5 Online Grammar Exercise Sites for Strong, Beautiful French
You probably know that one annoying friend or acquaintance who spots every “who” that should be “whom.”
Being a stickler for grammar doesn’t seem very attractive. You like to think of yourself as more of a free spirit.
However, getting to know the rules of French is what can truly make your French strong and impressive.
We know it’s not always easy, so here we will introduce you to six resources that offer exercises in a variety of grammar areas.
- What’s the Big Deal About Grammar, Anyway?
- 5 Online Grammar Exercise Sites for Flexing Your French
What’s the Big Deal About Grammar, Anyway?
OK, so maybe you’re still thinking, “But why do we need to know and follow all these rules (and their infamous exceptions)?”
“Why should the way we communicate be governed by this mysterious body of literary elites known as the Academie Française (the French Academy, who officially regulates proper use of the French language)?”
Well, although grammar may seem tedious, it is necessary to communicate smoothly, especially as you move on to advanced French and become more capable of talking about a wide array of topics.
However, grammar is crucial even in communicating simple thoughts. Consider the difference between je nage (I swim) and je nageais (I used to swim).
If you do not know verb tenses, you cannot even distinguish between a present action and a past action. Grammar is central to understanding written and spoken French.
The point is clear: Grammar takes time and patience to master, but it is a necessary part of your French repertoire.
5 Online Grammar Exercise Sites for Flexing Your French
Le Point du FLE
What makes this site unique and extra helpful is that, while most of these other sites listed here directly give you an exercise for a given grammar topic, le point du FLE (The Point of French as a Foreign Language; FLE stands for français langue étrangère) provides several links to outside sources for you to choose from.
They come from reliable sites, often linked to a university, including some you otherwise wouldn’t think to look at for French help, such the University of Genova in Italy or University Victoria in Canada.
For example, if I am struggling to understand when to employ c’est and when to use il est (both are translated as “it is,” but the one you should use in French depends on context), I will click “C’est/Il est” under their grammar topics.
The next page will then also list related topics such as “tu/vous” (informal form of you/formal form of you). To view exercises specifically about c’est and il est, I would click “C’est/Il est/il y a.” Then I will see 30 (yes, 30!) links to drills to help me in this area.
To help you sift through your options, there are icons next to each link giving you some information about what each provides.
A glance can tell you if the page contains an explanation of the topic, audio, video and/or an actual drill or quiz.
If one looks promising, just click the link to be directed to the corresponding page. And if it does not seem overly helpful or if you want more practice, simply go back to the previous page and try your hand at some others!
Bonjour de France
Bonjour de France (Hello from France) does a good job of providing detailed explanations of concepts, as well as exercises.
Their grammar content is primarily sorted by CEFR level. Click on the level that most accurately represents where you are in French to see the activities they have suited to that level.
For example, there are grammar exercises that involve choosing the proper verb form from a drop-down. In essence, you are filling in the blanks for a paragraph about someone’s travels in Greece. Similarly, the example sentences focus on Greece.
Other exercises might quiz you on a provided reading or recording.
Bonjour de France’s variety, organization and engaging exercises make it an ideal place to flex those grammar muscles!
Tex’s French Grammar
Tex’s French Grammar is probably one of my favorite websites to use as a grammar reference and practice tool.
Not only do they give helpful explanations and cover a plethora of topics, but they have the cutest little “mascot.”
Who doesn’t want to learn French from an armadillo with a Parisian beret named “Tex”?
The website is managed by the University of Texas at Austin (hence the armadillo).
On their main grammar page, you will find an outline listing the “big idea” grammar topics, such as “adjectives” and “verbs.”
Click on one of these to get directed to a full listing of the sub-topics they have in that area. (You may also just scroll down to see these full listings).
If you are unclear, for instance, on how to use ne…pas (not) to negate a sentence, you could click “negation” from the main menu. You will see all the site has to offer about negating a sentence, such as alternate forms of ne…pas (not), including ne…jamais (never), ne…personne (no one), etc.
But you want to keep things simple, so you choose “basic negation: ne…pas.”
You will find brief descriptions on the use of ne…pas, along with examples (which are short stories about Tex the Armadillo and his friend Tammy).
At the bottom of the page are the exercises, which are usually fill-in-the-blank. Here, you are given a sentence which you will have to re-write in the negative form.
Columbia French Language Exercises
Don’t underestimate this one! Although Columbia French Language Exercises may only have ten available topics, these multiple-choice drills are reliable (connected with Columbia University) and give detailed descriptions as to why the correct answer is correct.
This may not seem like a big deal, but unfortunately many sites will only show the right and wrong answers, without explaining why they are right or wrong.
Thus, Columbia’s descriptions are immensely helpful, especially when studying a complex topic like the subjunctive (which they do have an exercise for).
Another unique feature they have is that they will help you with the French words used in a sentence.
For example, if you are asked to fill in the blank for the sentence “Il faut absolument que ___ la vérité” (It is absolutely necessary that ___ the truth), you can click the “Vocab?” hyperlink right above the question and they will define each individual word for you.
This can make the exercise seem a bit less daunting and help you expand your vocabulary at the same time.
So don’t dismiss this one if the topics seem limited or you’re put off that they don’t have an adorable little Parisian armadillo!
Remember the cute Parisian armadillo? Well, Conjuguemos has a red-eyed tree frog with glasses!
Furthermore, the graphic design has a clean, modern look that makes their exercises clear and attractive.
They offer a total of 47 grammar concepts, covering a respectable variety of areas including nouns, pronouns and adjectives.
However, you may have noticed that “Conjuguemos” sounds a bit like “conjugate” (changing a verb’s endings depending on the subject and tense).
This is because a good many of the topics they offer focus on verbs, making this a great place to go when you want to review the passé composé (perfect tense), perfect your subjunctive or get going on the future tense.
Another thing that sets Conjuguemos apart is that, once you have settled on an exercise, you have two options. Not only may you do the exercise (usually fill-in-the-blank) directly online, but if you are more of a physical-paper person, you can also get a printable version of the same exercise.
So now you know where to go when you’re conjugation-confused or feel just plain clueless!
Completing just one or two exercises every day can really strengthen your French.
And don’t forget to match your grammar exercises with authentic French as well. Doing so will help you see the grammar constructions as they are used by real French speakers. It also gives memorable contexts that can make it easier to remember grammar concepts.
You can listen to French music, read French books, or watch French videos. Certain immersive language learning programs also utilize authentic content. One example is FluentU, which uses authentic videos equipped with interactive subtitles and quizzes so that you can learn French vocabulary and grammar in context.
As you became more comfortable with grammar, you will have much greater confidence and freedom of expression when speaking or writing.
So, maybe grammar nerds do have a point!