It’s okay to idle for a bit and catch your breath.
But if you let your intermediate French rest for too long it may be hard to start it up again.
With the basics behind you, now’s the time to keep going!
And it’s essential that you continue to learn new things about French grammar to ensure that your progress doesn’t slow down or stall.
To do this successfully, you need a plan.
You should start by building on what you already know. You should tackle new grammar points, but make sure that they’re intermediate and not advanced.
If you do happen to tackle some advanced grammar, you may find that it unsettles you and causes unnecessary confusion!
It’s crucial that your learning journey follows a natural path because this will help you to learn efficiently and effectively.
So, here are three grammar study tips for an intermediate learner:
1. Build on the basics.
2. Take your time and don’t rush!
3. Plan your learning journey before you begin.
In this post, we’ll go over how to do all of this in more detail, and get you set up for success!
Why Good Grammar Is Crucial at the Intermediate Stage
Having a good level of grammar can open doors to another world of fluency in French. Being good at grammar helps you to become more self-confident and sure of yourself when speaking a language. When you’re confident in a language, you’ll of course speak more easily and more often!
This will greatly improve your fluency and you’ll progress at a faster rate.
Grammar is also an integral part of any language. We must all learn grammar to understand what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. Something as simple as using vous and tu correctly can make or break a situation. Saying tu to someone interviewing you, for example, will likely result in you not getting that job! We have to respect grammar by learning how to use it correctly.
How to DIY Your Own Guide to Intermediate French Grammar
Step 1: Plan out your daily French grammar study time.
Let’s be realistic, most people who are learning a second language also have a job, and as much as we would all like to study for two or three hours a day, it’s probably not a viable option. You have to set yourself realistic and, most importantly, attainable goals. If not, you’ll get demotivated by a lack of regular practice. If your objectives match your busy schedule, though, then you won’t find yourself skipping study time.
Here are some examples of different study schedules that might work for you depending on your obligations and goals:
- Example #1: 10 minutes per day of grammar exercises.
- Example #2: 20 minutes every other day (for instance, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday).
- Example #3: 30 minutes on Saturday and 30 minutes on Sunday.
- Example #4: 1 hour every Wednesday night.
You have to choose what’s best for you! However, I suggest breaking your study time into smaller but more frequent parts. I recommend this because you’ll study French more regularly, keeping what you’ve learnt fresh in your mind. It also helps learning a language to become more of a fun daily activity, rather than one hour of intensified studying. You’re learning a language, not doing a chore!
Do whatever suits you best, but the key is to plan ahead. Learning a language is like going to the gym. If you don’t plan to go, you never will! Try marking it on your calendar or writing it in your diary. You could even set a reminder on your phone!
Step 2: Note which parts of grammar you should learn.
Again, you’ll want to take the basic grammar you learned as a beginner and build on it.
Here are a couple examples:
- As a beginner you learned basic adjectives. As an intermediate learner you can learn comparative adjectives—how to say two things are equal or if something is more or less than something else.
- As a beginner you learned the basic verbs. As an intermediate learner you can choose to focus on certain common but versatile verbs more in depth, like chercher (to look for), aller (to go), avoir (to have) and être (to be). You can also work on building up your verb vocabulary.
All you have to do is build on what you know and you’ll progress!
Here are some subjects that you’ll probably want to cover in your intermediate French grammar lessons:
- Direct and indirect objects.
- The pronouns y and en.
- Comparative adjectives.
- The future simple tense.
- Deeper nuances of basic verbs.
- Additional verbs (building on the basic ones you learned as a beginner).
Step 3: Compile a list of resources you can use for learning grammar.
As we all know, Google is an endless portal of resources with a huge number of suggestions for learning French.
However, it can be hard to know which ones are good, and which ones are good for learning grammar specifically.
Below are a few places to start.
- The University of Texas created a website called Tex’s French Grammar to help its students. To teach you French grammar, this website uses a funny, entertaining story of two armadillos named Tex and Tammy, following their life together, their friends and even their enemy, Bette the kitten. This site is perfect for anyone who wants to learn grammar with an enjoyable and highly amusing story.
- FluentU teaches you grammar naturally through fun videos.
Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the French language and culture over time. You’ll learn French as it’s actually spoken by real people.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with FluentU's adaptive quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning and play the mini-games found in the dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
As you study, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a 100% personalized experience.
It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
We also have hundreds of blog posts you can read for free in our French “vocab and grammar” category. Whether you’re looking for info on French commands, French modal verbs or something else, we’ve got you covered on most general topics as well as some very specific ones.
- The WordReference French verb conjugator is a great quick reference to have bookmarked when you’re studying grammar for anything verb-related. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping Google Translate handy for simple look-ups, once you get into questions of tense and mood, it’s best to know exactly what you’re looking at, and these verb charts provide you with the necessary details.
- Bonjour de France is another website that focuses largely on grammar. The website is all in French, so it encourages you to practice using French all the time, and it also gives you the option of choosing your level (from beginner to advanced). After you’ve chosen your level, you’ll immediately be redirected to grammar exercises specifically for your level. If you’re an intermediate learner just starting out on intermediate grammar, your level will be between A2 and B1. The website offers a huge amount of exercises on all different kinds of grammar topics. It has a more scholastic feel than Tex’s French Grammar, but it’s the perfect website for doing exercises and studying online.
Step 4: Plan to work on your other skills as a way of practicing grammar.
With great grammar, comes great responsibility. Grammar doesn’t exist in a vacuum and shouldn’t be treated like it does, so along with your grammar study plan, it’s important to take a more holistic approach to learning. Make sure you’re regularly working out all four major language skills with grammar in mind.
Personally, I believe that speaking is the best way to learn any language. Speaking helps us to remember our mistakes. When you’re corrected on a part of grammar on the spot, you remember that correction and in the future you usually use the grammar point correctly. Consider finding a language exchange partner to help you put the grammar you’re learning into practice.
Listening can also help you to learn grammar. You can find links to French news clips for learners on Radio France Internationale. Listening is a great tool for learning grammar because it’s more enjoyable than traditional learning methods. You learn while you’re having fun, which means you’re more attentive and learn more efficiently!
Reading a lot in another language is undoubtedly fantastic for your comprehension skills and building up your vocabulary, but it’s great for your grammar as well. You can practice your grammar by reading a text and identifying the different tenses or constructions within it. This will help you to understand both how to use the grammar as well as when and why. Check out some French-language novels at your level, and enjoy!
Writing in French can also be a great help when you want to learn grammar. You can set yourself challenges—write a letter to the bank, an email to a colleague, a text to a friend. By doing this, you’ll practice using your grammar in different situations and with varied subjects. You can practice both informal and formal writing and test your knowledge of tenses. I recommend that you do writing exercises last in the process of learning a grammar point—to assess your progress, like an end-of-level test!
With all of the above, you should be ready to embark on your own custom-made French grammar study plan.
Learning French grammar is a vital part of any learning journey.
So now that you have our advice, put on your learning shoes and get going!
Chloe is a full time writer and blogger based in Paris. She writes for herself as well as doing articles for other companies.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.