Learn French With Random Sentences, Part II

From “The Passer-Through-Walls,” a 1943 short story by Marcel Aymé:

“Au cours de cette seule journée, la tête redoutée apparut vingt-trois fois sur le mur et, les jours suivants, à la même cadence.”

Translation: “In the course of that one day, the dreaded head appeared twenty-three times on the wall, and, on the following days, with the same frequency.”*

Now that’s a sentence, I say. Once you see the translation, it’s easy to go back and see how closely the French sentence mirrors its English counterpart in syntax, structure, and vocabulary. It’s very important, when learning, to choose sentences with similar structures, so that your eyes and ears can “follow” the translation. If you can’t see the logic of how to get from the French to the English and vice-versa, you won’t begin to internalize the logic of the target language. As you get better, and your knowledge of the language becomes more intuitive, you can move on to more complex and less obvious sentences.


*Example taken from French Stories, edited and translated by Wallace Fowlie, Bantam Books, 1960, pp. 254-255.

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