Archive for July, 2011

In her blog Jennie en France, Jennie talks about reprise and detachment in spoken, informal French. If you’re curious to know what these terms mean, you can read the description she gives in her blog entry.

Below are some examples of this feature of informal French, all using the question word où. The reason I have focused on this informal way of asking questions with is because of its high frequency.

Où est mon livre?
may be said informally as:
Il est où, mon livre?

Où sont mes livres?
may be said informally as:
Ils sont où, mes livres?

Où est ton frère?
may be said informally as:
Il est où, ton frère?

Où est mon cell?
may be said informally as:
Il est où, mon cell?

You may remember from previous entries that il est can often be heard pronounced informally as yé, and ils sont as y sont.

Yé où, ton frère?
Y sont où, mes livres?

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If you enjoy studying grammar from grammar books, then study grammar from grammar books. But don’t study grammar from grammar books thinking that it will get you speaking more fluently in French.

A better use of your time is to listen to the language being spoken or to get out there and use it yourself. When you hear the language spoken, you reinforce the grammar of the language anyway and you’re exposed to it in a natural way.

The best time to study the grammar of a language is after you’ve acquired fluency in it. Then you can look at all the details of the language and make improvements where necessary.

Again, I’m not telling you to not study grammar. Just don’t be misguided into thinking that that’s how you’ll obtain fluency when speaking. Perfecting your French comes at the end, not at the beginning.

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Faire son épicerie (#228)

If you want to talk about day-to-day activities in French, be sure to learn the expression faire son épicerie (faire mon épicerie, faire ton épicerie, etc.).

This expression means “to do one’s grocery shopping” or “to go grocery shopping.”


Je fais mon épicerie chez Métro.
I do my grocery shopping at Métro.

Je fais mon épicerie deux fois par semaine.
I go grocery shopping twice a week.

The expression faire l’épicerie is also used.


J’ai passé une heure et demie à faire l’épicerie.
I spent an hour and a half doing the grocery shopping.

I don’t believe these expressions are used in French-speaking Europe.

Grocery shopping is usually never much fun, so here’s an article you can read on how to do it in less than 25 minutes — and reinforce these French expressions in your head at the same time!

5 trucs pour faire son épicerie en moins de 25 minutes

[Entry inspired by an advertisement heard on 98,5 FM, Montreal, 6 July 2011.]

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As I turned on the radio over the weekend, I heard a presenter say:

Il n’y a pas de quoi paniquer.
There is no reason to panic.

He was talking about the risk of rain for Montreal over the next few days. I guess he was trying to be reassuring about what he thinks is bad weather. Me, with the 30-degree heat that we’ve been having, I found the storm we had last night really refreshing…

Perhaps you’ve already learned the expression il n’y a pas de quoi (+ verbe). This means “There is no reason to (+ verb).” Here are some more examples:

Il n’y a pas de quoi pleurer.
Il n’y a pas de quoi rire.
Il n’y a pas de quoi se plaindre.

Let’s go back to what the radio presenter said:

Il n’y a pas de quoi paniquer.

In fact, that’s not really how he said it. He used a more informal pronunciation, but I’m guessing you knew that I was getting to that, right?

Can you guess how he pronounced it informally? Clue: He said il n’y a pas de quoi, which contains six syllables, in just three syllables.

If you don’t know, read on.

Informally, you’ll come across il n’y a pas pronounced as ya pas. As for pas de, speakers often say this in one syllable, which sounds a little like “pudd” in English. I’ll show this pronunciation below as pas d’.

Il n’y a pas de quoi paniquer
was pronounced informally as
Ya pas d’quoi paniquer
ya / pas d’ / quoi / pa / ni / quer

Start listening for instances when speakers pronounce il n’y a pas informally as ya pas. Knowing these pronunciation shortcuts will greatly increase your comprehension of spoken French.

French review
In entry #152, you read that the expression ah ben, ah ben, ah ben… means “well, well, well…” Ben is an informal pronunciation of bien, and it sounds as though it were written bin in French.

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