On Urbania, Lysandre Nadeau writes about the approach of moving season — moving into a new apartment with a new coloc, that is. She writes:

Le soleil est enfin arrivé au Québec. Pis quand il se pointe, pas ben ben longtemps après, les gens déménagent. Eh oui, dans quelques semaines, le monde vont commencer à faire leurs boîtes.

pis quand il se pointe, and when it shows up
pas ben ben longtemps après, not too long afterwards
le monde vont commencer à, people are going to start to
faire leurs boîtes, to pack their boxes

Ben is an informal contraction of bien meaning really here. It sounds like bain. The author has doubled it for effect: pas ben ben longtemps après, literally not really really a long time afterwards.

Why has she used the plural vont with the singular noun le monde? Le monde vont commencer à faire leurs boîtes. It’s a feature of informal language where le monde, meaning people, is analysed as a plural noun like les gens.

Pis means and here. It’s pronounced pi and comes from puis. It’s similar to the way and in English can contract to an’ or ‘n’.

She continues:

Il va y avoir des gros camions partout dans les rues pis plein de vieux divans à motifs laittes sur les trottoirs.

plein de, lots of
vieux divans, old sofas
à motifs laittes, with ugly designs

Laitte is an informal pronunciation of laid that you’ll hear used spontaneously in conversations.

The author uses a few more words from conversational language:

Un nouvel appartement signifie aussi peut-être : un nouveau coloc. J’en ai eu en masse dans ma vie, des l’funs pis des pas l’funs.

un nouveau coloc, a new roommate, flatmate
en masse, lots, heaps
j’en ai eu en masse, I’ve had lots of them
des l’funs pis des pas l’funs, fun/great ones and not-so-fun/great ones

Coloc is a short form of colocataire. Locataire is a renter, so a colocataire is a “co-renter,” someone you share your apartment with. Coloc is used informally.

What does the first en mean in j’en ai eu en masse? It means of them here. In English, you can say I had many, but you can’t in French. In French, you have to say I had many of them, where the of them is said as en. J’en ai eu en masse, of them have had heaps.

Fun is a bit funny in that it uses the article le in front of it, even when used adjectively. Des gars le fun, fun guys. Unlike the author, I’m not sure I’d have put an s on fun in des l’fun pis des pas l’fun.

Source: All quotes written by Lysandre Nadeau in “Le guide de la pire personne en colocation,” Urbania, 22 May 2015.

In the Montréal edition of the 24 heures newspaper, an offensive word related to homosexuality came up in article where different public figures from Québec spoke out about homophobia.

Sylvain Gaudreault, député péquiste et ex-ministre des transports, was asked by 24 heures:

Avez-vous déjà été victime d’homophobie?

Have you ever been a victim of homophobia?

Gaudreault answered:

En 2007, lors de ma première élection, un animateur de radio du Saguenay avait déclaré sur les ondes que «les travailleurs d’usine ne voteraient jamais pour une tapette.» […]

In 2007, when I was first elected, a Saguenay radio host declared on air that “factory workers would never vote for a fag.”

Source: Sylvain Gaudreault in “12 personnalités publiques gaies dénoncent l’homophobie,” by Yannick Donahue and Guillaume Picard, 24 heures (Montréal edition), 15-18 May 2015, page 8.

24 heures also spoke with Manon Massé, députée de Québec solidaire. One of the questions she was asked was:

Avez-vous été témoin d’actes homophobes?

Have you ever witnessed acts of homophobia?

Massé replied:

Trop de fois dans ma vie j’ai assisté à la banalisation de propos homophobes: «Je vais vous conter une joke de tapettes, c’est juste une joke», «moi, j’ai rien contre ça, mais…» […]

Too many times in my life I’ve witnessed the trivialisation of homophobic comments: “I’m going to tell you a queer joke, it’s just a joke,” “I’ve got nothing against [gays], but…”

Source: Manon Massé in “12 personnalités publiques gaies dénoncent l’homophobie,” by Yannick Donahue and Guillaume Picard, 24 heures (Montréal edition), 15-18 May 2015, page 9.

The word related to homosexuality that came up in both of their responses is tapette, a feminine noun. Tapette is equivalent to fag, queer, fairy, etc., and is an offensive usage.

In Massé’s response, we’ve also got the feminine noun joke, used in une joke de tapettes. The authors of the article put this informal and English-derived word in italics.

I read this article in 24 heures, but it’s also online here in the Journal de Montréal. In this longer online version, Émile Gaudreault (cinéaste, réalisateur de Mambo Italiano et De père en flic) says:

Enfant, j’ai été traité de «tapette» deux fois […].

When I was a child, I got called “fag” twice.

Source: Émile Gaudreault in “12 personnalités se confient au sujet de l’homophobie,” by Yannick Donahue and Guillaume Picard, Journal de Montréal, 15 May 2015.

The expression traiter quelqu’un de means to call somebody [a name].

Vocab from the quotes:

déclarer sur les ondes, to declare on air
voter pour une tapette, to vote for a “fag” (offensive)
conter une joke, to tell a joke
une joke de tapettes, a joke about “fags” (offensive)
j’ai rien contre ça, I’ve got nothing against it
traiter quelqu’un de, to call somebody [a name]

If you need a way to learn or review a large amount of material in Québécois French, if you have trouble understanding spoken Québécois French but don’t know what you’re supposed to be learning to remedy the problem, and if you still need help making your spoken French sound less bookish, then this new OffQc guide is for you.

1000 (pronounced mille) is a downloadable PDF that you can buy here.

It’s inspired by the first four years of content on OffQc, or almost 1000 posts. To create this new guide, I’ve taken the most essential language that has appeared on this blog to create 1000 examples of use with notes. I’ve also injected this guide with new vocabulary that has never appeared on OffQc, as well as many new examples of overheard language taken from real conversations in Montréal.

I’ve written this book to accompany you in your independent study of French. It’s for motivated learners who are doing all the right things on their own — listening to French and speaking when possible — but who need a helping hand in getting past that barrier in French. 1000 will raise your confidence in French by helping you to become more proficient with informal vocabulary, expressions and contractions… Québécois style, of course!

How is 1000 arranged?

This book is arranged in a way that makes it as easy as possible for you to learn or review a large amount of material. There are 1000 examples of use (five on each page), all taken from the conversational level of French as used in Québec. Each example is accompanied by notes, which will help you to make sense of the example, and to enable you to incorporate the language into your own use of French or simply understand what the Québécois are saying.

Below are three sample pages of the examples of use. In total, there are 200 of these pages in the book.


At the beginning of the book, there are also notes about frequently used contractions in informal language, how yes-no questions are asked informally with tu, and the sound made by â and the letters d and t in Québécois French. Here are a few sample pages from the beginning of the book:


How to use 1000

You can either read this book from beginning to end, or just dip in and out when you have some spare time. You don’t need to read example of use number 75 before reading example of use number 678. You can start anywhere. I’ve also included certain features of language more than once in this book so that if something doesn’t make sense on the first go, you’ll have more chances to see it elsewhere in the book in a different example.

You can read 1000 before leaving on a trip to Québec, or even on the way here. :-)

Are there audio files?

This book is text only. The notes are full of tips on pronunciation. But, more importantly, this guide is meant to accompany you in your own independent listening. Read a little of this book, then listen to French on your own (radio, TV, film, etc.), read a little more, then listen a little more on your own again. Listening to authentic French (along with actually speaking it) is the most important thing you can do to improve your command of French. This book will help you to make sense of what you hear while doing all of this important work on your own. When you read something in this book and then hear it for the first time on your own and actually understand it, you’re going to feel pretty excited!

What’s the difference between 1000 and C’est what?

At the time of writing this, there are 3 downloadable PDFs in the OffQc storeC’est what?, 1000 and Say it in French. C’est what? provides an overview of the main features of informal language. It prepares you for the sort of things you’ll be hearing when listening to French spoken by the Québécois. 1000 takes it farther. There are far more examples in 1000, and you’ll learn or review a wider range of vocab and expressions. 1000 will help you to fill in the gaps in your knowledge, and help you to get an even better grip on French. Note that 1000 also contains swear words and vulgar language (C’est what? doesn’t), which are important to learn if we want to understand colloquial French.

How much does it cost?

For this book, I’m asking $20 CDN. It’s the culmination of four years of material on OffQc, which means you’ll be learning or reviewing a lot of colloquial Québécois French.

After you read 1000, you’ll:

  • be able to identify and use the most frequently used contractions and vocabulary heard in informal language,
  • have filled in many of the gaps in your knowledge of Québécois French and informal language,
  • have a much stronger understanding of what distinguishes informally spoken French from the written standard,
  • feel more confident about speaking French in a way that sounds less bookish and helps you to fit in better,
  • have a much stronger base upon which to build as you continue learning French, and more specifically Québécois French, on your own.

About the cover

OK, OffQc is a little (very) biased… The cover is an image of a manhole cover in Montréal. Considering 1000 is based on colloquial (“street”) French, and OffQc is very much inspired by life in Montréal, it seems fitting! But if you’re wondering if you can use 1000 in preparation for your stay in Québec City or Trois-Rivières or wherever else in Québec, the answer is yes. The language in this book is good for anywhere in Québec, no worries.

How to buy 1000

You can buy and download 1000 immediately here.

Payment is by credit card or PayPal. After paying, you can download. You’ll also receive an email — keep it. There’s a link in it to download. You’ll automatically get 20 downloads for a one-month period. If you need to download again after that (if you accidentally delete your file, for example), just let me know and I’ll get the book to you again — no problem. This also goes for people who’ve bought C’est what? or Say it in French.

If you’ve got any questions not addressed here, just let me know!

The new OffQc guide with 1000 examples of use (plus notes for each example) is almost ready to go online. As promised, I drew 5 winners from among the people who bought C’est what? or Say it in French.

The new guide is inspired by all the content on OffQc so far, with extra vocab included that hasn’t come up on the blog yet, plus many examples of French taken from real conversations.

The five winners who’ll receive a free copy of the new guide are:

Mar. Y.H.
Rho. R.
Vin. D.
Som. H.
Bri. K.

(Those are abbreviations, but I’m sure you’ll recognise if it’s your name! Winners, please check your email.)

A huge thanks to everybody who’s bought one of the OffQc books so far.

I’ll fill you in on all the details about the new guide when it goes live.

We’ve seen before that un gratteux is a scratch-and-win lottery ticket (the ones where you scratch with your finger or a coin to reveal a prize… or not).

But gratteux can also be used as an adjective, like in this La Presse headline:

10 astuces pour voyageurs gratteux

Can you maybe guess what gratteux means here by reading the photo caption below that accompanies the article?

Une des bonnes façons d’économiser de l’argent consiste à voyager en groupe. On diminue alors les frais d’hôtel, de location de voiture, d’essence, etc.

A good way to save money is by travelling in groups. You’ll save money on hotel fees, car rentals, gas, etc.

Pierre-Olivier Fortin, “10 astuces pour voyageurs gratteux,” La Presse, 29 December 2012.

Someone who’s gratteux is cheap, stingy.

J’ai eu un chum qui était ben gratteux.
I had a boyfriend who was really cheap.

Y’a dû me trouver ben gratteux de faire ça.
He must’ve thought I was really cheap for doing that.

Les plus riches sont les plus gratteux.
The richest people are the stingiest.

Someone who’s cheap can also be called… cheap.

The word astuces from the headline above means tips (10 astuces, 10 tips). In the photo caption, location means rental — it doesn’t mean location. The English word location is emplacement, endroit, etc.

I came across an example of the word égoportrait in use in the Montréal edition of the Métro newspaper. Égoportrait, you’ll remember, is an OQLF-approved word meant to replace the English-derived selfie.

In the Métro article, Catherine Deneuve is quoted as saying that she hates selfies:

Elle avoue également «détester les selfies» dans une interview publiée dans le Journal du Dimanche […].

In an interview published in the Journal du Dimanche, she also admits to hating selfies.

Métro (Montréal edition), “Vie de stars,” 11 May 2015, p.17.

A bit farther along in the article, we read that the Cannes Film Festival has launched a campaign this year to restrict the taking of selfies on the red carpet:

Notons que le Festival de Cannes mène cette année une campagne pour limiter les égoportraits sur le tapis rouge, une pratique jugée «ridicule et grotesque» par son délégué général, Thierry Frémaux.

It should be noted that the Cannes Film Festival has launched a campaign this year to restrict selfies from being taken on the red carpet, a practice deemed “ridiculous and grotesque” by managing director Thierry Frémaux.

Métro (Montréal edition), “Vie de stars,” 11 May 2015, p.17.

I don’t feel that égoportrait and selfie are entirely synonymous. Because of the égo prefix, égoportrait might work if you want to shed a negative light on the practice, like in this article. Selfie, on the other hand, doesn’t immediately sound negative to me. Could you imagine casually saying that you’re going to take an égoportrait of yourself for your Facebook profile? I think the OQLF would’ve done well to consider this before backing the word.

A word that hasn’t come up yet on OffQc…

la bouette

Your dictionary will tell you that mud is la boue, but you’ll also hear la bouette in Québec.

If someone had muddy boots on, you could describe them as bottes pleines de bouette.

You can say to play in the mud as jouer dans la bouette.

Remember, the words dans la can contract to dans’ in informal language, so jouer dans la bouette can sound like jouer dans’ bouette.