Archive for June, 2015

I thought it would be useful to take another look at how il y a transforms in colloquial language to y’a, and to y’a-tu when used as part of a yes-no question. It’s a frequently occurring feature, so it’s a good idea to become familiar with it.

In the OffQc guide 1000, sentence number 111 reads:

Y’a-tu moyen d’avoir un remboursement?
Is there any way to get a refund?
Any chance of getting a refund?

Y’a-tu moyen de is an informal equivalent of est-ce qu’il y a moyen de. You’ll remember that il y a is generally pronounced y’a in informal language. By adding tu after it, we can turn it into a yes-no question.

= il y a-[oui ou non]…?

That tu is definitely not the second-person singular tu meaning you.

In the same way, tu in all of the following is used to ask a yes-no question:

C’est correct. It’s fine, ok.
C’est-tu correct? Is it fine, ok?

Ça se peut. It’s possible.
Ça se peut-tu? Is that possible?

J’ai vraiment dit ça, moi. I really said that.
J’ai-tu vraiment dit ça, moi? Did I really say that?

Back to y’a-tu…?, remember that this means is there…? or are there…? Wherever you might have used est-ce qu’il y a…?, you’re likely to hear y’a-tu…? used spontaneously in conversations, although questions with est-ce que remain entirely possible.

Y’a-tu quelque chose qui va pas?
Is something the matter? Is something wrong?
(Quelque chose might be pronounced informally as què’que chose, where què’que sounds like “kek.”)

Y’a-tu moyen de bloquer les alertes/les notifications?
Is there a way to block the alerts/notifications?
(e.g., on a smartphone)

In an older post on OffQc, we came across the use of y’a-tu moyen de in a scene from 19-2, when a father in a moment of anger yelled at his son:

Y’a-tu moyen d’êt’ obéi dans c’te maison-là?!
Is there any chance of being obeyed in this house?!

Êt’ is an informal pronunciation of être, where the -re ending isn’t enunciated. C’te is a contraction of cette. To pronounce it, first say te. Then put an s sound at the beginning of it: s’te.


Understand spoken Québécois French and sound less bookish when speaking: 1000 examples of use (#945)

Read Full Post »

Can you say the five English sentences below in an informal style of French? Say your answer aloud, applying whatever informal contractions are possible.

In the answers below, I’ve given both an informal, spoken version and a version without contractions so that you can see the difference between the two.

Say in French

  1. I’m not kidding you.
  2. Now I’ve had it! (use tanné in your answer)
  3. You’re not serious?! (as in: Are you for real?!)
  4. Ha! That’s a good one!
  5. We’re gonna talk about that.


The versions typically heard in spoken language are in blue.

1. I’m not kidding you. Je ne te niaise pas, which can be heard in spoken language as j’te niaise pas. The contracted j’te sounds like ch’te.

2. Now I’ve had it! Là, je suis tanné!, which can be heard in spoken language as là, j’su’ tanné! The contracted j’su’ sounds like chu.

3. You’re not serious?! Tu n’es pas sérieux?!, which can be heard in spoken language as t’es pas sérieux?! The contracted t’es sounds like té.

4. Ha! That’s a good one! Ha! Elle est bien bonne, celle-là!, which can be heard in spoken language as Ha! ‘Est ben bonne, celle-là! The contracted ‘est sounds like è. Ben sounds like the French word bain.

5. We’re gonna talk about that. On va parler de ça, which may also be heard in spoken language as on va parler de t’ça. De t’ça sounds like de with a t sound on the end, followed by ça. Ça in de ça and de t’ça rhymes with the words pas and chat in this video.

You might also like:
Say it in French: Translate 125 sentences to conversational Québécois French

Read Full Post »

Another example of French overheard in Montréal today; someone said in French the equivalent of “I’m on break” (as in a break at work).

Do you know how the person might have said this informally in French?

First thing to know: to be on break is être en pause.

This gives us je suis en pause.

Do you remember how je suis en can be pronounced informally? It can contract to j’t’en, which sounds like ch’t’en. (The ch sounds like ch in chaise.)

This happens when je suis contracts to j’s’, which sounds like ch. Between the ch sound and en, a t sound then got slipped in to ease pronunciation.

So the speaker said:

J’t’en pause.
(sounds like ch’t’en pause)

Read Full Post »

In the OffQc Québécois French guide called 1000, example sentence #991 reads:

J’ai pas l’goût d’en parler.
I don’t wanna talk about it.
I don’t feel like talking about it.

You can see the full page this sentence appears on in the guide by clicking on the sample page above.

Avoir le goût means to want, feel like.
En parler means to talk about it.

The expression avoir le goût is used frequently.

J’ai pas l’goût.
I don’t wanna.
I don’t feel like it.

J’ai pas l’goût d’y aller.
I don’t wanna go (there).
I don’t feel like going (there).

Si t’as l’goût, fais-moi signe.
If you wanna, let me know.

(There’s pronunciation help at the end of this post.)

Maybe you’ve learned to say this expression with envie, and that’s fine too:

J’ai pas envie de…
I don’t feel like…

Note the absence of le in the expression though:

avoir envie (de)
avoir le goût (de)

Another way to express this is with the verb tenter. Like the expression avoir le goût, the verb tenter is frequently used.

Ça m’tente pas!
I don’t wanna!
I don’t feel like it!

Ça m’tente pas d’y aller.
I don’t wanna go (there).
I don’t feel like going (there).

Ben oui, ça m’tente!
Yeah, I do feel like it!
Yeah, I do wanna!

How do you pronounce the informal contractions in the examples above?

pas l’goût
(informal contraction of pas le goût)

There’s a good example here of how pas is pronounced in Québec when the speaker says pas d’chat. In pas d’chat, de loses its vowel. So pas d’chat sounds like pas with a d sound on the end of it, followed by chat.

In pas l’goût, le loses its vowel too. To say pas l’goût, first say pas with an L sound on the end of it, then say goût.

t’as l’goût
(informal contraction of tu as le goût)

T’as is an informal contraction of tu as. T’as rhymes with pas as pronounced in Québec. T’as l’goût rhymes with pas l’goût from above, where le loses its vowel again.

ça m’tente
(informal contraction of ça me tente)

Ça sounds like sa here. (Ça has two possible pronunciations; if you’re not sure what they are, read this.) In ça m’tente, me loses its vowel. So to say ça m’tente, first say sa with an m sound on the end of it, then say tente.

You can read more about the Québécois French guide 1000 here, or buy it here.

Read Full Post »

As I paid for a pair of shirts in a clothing shop, the cashier asked me if I’d like to keep the clothes hangers that each shirt was hanging on.

Can you guess how she asked the question “Do you want to keep the clothes hangers?” in French?

If you look at French-English dictionaries online, they give un cintre as the equivalent of “clothes hanger.” But cintre isn’t the word the cashier used — that’s because there’s another word for clothes hangers in use in Québec.

The word she used instead was the masculine support.

Here’s how the cashier asked me the question then:

Voulez-vous garder les supports?

In this context, then, support means the same thing as cintre — it’s a clothes hanger. The final t of support isn’t pronounced.

Read Full Post »

Here’s a (questionable) car ad in which you’ll hear the informal verb pogner used. Can you make out the meaning of this verb here before checking the translation below? This video will be added to the Listen section.

— Julie a choisi son RAV4 pour la capacité de l’habitacle, un volume de chargement de deux mille quatre-vingt litres, l’idéal pour transporter la petite famille et tout l’équipement nécessaire pour —
— Euh, excusez?
— Oui?
— Moi, j’suis célibataire, pas d’enfants. Je l’ai acheté pour pogner.
— Ah bon?
— Mon prof de yoga, y’aime ben ça.
— La « capacitéduction ». Une autre bonne raison d’acheter une Toyota.
— Louez le RAV4 2015 pour 295 $ par mois avec zéro dollar d’acompte. Toyota, c’est moins cher que vous pensez.

— Julie chose her RAV4 for its spacious passenger compartment, a loading space of two thousand and eighty litres, the ideal (vehicle) for moving the (little) family around and all the equipment they need for —
— Uh, excuse me?
— Yes?
— I’m single, no kids. I bought it to attract someone.
— Oh, really?
— My yoga teacher, he really likes it.
— “La capacitéduction [capacité + séduction].” Another good reason to buy a Toyota.
— Lease the RAV4 2015 for $295 a month with zero down payment. Toyota, it’s cheaper than you think.

Pronunciation and usage notes

j’suis, informal contraction of je suis (the contracted j’s sounds like ch)
célibataire, single
pogner, to attract (someone); similarly, pogner avec les gars, avec les filles means to (know how to) attract guys/girls
y’aime ben ça, informal pronunciation of il aime bien ça, he really likes it; the informal ben sounds like bain

Read Full Post »

In the video from entry #961, we heard pas de chat (three syllables) pronounced as pas d’chat (two syllables).

There are two things to look at here from pas d’chat.

In spoken language, de can contract to just a d sound even before a consonant. In pas d’chat, first say pas with a d sound on the end of it, then say chat.

If you can adopt this, you’ll make your French sound a little more natural.

Try saying these, but when you do, contract the de as was done in pas d’chat:

pas de temps
pas de nouvelles
pas de question
pas de problème
pas de compte

The second thing to point out is the vowel sound in pas and chat. Listen again if you have to. The way the vowel is pronounced in these two words is used frequently in the French of Québec. You’ll hear it at the end of these words, for example: bas, cas, cadenas, and sometimes in ça and là.

Why only sometimes in ça and and not always?

We looked at the two different pronunciations of ça and here.

In the following examples, ça rhymes with pas and chat from the Martin Matte video in #961:

j’aime ça
c’est quoi ça?
fais pas ça!

But in the next examples, where ça is the subject, it sounds like the possessive adjective sa (like in sa maison):

ça s’peut pas
ça fait mal
ça commence

As for là, it rhymes with pas and chat from the Martin Matte video in #961 when used like this:

j’aime ça, là
je sais pas, là
pis là, chu parti
viens t’en là, là!
là, chu tanné!

But when is joined to an adverb with a hyphen, it sounds like the definite article la (like in la maison):

là-dessous, etc.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »