de l'emploi ?

La première question revient malheureusement à prouver un négatif. C'est d'autant plus compliqué que les attestations de je -ons avec un référent singulier sont rares, peuvent être le résultat d'une ...
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10 votes

Do French speakers not use the subjunctive informally?

Toto has answered your question accurately, here I would like to go further and say that not only subjunctive actually is used in informal contexts, but in those situations it is even overused. The ...
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10 votes

“Faire” being used to mean “avoir l’air”?

Rather than avoir l'air, in your examples, the verb faire means donner un air, donner une apparence, as the subject is not the thing that has the appearance, but is what gives this appearance. This ...
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9 votes

“Échapper” or “s'échapper”, which is correct in this sentence?

A correct answer with "échapper" is: J'échappe au lion. Together with a person/object, you says "j'échappe à/au". The form "je m'échappe du/de" is used together with a location: Je m'échappe ...
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9 votes
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Un verbe au subjonctif sans « que » ?

Le subjonctif est courant dans les subordonnées qui ont un rôle de caractérisation. Autre exemple: J'aimerais une voiture qui ait une belle couleur. Dans cette phrase la couleur est ce qui ...
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9 votes

Reflexive verb with avoir

Si vous voyez un verbe réfléchi, comme « s'engager » et de nombreux autres, conjugué avec « avoir », c'est une erreur. Tous les verbes réfléchis utilisent « être » au passé composé, et la forme ...
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9 votes
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What is the grammar of "I watch you speaking French" vs "I want you to speak French"?

Pattern 1 and pattern 2 are different. Let's start with pattern 2 which is simpler. Here the basic construction is a clause which is used as a component of another sentence. For example: Je veux que ...
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9 votes
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What is the difference in using "Il est retard" and "Il est en retard"?

EDIT (thanks to users @jlliagre, @ Luke Sawczak, @ yagmoth555 for their feedback.) (1) You might have been confused by the non negligible number of occurrences of il est retard Google returns. User @...
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9 votes
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Pourquoi l'usage du verbe aimer n'admet pas l'article partitif ?

L'article partitif est employé pour désigner une certaine quantité indénombrable. Son emploi est donc dépendant du sens du verbe dont dépend le nom qu'il précède. Je mange trois/ quelques/ des/ ...
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