Turbo Master Class: Peanuts

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1. Peanuts

Peanuts are the easy part of French, so easy that you should master them in less than a month. Peanuts include

  • ‘Jokers’
  • articles
  • pronouns

The defining feature of peanuts is that they are content-insensitive: you’ll read, hear, say and write them in conversations and writings about ANY subject. In 10 pages you will see that buying stocks in peanuts is your best French lifetime investment ever.

1.1. Jokers

Jokers comprise three ‘parts of speech’ (or word classes): adverbs, conjunctions and prepositions. If you don’t know what these words mean, that’s fine; in GigaFrench, we’ll call them ‘jokers’. They have two favorable assets:

  1. Jokers are invariable (you’ll appreciate this feature when you start struggling with the first variable words…);
  2. Jokers, like the article and pronoun peanuts, are few in number (less than 250, that is, less than 0.25% of all French words) and can be learned in a month.

Throughout this manual, we’ll present jokers by order of frequency. The following word cloud shows the Top 21:




Word cloud 1.2 – Jokers 1-21.


Although the Top 21 represent only about 10% of all French jokers, they account for 70% of those you’ll ever hear and see. The 7 most frequent jokers are de, et, que, ne…pas, qui, dans, pour. Frequent words are short.

Check immediately the smartphone exercise www.hiv.net/firstjokers and learn the first 7 jokers now! It will take you only a few minutes, perhaps less. Ideally, you would learn all 21 words between today and tomorrow at www.GigaFrench.com/jokers01.

1 de of, from, in, about, by, etc.
(multiple translations)
2 à to, at, from, etc.
(multiple translations)
3 et and conj
4 ou or conj
5 qui who, which adv
6 que whom, that; what; than adv
7 where adv
8 avec with prep
9 sans without prep
10 ne…pas not adv
11 dans in, among prep
12 pour for; in order to prep
13 sur on prep
14 sous under prep
15 plus more adv
16 comme like; because, since conj
17 tout everything, anything adv
18 si yes; if; so conj, adv
19 bien well adv
20 il y a there is, there are; ago adv
21 par by, through prep

Word lists are not perfect because many words have more than one translation. As a result, word lists have been considered fuzzy and out of focus and have been verboten for decades. It is certainly true that it is hard to learn words out of context; it is equally true, though, that it may be even harder to decipher an article without having a clear idea of the words used in the text. Fortunately, with smartphone technology, word lists are being rehabilitated. Today, smartphone-powered memory exercises are surprisingly efficient memory boosters. We’ll present them to you throughout this manual.

Please find the entire joker list, the audio file and more smartphone exercises on our web page www.GigaFrench.com/jokers. We would like you to know the first 42 jokers in three days and the rest in three weeks.

Without the jokers, the first colourless areas are appearing in the ‘God’ article.

Dieu existe-t-il ? Inégalités, injustices, violences, tortures, viols, meurtres, guerres, génocides, la shoah, l’esclavageImpardonnable, n’estce pas ? On vous dira que Dieu se planque pour mettre les hommes à l’épreuve et les amener à choisir entre le bien et le mal. En tout cas, si moi je vous jouais des tours pareils, vous me traiteriez de sadique !

Regardez l’histoire de l’humanité et les innombrables crimes commis au nom de Dieu ! Et regardez le présent : des États qui persécutent au nom d’un Dieu, torturent et tuent au nom d’un Dieu, et refusent aux femmes le droit d’avorter, toujours au nom d’un Dieu.

Pauvre Dieu, nom de Dieu, auraitil tout foiré ? Souhaitonslui – à ce petit Dieu qui ne serait qu’un pauvre diablede ne pas exister car nous le jugerions pour crimes contre l’Humanité. Nous avons guillotiné Louis XVI pour moins que cela.

Let’s immediately continue and take the purple words out of the game.