Susan has taught college-level French and has a PhD in French studies.
Using the Verb Ecouter
You and your travel group in France are on the train, going from Paris to Bordeaux. You're really looking forward to exploring Bordeaux, but it's an awfully long train ride. So you decide to put in your ear buds and listen to some music. Your French travel guide, Céline, walks by and asks if you're listening to music: Tu écoutes (pronounced: too ay koot) la musique? You reply, Oui, j'écoute (pronounced: zhay koot) la musique (I am listening to music). She tells you that Robert and Julie, across the aisle on the train, are listening to music also: Robert and Julie, ils écoutent (pronounced: eel zay koot) la musique aussi.
Did you notice the forms of écouter (pronounced: ay koo tay) that are used? Ecouter is the infinitive form of the verb, or the basic, generic form. When we use it with a pronoun such as je to say 'I listen,' or 'I am listening to,' we use the appropriate form, or conjugation: j'éoute.
Céline then tells you that Vivienne is listening to a news program, and Marc is listening to some jazz: Vivienne écoute les infos et Marc écoute le jazz.
In English, we say that we are listening 'to' something, but in French, we don't need to add the word for 'to' with écouter. The English 'to' is already part of the French verb, écouter. In other words, 'to listen to' is all rolled into one word: écouter.
Let's take a look at the verb conjugation in the present tense for all the forms.
Forms of Ecouter
Here's the conjugation chart for écouter:
|Subject Pronoun||Ecouter Conjugation||Pronunciation||Translation|
|je||j'écoute||(zhay koot)||I listen, I am listening|
|tu||tu écoutes||(too ay koot)||You listen, you are listening|
|il/elle/on||il/elle/on écoute||(eel/el/ohn ay koot)||he/she listens, he/she is listening|
|nous||nous écoutons||(noo zay koo tohn)||we listen, we are listening|
|vous||vous écoutez||(voo zay koo tay)||you listen, you are listening|
|ils/elles||ils/elles écoutent||(eel/el zay koot)||they listen, they are listening|
The conjugation of this verb is the same as the other verbs that follow the pattern for verbs ending in -er. Since this verb fits the normal pattern of verbs ending in -er, we call this a 'regular' -er verb.
Other Examples of Ecouter
Let's get back to your travel group, and look at some more examples of écouter.
Nicolas and Christine, who are both classical musicians, prefer classical music. Nicolas turns around in his seat and tells you that they are listening to classical music: Nous écoutons la musique classique. Nicolas points out another young woman sitting farther up in the train car and says that she is listening to a popular French singer from the 1950s: Elle écoute Edith Piaf.
Céline then hears the conductor making an announcement about the next stop. She tells all of you to listen to the conductor: Ecoutez le conducteur! And you hear what you've been waiting for: Prochain arrêt: Bordeaux, or 'Next stop, Bordeaux'!
Here's a review with some sentences using écouter, based on what we just went over:
- Tu écoutes la musique? (Are you listening to music?)
- J'écoute la musique. (I am listening to music.)
- Elle écoute les infos. (She is listening to the news.)
- Nous écoutons les infos, aussi. (We are listening to the news, also.)
- Ils écoutent la musique classique. (They are listening to classical music.)
- Vous écoutez le conducteur. (You listen to the conductor.)
The verb écouter (ay koo tay) means 'to listen to' in English. Its conjugation is considered regular because it fits the pattern of other verbs ending in -er. Here's the chart for the basic conjugation in the present tense for écouter:
|Subject Pronoun||Ecouter Conjugation|
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