There’s good evidence that men have been jumping the walls of the Tuileries Garden (built in 1564) to have sex with each other at night since at least the 17th century. We know about this because although France has no laws forbidding sex or marriage between consenting adults today, it wasn’t always so enlightened. At one time, the police paid men called mouches (flies) to entrap gay men into making sexual propositions and then have them arrested. The police reports of the mouches give quite a bit of insight into gay cruising culture in the decades before the French Revolution (1789). In 1791, the new French penal code decriminalized homosexuality.
Now that I’ve got your attention, it’s time to get back to the basics. I’m preparing for a French certification test (see this post for a description of the oral comprehension portion), and I am realizing that I am woefully out of practice with the conjugations of some verb classes. About 20% of French verbs end with -ir. The 3rd person plural present tense of these verbs (they walk, they are walking, etc.) is a weakness for me, so humor me and let’s work on it.
For the 80% or so of French verbs that belong to the ER class, the 3rd person plural present tense is pronounced the same as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person singular. For the IR verbs, the stem is pronounced the same as the 1st and 2nd person plurals. (It’s always written differently from all of the others.) The ending for the 3rd person plural present tense of regular IR verbs is -issent:
|je finis||nous finissons|
|tu finis||vous finissez|
|on finit||ils finissent|
With that reference in hand, let’s practice. A list of sentences follows. Change the highlighted pronoun and verb to ils, and give the appropriate verb form.
- Nous ne choisissons pas notre orientation sexuelle. We don’t choose our sexual orientation.
- Je vomis les “mouches.” I loathe the “mouches.”
- Je suis ravi qu’il abolit les lois contre l’homosexualité. I’m delighted that he is abolishing the laws against homosexuality.
- Est-ce que tu rougis quand je parle de ces affaires? Do you blush when I talk about these things?
- Réfléchissez-vous à ce que j’ai dit? Are you thinking about what I said?
- Ils ne choisissent pas leur orientation sexuelle.
- Ils vomissent les mouches. They loathe the mouches.
- Je suis ravi que qu’ils abolissent les lois contre l’homosexualité.
- Est-ce que ils rougissent quand je parle de ces affaires?
- Réfléchissent-ils à ce que j’ai dit?