How to Conjugate the Verb pouvoir (can)

view of the Eiffel tower on a sunny day

“Pouvoir” is a powerful verb. Once you know it, you can easily ask people to do something, and express what you can do. Here is how to conjugate and use “pouvoir”. Conjugation of pouvoir (can) I voluntarily chose not to include tenses like “passé simple”, because unless you are interested in French literature, you won’t need …


The surprising meanings of Mais non and Non mais

A very fat, perhaps pregnant lemur stares at something off-camera open-mouthed, perhaps in surprise.

If you speak even a little French, you’ve probably learned that the word mais means “but”. But with this in mind, you may have come upon some phrases with mais that surprised you, including Mais non and Non mais. Let’s learn about the meanings of mais non and non mais! What does Mais non mean? Taken apart and …


How to say “happy birthday” in French (and the mistakes to avoid)

happy birthday

There are some cultural details we take for granted. If you’ve ever celebrated classmates’ birthdays in your French class, or seen a French movie or TV show where there was a birthday (un anniversaire), you might think you’ve got French birthday traditions down pat. Then there may come a day when you’re invited to a …


Everything you need to know about “Qu’est-ce que c’est”

A little boy, seen from behind, points at something in the shallow lake in front of him.

Qu’est-ce que c’est means “What (is it)” in French. Despite being a mouthful, it’s an extremely common phrase in both everyday and formal French, and also has several somewhat subtle variants. What’s the deal with qu’est-ce que c’est?   Let’s look into this inquisitive phrase! What does Qu’est-ce que c’est mean? Qu’est-ce que c’est means “What (is it)”. …