The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


In French, the future tenses include the simple future (le futur simple), the future perfect (le futur anterieur) and the near future (le futur proche). According to Eliane Kurbegov (French Grammar Drills, 2007:179), "The near future is used to talk about what is going to happen. Similarly the simple future talks about what will happen. Both tenses refer to future events. However, the near future is more frequently used in familiar conversation while the simple future is more formal. The future perfect, found less frequently in familiar conversation, is used to say that something will be done by the time something else happens."

The Simple Future (le futur simple)
The simple future expresses an action or a state that will take place after we speak. As the action or state has not happened yet, it is only more or less probable. To distinguish the simple future from the near future, let's say the near future expresses a fact that will take place more probably than the simple future (Jean Severy, Essential French Grammar, 2008:174).

In English, the simple future consists of will or shall + verb. In French, the simple future has no auxiliary, it consists of one word only. The future stem of regular -er and -ir verbs is the entire infinitive. Regular -re verbs drop the final -e of the infinitive before adding on the endings. The future endings are -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont. For example:

travailler (to work)
je travaillerai (I will work), tu travailleras, il/elle/on travaillera, nous travaillerons, vous travaillerez, ils/elles travailleront

finir (to finish)
je finirai (I will finish), tu finiras, il/elle/on finira, nous finirons, vous finirez, ils/elles finiront

perdre (to lose)
je perdrai (I will lose), tu perdras, il/elle/on perdra, nous perdrons, vous perdrez, ils/elles perdront

Where the irregular verbs are concerned, many have regular stems, that is, the entire infinitive or (with -re ending verbs) the infinitive minus final -e. For example:

boire (to drink) ------ je boirai
croire (to believe) ------ je croirai
dormir (to sleep) ------ je dormirai
lire (to read) ------ je lirai
ouvrir (to open) ------ j'ouvrirai
partir (to leave) ------ je partirai

However, there are also irregular verbs with irregular stems:

aller (to go) ------ j'irai
envoyer (to send) ------ j'enverrai
falloir (to be necessary) ------ il faudra
recevoir (to receive) ------ je recevrai
venir (to come) ------ je viendrai
vouloir (to want) ------ je voudrai

The Future Perfect (le futur anterieur)
Whereas the simple future describes an action or situation which will be taking place at some time in the future, the future perfect refers to an action which is seen as completed by or at a specific time in the future. In English, the future perfect consists of will have or shall have + past participle. In French, the future perfect consists of the simple future of avoir or etre + past participle. For example:

aller (to go)
je serai alle(e), (I will have gone), tu seras alle(e), il/on sera alle, elle sera allee, nous serons alle(e)s, vous serez alle(e)(s), ils seront alles, elles seront allees

devenir (to become)
je serai devenu(e), (I'll have become), tu seras devenu(e), il/elle/on sera devenu(e), nous serons devenu(e)s, vous serez devenu(e)(s), ils/elles seront devenu(e)s

It should be noted that the past participle of verbs conjugated with etre should agree in gender and number with the subject.

The Near Future
The futur proche implies the action will be completed soon, while the simple future is open-ended as to completion of the action. Thus, if you ask for a book at the library desk, the librarian's response would normally be in the futur proche as follows: Je vais chercher votre livre (I'll get your book). Were the librarian to respond with the simple future tense, Je chercherai votre livre, you would be left wondering how long you might have to wait.

In English, the near future consists of to be going to + infinitive. In French, the near future consists of the present tense of aller + infinitive. For example:

Je vais essayer (I am going to try)
Il va faire froid dehors (It's going to be cold outside)

Monday, December 20, 2010


In French, the past tenses include the passe compose, the imperfect tense, the pluperfect tense and the passe simple.

The Formation of the Passe Compose
The passe compose is generally translated into English by the simple past (I lived, she wrote), the present perfect (I have lived, she has written) and the emphatic past (I did live, she did write). The passe compose is used when one knows how long a past action lasted, how many times it occurred, and at what precise moment it happened.

Like the English present perfect, the passe compose is a compound tense. It consists of an auxiliary and the past participle of the verb in question. In English, the auxiliary is always the verb 'to have'. In French, it can be either avoir or etre. Most French use avoir to build the passe compose. The second element of the passe compose is the past participle.

The past participle of regular verbs can be formed in the following ways. With -er verbs, the -er ending is dropped and is replaced with -e: (parler - parle)
j'ai parle (I spoke, I have spoken, I did speak), tu as parle, il/elle/on a parle, nous avons parle, vous avez parle, ils/elles ont parle.

With -ir verbs, the -ir ending is dropped and is replaced with -i: (finir - fini)
j'ai fini (I finished, I have finished, I did finish), tu as fini, il/elle/on a fini, nous avons fini, vous avez fini, ils/elles ont fini.

With -re verbs the -re ending is dropped and is replaced with -u: (repondre -repondu)
j'ai repondu (I answered, I have answered, I did answer), tu as repondu, il/elle/on a repondu, nous avons repondu, vous avez repondu, ils/elles ont repondu.

Irregular verbs, however, have irregular past participles which must be memorized. Below is a list of some of these verbs.

Infinitive ----------------English Meaning --------------Past Participle
avoir -------------------------to have --------------------------eu
boire------------------------- to drink -------------------------bu
construire --------------------to build ---------------------construit
connaitre ---------------------to know ----------------------connu
disparaitre -----------------to disappear -------------------disparu
faire ------------------------ to make, do ---------------------fait
lire ---------------------------- to read -------------------------lu
ouvrir -------------------------to open -----------------------ouvert
apprendre --------------------to learn -----------------------appris

The past participle using avoir to form the passe compose may change under certain circumstances. It should be noted that the past participle of verbs using avoir as auxiliary to form the passe compose agrees in gender and number with a preceding direct object. If the object is feminine singular, -e is added to the past participle, if it is masculine plural, -s is added (except when the participle ends in -s): if it is feminine plural, -es is added. For example:

  1. Quels livres avez-vous lus? (Which books did you read?)
  2. Il nous a reconnus. (He recognized us)
  3. Quelle imprimante ont-ils achetee? (Which printer did they buy?)
  4. Quelle chance elle a eue! (How lucky she was!)
  5. Combien de photos avez-vous prises? (How many pictures did you take?)
  6. La lettre que j'ai ecrite est longue. (The letter that I wrote is long)

However, the past participle remains unchanged if there is no preceding direct object, if the direct object follows the past participle eg Elle a vu la generale (She saw the dress rehearsal) or if the preceding object is indirect eg Ils leur ont repondu (They answered them).

A small number of French verbs form the passe compose with etre rather than avoir. Most of these express motion or a change of state. If the past participle of verbs is conjugated with etre, they must agree in gender and number with the subject. If the subject is feminine singular, -e is added to the past participle, if the subject is masculine plural, -s is added, and if the subject is feminie plural, -es is added. Here is a model conjugation:

aller (to go):
je suis alle(e), tu es alle(e), il est alle, elle est allee, nous sommes alle(e)s, vous etes alle(e)s, ils sont alles, elle sont allees.

To form the passe compose correctly, it is necessary to choose the correct form of the auxiliary verb as well as the correct form of the past participle.

The Imperfect Tense
The imperfect tense expresses actions and situations that lasted an indeterminate amount of time (he had a lot of money), occurred an unspecified number of times (she went to church every Sunday), or were in progress often when something else happened (it was raining when they arrived).

The stem of the imperfect tense of all verbs (except etre) is found by dropping the -ons ending of the nous form of the present tense. The imperfect endings are -ais, ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient. For instance, here is the conjugation of the regular verb, parler, in the imperfect tense:

parler (to speak)
(nous parlons)
je parlais (I spoke, I was speaking, I used to speak)
tu parlais (you spoke, you were speaking, you used to speak)
il/elle/on parlait (he/she/one spoke/was speaking/used to speak)
nous parlions (we spoke, we were speaking, we used to speak)
vous parliez (you spoke, you were speaking, you used to speak)
ils/elles parlaient (they spoke, they were speaking, they used to speak)

Below is the conjugation of the irregular verbs boire, craindre and dormir:

Infinitive --------- Nous Form of Present Tense ----------- Imperfect
boire (to drink) ----------- nous buvons -------------------- je buyais
craindre (to fear) ---------nous craignons ------------------je craignais
dormir (to sleep) ----------nous dormons ------------------ je dormais

It should be noted that "It is in distinguishing between passe compose (used to represent finished actions) vs imperfect (used to describe actions that were going on in the past) that speakers of English have the most trouble (Didier Bertrand, Test Yourself French Grammar 1996:42).

The Pluperfect Tense
The pluperfect (also called the past perfect) is a compound tense consisting of an auxiliary and the past participle. In French as in English, the pluperfect describes what had happened before another action in the past. In the formation of the pluperfect, the imperfect tense of the auxiliary (avoir or etre) is added to the past participle of the verb in question. For instance here is the conjugation of the regular verb partir in the pluperfect tense.

partir (to leave)
j'etais parti(e) --------------- I had left
tu etais parti(e) --------------you had left
il/on etait parti -------------- he/it/one had left
elle etait partie -------------- she/it had left
nous etions parti(e)s --------- we had left
vous etiez parti(e)s ---------- you had left
ils etaient partis ------------- they had left
elles etaient parties ---------- they had left

The Passe Simple
The passe simple is often called the literary or historical past and it replaces the passe compose in formal speeches and writing. The passe simple is not used in conversations or everyday writing but one can see its usage in very formal speeches, newspaper articles, historical texts, and French Literature.

The passe simple of regular -er ending verbs is formed by adding the endings -ai, -as, -a, -ames, -ates, -erent to the stem of the infinitive. For instance:
donner (to give)
je donnai (I gave)
tu donnas (you gave)
il/elle/on donna (he/she/it/one gave)
nous donnames (we gave)
vous donnates (you gave)
ils/elles donnerent (they gave)

The passe simple of both -ir and -re ending verbs is formed by adding the endings -is, -is, -it, -imes, -ites, -irent to the stem of the infinitive. Eg:

choisir (to choose)
je choisis (I chose), tu choisis (you chose), il/elle/on choisit (he/she/it/one chose), nous choisimes (we chose), vous choisites (you chose), ils/elles choisirent (they chose).

entendre (to hear)
j'entendis (I heard), tu entendis (you heard), il/elle/on entendit (he/she/it/one heard), nous entendimes (we heard), vous entendites (you heard), ils/elles entendirent (they heard).

For -cer ending verbs a cedille is added to the c before a (except the third person plural)

For -ger ending verbs, e is added after g before a (except the third person plural). Eg:
manger (to eat)
je mangeai (I ate), tu mangeas. il/elle/on mangea, nous mangeames, vous mangeates, ils/elles mangerent.

Where irregular verbs are concerned some take the ending -is, -is, -it, -imes, -ites, -irent whilst others take the endings -us, -us, -ut, -umes, -utes, -urent.

The passe simple of irregular verbs can be derived from their past participle. If the past participle of the verb ends in -i, -is, or -it, the first series of the above endings would be used to form its passe simple. If the past participle of the verb ends in -u, then the second series of endings would be used instead. Eg:

dire (to say)
past participle: dit
je dis, tu dis, il/elle/on dit, nous dimes, vous dites, ils/elles dirent

courir (to run)
past participle: couru
je courus, tu courus, il/elle/on courut, nous courumes, vous courutes, ils/elles coururent

However, it should be noted that the passe simple of certain irregular verbs cannot be derived from their past participle. Eg:

ecrire (to write)
past participle: ecrit
j'ecrivis, tu ecrivis, il/elle/on ecrivit, nous ecrivimes, vous ecrivites, ils/elles ecrivirent

venir (to come)
past participle: venu
je vins, tu vins, il/elle/on vint, nous vinmes, vous vintes, ils/elles vinrent

How can we identify the passe simple? According to Trudie Maria Booth (French Verb Tenses, 2008:147), "If one is familiar with the endings, the verbs in the passe simple are easy to identify, even if the forms are not derived from the past participle. It is evident for example, that mourut comes from mourir and ouvrit comes from ouvrir. Only a few verbs may be difficult to recognize and should therefore be memorized."

Saturday, December 18, 2010


According to Trudie Maria Booth (French Verb Tenses, 2008), "The verb is the most important part of the sentence. It expresses an action or state of the subject and indicates the time and mood of an occurrence. In order to be able to to communicate in a language, you must know how its verb tenses and moods are formed and how they are used." Veronique Mazet (Correct Your French Blunders, 2007:137) is of the opinion that, "The verb is crucial in determining the construction of a sentence and the placement of all its components. When you write a French sentence, focus on the verb." In order to master the French verbs, one would, first of all, need to master the art of conjugation. This is crucial if one wants to communicate effectively in French. Here I would like to share what I know about French Grammar with my readers. I hope that they will find this article useful.

In French, the subject must agree with the verb. Verbs are said to have three persons: the speaker, the person spoken to, and the third person, referring neither to the speaker nor the person spoken to. The subject pronouns in French are therefore as follows:

First person ------je (singular), nous (plural)
Second person ------ tu, vous (singular), vous (plural)
Third person ------il/elle/on (singular), ils/elles (plural)

There are two ways of saying you in French. Use tu to talk to friends, family members, children and animals. Use vous when you are addressing a stranger, someone you don't know well, or to maintain a certain degree of distance or respect. The pronoun on takes on different meanings. It may mean one, we or they depending on how it is used.

Since French has no subject pronoun for 'it', all nouns, whether animate or inanimate are referred to as either il or elle whilst ils refers to masculine plural nouns and elles refers to feminine plural nouns.

The following is the present tense conjugation of the verb, demander (meaning to ask). It is formed by dropping the -er ending of the infinitive and adding -e, -es, -e, -ons, -ez, and -ent to the stem of the verb. This is the rule for the formation of regular -er verbs.

demander (to ask)
je demande ------I ask, I am asking, I do ask
tu demandes ------you (familiar singular) ask, you are asking, you do ask
il demande ------he asks, he is asking, he does ask
elle demande ------she asks, she is asking, she does ask
on demande ------one asks, one is asking, one does ask
nous demandons ------we ask, we are asking, we do ask
vous demandez ------you (formal singular and plural, familiar plural) ask, you are asking, you do ask
ils demandent ------they ask, they are asking, they do ask
elles demandent ------they ask, they are asking, they do ask

French verb endings change depending on who you are talking about. In English, it is necessary to add -ing to the verb. In French, both the present tense and present continuous tense of the infinitive 'demander' are the same.

It should be noted that there are also a number of regular -er ending verbs that show slight spelling changes in their present tense forms. For instance, the verb 'appeler' (to call) doubles the last consonant of its stem in all persons except nous and vous. The following is the present tense conjugation of the verb appeler (to call):
j'appelle, tu appelles, il/elle/on appelle, nous appelons, vous appelez and ils/elles appellent.

For verbs ending in -yer, the y is changed into i in all persons except nous and vous. They can also keep the y throughout the conjugation. For isntance, let's look at the present tense conjugation of the verb payer (to pay):
je paie (je paye), tu paies (tu payes), il/elle/on paie (il paye), nous payons, vous payez, and ils/elles paient (ils payent).

Verbs ending in -oyer or in -uyer must change the y into an i in all persons except nous and vous. For example:
nettoyer (to clean)
je nettoie, tu nettoies, il/elle/on nettoie, nous nettoyons, vous nettoyez, ils/elles nettoient.
ennuyer (to bore)
j'ennuie, tu ennuies, il/elle/on ennuie, nous ennuyons, vous ennuyez and ils/elles ennuient.

Verbs ending in -ger and -cer show spelling changes only in the nous form.
For verbs ending in -ger e is added after the letter g in the nous form of the present tense.
manger (to eat)
je mange, tu manges, il/elle/on mange, nous mangeons, vous mangez, ils/elles mangent

For verbs ending in -cer a cedille is added to the c in the nous form of the present tense.

In the conjugation of regular -ir verbs, we have to add the following endings to the stem:
-is, -is, -it, -issons, -issez, -issent. Here is a model conjugation:
finir (to finish)
je finis, tu finis, il/elle/on finit, nous finissons, vous finissez, ils/elles finissent

In the conjugation of regular -re verbs, we have to add the following endings to the stem:
-s, -s, - (no ending), -ons, -ez, -ent. Here is a model conjugation:
attendre (to wait)
j'attends, tu attends, il/elle/on attend, nous attendons, vous attendez, ils/elles attendent

As for the present tense of the irregular verbs, they are even harder to conjugate because they don't have a consistent stem throughout their conjugation but luckily most of them have similar endings, making them a little easier to remember. The following is the present tense conjugation of three of these irregular verbs:

aller (to go)
je vais, tu vas, il/elle/on va, nous allons, vous allez, ils/elles vont
avoir (to have)
j'ai, tu as, il/elle/on a, nous avons, vous avez, ils/elles ont
etre (to be)
je suis, tu es, il/elle/on est, nous sommes, vous etes, ils/elles sont

But how are we going to remember all those verbs without a consistent stem and ending? According to Zoe Erotopoulos (French Verbs for Dummies, 2006:43), "The only suggestion I can make is that you study each one and practice using it; I'm sure each will become second nature to you in no time. A good way to make these verbs your own is to practice saying them out loud and to try to build up a certain rhythm. You may even try making a song out of the conjugations, using your favourite melody."

French verbs show a great multiplicity of forms. Learning French is therefore very challenging. Difficult though it may be, mastery of this language is a great accomplishment. I have always assumed that French speakers are clever people because French is a language which is not easy to learn due to its complex nature.

Monday, December 13, 2010


French is the most beautiful language in the world. My love for this beautiful language actually began at the Grotto of Massabielle. It was at this holy place that I developed an intense love for this language. Learning a foreign language is no easy task and there must be a very special reason behind it. This is what gives meaning to learning. Without a specific purpose, learning a foreign language becomes almost impossible. Why do I want to master French when I can't even master my own language (Chinese)? The answer is simple. Because of my love for Our Lady and hence for Lourdes.

Come to think of it, the teaching and learning of maths and science in English in Malaysia is a failure despite the millions of ringgit spent on this project by the Malaysian Government because our Malaysian teachers and students do not have a special purpose for learning English. Learning English therefore becomes meaningless to them. One day, when they have found their purpose they will learn. The acquisition of a foreign language cannot be attained by force. The willingness to learn must come from the heart and soul.

Below is a list of some basic French expressions that may come in handy for the Lourdes pilgrims. In the brackets are the pronunciations of these words.
  1. yes ------------oui(wee)
  2. no ------------non(nawng)
  3. okay ------------d'accord (dakor)
  4. good morning/ afternoon ------------bonjour (bawngzhoor)
  5. good evening ------------bonsoir (bawngswar)
  6. good night ------------bonne nuit (bon nwee)
  7. goodbye ------------au revoir (oa rervwar)
  8. excuse me ------------excusez-moi (exkewzay mwa)
  9. very good ------------tres bien (treh byang)
  10. please ------------ s'il vous plait (seel voo pleh)
  11. thank you (very much) ------------merci (beaucoup) mehrsee (boakoo)
  12. you're welcome ------------de rien (de reang)
  13. sometimes ------------quelquefois (kelkefwa)
  14. someone ------------quelqu'un (kelkang)
  15. something ------------quelque chose (kelker shoaz)
  16. fortunately ------------heureusement (urrurzmahng)
  17. of course ------------bien sur (byang sewr)
  18. none ------------aucun (oakang)
  19. never ------------jamais (zhameh)
  20. now------------maintenant (mangtnahng)
  21. immediately ------------tout de suite (too der sweet)
  22. often ------------souvent (soovahng)
  23. always ------------toujours (toozhoor)
  24. probably ------------probablement (probablurmahng)
  25. perhaps ------------peut-etre (pur tetr)
  26. on the left/right ------------a gauche/a droite (a goash/a drwat)
  27. Turn left ... ------------Tournez a gauche
  28. a little ------------un peu (ang pur)
  29. too much ------------trop (tro)
  30. Why not? ------------Pourquoi pas? (poorkwa pa)
  31. totally ------------totalement (totalmahng)
  32. on foot ------------a pied (a pyay)
  33. extremely ------------extremement (extremmahng)
  34. equally ------------egalement (aygalmahng)
  35. slowly ------------lentement (lahngtmahng)
  36. a few days ------------quelques jours (kelker zhoor)
  37. a week ------------une semaine (ewn sermayn)
  38. every week ------------chaque semaine (shak sermayn)
  39. today ------------ aujourd'hui (oh zhoor dwee)
  40. tonight ----------- ce soir (suh swar)
  41. tomorrow ------------ demain (dermang)
  42. yesterday ------------ hier (ee yehr)
  43. per day ------------par jour (par zhoor)
  44. every day ------------ tous les jours (too lay zhoor)
  45. breakfast ------------le petit dejeuner (ler pertee dayzhurnay)
  46. lunch ----------- le dejeuner (ler dayzhurnay)
  47. dinner ---------- le diner (ler deenay)
  48. Help! ------------ Au secours! (oh skoor!)
  49. black ------------noir (nwar)
  50. blue ------------bleu (blur)
  51. brown ------------marron (marawng)
  52. green ------------vert (vehr)
  53. gray ------------gris (gree)
  54. orange ------------orange (orahngzh)
  55. pink ------------rose (roz)
  56. purple ------------violet (veeoleh)
  57. red ------------rouge (roozh)
  58. white ------------blanc (blahng)
  59. yellow ------------jaune (zhoan)
  60. air conditioning ------------la climatisation (la kleemateezassyawng)
  61. light ------------la lumiere (la lewmyehr)
  62. elevator ------------l'ascenseur (lassahngsurr)
  63. swimming pool ------------la piscine (la peesseen)
  64. bathroom ------------la salle de bains (la sal der bang)
  65. kitchen ------------la cuisine (la kweezeen)
  66. bedroom ------------la chambre (la shahngbr)
  67. dining room ------------la salle a manger (la sa la mahngzhay)
  68. botanical garden ------------le jardin botanique (ler zhardang botahneek)
  69. castle ------------le chateau (ler shatoa)
  70. church ------------l'eglise
  71. fountain ------------la fontaine (la fawngtayn)
  72. market ------------le marche (ler marshay)
  73. museum ------------le musee (ler mewzay)
  74. library ------------la bibliotheque (la beebleeotek)
  75. bookshop ------------ la librairie (la lee breh ree)
  76. car park ------------ le parking (ler par keeng)
  77. police station ------------le commissariat de police (ler komeessarya der poleess)
  78. post office ------------la poste (la posst)
  79. hospital -----------l'hopital (lo pee tal)
  80. travel agency ------------l'agence de voyages (lazhahngss der vwahyazh)
  81. supermarket ------------ le supermarche (ler sewpehrmarshay)
  82. pharmacy ------------ la pharmacie (la farmassee)
  83. bridge ------------le pont (ler pawng)
  84. pond ------------l'etang (laytahng)
  85. river ------------la riviere (la reevyehr)
  86. sea ------------la mer (la mehr)
  87. waterfall ------------la cascade (la kaskad)
  88. lake ------------le lac (ler lak)
  89. mountain ------------la montagne (la mawngtan)
  90. hill ------------la colline (la koleen)
  91. beautiful ------------beau (boa)
  92. boring ------------ennuyeux (ahngnweeyur)
  93. ugly ------------laid (lay)
  94. doctor ------------le medecin (ler maydsang)
  95. hairdresser ------------le coiffeur (ler kwafurr)
  96. without a passport ------------sans passeport (sahng passpor)
  97. That's true ------------C'est vrai (seh vreh)
  98. Not bad ------------Pas mal (pa mal)
  99. I'd like a/an.... ------------Je voudrais... (zher voodray)
  100. belt ------------une ceinture (ewn sangtewr)
  101. blouse ------------un chemisier (ang shermeezyay)
  102. hat ------------un chapeau (ang shapoa)
  103. pants ------------un pantalons (ang pahngtalawng)
  104. shirt ------------une chemise (ewn shermeez)
  105. skirt ------------une jupe (ewn zhewp)
  106. book ------------un livre (ang leevr)
  107. dictionary ------------un dictionnaire (ang deeksyonehr)
  108. pack of cigarettes ------------un paquet de cigarettes (ang pakeh der seegarett)
  109. chocolate ice-cream ------------une glace au chocolat (ewn glass oa shokola)
  110. hot chocolate ------------un chocolat chaud (ang shokolah shoa)
  111. coke/ lemonade ------------un coca / une limonade (ang koka/ewn leemonad)
  112. bottle of wine ------------ une bouteille de vin (ewn bootayy der vang)
  113. calendar ------------ un calendrier (ang kalahngdreeay)
  114. postcard ------------ une carte postale (ewn kart postal)
  115. piece of cake ---------- un morceau de gateau (ang morsoa der gatoa)
  116. liter of milk ------------ un litre de lait (ang leetr der leh)
  117. jar of jam ------------ un pot de confiture (ang po dekawngfeetewr)
  118. I'd like some... ------------ Je voudrais ... (zher voodreh)
  119. bread ------------ du pain (dew pang)
  120. butter ------------ du beurre (dew burr)
  121. eggs ------------ des oeufs (day zur)
  122. beef ------------ du boeuf (dew burf)
  123. chicken ------------ du poulet (dew pooleh)
  124. ham ------------ du jambon (dew zhahngbawng)
  125. pork ------------ du porc (dew por)
  126. sausages ------------ des saucisses (day soasseess)
  127. pepper ------------ du poivre (dew pwavr)
  128. salt ------------ du sel (dew sel)
  129. sugar ------------- du sucre (dew sewkr)
  130. honey ------------- du miel (dew myel)
  131. milk ------------ du lait (dew lay)
  132. It's raining ------------Il pleut (eel plur)
  133. It's snowing ------------Il neige (eel nayzh)
  134. It's sunny ------------Il fait du soleil (eel feh dew solayy)
  135. a single room for one person ------------une chambre pour une personne
  136. a double room for two persons ------------une chambre pour deux personnes
  137. Where do I pay? ------------Ou dois-je payer? (oo dwazh payay)
  138. How much is that? ------------C'est combien? (seh kawnbyang)
  139. How are you? ------------Comment allez-vous? (kommahng ta lay voo?)
  140. What's your name? ------------ Comment tu t'appelles? (kommahng tew ta-pel?)
  141. How old are you? ------------ Quel age as-tu? (kel azh a tew?)
  142. Where do you live? ------------ Ou est-ce que tu habites? (oo es kuh tew a beet?)
  143. Can you help me? ------------ Pouvez-vous m'aider? (poo vay voo meh day?)
  144. What time is it? ------------Quelle heure est-il? (kel ur ay teel?)
  145. It's... ----------Il est... (eel ay...)
  146. six o'clock ------------ six heures (see zur)
  147. midday ------------ midi (mee dee)
  148. midnight ------------ minuit (mee nwee)
  149. What a lovely day! ------------Quelle belle journee! (kel bel zhoor nay!)
  150. Merry Christmas! ------------Joyeux Noel! (zhwa yuh noh el!)
  151. Happy New Year! ------------ Bonne Annee (bon a nay!)
  152. Happy Easter! ------------ Joyeuses Paques! (zhwa yuz pak!)
  153. I'll pay ... ------------Je paie ... (zher payy)
  154. by cash ------------en liquide (ahng leekeed)
  155. by credit card ------------avec une carte de credit (avek ewn kart der kraydee)
  156. See you soon. ------------ A bientot (a byangtoa)
  157. Do you speak English? ------------ Parlez-vous anglais? (parlay voo ahnggleh?)
  158. Where is the hotel? ------------ Ou est l'hotel? (oo ay loh tel?)
  159. I'd like to buy ... ------------ Je voudrais acheter ... (zher voodray ashtay)
  160. That's all, thanks ------------ C'est tout, merci (seh too mehrsee)

Friday, December 3, 2010


Here the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 18 times to Saint Bernadette between 18 February and 16 July 1858.

On 25 February 1858 Our Lady told Bernadette to "go to the spring, drink, and wash in it." The spring now feeds the water taps on the left of the grotto and the baths on the right. Nowadays there are 34 drinking fountains - actually simple taps - where the pilgrims can wash their faces in the water of the Massabielle Spring according to the wishes of Our Lady.

The Massabielle rock. Often we can see pilgrims queueing up just to wait for their turns to touch this rock. There is always a long queue in summer.

Pilgrims come from all over the world to pray at the place where Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous.

The grotto is the true heart of the Lourdes shrine. Pilgrims from all over the world flock to Lourdes basically to pray at the spot where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette more than 150 years ago. The name Massabielle comes from "Massevielle" which means "old rock" in the local dialect. The rock where we find the grotto is about 20 metres high and is covered with shrubs and ivy. It seems to be supported by an enormous natural vault, which is nothing more than the grotto itself. It is blackened by plumes of smoke from the candles which burn constantly in a big cone-shaped candelabra (at the foot of the statue) in memory of that first candle lit in front of the grotto by Bernadette. Since 1858, following Bernadette's example, pilgrims come to the grotto bearing candles - the symbol of their faith in Christ whose own words recorded in the Gospel declare, "I am the light of the world." In a way, these candles also express the faith, anxieties and vows of the pilgrims who lay down the burden of all their human and spiritual miseries in front of the grotto.

Every year, more than three million candles are burnt in front of the grotto. Candles of different sizes are to be found to the left of the drinking fountains. The profits of their sale go mainly towards the upkeep of the shrine. So great is the number of candles bought during the season that it is impossible to burn them all at the same time. Consequently, pilgrims are asked to hold their candles while they are praying, and then hand them to the staff in charge of the burners (to the right of the grotto, near the bath-houses). Some of the candles will be kept in a special store and then lit again during the winter months, thus prolonging the pilgrims' prayers well after they have gone.

This cave is made up of three irregular apertures - the largest one is 5 metres high, 7 metres wide and 8 metres deep. On the roof of the vault is a plume of ivy. A white carrara marble statue representing Our Lady of Lourdes was blessed and placed in this spot on 4 April 1864. The statue is the gift of two sisters from Lyon, the Misses Lacour - sisters of the speaker in the French Senate. It is the work of the Lyonnaise sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch who sculpted the statue according to Bernadette's suggestion. On the pedestal are engraved the words spoken by Mary in local dialect, "Que Soy era Immaculada Councepciou" which means "I am the Immaculate Conception." These are the words the Madonna said to Bernadette during the sixteenth apparition on 25 March 1858.

At the time of the apparitions the floor of the grotto was covered with a mixture of earth, sand and gravel left behind by the River Gave during flooding. Scattered arond were dead branches, pieces of wood and the bones of animals that had been dumped there by flood tides. In front of the entrance to the grotto runs a canal bringing water down from the Savy mill and the adjacent sawmill. The canal runs into the River Gave further down. The grotto was used as a natural shelter by the fishermen and hunters of the area during bad weather. Since the apparitions, the grotto has been cleaned and restored on several occassions. In 1955 its interior was lowered by more than a metre and grey marble slabs were used to pave it. An altar for the celebration of masses and other religious cereemonies were placed in the centre. Masses are celebrated daily at the plain stone altar at the grotto. Behind the altar one can find the box where people place their prayer petitions.

Inside the grotto, to the right, the rosebush planted in the rock is a reminder of the "sign" required by Father Peyramale who said, "And have Her make the rosebush in the grotto blossom." At the back of the grotto, to the left of the altar (see picture above), you can see the flowing spring that Bernadette discovered on 25 February 1858 during the ninth apparition. It is covered by an illuminated glass pane. This spring water, in order to be made available to everyone, is now channelled towards the taps and the baths. The work was carried out in February 1949 by Father Joseph Mailhet, a renowned hydro-geologist.

In front of the grotto a large open square covering a surface area of 27 square metres has been built for the pilgrims to provide space for them to reflect quietly or to attend religious ceremonies. To obtain the space needed for the square, the River Gave de Pau had to be diverted twice. The Gave was diverted by about 30 metres with a strong protective embankment being built and the canal that Bernadette crossed was rerouted upstream. Two paving stones mark the original location of the Savy Mill canal and the place where Bernadette stood when Our Lady appeared to her for the first time. Despite the various changes, the grotto has maintained its original, simple and austere appearance.

The silent, private joy of personal prayer that Bernadette experienced during the first apparitions is today shared by millions of believers who come to pray at the grotto. Massabielle Grotto is a place for silent contemplation. Just as Bernadette used to meet Our Lady at this Grotto of Apparitions, pilgrims today come face to face with her statue - placed on the exact spot where She habitually appeared to Bernadette.

"I want people to come here," said Our Lady. Here, the first masses of the day follow one another in all languages in the quiet contemplation of the morning. Here, Pope John Paul II prayed in silence for a long time from the moment of his arrival in Lourdes in 1983. Here, before the rock. we remember Bernadette's "young lady", the Immaculate Virgin who came smiling as She appeared to the poor girl from the Cachot. It is thus God who reaches out to us, the poor beings that we are. How good it is to pray here! And it was here that my French story began. I vow to devote the rest of my life to improve on my French after I have completed my PhD thesis. To me, French is the most beautiful language in the world. Why French? Because it makes me feel close to the Grotto of Massabielle and hence close to Our Lady. Each time I take out a French book to read, my mind drifts to the Grotto of Massabielle - to the exact spot where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette and I couldn't help feeling that I am already there - at the Grotto of Massabielle with Our Lady.