So there are a bunch of French grammar things that I've had trouble with for quite some time. (Translating that sentence, for one--the whole idea of "to have done/been doing something for a certain amount of time" is expressed completely differently in French. They use the present, even though the thing you've been doing started in the past. Wicked confusing.) I always just assumed that they were particularly tricky bits of grammar that I learned once, but not in all their intricacy, so I didn't have a perfect grasp of the details, and I've been asking various long-suffering French people for mini-lessons when I make an error in conversation. Well, I just discovered that I never really properly formally learned all these little grammatical joys, and it all goes back to the French department at my university totally screwing me over freshman year by forcing me to take a French class that was too easy, then making me skip a class so I wouldn't be bored two semesters in a row. In that class that I skipped, one learns the first half of "La grammaire à l'œuvre", a wonderful book whose second half I know practically by heart. I brought the book back to France after vacation, thinking I could use a brush-up, and lo and behold, every single construction I'm a bit shaky on is in the first half. That's my excuse, anyway, and I'm sticking to it. Now, off to study when the past participle agrees with the direct object!