On television, a speaker used a French version of the expression “no double dipping!”

This expression is sometimes used half in jest at parties amongst invitees to remind themselves not to dip their chip twice into a shared bowl of sauce.

Here’s what she said:

  • Pas de double trempette!
    No double dipping!

Then, in a televised ad, a second speaker told listeners to take advantage of incredible bargains at a certain store.

He said:

  • Profitez d’incroyables aubaines!
    Take advantage of incredible bargains!

Aubaine is a feminine noun meaning bargain.

Finally, a third speaker used an informal pronunciation when he said in an interview:

  • Dans le cas de c’te travail-là
    In the case of this job
    As far as this job goes

What’s c’te?

Informally, both ce and cette might be pronounced c’te. It sounds like te with an s on the front of it (s’te).

The informally pronounced c’te travail-là, then, means ce travail-là.

1. Pas de double trempette!
2. Profitez d’incroyables aubaines!
3. Dans le cas de c’te travail-là

Check out this movie title:

Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre

The expression used here is s’en aller en guerre, to go to war. Il s’en va means he goes, he’s going.

Why is there a t in there between va and en? How come it’s not Guibord s’en va en guerre instead here?

That t in the title is called un t euphonique; it’s there to provide a buffer between the vowel sound of va and that of en. In fact, you’re already familiar with this concept: it occurs in a-t-il…?, pense-t-elle, etc. Instead of a il…?, which is hard to say, a t gets inserted, for example: a-t-il vraiment dit ça?, and not a il vraiment dit ça?

A while ago, you saw how t’es un (you’re a) might get pronounced as t’es-t-un. That’s the t euphonique again. T’es-t-un chien. You’re a dog.

The funny thing about the t euphonique, though, is that sometimes it’s considered entirely correct and required (like in a-t-il…?), but other times it’s not, like in t’es-t-un. In t’es-t-un, the t euphonique is informal, but some people might consider it outright incorrect.

The movie title Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre is inspired by a song called Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre, which also uses the t euphonique.

You’ve seen before how the expression va-t’en! means go away! Don’t confuse the t in va-t’en! for the t in Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre. This t isn’t performing the same role each time.

s’en aller
il s’en va
Guibord s’en va en guerre
Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre
The underlined t here is the t euphonique, acting as a buffer between vowels.

s’en aller
tu t’en vas
The underlined t’ here comes from the reflexive verb s’en aller in its second-person singular imperative form. This explains why we write va-t’en!, and not va-t-en!

On his TV show, Ricardo said this about something he had just cooked in front of his TV audience:

Ça, pour moi, là, c’est vraiment super.

What’s the doing in there?

This doesn’t mean there. We might be able to translate it instead as well in this example.

Ça, pour moi, là, c’est vraiment super.
This [what I made], to me, well, it’s really great.

As you listen to French, you’ll be hearing used very frequently like this. It often comes at the end of statements, but not always — in the example above, it’s in the middle.

Ben, je sais pas, là.
Well, I dunno.

Faque qu’est-ce qu’on fait, là?
So what’re we gonna do then?

Moi là, j’aime pas ça.
Yeah well, me, I don’t like that.

Ben, c’est comme tu veux, là.
Well, whatever you want.

You’ll probably want to resist the urge to find a direct equivalent into English. The more you listen to spoken French, the less mysterious this use of  will seem to you — and you’ll probably want to start using it yourself!

This  is a very characteristic feature of the French spoken in Québec, so don’t be afraid to try popping it in every once in a while into your own French. Your Québécois listeners will love it. :-D

In a television show called Mensonges, a character who plays an investigator said to another character:

Pis? Ça avance-tu mon enquête?

In this question, we’ve got an example of tu being used to ask a yes-no question.

so? well? and?

ça avance
it’s advancing, moving forward

ça avance-tu?
is it advancing?, moving forward?

mon enquête
my investigation

Remember, the tu in this question can be understood as meaning yes or no? (and not you). It’s used to ask yes-no questions in an informal way in spoken French. Ça avance-[oui ou non], mon enquête?

Pis is a contraction of puis. It sounds as if it were written pi.

Pis? Ça avance-tu mon enquête?
So? Is my investigation moving forward?
So? Is my investigation going well?

This yes-no tu is placed after the conjugated verb.

Tu veux-tu?
Do you want to?

Ça se peut-tu?
Is that possible?

In tenses like the past tense, where there’s an auxiliary and a past participle, tu is placed after the auxiliary.

J’ai-tu dit ça?
Did I say that?

Tu is used to ask yes-no questions. You can’t use it with quand, pourquoi, qui, etc. For example, you can’t ask pourquoi tu fais-tu ça? because that’s not a yes-no question. You’d ask pourquoi tu fais ça? instead.

Can you turn these into yes-no questions with tu?

1. T’aimes ça.
2. On a besoin de ça.
3. T’as peur.

1. T’aimes-tu ça?
2. On a-tu besoin de ça?
3. T’as-tu peur?

There are many more examples of yes-no questions using tu in the downloadable OffQc books.

Say aloud the French word for milk.

It’s lait, right?

Now, how did you pronounce it? Did it sound like  or ?

If we transcribe into IPA, we get [le].
If we transcribe into IPA, we get [].

Do you hear the difference between the two sounds?

Say these French words aloud: mes, chez, tes, né. All these words use é. They can be transcribed in IPA as [me], [ʃe], [te], [ne]. In IPA, [e] sounds like é.

Now say these French words aloud: belle, fesse, messe, net. All these words use è. They can be transcribed in IPA as [bɛl], [fɛs], [mɛs], [nɛt]. In IPA, [ɛ] sounds like è. Listen carefully to sound made by [ɛ]. Say belle again, but this time, hold the [ɛ] sound longer: bèèèèèèèèèèlle.

Now try this: say belle, but instead of pronouncing it correctly as [bɛl], mispronounce it intentionally as [bel], or as though it were written bél. Do you hear a distinct difference now between [bɛl] and [bel]?

Isolate [e] and say it on its own a few times: é, é, é, é, é.

How about [ɛ] now — can you isolate it and say it on its own? è, è, è, è, è.

Think about the English word meh. You know, it’s that word often used to show your indifference towards something, especially online. Meh. Meh, meh, meh. Does the vowel sound in meh sound more like [e] or [ɛ] to you?

We started this post by looking at the French word lait, and I asked you how you pronounced it — as [le] or [lɛ].

If we look up lait in the Usito dictionary, we see it transcribed in IPA. Here’s what we see:

Lait is transcribed as [lɛ]. Does that match or mismatch how you pronounce it?

In this post, I’m going to describe an offcois study method you can implement right away to learn the 1000 examples of Québécois French from the OffQc guide called 1000. (Offcois means offqc-ish.) This method is for dedicated and serious learners; it’ll require work of you and sticking to a routine.

Each page of the 1000 guide contains five examples of use. With the method described here, you’ll work on one page per day, for a total of 200 days.

Here’s what to do:

Your day will be divided up into five blocks of time. The five blocks are:

  • dawn to 08:59
  • 09:00 to 12:59
  • 13:00 to 16:59
  • 17:00 to 20:59
  • 21:00 to midnight

At some point during the first block of time, you’ll read the first example sentence on the page and accompanying notes. Understand the example sentence, then repeat it to yourself several times until it sticks in your head. Repeat the sentence silently to yourself or aloud whenever you can for the remainder of the block of time — as you brush your teeth, as you wait for the bus, etc.

In the second block, you’ll learn the second sentence and repeat it silently to yourself or aloud for the remainder of the time in the block. You’ll do the same thing for the rest of the sentences and blocks of time.

  • dawn to 08:59, example sentence #1 on the page
  • 09:00 to 12:59, example sentence #2 on the page
  • 13:00 to 16:59, example sentence #3 on the page
  • 17:00 to 20:59, example sentence #4 on the page
  • 21:00 to midnight, example sentence #5 on the page

It would be best to start at the beginning of each block of time so that you have as much time as possible to let the example sentence stay present in your mind. If you do it just before the block ends, it’ll defeat the purpose, so start as early as possible within the block.

If you miss a block, you’ll need to make up for it as soon as possible. For example, let’s say it’s 10:00 (second block of time) and you still haven’t done the sentence from the first block. In this case, you’ll need to learn sentence #1 and sentence #2 together, and repeat them both to yourself or aloud for the remainder of the second block.

Obviously, the more blocks you miss, the more difficult this exercise will become, so try to keep up. If you’ve missed the entire day and it’s now 21:00, you’ll have to do 5 sentences all at once and repeat them silently to yourself or aloud for the remainder of the block of time.

You must complete the day’s five sentences before midnight. Don’t learn new sentences between midnight and dawn. If you want to study French in that period of time, review older stuff or work on something else.

This routine will give you 200 days of work, which is good, and it will allow you to keep examples of French present in your mind all day long. You can even do this while you’re at work and nobody has to know.

This is the minimum you can do with this method. If you want to do even more because you’re especially motivated and serious, here are things you can do to reinforce what you’re learning:

— After you learn an example sentence, you can listen to several minutes worth of French (or as much as you can manage): radio, TV, real conversation, etc. The more colloquial the language the better. This way you will incorporate listening practice into your routine, which is excellent. You’ll hear the example sentences come up during your listening practice, so this will reinforce things;

— As you repeat the example sentence to yourself, you can add alternate versions to yourself alongside it. For example, you can change the nouns in the sentence to different ones, change the verb tenses, etc. Be sure to repeat the original sentence as a minimum, though. The alternate versions are extra;

— Try to find a way to use the sentence in a live situation during your block of time with someone who speaks French;

— Try to create a dialogue in your head or aloud that uses the example sentence;

— Before you go to bed, reread all the example sentences you learned that day;

— When you wake up in the morning, reread all the example sentences from the day before;

— As you listen to French, if you hear something you’ve come across before in 1000, make a note of the example. You can create a list of these usages and dedicate even more time to learning them because they’re high frequency.

Remember, learning French is a long-term endeavour. This method will give you 200 days of material to work with. If you’re regular and devoted in your efforts and do it over a long enough period of time, you’ll achieve what you set out to do (i.e., become a fluent speaker of French and more specifically of Québécois French).

You can get started with this method today. Even if you’ve read through a lot of 1000 already, you can use this method to go back over older stuff and review.

You can buy 1000 here and start the offcois study method #1 now.

Here’s another example sentence taken from 1000, which has 1000 examples of things you can hear people say in French conversations in Québec:

C’est n’importe quoi!
That’s nonsense! Whatever!

This expression isn’t limited to the French of Québec.

It can also be shortened to just:

N’importe quoi!

The final e of n’importe is pronounced, so n’importe has three syllables (n’im/por/te).

Tu dis n’importe quoi.
You’re saying nonsense.

Écoute-les pas, i’ disent n’importe quoi.
Don’t listen to them, they’re saying nonsense.

You’ll remember that the Québécois pronounce the letter d like dz before the French i sound, so disent from the example above sounds like dziz.

If you want to make your French sound more Québécois, you’ll definitely want to adopt this dz sound. It’s described in the 1000 PDF along with all the example sentences. You can buy it here.