Paul s’est marié avec Jeanne. Paul a marié Hélène.

Paul s’est marié avec Jeanne. Paul a marié Hélène.

pole say maa-reeYAY aa-veck zhahn. po lah maa-reeYAY ay-LENN. Click below to hear this.*

Paul married Jeanne. Paul married Hélène.

Just when you thought you were done with marriage, another puzzle to solve! Is Paul a bigamist? A cad? A serial monogamist? That’s the big question for today.

Se marier avec means to marry, that is, to get married to. The preposition avec is a nice touch (not that it’s a stylistic choice; it’s required) in the French, because it appears to express a greater degree of reciprocity than the English to. So Paul and Jeanne have said their vows, and they are now husband and wife.

Where does that leave Hélène? Ah. The following week, in the very same place, Paul a marié Hélène. That tells us that Paul is probably one of two things, neither of which was listed in the first paragraph above.

He is either a member of the clergy, or a justice of the peace. We can tell because marier is not a reflexive verb here. Hélène was the bride (also know as the direct object of the verb), and I’ll leave you to decide on the name of her beloved. Paul officiated at the ceremony, which was attended by many, all of whom dabbed at their eyes with their hankies at appropriate moments. It was a lovely service, wasn’t it? They look so happy together!

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:

paul_s_est_marie_a_marie.mp3

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