Linking Words French Essays For Beginners

Make sure you check the blog posts featuring the first 19 French linking words.

For each group of French adverbs, conjunctions and expressions, click on the audio link to hear my recording.

French Connecting Words: Vers, depuis, pendant/durant, après avant, jusqu’à, d’abord – et puis, quand, lorsque, Il y a, environ

20 – vers (around/toward)

  • Je dîne vers 1 heure. (I have lunch around 1).
  • Il vient vers moi. (he is coming toward me).

21 – depuis (since, for)

  • Nous parlons depuis 10 minutes. (we’ve been talking for 10 minutes).
  • J’habite à Paris depuis juillet. (I’ve been living in Paris since July).

Depuis is ONGOING – the action started in the past and is still going on now. You cannot translate from English, you need to understand the French logic.

22 – pendant / durant (during, while, for)

  • Pendant que je travaille, il s’amuse. (he’s having fun while I am working).
  • Il pleut pendant deux heures (It rains for 2 hours).

Pendant expresses a duration of time. It may be in the past, the present, the future, but it’s followed by a duration: it’s not ongoing now.

23 – après ≠ avant (after ≠ before)

  • Après vous ! (after you).
  • Je dîne avant de sortir. (I have dinner before I go out).

24 – jusqu’à (until, up to).

  • Je travaille jusqu’à 5 heures. (I work until 5).
  • Sa propriété va jusqu’à l’arbre. (his lot goes up to the tree).

25 – d’abord (first) – et puis (then).

  • D’abord, vous étudiez la leçon, et puis vous faîtes les exercices. (your first study the lesson, then you do the exercises).

26 – quand (when – mostly used in questions).

  • Quand arrive-t-il ? (when does he arrive ?).
  • Je ne sais pas quand il arrive. (I dont know when he arrives).

27 – lorsque (when – used for simultaneity).

  • Il est content lorsqu’il mange. (he’s happy when he eats).

28 – Il y a (ago/there is-there are).

  • Je suis arrivé il y a 3 semaines. (I arrived 3 weeks ago).
  • Il y a une pomme sur la table. (there is an apple on the table).

29 – environ (approximately).

  • Il est environ minuit. (It’s approximately midnight).

Master the Time in French (with audio)

French Connecting Words: Avec, sans, pour, mais, contre, au contraire, en fait, en plus, quant à, en effet.

30 – avec (with).

  • Il est avec elle. (he is with her).

31 – sans (without).

  • Il ne peut pas lire sans lunettes. (he cannot read without glasses).

32 – pour (for, in order to).

  • Je travaille pour elle. (I work for her).
  • Je travaille pour gagner de l’argent. (I work in order to earn money).

33 – mais (but).

  • Je parle français mais je ne parle pas espagnol. (I speak French, but I don’t speak Spanish).

34 – contre (against).

  • Mettez la table contre le mur. (put the table against the wall).
  • Il est contre le racisme. (he is against racism).

35 – au contraire (on the contrary).

  • Il pense que j’aime Paul. Au contraire, je le déteste ! (he thinks I am in love with Paul. On the contrary, I hate him !).

36 – en fait (in fact).

  • En fait, je le trouve stupide. (in fact, I think he is stupid).

37 – en plus (furthermore).

  • En plus, il sent mauvais. (Furthermore, he smells bad). 

38 – quant à (as for).

  • Quant à Pierre, il est laid. (as for Pierre, he is ugly).

39 – en effet (indeed).

  • En effet, tu es difficile (you are picky, indeed).

French Linking Words: au sujet de, d’après/suivant / selon, presque, parce que, car, puisque, alors, donc, si/sinon, enfin

40 – au sujet de (about, concerning)

Je dois vous parlez au sujet d’Anne. (I have to tell you about Anne).

41 – d’après / suivant / selon (according to).

D’après lui, elle n’est pas française. (according to him, she’s not French).
Selon moi, la vie est magnifique. (according to me, life is beautiful).

42 – presque (almost)

Il est presque minuit. (it’s almost midnight).

43 – parce que (because – as an answer to pourquoi).

– pourquoi est-ce que vous étudiez l’espagnol ? (why are you studying Spanish ?)
– parce que je veux habiter en Espagne. (Because I want to live in Spain.)

44 – car (because – inside a sentence – volunteering some additional info)

J’étudie l’espagnol car je veux habiter en Espagne. (I study Spanish because I want to live in Spain).

45 – puisque (since).

Puisque tu ne parles pas espagnol, tu ne peux pas travailler en Espagne. (since you don’t speak Spanish, you cannot work in Spain).

46 – alors (then).

Alors, je suis partie. (then, I left).

47- donc (therefore, so).

Je pense, donc je suis. (I think, therefore I am).

48 – si ≠ sinon (if ≠ if not).

Si Pierre gagne, c’est formidable, sinon, ce n’est pas la fin du monde. (if Pierre wins, it’s great, if not, it is not the end of the world).

49 – enfin (anyway / at last).

Enfin, tu comprends ? (anyway, you understand ?)
J’ai enfin teminé cette liste. (At last, I finished that list).

The best way to learn these little words is to learn them in context.

Check out my downloadable French audiobooks: my bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation. My French audiobooks are exclusively available on French Today.

More advanced French linking words: ainsi, c’est ainsi que, alors, alors que, aussitôt que, d’autant plus que, bien que, si bien que, cependant, dès que, en tant que, lorsque, malgré, même si, à moins que, néanmoins, pendant que, pour que, pourtant, puisque, quand même, quant à, quoique, quoi que, sinon, tandis que.

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À Moi Paris Level 5 "Our Past and Future"

Complete Audio Method to Master the French Past and Future Tenses

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 20 years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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Choppy French is a recipe for disaster.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad…

But nobody wants their French to sound choppy, right?

Luckily, the French language has quite the catalog of transition words to help hold it all together.

And let me tell you, the French love their transition words!

Not only do they keep you from sounding robotic, but they’re also the key to writing effective essays, understanding the literature you’re reading and improving (never stop!) your comprehension and conversation.

They may be little words, and you could ignore them and get the bare gist of things anyway, but you’re not that kind of learner, now, are you?

Let’s get to it and start adding these key ingredients to our nouns, verbs and adjectives.
 

 

How to Integrate French Transition Words into Your Diet

Get your feet wet with quizzes

How much do you really know about these words, anyway? Gauging your knowledge with a few quizzes before you delve into any topic is always a good idea. You may even get a little confidence boost when you realize that you already know a sizable handful of transition words!

If your knowledge is looking kind of rough, make sure to study away using the methods below.

Extract transition words from your reading

Transition words are sprinkled all over your French texts (you’re doing your reading, right?). In order to fully understand what you’re reading, knowing transition words is the final frontier. The clarity will be unreal! With this in mind, use the words around transition words to try and guess from context if you’re unsure. If you still aren’t positive as to what a word means, highlight it for later and look it up in one of your French dictionaries.

You’ll find these fun tie-in words in every type of French literature, from children’s books to young adult fiction to classic literary masterpieces. Once you know the bulk of them, you can revel in the wonderful feeling of understanding that much more French text.

Write your own beautiful sentences

I didn’t want to say it, but here it is…practice makes perfect, guys. So get out your pens and paper, and start on those French sentences! Try writing a paragraph that uses four or five transition words.

If you’re more into immersion-based learning, make sure to include appropriate transition words when writing emails to your pen pals, writing entries in your French journal or even in text messages with another French-speaking friend. You’ll sound oh-so-sophisticated.

Use transition words with the subjunctive

The subjunctive is nothing to fear, but sometimes it can be difficult to integrate into the French you actually use. The tendency of some learners is to avoid it (we’ve all been there). Lucky for you, I’ve noted which of the transitional words and phrases below take the subjunctive. It shall be ignored no longer! This will give you some French to use right away while practicing both your transitions and the subjunctive.

If you’re still a beginner, no worries here. Many of these words and phrases don’t require the subjunctive mood. On the other hand, you always could take the opportunity to learn about this ultra-useful and fun French staple.

Tying It All Together: 23 Transition Words for Seamless French

1. D’abord

Translation: First of all

D’abord, il faut réchauffer le four. (First of all, you must preheat the oven.)

When you think “transition word,” this may be what you’re thinking. To start with the basics, here’s one of the first transition words you likely learned in French class. It’s best at the beginning of sentences, when giving directions or when recounting a series of events.

Subjunctive-friendly? Nah.

2. Ensuite

Translation: Next

Ensuite, je prépare la tarte aux cerises. (Next, I prepare the cherry pie.)

An easy way to remember this one (yet another in the series of your basic transition words), is that la suiteis the sequel or “the next one” in French. It’s a useful piece of vocab when delving into French book series and films, and this transition word is obviously useful for continuing a series of events or directions you may be giving.

Subjunctive-friendly? Nuh-uh.

3. Puis

Translation: Then

Puis, je coupe les pêches. (Then, I cut the peaches.)

Then, you’ve got puisIf you’re unfamiliar with this one, just know that it’ll come up a lot in literature and conversation. It’s a very useful transition word to have under your belt. Puis proves to be a good fallback word to have when some of the more specific transition words slip your mind.

Subjunctive-friendly? Not this one, either.

4. Enfin

Translation: Finally

Enfin, on mange tout. (Finally, we eat everything.)

In our d’abord, ensuite, puis sequence, we end with enfinThis useful word is not only used as a transition to mark la fin(the end) of something, but is also an interjection—a filler word, if you will. It can mean “well,” “all in all,” “I mean” or “at least.” It’s a multi-edged sword. Use it as a transition to an end or to make your conversational French more authentic.

Subjunctive-friendly? Pas du tout (not at all).

5. Ainsi que

Translation: As well as

Je voudrais une tarte aux pommes ainsi que deux boules de glace. (I would like apple pie as well as two scoops of ice cream.)

Getting into some more advanced vocabulary now, this means “just as.” This conjunction is useful when elaborating on something you’re already discussing. It can also be used with a different meaning of “just as,” as in “It went just as I thought.”

Subjunctive-friendly? Nope!

6. Après que

Translation: After/when

Je vais dormir après que je mange toute cette tarte. (I’m going to sleep after I eat all this pie.)

Bet you’re wondering what the difference is between après queand that old favorite après. Après is a preposition, and après que is a compound conjunction. All that means is you use the latter when it’s followed by a verb (like in the example). If you wanted to start a sentence with “after,” then you would use the preposition:

Après, on va partir. (After, we’re going to leave.)

Remember that the quehelps link the clauses, and you should be good to link the night away.

Subjunctive-friendly? Technically, no, but French speakers tend to use the subjunctive after it regardless. So go ahead and get the extra practice.

7. Avant que

Translation: Before

Je vais finir la tarte avant que je nettoie la cuisine. (I’m going to finish the pie before I clean the kitchen.)

Similar to après que, this conjunction is not to be confused with its definition without que. The same distinction can be made—avantbeing the preposition in this case and avant quethe compound conjunction.

Subjunctive-friendly? Yes, and don’t you forget it!

8. Bien que 

Translation: Although/even though

Il m’a donné une tarte aux pêches bien que j’aie commandé une tarte aux pommes ! (He gave me peach pie even though I ordered an apple pie!)

Careful not translate this one to “good that.” This conjunctive phrase is great for showing contrast and adding “conditions” to things, even though you have to know your subjunctive to use it.

Subjunctive-friendly? Oh, most definitely.

9. Dès que

Translation: As soon as

Dès que la tarte arrive, je vais la détruire. (As soon as the pie arrives, I will destroy it.)

This is usually followed by not the subjunctive, but by a future tense! Makes sense considering the context. This is a great conjunctive phrase to use when making threats, lofty goals and uncertain plans. Très useful.

Subjunctive-friendly? Never, ever.

10. Parce que/car

Translation: Because

J’aime les tartes plus que les gâteaux parce que (car) la croûte est magnifique. (I like pies more than cakes because the crust is magnificent.)

You’re likely familiar with parce queand maybe less so with carThere are some slight distinctions to keep in mind for you nit-picky French speakers out there: Car leans slightly more towards “since” or “for.” Parce que is a little stronger when used in speech. They both mean essentially the same thing, but it’s good to know both of them to add variety to your French conversation.

Subjunctive-friendly? No.

11. Pour que

Translation: So that

Je fais une tarte pour que tu aies quelque chose à manger ce soir. (I’m making a pie so that you have something to eat tonight.)

Oh, isn’t it great when such a useful conjunction takes the subjunctive? Well, sure it is! That’s how you get practice. Pourmeans for, but for translation purposes, “so that”makes more sense when using this phrase.

Subjunctive-friendly? You better believe it!

12. Quoi que

Translation: No matter what

Quoi que ma mère fasse en cuisine, c’est délicieux. (No matter what my mom makes in the kitchen, it’s delicious.)

I bet your mind is reeling with how much better your French will sound once you get this one down. No matter what the medium is, it’s useful. But you may be noticing an interesting trend: A word that you’re well-versed in (bien, quoi, pour), whenadded to our favorite little word que, can bring out a completely different definition. Keep this in your mental notebook when you read these phrases or hear them spoken!

Subjunctive-friendly? Yes…yet again!

13. Tant que

Translation: As long as

Tant que cette tarte est là, je serai tenté de la manger. (As long as this pie is here, I will be tempted to eat it.)

What’s tantmean anyway? Funny you should ask, because this here is yet another example of fun words being transformed by their trusty sidekick que. Tant by itself means “so much or many,” or can be used to express an indefinite quantity. If you apply that definition back to this transitional phrase, then you can see something of a rough translation that matches “as long as.” But as long as you remember the definition, you’ll be good to go.

Subjunctive-friendly? No, you’re safe on this one.

14. Comme/puisque

Translation: Since

Comme j’ai mangé trop de tarte, je ne peux pas manger mes légumes. (Since I ate too much of the pie, I can’t eat my vegetables.)

Puisque je l’ai fait, je goûte en premier. (Since I made it, I’ll taste [it] first.)

Even though the definition is the same on these two, there is a slight distinction. Comme is useful for showing both the cause and result in a sentence, whereas puisque just gives an explanation. Comme also likes to hang around at the beginning of sentences, whereas puisque can go in the middle if it so pleases. This distinction will help you sound extra-super pro!

Subjunctive-friendly? No and no.

15. Lorsque/quand

Translation: When

Je cuisinais quand/lorsquetu es arrivé. (I was cooking when you arrived.)

These are interchangeable when talking about time, though lorsque is a formal upgrade of quand. Gauge the situation when you pick. They both have their own special purpose as well: Quand can mean “whenever,” and lorsque can mean “whereas.”

Subjunctive-friendly? Sadly, no.

16. Quoique

Translation: Even though

Je mangerai une autre tranche quoique je n’aie pas faim. (I will eat another slice even though I’m not hungry.)

Okay, I’ll admit…it does get a bit confusing here. We just did quoi que, meaning “no matter what,”and now we’ve got the same thing minus the space in between and all of a sudden it means “even though”? These sound the same when spoken, but you should be able to figure it out based on the context. In addition, bien queand quoique can be used interchangeably. Just another opportunity for you to diversify.

Subjunctive-friendly? You better believe it.

17. Donc

Translation: So

Je veux que tu la goûtes, donc je garde une part. (I want for you to taste it, so I’m saving a piece.)

There is so much to say about this little word. Doncis one of the holy grails of French filler words, one of the little idiosyncrasies of French speech that you’ll pick up while in France and carry with you, smiling, forever. They use it both in the “correct” fashion, showing causation, as well as how we use it in English: “So, here’s the thing.” “So, I was heading to the store.” “So… So… So…” Remember donc. Cherish it. Can you tell this is my favorite French transition word?

Subjunctive-friendly? Not even close.

18. En fait

Translation: In fact

En fait, l’année dernière j’ai gagné une competition. (In fact, last year I won a competition.)

You have no excuses for not remembering this one. It’s spelt and sounds similar to the English definition. Use this phrase before emphasizing an important conclusion or key point.

Subjunctive-friendly? No.

19. Cependant

Translation: However, nonetheless

Cependant, j’aime un bon gâteau de temps en temps. (However, I enjoy a nice cake from time to time.)

Cependantis actually an adverb, but it still functions as a transition word. Use it at the beginning of a sentence to point out an opposition or contradiction. Pourtantis a close cousin, but it’s a little more nuanced, as it indicates that one thing happened when another one was expected to.

Subjunctive-friendly? No! No!

20. En revanche/par contre

Translation: On the other hand, in opposition

Une tarte aux pommes est classique. Par contre, une tarte aux tomates est bonne pour le petit-déjeuner, le déjeuner et le dîner. (An apple pie is classic. On the other hand, a tomato pie is good for breakfast, lunch and dinner.)

The definition is close to cependant, but provides a little clearer contrast. Those make for two great transition words when you’re writing essays in French or can’t decide which type of pie is better.

Subjunctive-friendly? Mais non ! 

21. En plus/en outre

Translation: Also

En outre, il faut choisir un bon parfum de glace pour accompagner la tarte. (Also, one must choose a good ice cream flavor to go with the pie.)

Need to add something that you forgot before? These two are good ways to vary your language and avoid using aussi (also) at every turn. En plusis common in conversation, and it, as well as en outreis often a better alternative to aussi in written French.

Subjunctive-friendly? Jamais (never).

22. Pour ma part/pour moi

Translation: For me

Pour moi/ma part, je préfère la tarte au citron. (For me, I prefer lemon pie.)

Here are two phrases to use when you want to put emphasis on “me! me! me!” Pour moiis a good way to order at a restaurant, and pour ma partis best for stating opinions.

Subjunctive-friendly? Stop asking. It’s another “no.”

23. À mon avis

Translation: In my opinion

À mon avis, tous ces phrases sont ridicules ! (In my opinion, all of these sentences are ridiculous!)

But when you really want to make it all about you and your opinions, this is the best phrase. To qualify a statement as an opinion, or before you go on a rant about something you’re passionate about, this is a great transitional phrase to use and abuse!

Subjunctive-friendly? This is the last time I’m saying it…nope.

 

Enfin, you’re well-equipped to speak like a pro, write like an essayist and understand all the details in the French literature you’re devouring.

While there are far more transition words than those listed, knowing the basics will do wonders for your fluency.

Choppy French no more!
 

 

And One More Thing…

If you like learning French with fun, authentic material, then you’ve got to try FluentU.

FluentU lets you learn French from real-world content like music videos, commercials, news broadcasts, cartoons and inspiring talks. Since this video content is stuff that native French speakers actually watch on the regular, you’ll get the opportunity to learn real French—the way it’s spoken in modern life.

One quick look will give you an idea of the diverse content found on FluentU:

Love the thought of learning French with native materials but afraid you won’t understand what’s being said? FluentU brings authentic French videos within reach of any learner. Interactive captions will guide you along the way, so you’ll never miss a word.

Tap on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more. For example, if you tap on the word “suit,” then this is what appears on your screen:

Don’t stop there, though. Use FluentU’s learn mode to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video with vocabulary lists, flashcards, quizzes and fun activities like “fill in the blank.”

As you continue advancing in your French studies, FluentU keeps track of all the grammar and vocabulary that you’ve been learning. It uses your viewed videos and mastered language lessons to recommend more useful videos and give you a 100% personalized experience. 

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.

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