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1. AMÈNE DES NAPKINS!

In a fast food restaurant, one friend told another to bring serviettes on his way back to the table. Amène des napkins means bring some napkins.

You’ll frequently hear amener quelque chose in spoken language, so it’s important to learn. Amène une chaise. Bring a chair. Amène un cabaret. Bring a tray.

Napkin is a feminine noun, heard in informal language. It’s pronounced as in English, but with the stress on the second syllable rather than the first. With the plural napkins, the final s isn’t pronounced.

2. VOTRE NOM POUR LA FACTURE?

In some fast food restaurants, you’ll be asked what your name is when you place your order. Your name gets printed out on the receipt; rather than be called by number when your order is ready, you’ll be called by name.

Votre nom pour la facture? literally means (what is) your name for the receipt? Facture is the usual word for receipt in spoken language. Reçu is also possible and immediately understood by all, but it’s not usually the first word used spontaneously in conversation.

A bill is also called a facture, even in a restaurant. On peut-tu avoir la facture? Can we have the bill? Continue to number 3 below to understand what the tu in this question means.

3. C’EST-TU COMME ÇA QUE ÇA MARCHE?

In this question, the tu placed after the verb serves the same function as est-ce que would at the beginning: est-ce que c’est comme ça que ça marche? This tu creates a yes-no question, and it’s used very frequently in spoken language. This question, then, means is that how it works?, does it work like this?, etc.

In number 2, you read on peut-tu avoir la facture? The tu after the verb in this question serves the same purpose of asking a yes-no question.

This tu doesn’t mean you. In a question like tu m’aimes-tu? (do you love me?), only the first tu means you. The second one, placed after the verb, creates the yes-no question.

4. J’AI MES CLÉS À MOI

Person A asked person B whose keys he had on him: those of person A or B. Person B replied that he had his own keys on him: j’ai mes clés à moi.

With à moi, you can insist that something is yours. Mes clés à moi, my keys (and not yours or anybody else’s). Ça, c’est mon livre à moi, pas à toi. That’s my book, not yours.

5. ÇA VOUS TENTE-TU?

The expression ça m’tente (and variations on it) is used frequently in spoken language. Ça m’tente means I want to. The negation is ça m’tente pas. The ça m’ part (from ça me) sounds like the name Sam, where me loses its vowel and the remaining m’ is pronounced as though it were on the end of ça.

Ça vous tente means you want to. Using the informal tu described in number 3, this can be turned into a yes-no question: ça vous tente-tu? Remember, only vous means you here. We can translate ça vous tente-tu? as d’ya guys wanna?, d’yaz wanna?, etc.

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Learn how words contract in spoken Québécois French (with audio): read Contracted French

We looked at 7 ways to express anger in French like the Québécois without swearing here, and 12 words used in Québécois French that you might be mispronouncing here. Let’s look now at 6 different expressions you can use in situations where you want to express surprise over a matter. (Depending on context, some of these might also be used to express anger.)

1. TU M’NIAISES-TU? (are you kidding me?)

A friend tells you he’s found ten thousand dollars hidden in the floorboards of his apartment. Tu m’niaises-tu?

This question means the same thing as me niaises-tu? or tu m’niaises? (tu me niaises?) In tu m’niaises-tu?, only the first tu means you (tu m’niaises). The second tu turns tu m’niaises into a yes-no question, in an informal style (tu m’niaises-tu?). The second tu means the same thing as est-ce que here, but it gets placed after the verb instead.

To pronounce this, move the contracted m’ to the end of tu (tum’ / niaises / tu). Remember that tu in Québec sounds like tsu. The t sounds like the ts of the English words cats, bats, rats, etc.

The conjugated form niaises sounds like nyèz. The verb niaiser means to joke, to kid.

2. NON MAIS ÇA S’PEUT-TU? (can that be? is that possible?)

A friend tells you about something terrible a group of people did. Non mais ça s’peut-tu, du monde de même?

Du monde de même means people like that. Du monde means people, and de même means like that, comme ça. The whole thing literally means is it possible, people like that?, the idea being how can people like that exist? or how can people be like that?

Ça se peut means that’s possible, that can be. It contracts to ça s’peut. To pronounce it, move the contracted s’ to the end of ça (ça s’ / peut). Just like in number 1, tu turns this into a yes-no question: ça s’peut-tu?

The example above non mais ça s’peut-tu, du monde de même? conveys surprise mixed with indignation.

3. BEN VOYONS DON’! (oh come on!)

Your landlord is increasing the rent again. Ben voyons don’!

We saw this expression in 7 ways to express anger. It can also be used to express surprise.

4. T’ES PAS SÉRIEUX! (are you serious? for real?)

Your co-worker tells you a rude customer started yelling and threatening the employees. T’es pas sérieuse!

T’es is a contraction of tu es; it sounds like té. The negated form tu n’es pas contracts to t’es pas.

English usually asks are you serious? in the affirmative, whereas French asks you’re not serious? in the negative.

5. C’EST PAS VRAI! (are you serious?, for real?)

Your neighbour tells you his house has been broken into for a second time this year. C’est pas vrai!

This expression means the same thing as t’es pas sérieux! above. Ce n’est pas contracts to c’est pas in spoken language.

6. C’EST QUOI C’T’AFFAIRE-LÀ? (what’s up with that?)

You work in a supermarket. A customer asks where the eggs on special are. You advise him there aren’t any left. He gets upset you’ve advertised a product you don’t have in stock; he yells: Ben là, c’est quoi c’t’affaire-là? (Ben là means oh come on.)

C’t’affaire-là (literally, that matter) is a contraction of cette affaire-là. The contracted c’t’ sounds like st (staffaire).

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Learn how words contract in spoken Québécois French (with audio): read Contracted French

1. BEN VOYONS DON’! (oh come on!)

You’re crossing the street when an oncoming car goes through a red light and zips past in front of you. Ben voyons don’!

Ben sounds like the French word bain; it’s a contraction of bien. Don’ is in fact donc, but don’t pronounce the c here. This expression is also said as voyons don’!

2. FRANCHEMENT! (oh honestly!)

The person ahead of you in line is taking forever to decide what food to order. Franchement!

3. C’EST-TU CLAIR? (is that clear? understood?)

You’ve just lectured someone, and now you want to make sure you’ve been perfectly understood. C’est-tu clair?

The tu here turns c’est clair into a yes-no question, in an informal way. It doesn’t mean you. It’s like est-ce que in meaning.

4. ÇA VA FAIRE! (that’s enough! cut it out!)

You’ve got a headache, and the kids won’t stop arguing. Ça va faire!

5. BEN LÀ! (oh come on!)

Someone’s just said something so ridiculous you can’t believe it. Ben là!

This expression means the same thing as voyons don’!

6. TA YEULE! VOS YEULES! (shut up!)

The neighbours won’t stop screaming. Vos yeules!!!

Yeule is a colloquial pronunciation of gueule. Use ta yeule! to tell one person to shut up, and vos yeules! with more than one person.

7. QUESSÉ ÇA PEUT BEN TE FAIRE? (what do you care?)

Someone doesn’t like the way you’re going about a matter, and you want that person to back off. Quessé ça peut ben te faire?!

Quessé is an informal contraction of qu’est-ce (que) c’est (que).

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Learn how words contract in spoken Québécois French (with audio): read Contracted French

1. GARS (guy, bloke)

The masculine gars rhymes with the French words pas, cas, tas. In other words, don’t pronounce the rs on the end of gars. If you do, you’ll end up saying garce instead, which is a word for bitch.

2. TABARNAK! (fuck!)

It bears repeating because it’s a common misconception: the Québécois don’t swear by saying tabernacle; they swear by saying tabarnak. The swear word tabarnak comes from tabernacle, yes, but tabernacle is reserved for referring to an actual tabernacle. Pay close attention to the differences between the two words: tabernacle and tabarnak. The swear word tabarnak has an a in the middle (not an e), and there’s no le on the end.

3. LYS (lily)

French words are replete with silent letters, but lys isn’t one of them. The final s is indeed pronounced in lys. What’s more, with the way the vowel i is pronounced by Québécois speakers in this word, you’ll notice lys sounds rather like liss (i.e., to rhyme with the English words hiss and miss). So it’s fleur-de-lisss, not fleur-de-liii.

4. BARIL (barrel)

The final L of baril is silent — in Québec, at any rate.

Here are more words whose final L is silent:

5. PERSIL (parsley)
6. NOMBRIL (bellybutton)
7. SOURCIL (eyebrow)
8. FUSIL (firearm)
9. GENTIL (kind, nice)
10. OUTIL (tool)

The final L of sourcil isn’t pronounced, but the final L of this word is heard:

11. CIL (eyelash)

And finally:

12. GENTILLE (nice, kind)

The masculine gentil ends in a silent L, but how’s the feminine form pronounced? The ille part of gentille sounds just like the ille part of the French word fille.

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Learn how words contract in spoken Québécois French (with audio): read Contracted French

A young man said in French an equivalent of I’m getting fed up. To say this, he used the adjective tanné (fed up), which is frequently heard in colloquial French.

Here’s what he said:

J’commence à êt’ tanné!
I’m gettin’ fed up!

If you’ve read Contracted French and listened to the files that come with it, you’ll remember that a contracted j’ before c makes the French ch sound. J’commence sounds like ch’commence.

With être, the final re has a tendency of dropping in speech: êt’. (The final t is pronounced.)

Can you now say what je capote sounds like in spoken language when it contracts? For example, what might the following sound like?

Ah wow, je capote!
Ah wow, I’m ecstatic (about it)!

A friend from Central America was reading a Montréal newspaper article and came across an expression he didn’t know:

C’est-y pas beau?

He asked what this expression means and what the y is doing in there.

Here’s an example context (that I’ve made up) of how the expression was used:

Le gouvernement va augmenter la taxe sur l’essence. C’est-y pas beau, ça?
The government is going to increase tax on gas. Well ain’t that nice?

Can you guess now what that y means? It means the exact same thing as tu when used informally to create a yes-no question.

C’est vraiment necessaire.
C’est-tu vraiment necessaire?

It’s really necessary.
Is it really necessary?

C’est ben cher.
C’est-tu ben cher?

It’s really expensive.
Is it really expensive?

Y and tu, when used to create informal yes-no questions, are variants of one another.

The question c’est-y pas beau? contains sarcasm. The person asking this question dislikes the situation it refers to and is using the question to highlight this fact.

During a French conversation in Montréal, a woman spoke about a well-known person she liked for his straightforwardness. In French, she said an equivalent of at least he tells it like it is.

An expression you’ll often hear in French, especially in political commentary, is dire les vraies affaires.

Some who “says the real things” is someone who tells it like it is, someone who gets to the point without mishmashing his words. We’ve seen other examples of the word affaires recently, which gets a lot of use in colloquial French.

Knowing this, you can probably now guess how the woman said at least he tells it like it is during the conversation. She said:

Au moins i’ dit les vraies affaires.

Remember, il contracts to i’ in spoken language, which is often shown in informal writing as y.

On va se dire les vraies affaires.
Let’s tell it like it is (to each other). We’re going to tell it like it is (to each other).