Op-Ed
Opinion Op-Ed
Op-Ed

Brush up on your French with this Bastille Day flowchart

YES YES YES YES YES NO NO NOT SURE NO NO NO NO NO Vous Vous Tu Tu Tu Tu Vous Tu Vous Tu YES NO Tu Vous NO NO NO Tu Vous YES NO Tu Vous Vous God? Are you speaking to a child? Are you an adult? You are speaking to... Is the childlike a prince or something? Are you speaking to an adult? Is the adult a family member? A friend or lover Someone you don’t formally know Your spouse Your father-in-law Yourboss Your teacher Is your spouse former President Jacques Chirac? Is your teacher young enough to be your daugh-ter or son? Do you work at a company like Le Google where no one wears neckties and everyone is “tu”? Is this someone consider-ably older (say, a half generation Did you participate in the French May 1968 riots demanding government reform and free love? This is a “vous” situ-ation. Except . . . did your boss just really tick you off, and you want him to know it? Were you at Woodstock? Come on, really? Swear to God Do you consider this person a peer, that is, a fellow student, the coworker in the next cubicle, an Internet chat room acquaintance, or someone you met in a bar last night and just woke up next to? Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk? YES YES YES YES Tu Tu YES YES Bestto ask YES YES NO NO NO Believe itor not Tu OK, MAYBE NOT YES YES YES YES YES NO NO NOT SURE NO NO NO NO NO Vous Vous Tu Tu Tu Tu Vous Tu Vous Tu YES NO Tu Vous NO NO NO Tu Vous YES NO Tu Vous Vous God? Are you speaking to a child? Are you an adult? You are speaking to... Is the childlike a prince or something? Are you speaking to an adult? Is the adult a family member? A friend or lover Someone you don’t formally know Your spouse Your father-in-law Yourboss Your teacher Is your spouse former President Jacques Chirac? Is your teacher young enough to be your daugh-ter or son? Do you work at a company like Le Google where no one wears neckties and everyone is “tu”? Is this someone considerably older (say, a half generation or more) than you? Did you participate in the French May 1968 riots demanding government reform and free love? This is a “vous” situ-ation. Except . . . did your boss just really tick you off, and you want him to know it? Were you at Woodstock? Come on, really? SWEAR TO GOD Do you consider this person a peer, that is, a fellow student, the coworker in the next cubicle, an Internet chat room acquaintance, or someone you met in a bar last night and just woke up next to? Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk? YES YES YES YES Tu Tu YES YES Bestto ask YES YES NO NO NO Believe itor not Tu OK, MAYBE NOT

William Alexander is the author of, among other books, the forthcoming "Flirting With French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Almost Broke My Heart."

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