Zipf’s Law needs help, and by “help” I do not mean “money”

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Help!  I need advice on memorizing conjugations.  I don’t remember how the hell I did it in school, and I’ve got 30 days left to prepare for the DELF/DALF exams.  I have no clue about how to handle the fact that I don’t know which conjugations I don’t know.  I’m pretty sure that there are some tenses that I’m weaker on than others, some verb classes that I’m weaker on than others, and some irregulars that I’ve never even heard about…  I’ve got the things that I know that I’m weaker on on my todo list for the month leading up to the exams, but I don’t know how to figure out what I don’t know.  How do you do it?  (I am not a big fan of ending blogs that way, but: how DO you do it??)

English notes:

to be weak on [a subject]: to not have sufficient knowledge of some subject.  See the definition below from Macmillan.  (There’s also a use that means something like not taking a strong or effective stance against something, and you see that in the news all the time right now–candidates accuse each other of being weak on crime, weak on ISIS, weak on Russia, etc.  That’s a different sense, though.)  How it appeared in the post: I’m pretty sure that there are some tenses that I’m weaker on than others, some verb classes that I’m weaker on than others, and some irregulars that I’ve never even heard about…

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Sorry for the gratuitous Wikipedia-bashing:

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From various and sundry tweets:

Thing about Trumpettes – a bit weak on math and logic.

Obviously,whoever started this is a bit weak on spelling – The anal retentive police say this s/b !!

Exactly, is the Dark Ages today. Strong on mythology, weak on science & lots of smiting.

So: if you’re weak on crime, you are not taking an effective stance against it.  If you are weak on the subjunctive, you don’t know enough about it.

5 thoughts on “Zipf’s Law needs help, and by “help” I do not mean “money””

  1. I only know systematic and determined work . Today I study all subjunctive presents, for all verbs . There are several families of endings, even in irregular verbs, and we can save some time once we recognize others like the first we have learnt . And everyone has his intimate method of classification in one’s mind to learn faster . A useful trick is to imagine situations and the way we’ll have to answer or speak using this or that verb . I used to repeat dozens of times this tense ot this verb for it to become ingraned in my mind when abroad . But it’s true that any conjugation is a piece of cake after Old Greek’s one .
    About moods and tenses, there are 6 moods, and there are 8 tenses in indicative, 3 in conditional, 4 in subjunctive, and to be complete 2 in imperative, 2 in participle and 2 in infinitive .
    About the verbs you never heard of, don’t bother it’s too late for your exam .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bonjour –

    Sorry, even though you @mentioned me, I didn’t see this request until today. Here’s what I recommend: sign up for an account at The system is designed for *exactly* what you’re talking about: it figures out what you don’t know and then kwizzes you until you do. You’ll need to spring for the paid upgrade, which allows you to take unlimited kwizzes, but it will do just want you need, honest.

    Bon courage ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello. Don’t laugh, but if things have to be learned by rote, large and simple signs on one’s bathroom mirror can help. You see them first thing in the morning, and presumably last at night. I know it’s helped lots of students of English irregular verbs (which are obvious to you but not to foreigners), and I’ve overcome a number of my issues with Italian double letters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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