I’ve been keeping my ears open for you! Here are 10 new examples of overheard French.
All 10 are spontaneous examples that I caught someone say while out and about in Montréal.
1. Arrête de niaiser!
Stop kidding around!
Stop messing with me!
Two young women in their 20s were walking and talking in the street.
One of the women then stopped the other. She exclaimed arrête de niaiser because she was so taken aback by whatever her friend had said.
2. Je prendrais…
Can I get…?
A lady ordered food at the cash of a restaurant by saying je prendrais…
We’ve also seen the expression je vais prendre… on OffQc, as well as just stating what you want followed by s’il vous plaît.
Je prendrais un café, s’il vous plaît.
Je vais prendre un café, s’il vous plaît.
Un café, s’il vous plaît.
3. T’as quel âge?
How old are you?
Two young teenagers were talking to each other. This is how one of them asked the other his age.
4. Bonne fin de journée!
Enjoy the rest of your day!
An elderly lady said this to a group of friends as she left them. It was three o’clock in the afternoon. Cashiers in stores also say this a lot to customers.
The word de isn’t stressed. Try saying it like this: bonne finde journée, where finde sounds like a one-syllable word.
5. Finalement j’ai rien.
There’s nothing wrong me after all.
Turns out I’m fine.
A girl answered her mobile phone. I think it was her grandmother calling. The girl explained that she had just left hospital and that there was nothing wrong with her after all.
J’ai rien is an informal way of saying je n’ai rien.
6. Merci, t’es fine.
Thanks, you’re so kind (nice, sweet).
The same girl from number 5 said this on the phone.
Fine is the feminine form. Fin is the masculine. Fine rhymes with the French word mine. Fin rhymes with the French word main.
Merci, t’es fine is said to a female. For a male, you’d say: merci, t’es fin.
The adjectives gentil and gentille are used in Québec too, of course.
The masculine gentil sounds like jen-tsi. In the feminine, the tille part of gentille rhymes with fille. You’ll remember that the letter t in both gentil and gentille is pronounced ts.
That’s because the letter t is pronounced ts before the French i sound. The letter t is also pronounced ts before the French u sound. This is what’s known as the tsitsu on OffQc. For example, partir is pronounced par-tsir in Québec, and tuque is pronounced tsuk.
You can also use c’est gentil to thank someone, male or female:
Merci, c’est gentil.
Thanks, that’s kind (of you).
7. Fais pas comme si tu m’avais pas vue!
Don’t pretend you didn’t see me!
A girl said this to a guy as he walked by. She jokingly accused him of pretending that he hadn’t seen her to avoid saying hello to her.
If a guy had said this, it would be written like this: fais pas comme si tu m’avais pas vu!
Fais pas! is an informal way of saying ne fais pas!
8. Tu m’entends-tu?
Can you hear me?
A girl in her 20s said this while speaking on the phone. The person she was speaking to couldn’t hear her very well.
The second tu in her question is an informal yes-no question word. The first tu means “you,” but the second one doesn’t. To learn more about this, you can download a mini-guide about yes-no questions using tu.
When pronounced, her question sounded like: tsu m’entends-tsu? That’s the tsitsu again! (See number 6.)
9. Dans une tasse ou dans un carton?
In a mug or in a paper cup?
I stopped in a café that will serve their coffee in both mugs and paper cups. A lady in line ahead of me ordered a coffee. The cashier asked if she wanted the coffee in a mug (to drink the coffee there) or in a paper cup (to go). Dans une tasse ou dans un carton?
10. Oui, toi?
Fine, and you?
When you ask somebody ça va? (how are you?), the response will often be a simple oui, toi?
Answering oui to ça va? is the equivalent of saying “fine” to the question “how are you?” You can add in toi? to ask about the other person and sound less curt. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from giving a more enthusiastic response than just oui!