Today we are talking about how it feels. In French.
Think about it. So many of our sentences en anglais start with “It feels”, or “I feel…”
It would only make sense, then, that the phrase should come up among the first components taught when learning French. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Not in Lesson One, nor in Lesson Two… keep waiting for it… and you might “feel” a bit discouraged (without yet being able to say it). It might suddenly appear under one form, usually “je sens“, in Lesson Nine or something, but then, once you get over its Verb-Of-The-Third-Kind conjugation, you realize you can only use it to describe touch, or smell (and only sometimes, at that). Not common usage, unless you are a blind person, and even then. And it won’t help you getting the message across when you want to express that, say, Pizza would be nice.
Because, let’s face it: “I feel like pizza!” Sounds sooooo much better than the robotic, infantalizing “I would like pizza” (Je-voudrais-de-la-pizza) from Lesson Two, which almost begs for a “please” at the end. Ugh.
The culprit? “I feel” in French turns out to be one of these elusive, tricky shape-shifters, making it hard for educators to stick in one particular grammar lesson. It might finally all come together for you somewhere around Lesson 14 … in the Intermediate-Advanced Level. Well no need to wait that long for pizza my friend. Here are some translations. Learn them, and you’ll get to say so many more things in French.
J’ai envie de fromage
In French, “I feel like” is not expressed with the verb “to feel”. It’s expressed with the compound “avoir” (to have), plus the noun “envie” (desire, urge). Finally, don’t forget the “de” (of) followed by whatever you are craving for. And if you don’t know the actual name of what it is you want but can point to it, then say “J’ai envie de ça”. Consider yourself warned. “J’ai envie”, all by itself, is most probably NOT what you want to mean.
So, when you say “J’ai envie de fromage”, what you’re actually saying is:
j’ai I have envie urge de of fromage cheese.
Think of it next time it happens…
Here is how to conjugate it:
Je me sens bien
This type of “feel” takes on the shape of a reflexive verb, verbs I like to call the noonoo verbs because of how it comes out in the plural (see below). Basically, you have to stick the according pronoun before the verb and it means “thyself”.
So, literally, you are saying: Je I me myself sens feel bien well/fine
You may use this with other feelings, and it could be handy at the doctor’s too:
Je me sens mal. (LISTEN) I feel bad or I feel ill, depending on context.
/Jmuh song mal/
Je me sens fatigué(e). (LISTEN) I feel tired.
/jmuh song fah teague ay/
Je me sens stressé(e). (LISTEN) I feel stressed out.
/jmuh song stress say/
Je me sens triste. (LISTEN) I feel sad.
/jmuh song treestuh/
Je me sens heureux. (LISTEN) I feel happy.
/jmuh song uhr uh(r)/
Je me sens seul(e). (LISTEN) I feel lonely.
/jmuh song suhl/
Quel idiot je fais
Quelle idiote je fais!
Ok, another changeling here. That is what you are saying:
Quel What idiot(e) idiot/silly person je I fais make
Je sens que c’est dangereux
If you want to put a full sentence following “I feel”, such as I feel + it’s dangerous, then, in French, use:
Je sens + que + c’est dangereux.
This works best for predictions:
Je sens qu’il n’aimera pas ça. I feel he won’t like this. (LISTEN)
/juh song kill nem ra pa sa/
Je sens qu’il va pleuvoir. I feel it’s going to rain. (LISTEN)
/juh song kill va pluhv war/
Je sens que c’est une arnaque. I feel it’s a scam. (LISTEN)
/juh song ksay ünar nack/
Review the verb sentir.
Il me semble que c’est injuste
Use the construction “Il me semble que…” when you want to express “I feel like” in the sense of “It seems to me that…”.
Je voudrais disparaître sous terre
When we say “I feel like dying” we usually don’t mean it literally. If you say “J’ai envie de mourir“, or, worse “Je me sens comme mourant“, people around you will grow extremely concerned. You don’t want to scare them like this. When merely embarrassed about something you have done, say:
Je I voudrais would like disparaître disappear sous terre underground (LISTEN)
/jvoo dray deess pa ray truh soo ter/
If this formula is too complicated, try this:
Je voudrais aller me cacher. I’d like to go hide somewhere. (LISTEN)
/jvoo dray alaym cashay/
Ça (me) fait bizarre
Finally, our last one: How to describe that fleeting, evanescent but unmistakable feeling when something is just not right?
Ça it fait makes bizarre strange. It feels weird = something is not right.
/sa fay bee zarr/
Ça me fait bizarre. (LISTEN) It feels funny (to me, in my heart or on my body).
/sam fay bee zarr/
Et voilà! Now you know why your teacher didn’t show you this on the first lesson. So many ways to say (what seems like) a simple thing! Blame it on stylistics, linguistics, brain pathways, sociolinguistics, sociopaths… that is why English is English in plain English and French is… (pardon my French). Two worlds, two brains, but not necessarily two solitudes.
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