Lingqing words with no grammatical knowledge

I’d just like to start a topic on something I’ve noticed while studying French here at LingQ.

So far, I’ve not really looked at any grammatical rules for French and I’m finding that this is leading to a little problem. When I lingq words, I have no idea about the function of that word in the sentence. The tense of verbs in particular. The majority of verbs, regardless of tense have been added as lingqs in the infinitive sense and that’s a little tricky for someone to figure out what it’s really talking about.

I’d just like to know, what should I do about it? How do you guys deal with that?

I’m thinking about working through some grammar, as I usually, so that I can use LingQ better for this language, but I’d like to hear some more ideas.

I think you should look at some conjugation tables. Don’t learn them by heart, but try to be able to recognize the different tenses.

French, and Romance languages in general, has many tenses, but you only need a “few” ones at first: présent, futur, passé composé, imparfait, subjonctif présent. The role of the subjonctive is very tricky though, and many French don’t master it either. So don’t worry too much about it.
Then the “présent” is the most difficult. The other three are much easier because all the verbs follow the same pattern.

As for grammar, what problems do you face?

“The majority of verbs, regardless of tense have been added as lingqs in the infinitive sense”

So your LingQs look like this:
achètes = buy
achète = buy
achetons = buy
achetez = buy
achètent = buy
achetais = buy
achetait = buy
achetions = buy
achetiez = buy
achetaient = buy

That’s IMHO a very bad way to lingQ verb forms. You learn nothing about verb forms and/or tenses if you use such bad LingQs from other users! In my experience 80-90 percent of other users’ LingQs are wrong or partially wrong. The same applies to Google Translate.

I recommend to create LingQs very carefully.

Better LingQs would be:
achètes = (you) buy (sg)
achète = (he…) buys
achetons = (we) buy
achetez = (you) buy (polite); (you) buy (pl); Buy!
achètent = (they) buy
achetais = (I) bought; (you) bought (sg)
achetait = (he…) bought
achetions = (we) bought
achetiez = (you) bought (polite); (you) bought (pl)
achetaient = (they) bought

Before starting to create LingQs you should learn some verb forms and also start using something like “Le Conjugueur”

As I know you use ASSIMIL: You also don’t read the grammar notes in the ASSIMIL book??

That is exactly the way I work here with Latin: just lingq words without finding out for what case (or whatever) a particular ending could stand. Of cause I may have an idea about what case or some other grammatical category applies to some word and I may be or may be not right with such assumptions, but it normally doesn’t really matter.

What concerns German, I know its grammar pretty well and always put genders for nouns into hints. It’s pretty likely that I would once decide to add some grammatical info into my Latin lingqs as well, but I don’t really need to know which type of declination or conjugation a word has just for passive understanding.

But on the other hand, regarding verbs, even for English I always tend to specify the hint instead of using an infinitive translation from the dictionary, cause I will just stick if I see an incorrect form in the translation while doing a fast work with flashcards.

An idea, by the way: sometimes it may be better just to check what the grammatical sense for this particular form is (for instance, using, instead of trying to learn all verbs-related grammar at once. This way we could accumulate such info in a rather natural and not stressful way. Learning every grammatical ending at once, not regarding any particular verbs is not a much faster way, I could guess. A “traditional” way in language schools is to combine the use of partially explained grammar with artificial content for complete understanding of which it could be enough, but such an approach is probably not for those who chose this site.

Jorgis, I’ve noticed that there are many tenses. So far, I’ve only noticed nothing in the way of patterns. Verbs seem to end in all sorts of consonants and vowels and I don’t understand the idea behind it all. Perhaps I’ve been too spoilt with Germanic languages. :smiley:

Hape, those are the exact sorts of hints I see. I’d like to be able to create hints like those you’ve mentioned but I don’t have the knowledge to quite do it yet. Dictionaries aren’t really much use because they don’t really offer that information but perhaps wiktionary would be worth using for verbs. No, I haven’t been reading the notes in the Assimil books. I’ve been trying it without any. To me, it’s obviously not working.

Eugrus, for Dutch, of which I have a good knowledge of the grammar, I haven’t got any such problems. It’s not grammatical information I want to add into my hints, but just a good translation of the verbs into the right tense.

@Imyirtseshem I add genders into hints, so that I could learn the word WITH the gender using flashcards. When you don’t know the gender for every word in German, you just can not decline it and relevant adjectives correctly. Don’t know if it’s an issue for Dutch.

Well, it’s an issue for Dutch but it’s not so bad. (Standard) Dutch (and some dialects) have just 2 genders and Dutch doesn’t decline for case. Getting gender wrong only affects the definite article, adjectives (addition of -3) is the only declentsion and words like demonstratives. You’ll still be understood if you mess it all up.

In Yiddish, it’s a bit closer to the situation of German but still, very few nouns are declined. (Which would perhaps surprise German speakers/learners. The dialect of my family, before they stopped speaking it, only had 2 genders also. The form I’m learning and the southern dialects has 3, which effects cases but this only concerns the same set of words as in Dutch, but just a little more complex. (3 cases)
nom - der, di, dos
acc - dem, di, dos
dat - dem, der, dem

Also, fewer other grammatical words are changed. The indefinite article is always a/an like English. No genitive form is also a relief. (Much like spoken German in this respect.)

Dictionaries aren’t really much use because they don’t really offer that information

@Imyirtseshem I’ve already mentioned, but yeah, Wiktionary is a great solution as well.

I use an off-line edition of ABBYY Lingvo and it includes tables with almost every grammatical form for every word. Here is a screenshot: ImageBam

I don’t know Germanic languages but from what I’ve heard they’re very logical, which is not the case of French. Or let’s say French has its own logic, full of paradoxes, just like French people.

I’ve forgotten a tense among the essential ones. :stuck_out_tongue:
The conditionnal is also important.

If you’ve never been confronted to Romance languages’ grammar, I think you should look at it a bit. Many websites describe how to form the different tenses and give the exceptions. There are lots of exceptions in Romance languages, but they mainly affect the basic verbs. You’ll see them enough and will eventually know them.

Once again though, don’t try to learn them. Tenses are the worst nightmare of French pupils, and you might end up bored and discouraged. Take a look at them everyday and when you come across a verb, try to figure out the tense and the infinitive form.

A few bits of advice Imy…

  1. You should either get a little book on French grammar (the shorter the better) or find some good web sites by googling French grammar, or French verbs etc. and store them on your toolbar for handy reference, or do both. That is what I did for Russian, and now Czech.

  2. In your LingQ widget, under dictionaries you can add a Resource. Add “Le Conjugueur”. It is at the bottom of the dictionary list in French. You can find lots of information for verbs that you LingQ right at your finger tips.

By the way if people have the names of similar grammar resources for other language combinations, please let us know and we can add them.

  1. Not every one studies the same way as Hape. I usually just grab the User hint because it gets me through the text faster. I can often tell the tense or case or other grammatical reference from the context, although not always. After all, there are languages like Chinese where the verb and noun forms never change.

I may end up with ten entries for different forms of “acheter” all of which say “buy”. Not at all a problem. It is usually an indication that I forgot the meaning of the base word and had to look it up again. Sometimes I will save the form of the word that I have the most trouble remembering.

When I review the words either alphabetically, or searching by root word in my Vocab section I have a chance to compare them , to look at the examples, to add further comments to my Hint, or even put things in the notes section. I do this occasionally, but not that often. In fact we do not need to nail everything down. The brain learns best from the contexts and from the frequent exposure. The occasional review in the Vocab section, or with our LingQs of the day just helps us to notice.

Yeah those are good, and will come in handy. Firstly, however, I need to know what those forms correspond to. I just need to look at some tables in conjunction with descriptions and examples. I’ve just started having a go at this and now the present tense and the ‘passé composé’ make sense to me.

I need the combination of both sorts of information to put it all together. Tables, descriptions and examples alone are not much use. Putting the three together seem to be, yet again, the magic combination for me. I should have just gone with my instincts with what has worked for me in the past! haha

Thanks everyone. :slight_smile:

P.S. Feel free to note anything specific to French which I might want to look out for.

I am totally new to Romance languages and it’s pretty confusing. Germanic languages feel very natural to me.

I have some big French grammars which are fairly exhaustive and I’ll read through them one day (years into the future) but I agree that I need something more compact for the meantime.

Steve, the problem with working out the tense from context is that for French, a language which is largely new to me, there is often no real ‘context’ to speak of. Surely, it will get better but for now I’m wandering in the dark. If it were German, Icelandic, etc, I’d not have the same issue.

As for me, I don’t lingQ all the forms of known words. I only lingQ some tricky forms of unknown ones. And I add a tag such as n.f.(=feminin noun), n.m.(=masculin noun), v.t. (transitif verb), v.i. (intransitif verb), etc for each word. That’s all. I have already learned a basic grammar rule at school, so I don’t add many grammatical details for words. Ce qui est important pour moi, c’est de suivre le contexte, pas la grammaire.

For example,
word = infinitive form or singular form, meaning

abolis = abolir, (meaning) abolish, tag v.t.
abriterait = abriter, (meaning) accommodate tag v.t.
abrasives = abrasif, (meaning) abrading, abrasive, scratchy, tag adj.
abolitions = abolition (meaning) abolition, tag n.f.

I personally add Japanese translations for almost all the words. I think it is not useful for the majority of French learners. Sorry for that.

I’ve never lingqed a known word; it’s not understandable to me why anybody would… I never tag because I don’t use the flashcards at all so there’s really no purpose in doing it because they show up there only. Though if I did, I’d imagine I’d do something similar to you Dillemme.

Personally, I’m happy without having the infinitive in there. They always seem to distract me when I’m going through the texts in the manner I typically do. I want to see the meaning right there as I hover over things. The person isn’t important, only the meaning and tense. I’m happy to see all forms of abolir in the present as ‘abolish’ and past forms as 'did abolish/have abolished/etc.

I’ve found an overview grammar which should help me to recognise how it works so I can type in or edit my French lingqs effectively.

I forgot to say.
I also add a tag “important” for the word I have to learn in order to review them regularly.

I think we all have to decide how much time we spend on exposing ourselves to input in the language and how much time on trying to nail down the elusive details. This will vary from person to person.

In my view, spending some time on the Vocabulary page can really help us. Tagging is not just about Flash Cards, which are only one aspect of the Vocabulary page. I often review my Tagged Lists, as lists. I also enjoy the new multiple choice exercise because it is easy, and I get them right most of the time, without having to think, yet it forces me review my words and phrases.

I often review “phrases only” and put the Flash Card setting to Hint at the front. Since I often LingQ phrases that I can recognize but cannot use, t his way I am forced to say the phrase in Czech. I also find the new Dictation exercises a good way to get started in writing in a new language.

Personally, I really just don’t enjoy going through the vocabulary like that. I’ve done it before and know that it’s effective to some degree, but I’d really just rather continue reading and listening.

However, To be able to do things the way I do them, I need to have good hints. Not perfect, but good one - ones with a level of information Goldilocks would approve of. No gender on nouns, no need for the person of verbs. The correct tense on verbs is really the essential information for a language without cases. I’d add cases if it were a case based language. Those are easy enough to look up on wiktionary. From now on, I’m going to get using it more as it’s always provided good information.

I think it depends a lot on your targets and your rush. I’ve been learning some French via LingQ (although, I’m currently having a break with Japanese) and not looking at grammar at all, but I found that I was picking up these tenses anyway from seeing similar patterns a lot, the same goes for the genders. It’s not as fast as it would be if I’d picked up a grammar book and flicked through it every now and then, but I can’t stand them. I’ll use one if I need to output, but not when I’m inputting.

I’m no concerned about output at all, or at least not at this point, which may not be the case for you, and I’m quite happen to know what the sentence means, but be unsure about a tense than take however much longer to look up each word and unsure I get all of the details down.

No, I’m not really concerned about output either. But, I’d still rather know which tense words are in so I can understand what the input is talking about. It’s not even so much about grammar, it’s like ‘what does this word even mean?’ without simply answering with the infinitive of the verb. I don’t think that I could understand the meaning of a sentence if I can’t tell if the tense of the verb is past or future. Doesn’t make sense to me, this ‘100% grammar-less’ approach. Doesn’t work for me at all.

With respect to Hape’s example.

In French, you don’t usually see “achètes” without the ‘tu’ in front of it. Therefore, you should be able to work out who it’s referring to. I’d LingQ it as – (you) buy, and “achetez” as — ( buy.

WIth tenses, I just try to get a rough idea when I start. So I’d LingQ “achetait” as (he/she) buys (past). Later on, you’ll realise that ‘achetait’ means something like (he/she) was buying.

Same with “achèterai” or “achèteront”. I would just LingQ them as “(I) buy (future)” or “(they) buy (future)” respectively. I might even take a guess and write “(I) will buy” and “(they) will buy”.