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The apostrophe and apposition in French

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The apostrophe (French: l'apostrophe) can reference to the punctuaction (') but here it is a noun or pronoun that is not related to the rest of the sentence. It is used to interpellate the person we are talking to.

The apostrophe as a punctuaction in French 

The apostrophe (') is a sign that replaces one of the vowels (a, e, i, o) when the next word itself begins with a vowel or a mute h.

Meaning: 

You cannot say

  • le animal 
  • le auto
  • je écoute
  • si il vient 
  • lorsque on
  • le histoire
VowelsExamplesTranslation
al'animal(the animal)
ej'écoute(I listen)
is'il vient(If he comes)
olorsqu'on(When we)
hl'histoire(the story)

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The apostrophe as a noun in French

The word put in apostrophe, noun or pronoun, designates the animated being or the personified thing to whom someone speaks. It is an independent word, without function in the sentence.

It can be: 

  • a person 
  • a thing
  • an object
ExamplesTranslation
John, où est ce que tu vas ? (John, where are you going ?) 
Maman, fais moi confiance. (You can trust me, mom)
Et toi, est ce que tu vas voter pour lui ?(What about you, are you going to vote for him ?)

The apposition in French

The apposition (French: l'apposition) is a nominal noun or group that refers to another noun hat it follows or directly precedes. It can be a noun placed directly after the noun, like an  epithet adjective or separated by a comma (,). 

It is most often a noun joined to another that designates the same being, to know a quality. It can also be

  • a pronoun,
  • an infinitive
  • a relative proposition
AppositionExamplesTranslatios
Noun or nominal groupElle porte une robe de princesse(She is wearing a princess dress)
pronounMa fille, elle même, viendra te l'apporter(My own daughter will bring it for you)
infinitiveAutre chose, apporter une couverture quand on va à la montagne en hiver(One more thing, bring a blanket if we go the mountains)
relative propositionMon frère, qui est un garçon très intelligent, a pourtant échoué. (My brother who is a smart boy, managed to fail)

Apposition vs. Apostrophe in French

It is necessary that you distinguish an apostrophe to an apposition sentence. The apostrophe calls out a person and is an independant word instead of the apposition which is a nominal element placed in the dependence of another nominal element.

The apostrophe can be like the imperative because it interpellates something or someone. Therefore, it is used in the direct speech (style) and cannot be in the indirect speech. 

To differenciate the both nouns, you can put the apostrophe in the indirect speech, then you will notice that the word in apostrophe comes out of the quotation. It cannnot be preserved in the indirect speech.

Examples: 

Direct styleIndirect styleTranslations
Toi, chante nous quelque chose ! Il lui a dit de nous chanter quelque chose(He told him to sing them something)
Amis, buvons à la santé de notre frère !Il a dit à ses amis de boire à la santé de leur frère(He told his friends to drink in favor of their brother)
William de Cambridge est le deuxième héritier de la monarchie anglaiseIl a dit que William de Cambridge est le deuxième héritier de la monarchie anglaise(William of Cambridge is the second heir to the throne of England)

 


Exercises

  1. Fill in the blank exercice about the apostrophe in French
  2. Multiple choice questions about the apposition in French

Fill in the blank exercice about the apostrophe in French


Multiple choice questions about the apposition in French


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