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French Level 1
    Unité 12: Leçon 4
    Les Traits de Caractère
    Let's take a quick look at the new French vocabulary & information that we've already covered in this Unité.

    1. Feelings and emotions (and using these words correctly in sentences!)
    2. Descriptions of physical characteristics of people.
    3. "Appropriate" Body Parts (and using these words correctly in sentences, too!)
    4. A new verb, "Avoir"

      Hey, not too bad for one Unité, n'est-ce pas?

    Our new area of study for this leçon is going to deal with character traits. The table below contains these new words in the masculine form. Any additional letters that need to be added to the masculine form to make these new words feminine have been added in parentheses.

    Let's say these words together (*Note: all of the words below that sound differently in the masculine and feminine forms are noted with an *. All of these words will be said twice!)


    Track 24
    Le Traits de Caractère SOUND BYTE GOES HERE
    EN FRANÇAIS EN ANGLAIS
    *agaçant(e) annoying
    *amusant(e) funny (amusing)
    *attentif (attentive) good
    *bavard(e) someone who talks incessantly!
    *bon(ne) good
    étourdi(e) scatter brained/silly
    *fou (folle, a different word) crazy
    gentil(le) kind, nice
    impoli(e) rude (impolite)
    *intelligent(e) intelligent
    *mauvais(e) bad
    *méchant(e) wicked
    *sérieux (sérieuse) someone who talks incessantly!
    snob (no change) conceited
    stupide (no change) stupid
    sympathique (no change)
    sympa (for short)
    understanding

    Just a quick note about few of words in the list above:

    1. When a word needs to be changed to a feminine form, we usually add the letter "e", unless the word already ends with an "e" (as in the case of the word, sympathique).

    2. Sometime we have to add extra letters in addition to the letter "e" to make words feminine as in the case of gentil(le), bon(ne), and attentif (attentive). Why make these extra addtions, you boldly ask? Well, I'll tell you.

      1. Whenever a masculine word ends in "il" (as in the word "gentil"), an extra "l" is added before the letter "e" ("gentille"). The reason, it looks better! There is no difference in the sounds of these words in the masculine and feminine forms.

      2. Whenever a masculine word ends in "on" ("bon"), an extra "n" is added before the letter "e" (bonne"). However, this time there is a difference in the sounds of these words between the masculine and feminine forms.

      3. Whenever a masculine word ends in "x" ("sérieux"), the letter "x" is replaced with the letter "s" and then the letter "e" is added (sérieuse"). This is similar to the change that takes place whenever a masculine word ends in "f" ("attentif"), the letter "f" is changed to a "v" and then the letter "e" is added ("attentive"). The reason? Who knows! Personally, I think that an "s" or a "v" at the end of words sounds a little more feminine than an "f". Whatever, right?

      Now, I'm going to be really kind to you and not give you another graph of phrases to study. I believe that you should be able to build phrases using these words on your own by now. However, just to be sure you understand these new concepts, I have a question for you. Which verb would you use to describe someone whose personality contains any of the traits from this leçon? If you said the verb, "Être" you are absolutely right! So then, how would you write (en français of course!), "I am kind"? "Je suis gentil" (if you're a male) and "Je suis gentille" (if you're a female). You will have the opportunity VERY SOON to try your hand at putting these words in sentences during the assignment!

      *Culture Note: The word "Caractère" which appears in the title of this Leçon comprises an interesting concept to French-speaking people. Most of the time when someone is discussing the "caractère" (character) traits of someone "en français", you will hear the word, "l'air" used. The closest thing to an English translation of this word, or idea, would be "a feeling that a person has about him or her". This "feeling" is revealed as the speaker of the word, "l'air" expresses an idea of what the person, whom the speaker is discussing, is like. I will illustrate for you how this works.

      Below is a lovely picture of M. LeBrun (one of his personal favorites).


      You should remember from earlier leçons in this Unité how to describe M. LeBrun physically. The 54 zillion dollar question is, how would we describe him characteristically? What is his personality like? Yeah, I know, such phrases as stuck-up, rude, and obnoxious, come quickly to mind. We are able to label him with these words since we already know him. Suppose, however, that we had never met him and that we were going to try and make suppositions about his personality based solely on his picture. This is the French concept of "l'air". For example, in English we might say, "Wow, that dude looks pretty dang tough!" (I threw in a little Utah slang just for effect!) To express this same idea en français we might say, "Il a l'air très sérieux et très fort!" (minus the slang!)

      Well, you've done great so far in this Unité! Only one more set of leçons to go!