Jean de La Fontaine (Portraits français)

Jean de La Fontaine is one of the most beloved French poets, whose fables are still today a staple of French education. Learn about his eventful life in this article from our Portraits français series.
After listening to the audio, click any word for the English translation and links to related grammar lessons.

 

Note: The tenses in this French article and its English translation don't match! In French, we use the present tense to describe historical stories like this to evoke a sense of immediacy, whereas in English, we commonly use the past tense - learn more about historical French tenses.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

 

Q&A relating to this exercise 3 questions, 6 answers

JOYC1Kwiziq community member

‘Ses fameuses fables, qui paraissent toute simples..’

Please can someone explain why this isn’t ‘toutes simples?’

Merci!

Asked 1 week ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Joy, 

This the Kwiziq lesson with the answer to your question -

https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/tout-tous-and-toute-toutes-all-all-of-them-the-whole-indefinite-pronouns

 

Look at the specific case when 

Tout/toute (adverb ) +adjectif = very /completely + adjective 

Hope this helps!

 

‘Ses fameuses fables, qui paraissent toute simples..’

Please can someone explain why this isn’t ‘toutes simples?’

Merci!

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AlbertA2Kwiziq community member

conjugate naître

if present tense is used for historical events, why use ‘La Fontaine est né’ and not ‘La Fontaine naît’?

Asked 1 week ago
CélineKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Albert,

Thank you for your comment! This sentence has now been amended to include Le Présent historique so as to be consistent with the rest of the text. 

I hope this is helpful.

Bonne journée !

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Albert,

You are reporting on a completed action;  that is, someone's birth.

Jean de La Fontaine est né.      Passé Composé is the normal way to report this but apparently in this case past historic Jean de La Fontaine naquit.

This is how I understand it but the text is a bit confusing.

Jim

AlbertA2Kwiziq community member

understood. However, the article says that historical events are narrated using the present tense. The whole article about Jean de La Fontaine is in the present tense even though all those events, obviously are completed actions since he is already dead.

Narrating historical events using the present tense is common in romance languages.

The question is why this particular sentence was used in the past (passé composé)

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

In French it is always je suis né(e), tu es né(e), il/elle est né(e) etc.

Rare that you will hear unqualified present tense per se : more likely to hear “en train de naître” for being born right now etc Some expressions are exceptions : un enfant naît toutes les secondes 

The 'rule' on using present tense in historical writing, is not a fixed rule - it is simply that French will more often use present tense, where English would use  past tense. You will, however, find imparfait/passé composé and passé simple etc used - depends on context.

conjugate naître

if present tense is used for historical events, why use ‘La Fontaine est né’ and not ‘La Fontaine naît’?

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LucienC1Kwiziq community member

siècle

'Seizième siècle'? mais non - dix-septième !

Asked 1 week ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Thank you, Lucien, this error has been corrected.

siècle

'Seizième siècle'? mais non - dix-septième !

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