Archive for June, 2011

Ça va faire! (#226)

Officers Ben Chartier and Nick Berrof from the TV series 19-2 are investigating. They’re talking to a security guard on the scene. The security guard isn’t cooperative.

Officer Chartier asks the security guard what’s behind the locked doors of a storage room. The guard, who thinks the officers are wasting his time, doesn’t want to unlock the doors.

Officer Berrof gets frustrated with the guard’s resistance and says:

OK. Là, ça va faire. Ouvre!
OK, that’s enough now. Open (the door)!

[Said by the character Berrof in 19-2, season 1, episode 9, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 30 March 2011.]

Now there’s an expression you’ll hear commonly enough in French when people are frustrated: Ça va faire!, or “Enough!” in English.

Berrof started this expression with là. This helps to show his impatience.

You may even hear this expression begin with là là, as in: Là là, ça va faire!, or something like “OK, right, that’s enough!” in English. This double là là shows even more frustration and impatience than just a single là.

French review
In entry #43, you read that the informal expression c’est pas évident means “it’s not easy” or “it’s difficult.”

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Brigitte is a school teacher in the TV series 30 vies. She’s talking to her colleague Gabrielle in the staffroom.

Brigitte confides that she must get tested for cancer. She admits to Gabrielle that she’s scared about it. She says:

J’ai tellement la chienne.
I’m so scared.

[Said by the character Brigitte in 30 vies, season 1, episode 46, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 29 March 2011.]

Like avoir peur, the expression avoir la chienne describes feeling scared. You may also come across the expression avoir la chienne de faire quelque chose.


J’ai la chienne de prendre l’avion.
I’m scared (out of my mind) about taking the plane.

French review
In entry #224, you read that ça me tente pas and j’ai pas le goût are informal ways of saying “I don’t want to” or “I don’t feel like it.”

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Say this in French: “I don’t want to.”

Je ne veux pas, right? Right. But don’t stop there! Here are two other common ways of showing disinterest that you must learn:

Ça ne me tente pas.
Je n’ai pas le goût.

But you’re smart with informal French, so you know that speakers will often leave out the ne when talking casually:

Ça me tente pas.
J’ai pas le goût.

The same is true for je ne veux pas. You may hear it said informally as je veux pas or even j’veux pas.

The expressions ça me tente pas and j’ai pas le goût could also be translated to English as “I don’t feel like it.”

Want to impress others by sounding more native? Try saying ça me tente pas and j’ai pas le goût in three syllables:

Ça m’tente pas.
(sounds like [sam] tente pas)

J’ai pas l’goût.
(sounds like j’ai [pâl] goût)

Once you’ve learned these expressions, you’ll start to hear different variations of them, such as:

Ça m’tente pas trop, là.
Yeah, well, I don’t really wanna.

Help me to help you! Please LIKE OffQc on Facebook to help more lovers of Quebec French to discover this blog. If we can get OffQc to keep growing, this will help me to keep producing the content you want to learn.

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The level of formality that a speaker uses in French can be felt in the way questions are asked. Test your knowledge with this exercise.

Part A

In each of the pairs of questions below, pick out the informal form.

  1. D’où viens-tu? Tu viens d’où?
  2. Il est quelle heure? Quelle heure est-il?
  3. Quel temps fait-il? Quel temps il fait?

Part B

Turn these questions into a more careful written form.

  1. Combien de temps ça prend?
  2. Comment tu t’appelles?

Part C

Turn these questions into a more informal spoken form.

  1. Où vas-tu?
  2. À quoi penses-tu?

When listening to French, start paying attention to how questions are asked. In what situations do you hear the inversion used? In what situations is the inversion avoided? By increasing your awareness in this area, you’ll go a long way in improving your skills when asking questions in French.


Part A. 1. Tu viens d’où? 2. Il est quelle heure? 3. Quel temps il fait?
Part B. 1. Combien de temps cela prend-il? 2. Comment t’appelles-tu?
Part C. 1. Où tu vas?/Tu vas où? 2. À quoi tu penses?/Tu penses à quoi?

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While walking down rue Sainte-Catherine yesterday, I had to put up with a sound that I hate: flip flops. Really, I can’t stand the sound they make!

As I walked down the street, a girl flip-flopped past me while talking into her cellphone.

Part of what she said was this:

Mais, d’après moi là, on va pogner une heure de trafic.
Yeah, well, I think we’re gonna be stuck in traffic for an hour.

The expression d’après moi is used throughout the French-speaking world; it means “in my opinion” or “I think that…” The here adds a similar level of informality as “yeah, well” in English. Translating the informal into English is difficult; with more exposure to it, you’ll begin to feel the tone it conveys.

If you’ve read other entries dealing with the informal verb pogner, you’ll remember that it usually takes on the sense of “to catch.”

What she’s going to “catch” is an hour of traffic. Hey, if it gets her to stop flapping in the streets, I’m happy!

I really shouldn’t complain, though. I think I’d much rather hear the sound of flip flops in the street than the squeal of spinning car tires during a winter snowstorm…

By the way, French speakers will avoid saying pogner in careful writing and speech.

[This entry was inspired by some girl in the street, season 1, episode… Bon, OK, c’est une joke.]

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A teenaged girl tells her boyfriend:

Tu comprends pas.

He responds:

Explique-moi d’abord.

This comes from a scene in 30 vies, a TV show on Radio-Canada.

Explique-moi d’abord means the same thing as alors explique-moi. By putting d’abord at the end of his sentence, he’s saying “so” or “then” here.

In other words, he’s saying: “Explain (it) to me, then.”

An informal expression using d’abord that you’ll hear is:

OK d’abord.
OK, then. All right, then.


Quoi, tu veux pas? OK d’abord.
What, you don’t want to (wanna)? All right, then.

For my Spanish-speaking readers, d’abord in these examples means “entonces” in Spanish.

D’abord is pronounced [dabor].

On a final note, the missing ne in these examples (tu comprends pas, tu veux pas) is a feature of informal speech.

[This entry was inspired by the series 30 vies, season 1, episode 43, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 23 March 2011.]

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Olivier, a teenaged boy, comes running down the steps into the living room. His parents are sitting in front of the TV with Olivier’s little brother, Zak. Olivier tells his parents that he’s going to the cinema with his friends.

When Zak hears this, he wants his brother to take him along. Olivier doesn’t want to have to drag his little brother out with him and his friends, though. He tells Zak:

Oublie ça, là! Je te traîne pas avec moi!
Forget it! I’m not dragging you out with me!

Zak, upset, wants his mother to get Olivier to change his mind, so he starts whining. His mother then takes his defence by saying to him:

Mais non, Zak… il dit ça juste pour niaiser.
No, no, Zak… He [Olivier] is just kidding around (by saying that).

She then tells Zak to go get dressed so that he can go out with his older brother. Olivier protests! He’s not going to take his brother out! So he finds the perfect excuse not to: The film is 13 ans et plus, age 13 and over only, and Zak’s not old enough to get in anyway.

That’s when Olivier’s parents decide to come along too, so that Zak can get in with parental supervision. 13 ans et plus — not such a perfect excuse after all…

Just another typical scene from the TV show Les Parent, where nothing ever goes as planned for the characters. And just another example of the verb niaiser that you won’t go long without hearing during informal conversations in Quebec!

[Both quotes from the series Les Parent, “Ado sapiens,” season 3, episode 9, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 8 November 2010.]

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