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Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
Is anybody there?

What does y’a-tu mean in this question?

During conversations, maybe you’ve noticed that il y a is almost always pronounced colloquially as y’a (sounds like ).

Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-tu quelqu’un?

The tu after the verb here signals that we’re being asked a yes-no question. You can download here a free guide about how tu is used to ask yes-no questions.

Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-[oui ou non] quelqu’un?

In the song Maudite jalousie (listen on YouTube here), Kevin Parent sings:

Y’a-tu quelqu’un qui peut m’expliquer?
Is there anybody who can explain to me?
Can anybody explain to me?

A question beginning with y’a-tu…? means the same thing as one that begins with est-ce qu’il y a…?

Y’a-tu quelqu’un que ça intéresse?
Est-ce qu’il y a quelqu’un que ça intéresse?
Is there anybody who’s interested? Is anybody interested? Is there anybody who cares? Does anybody care?

Y’a-tu vraiment une différence entre les deux?
Est-ce qu’il y a vraiment une différence entre les deux?
Is there really a difference between the two?

Do you remember how tu is pronounced by most Québécois? It sounds like tsu. Y’a-tu sounds like yâ-tsu.

Here’s another ad spotted in Montréal. You can click on it.

The ad itself doesn’t matter; it’s just the last sentence that’s interesting because it contains a word I often get asked about: rendu.

T’es presque rendu là.
You’ve almost arrived.
You’re almost there.

(The ad was placed near the Salon de l’auto de Montréal where we can actually see the car. That’s why it’s telling us we’re almost there.)

In this sense, rendu means “arrived.” It’s the past participle of the verb rendre.

In a previous entry, we saw another example of where rendu meant “arrived.”

Il était à 3000 fans sur sa page Facebook, mais là il est rendu à 4000.
He was at 3000 fans on his Facebook page, but now he’s [arrived] at 4000.

That last example also includes là, another word that raises a lot of questions in the minds of learners of French! It just means “now” here.

If you remember the dzidzu (d sounds like dz before the i and u sounds), then you know that rendu sounds like rendzu when pronounced aloud.

I came across an ad in a Montréal métro station for a gym offering cardio, musculation and cours en groupe.

Part of the ad reads:

Soyez lousse dans vos jeans et dans votre budget!
Literally: Be “loose” in your jeans and in your budget!

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version.

The idea is that if you become a member of this gym, both your jeans and your budget will finally fit.

But what about the word lousse?

Lousse derives from the English word “loose.” It’s a colloquial usage that you’ll sometimes hear in regular, everyday conversations.

In fact, maybe you’ve already heard the word lousse before in the colloquial expression se lâcher lousse (to have a great time, to let loose, s’éclater, etc.).

On s’est lâchés lousses à Québec!
We really let loose in Québec City! We had an amazing time! We went all out!

While listening to the radio, a woman called in to request a song.

The radio host told us the woman had requested the song for her boyfriend who had to work late.

New snow had fallen in Montréal, and her boyfriend had to spend the night snowploughing the streets. The last part of what the host said was:

[…] son chum qui doit passer la gratte jusqu’à trois heures du matin.
[…] her boyfriend who has to snowplough until three o’clock in the morning.

Another example of gratte, this one found online:

Quand la gratte passe… dégage!
When a snowplough comes along… get out of the way! [NRJ Gatineau-Ottawa 104.1]

… to avoid getting buried in snow!

You’ll also hear a snowplough called une charrue. Both gratte and charrue are Québécois words used in colloquial conversations.

Related:

Une souffleuse à neige is a snowblower.

It’s that machine that picks up the snow and sends it flying onto your neighbour’s property. ;-)

We’ve seen many times on OffQc how ben can be used in the sense of “very” or “really.”

Ben is an informal reduction of bien. It sounds like bain. A better spelling would be bin, and you will in fact sometimes see that. Ben is more common though, and that’s what I’ll use here.

C’est ben loin.
It’s really far.

C’est ben bon.
It’s really good.

C’est ben correct.
It’s really fine.
It’s really no problem.

Remember, ben is used in regular, everyday speaking encounters or informal writing situations (Facebook updates, for example). It’s not used in formal writing. If you see ben used in literature, it’s most likely to only be used in the dialogue portions of the text.

Sometimes you’ll hear ben repeated for emphasis. Some examples pulled from Google results:

C’est ben ben l’fun.
It’s just so much fun.

C’est ben ben plate.
It’s just so boring.

C’est ben ben cute à voir.
It’s just so cute to see.
(Cute is pronounced kioute.)

You’ll also hear it used in pas ben ben:

C’est pas ben ben utile.
It’s really not all that useful.

J’ai pas ben ben le choix.
I really don’t have much of a choice.

C’est pas ben ben clair.
It’s really not all that clear.

Y se force pas ben ben (pour apprendre le français, etc.).
He really doesn’t make much of an effort (to learn French, etc.).

You see? C’est pas ben ben compliqué.

I heard a few uses of chicane on the radio yesterday. This feminine noun means “fight” or “argument.” In particular, I heard these two usages:

une chicane au bureau
a fight at the office
an argument at work

une chicane de famille
a family fight
an argument in the family

I also heard the verb se chicaner, which means “to fight with one another.” Ils se chicanent. They fight with one another.

In particular, the speaker on the radio said this using se chicaner:

Chicanez-vous pas, là!
Don’t fight, now!
No fighting, now!

The speaker said this to two people who were play-fighting on air.

Grammar books would tell us the way to form this negative construction is ne vous chicanez pas. But that’s not what the speaker said — she did indeed say chicanez-vous pas. This is an informal, spoken construction. It was formed by simply adding pas after the affirmative.

chicanez-vous, fight
chicanez-vous pas, don’t fight

One that you’ll hear often enough in spoken French in Québec following this form is inquiète-toi pas, don’t worry.

inquiète-toi, worry
inquiète-toi pas, don’t worry

Remember, this is felt to be informal. When the rules of written grammar must be followed strictly (like on your exam in your French course), you’d have to write ne t’inquiète pas.

Yesterday’s post about the expression quand même contained an example of the feminine word aubaine as used in Québec:

Quelle aubaine!
What a deal!
What an offer!

C’est une aubaine.
It’s a good offer.
It’s a good price.

Later on, I spotted a sign in a Montréal shop using the same word:

Aubaine de la semaine
Offer of the week
Special of the week
Feature of the week, etc.

You can click on the thumbnail to see a larger version.

On the other sign, we see solde, which means “sale.”