Your Brain on French Grammar

My grammar is really bad. But you can't really learn French without learning the grammar. I have spent the last two weeks trying to discern the difference between le complemente d'object direct and le complemente d'object indirect and les verbs transitif et intransitif. It's been grueling work for my 37-year old brain. But it's also been immensely rewarding. It's like watching the dissection of a language, and thus the folkways of a people.


I am fond of making wishes, and looking wistfully back at my school days. Here's another wish: Instead of saying "You must learn this, because it's the rules," I wish someone had said, "You should learn this because it will explain how the language you are speaking, right now, actually works." That's what it is--"How stuff works." Not "How to make people not sneer at you."

Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Global

From This Author

Just In