Ah! I was really too dumb!

4 minute read

I follow TwoSetViolin in YouTube cause I want to learn more about the western classical music and they do some fun challenges. I was watching this video today morning

and found the phrase « Ah ! J’étais vraiment trop bête ! » which translates to “Ah! I was really too dumb!”. I immediately clipped this audio and can’t wait to share it in group chats whenever I do/say something stupid. Also, I love Maria Callas’s version of Bizet: Carmen and am listening to it on a loop! (The phrase is at 3:30 in the video below)

I am starting to appreciate how easy it is to learn and memorize phrases instead of individual words/vocabulary. And adding melody and context to the phrases make is much more easier.

Vocabulary and Grammar

Subject pronouns

French English
je (j’ before a vowel) I
tu you [singular informal]
il he or it
elle she or it
on one
nous we
vous you [singular formal or plural informal and formal]
ils they [masculine]
elles they [feminine]

Using Être (to be) in Past tense

Present Indicative (Le présent)

French English
je suis I am
tu es you are
ils/elles/on est he/she/one is
nous sommes we are
vous êtes you are
ils/elles sont they are

Imperfect Indicative (L’imparfait)

The imperfect tense is a form of the past tense, but it is used to talk about ongoing or repeated actions in the past. It can be translated to English as “was being” or “used to be”, although it can sometimes also be translated as the simple “was”, depending on the context.

French English
j’étais I used to be
tu étais you used to be
ils/elles/on étais he/she/one used to be
nous étions we used to be
vous étiez you used to be
ils/elles étaient they used to be


French English
vraiment (adv.) really
très (adv.) very
trop (adv.) too much
bête (adj.) dumb/stupid

Other Notes

  • Très means very. Trop means too much, implying a negative effect
  • The way punctuation marks work in French is slightly different from English:
    • In French, exclamation marks, question marks, semicolons, colons, the percentage mark, currency symbols, the hash, the guillemet all require a space before and after the punctuation mark.
    • Guillemets (« ») are used insted if the quotation marks (“ “).
    • Decimals are written with a comma and thousands with a point or a space.
  • A link for pronunciations of all the forms of Être.
  • The entire libretto/lyrics for this aria/piece along with English translations is available here.