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French Words with the Letter Z... Or, How to Improve Your Scrabble Score

This lesson is brought to you by the letter Z. Why the letter Z? Because few French nouns contain the letter Z. On the other hand, most verbs do, which is a handy thing to know when playing French Scrabble, as the letter Z is a high-scoring letter. 

 

Almost all verbs in the second-person plural vous (you) end in -ez, as in vous savez (you know). What’s more, this is the case in pretty much all moods and tenses.

 

In the present tense:

 

Et toujours, vous savez, la langue est toujours liée à la culture.

And always, you know, a language is always tied to its culture.

Caption 42, Allons en France Pourquoi apprendre le français?

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In the imperfect tense: 

 

Le saviez-vous?

Did you know?

Caption 1, Le saviez-vous? L'art culinaire français

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In the future tense:

 

Maintenant vous saurez que à chaque fois que vous entendez un verbe qui se termine par le son "é", c'est un verbe du premier groupe

Now you will know that each time you hear a verb that ends with the sound "é," it's a first-group verb

Captions 42-45, Le saviez-vous? Les verbes du 1er groupe

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In the conditional mood:

 

Sauriez-vous jouer au Scrabble en français?

Could you play French Scrabble?

 

While most verbs conjugated with vous (you) end in -ez, there are not as many nouns ending in Z. But a few of them are very commonly used, such as chez (at/to the home of), le riz (rice), le nez (nose), le raz-de-marée (tidal wave), and le rez-de-chaussée (ground floor):

 

Bienvenue chez moi

Welcome to my home

Caption 7, Stromae Bienvenue chez moi

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Elles mangent du riz.

They  are eating rice.

Caption 28, Farid et Hiziya Boire et manger

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ce Milanais qui vous peignait une courgette en guise de nez

this Milanese man who painted you a zucchini as a nose

Captions 23-24, d'Art d'Art "Les quatre saisons" - Arcimboldo

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Mieux encore, les racines des palétuviers amortissent les effets des raz-de-marée et des fameux tsunamis.

Better still, the mangrove roots absorb the impact of tidal waves and notorious tsunamis.

Captions 19-20, Il était une fois: Notre Terre 9. Les écosystèmes - Part 7

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J'habite au rez-de-chaussée, donc je n'ai pas besoin de monter les escaliers.

I live on the ground floor, so I don't need to go up the stairs.

Caption 6, Joanna Son appartement

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As you can hear in the examples above, Z at the end of a word is almost always silent in French. So then why do we pronounce the Z in gaz (gas), for example? That’s because it's usually pronounced in words of foreign origin:

 

Factures: téléphone, gaz, électricité.

Bills: telephone, gas, electricity.

Caption 30, Extr@ Ep. 1 - L'arrivée de Sam - Part 1

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Le français a une bande passante qui fait mille, deux mille hertz

French has a bandwidth that measures one thousand, two thousand hertz

Caption 34, Lionel Langue sous hypnose

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When Z comes at the beginning or in the middle of a word, it is always sounded just as it is in English. Here are a couple of interjections starting with Z:

 

Allez, zou!

Come on, let's go!

Caption 111, Claire et Philippe La campagne

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Je pourrais dire "zut" aussi.

I could also say "zut" [darn].

Caption 8, Le saviez-vous? Les expressions inspirées de la musique - Part 2

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You'll also find the letter Z in certain numerals, such as quinze (fifteen), seize (sixteen), and zéro (zero): 

 

Et voilà, me voilà parée pour,  sortir par, moins zéro, moins quinze degrés.

And there we have it, here I am dressed to go out in below zero, negative fifteen degrees.

Caption 14, Fanny parle des saisons S'habiller en hiver

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Now that you’ve zipped through this lesson, we trust that you will apply this newfound knowledge with le zeste (zest) and le zèle (zeal)!

Vocabulary

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