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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Thick and Thin


It's been decades since I started learning French. I took French for 2 or 3 years, probably 3. Then my French studies were neglected, or I'd revisit them on and off over the years. One thing that was always a challenge was trying to learn how to conjugate all those verbs!

When I was first learning French, 501 French Verbs was a ubiquitous French verb book available in nearly every bookstore. It was a relatively large reference book, not something you'd want to lug around with you everywhere. But what does one do when it is all that you've got?

It wasn't until sometime within the last decennium that I discovered something better. Bescherelle! I couldn't find it here in the US, so had to order it from Alapage in France; this book is completely in French. It wasn't until years later that I discovered a similar verb book available in the US that was in English, I think this is this one.)

The photos below show will give you a better idea of the size of these two books:

BTW, the quarter that is most visible in the first photo at the top of this post is supposed to help with sizing.

I actually have TWO copies of the 501 French Verbs book! Inside one of them, I discovered this post-it note, a little "cheat sheet" for learning which verbs take "être" instead of "avoir" in the passé composé. It says: D R & M R S V A N D E R T R A M P.

These are the verbs that take être in the passé composé:




Now let me show you why Bescherelle is so much thinner! I'll begin by showing you what 501 French Verbs looks like under the hood...

This is a typical page in 501 French Verbs, it is the page for the verb finir (to finish). The page shows you how to conjugate the verb in the various tenses.

Now let's say you want to know how to conjugate the verb s'évanouir (to faint).

This is the page for the verb s'évanouir in 501 French Verbs. Yes, it has its own complete page devoted to this one verb. The book has one page for each and every verb in the book. Now do you see why 501 French Verbs is such a thick book?

So now you must wonder, why is Bescherelle so thin? Is the print as miniscule as the Oxford English Dictionary??? No, you don't need a magnifying glass to read Bescherelle. But I'll show you how Bescherelle works!

Here is a typical page in Bescherelle, it is the page for the verb finir -- and it is verb #20 in the book (note the red "20" in the upper corner of the page).

Here is a typical INDEX page in Bescherelle.

Now let's say you want to find out how to conjugate the verb s'évanouir in the 1st person subjunctive. What do you do? Well, you go look up the verb in the index!

Here's what the entry for s'évanouir looks like in the index. Note the red "20" to the left of the verb? That tells you that it is conjugated similarly to the "model verb" #20. So we go to verb #20 and take a look at it...

Here is the subjuctive section of verb #20.

It shows you that finir would be conjugated as que je finisse.

To apply the rules and endings of French verb conjugation, we can use this "model verb" to conjugate s'évanouir as que je m'évanouisse.

Ok, I've just realized that using s'évanouir was a bad example because it is a reflexive verb, and perhaps it isn't as evident to you how to apply the rules for finir to conjugate another verb.

Ok, here's another verb example. Let's take the verb étourdir (to stun). It's the 3rd verb in the left column of that same index page. You'll find a "20" to the left of the verb, which refers you to the same page for finir. Applying the conjugation rules from the "model verb" finir, you can figure out that the 1st person subjunctive for étourdir would be que j'étourdisse.

Anyhow, I found it easier to learn/remember how to conjugate verbs by grouping verbs together which are similarly conjugated. I think Bescherelle helps with this.

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Georgi is having a 200th post contest, go check out her contest over here. You have until 17May2009 to enter.

Darcy is having a contest too, go check out her contest over here. You have until 15May2009 to enter.

Last week I mentioned test knitting something for Dianna. I finished knitting it on Tuesday night while watching Little Dorrit. I had never read this book before and wonder why I had never heard of it before. Why isn’t it more popular or as well known as his other novels? I enjoyed the miniseries and I will have to read the book someday. Anyhow, the mitts came out well, nice and snug for my petite hands. What a refreshing change to knit on 4.5 mm needles after using 2.25 mm to 2.75 mm! I can't show you photos of the finished pair of mitts until June when the KAL begins in this RavGroup.

Now that the mitts are done, I guess I have no excuse to avoid sock knitting. Should I work on the red one or the blue one? The blue one was last seen on 24Apr2009 here, and the red one was last seen on 18Apr2009 here. I'm inclined to go with the blue ones on 2.75 mm needles. Hope I can remember where I left off. I was in the middle of some inelegant increases when I set it aside for test knitting the mitts. Scroll down to find out how the sock turned out.

Bets has found a nice knitted cabled top and I wonder if it is something easy enough for me to finish. It's really pretty, although I'm not sure I like the sleeveless look because I don't have pretty shoulders/arms. Will need to look for a suitable yarn, I'm thinking about Bamboo Fusion, in Garnet or Wisteria. Discovered the free pattern is here. I can't knit from chart, so I'd have to convert that to row instructions.

--. . --- .-. --. .

More pics of George...

If you look carefully, you'll see that part of his tail fin is transparent near the ends. So his tail looks short if you are just looking at the purple parts.

He came with some scrapes and splotches on his head. On his right face, you'll see that it looks like some scales are missing there. I wonder how long this will take to heal. I hope he isn't bothered by it too much. He's very cozy now that he has a 25-w submersible heater in his tank. It is currently set to 79°F. Unfortunately this heater takes up quite a bit of real estate in his little 7.57 litre (2gal) tank. These two photos were taken last week. He's perked up this week and his coloring is much more vibrant; I think it is a side effect of having a heater.

I think this is the start of a bubble nest! I think they make these when they're happy.

.--. .- .. .-. / ..... / ... --- -.-. -.- / .----

This past week blew right by. It started with a crappy weekend when our water heater broke and we had no hot water for about 3 days. Why couldn't this have happened one week earlier when we were in a heat wave? We were quite miserable. It was a busy/tiring week and very little knitting got done. I'm trying to catch up with the knitting this weekend since we're not making a trip to the EB. I was definitely up and about during the week, but I never really felt quite all there. It was as if I weren't fully awake. Ever feel that way?

Pair 5 Sock 1 64 st -> 96 st(!)

Related post: 24Apr2009 post

And here we are with the blue sock, the 1st one of the pair. Yeah, it looks a bit pinched in around the ankle. Then there were some inelegant increases. I will try to make some improvements to the 2nd sock so that it fits better. Perhaps start the heel flap earlier so that there will be more gusset stitches. I wonder if I should place a "heel stitch" at the back of the heel so that it will look like a "normal" hand knit sock. I chose K1P1 ribbing for the top; I hope I remember to try smaller needles for this section on the 2nd sock because this turned out loose.

I mentioned some increases in the leg portion. Would you believe I eventually ended up with 96 sts on my needles?! I know it sounds totally wrong after knitting my other socks with 56 to 60 sts on my needles. Hmmm, perhaps I should have stopped my increases at 80. I haven't decided what I'll do for the 2nd sock.

I love the simplicity of the honeycomb, it's makes great mindless knitting. I believe there should always be a "mindless" sock project and I'm thinking this is where self striping yarns come into play because simple "mindless" patterns work best with them. You do know what that means, right? I need to add more striping yarns to my stash. :-)

The sock has its faults, however overall it turned out ok for a romp-around-the-house sock. The leg is on the loose side now, it'll snug up a bit after washing and a tumble in the dryer.

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.

14 stitch(es):

junior_goddess said...

I think you should look at that tank as one REALLY BIG SOCK. And it will be fine!

George looks beautiful!

junior_goddess said...

PS I looked up bubble nests, and maybe George needs a girlfriend?

Claudia said...

The sock came out great! I love that look!

And I love George! Hope he heals up quickly. :)

Jean said...

I can so sympathize with you, I went without a water heater from last Saturday - Friday - it was brutal. I've dropped my French for now, am considering purchasing a program I saw at the store, it even included games. Don't you just love sock knitting and the portability of these petite projects. I still keep going back to Osiris, but there's no hurry with the warm weather.

edina said...

Wow what a difference in book size! I have the 501 Verbs book, too, but I'm going to try and get a copy of Bescherelle when we go to Paris in a few weeks. Thanks so much for the tip! Love the photos of George, too. :)

SusanB-knits said...

I love the way your sock came out. Do you like knitting toe up better than cuff down? I haven't attempted toe up yet.
George is very pretty!

Ali said...

I went to a French school in Canada for 10 years. How fondly I remember my Becherelle. I still have my copy from junior high. I literally wore out my first copy from elementary, that's how often we used it. I don't think there is any other book we used as much, not even the big Larousse classroom dictionary. I'm surprised that it's not available in the US, but then again, Canada is a bilingual country and I guess it's much easier to find French reference books up here. Should you need more reference books, it might be easier to order through a Canadian retailer like or than ordering all the way from France.

Loved the socks, they look warm and cozy (always need warm socks up here on the Prairies) and I love the idea of a year of scarves that you've done. You're patterns are so beautiful, I'm hoping to make a few for Xmas presents for my all handmade Xmas I'm trying to do this year.

Anonymous said...

Juste en passant...
Some verbs take both Etre and Avoir:
Monter, retourner, sortir, descendre, rentrer.
J'ai sorti la voiture, j'ai rentre la voiture etc..
Bonne chance ;)

Anonymous said...

Great refresher course in French verbs! I admire that you stick to it.

Great socks, too - and George's colors are gorgeous!

I say go for the Cabled Shell (I put it on my list as soon as it came out), but pay attention to the gauge: the yarn specified in the pattern knits at 29st/4"; Bamboo Fusion specifies 19st/4". So you'll have to adapt the pattern for the BF to work. It may be easier to look for a thinner yarn (I have not looked at the pattern in detail yet; sometimes the directions for a smaller size will work just fine with a thicker yarn, but it is something to figure out).


Renna said...

I could not conjugate a french verb if my life depended on it, though I garnered A's in my high school french class doing that very thing. It was actually speaking the language, at which I failed miserably. ;-Þ

I've not heard of Little Dorrit, either. I just added it to my netfix queue, where I saw that there was also an older adaptation of it.

hakucho said...

Love your socks...remind me of the circle sock pattern, would be perfect for self striping yarn!!

happy knitting :)

Anonymous said...

Love the socks! And I'm looking forward to seeing your fingerless glove... I love making those.

Virtuous said...

George is looking good! I remember when I had 2 beta fish (1 white 1 red) around V-day and they were named Ossie & Ruby ;o)

And you really have been cranking out the socks!!!

Luvs them all!!

Cindy G said...

George is a very handsome fellow!

Ah yes, the secret appeal of self striping sock yarns. Plus watching the colors change keeps a "mindless" stretch of stockinette interesting.