Archive for July, 2015

An expression used frequently in French is à un moment donné. It means at some point, at a certain point, at one point, etc.

À un moment donné, j’ai dû arrêter.
I had to stop at one point.

À un moment donné, on va devoir prendre une décision.
At some point, we’re going to have to make a decision.

Yesterday, while listening to the radio, I was reminded of how this expression might be pronounced in colloquial language.

I don’t remember what the speaker said exactly so I can’t provide it here, but he pronounced à un moment donné as what sounded like amadné.

I did manage to find an example of amadné here on Urbania:

Tu sais, on pourrait prendre un verre amadné. Moi, c’est Étienne, toi?
You know, we can go for a drink sometime. I’m Étienne, and you?

Gabriel Deschambault,
«Faut qu’un gars se refasse»,
Urbania, 12 août 2013.

Another thing of interest in that quote is:

Moi, c’est Étienne.

This is how you can introduce yourself in French.

Entirely unrelated:

When I took the photo above of clothes hanging on the clothesline, la corde à linge, it reminded me of the expression passer la nuit sur la corde à linge, which literally means to spend the night on the clothesline but can be used figuratively in the sense of to have a rough (sleepless) night.

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Can you describe your new boyfriend as being too clingy? What about cuddling up to a movie? Can you tell someone you don’t look your age?

I went straight to the source for these examples… personal ads online!

Here are 30 random expressions and phrases on the topic of dating and long-term relationships — une relation à long terme — to add to your knowledge.

1. écouter un film collés sur le divan
to cuddle up to a movie on the sofa

2. je cherche mon âme soeur
I’m looking for my soul mate

3. je suis de type plutôt casanier
I’m pretty much a stay-at-home kind of guy

4. dans mes temps libres
in my free time

5. aller souper au restaurant
to go out for supper

6. faire des activités de plein air
to do outdoor activities

7. je suis ouvert à presque tout
I’m open to almost anything

8. au plaisir de te lire
looking forward to hearing from you

9. j’aime mon divan au plus haut point
I absolutely love my sofa

10. j’aime prendre soin des autres
I like to take care of others

11. j’adore être entourée de ma famille
I like to be surrounded by my family

12. je suis une personne très sociable
I’m a very sociable person

13. j’aime les bons restos
I like good restaurants

14. j’aime apprendre et échanger sur de nombreux sujets
I like to learn and talk about numerous subjects

15. je ne fais pas mon âge
I don’t look my age

16. je recherche une relation à long terme
I’m looking for a long-term relationship

17. je suis un grand cinéphile
I’m a huge movie fan

18. je recherche une femme qui aime faire des sorties
I’m looking for a woman who likes to go out

19. il faut que je sois attirée pour que cela clique
I have to be attracted (to you) for it to click (between us)

20. je suis une femme douce, calme, affectueuse et attentionnée
I’m a gentle, calm, affectionate and caring woman

21. je marche tous les jours, ça me permet de me garder en forme
I walk every day, this allows me to stay in shape

22. les hommes mariés ou ceux sans photo, c’est non!
married men or those without a photo are a no!

23. j’ai une bonne écoute
I’m a good listener

24. je suis doué avec mes mains
I’m good with my hands

25. j’aime beaucoup lire, écrire et chanter en coupant mon gazon
I really like to read, write and sing while cutting my lawn

26. j’ai un pied-à-terre en campagne
I’ve got a pied-à-terre in the country

Pied-à-terre is pronounced pié-à-terre or pié-t’à-terre; it’s a secondary residence for occasional use. In the sense of “in the countryside,” you’ll come across the expressions à la campagne and en campagne, but some resources (like the BDL here) say that en campagne should only refer to being in a publicity campaign, electoral campaign, etc., and à la campagne to being in the countryside. The author of this example sentence didn’t follow this convention.

27. je ne me prend pas trop au sérieux
I don’t take myself too seriously

28. j’aime me perdre dans mes idées
I like to get lost in my thoughts

29. je ne veux pas quelqu’un de trop collant!
I don’t want someone who’s too clingy!

30. j’aime ça quand ça bouge
I like action

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If you take the métro in Montréal, I’m sure you’ve seen some new ads for an energy gum with images of people’s faces all scrunched up. Here are two of them.

What does the text on them mean?

One of the ads says:
Avant de frapper ton mur!

Another one says:
Avant de cogner des clous!

These ads are for an energy gum, so the text in both is telling us that we can chew it if we need a boost. More specifically, avant de frapper ton mur literally means before hitting your wall (i.e., before you reach the point where you can’t go on anymore); avant de cogner des clous literally means before striking nails (i.e., before you nod off to sleep).

frapper son mur
to reach one’s breaking point
to not be able to go on
to get stopped in one’s tracks

This explains why the people in the ads have their faces all scrunched up — they’ve “hit their wall.” The expression frapper un mur also exists, used in the sense of to hit an obstacle.

cogner des clous
to nod off to sleep

Think of a commuter on public transport — his head is bobbing up and down as he falls asleep, wakes up, falls asleep, wakes up… It’s as if his head were a hammer striking nails.

Cogner rhymes with the informal verb pogner that we’ve looked at many times on OffQc. They sound like [kɔɲe] and [pɔɲe]. You can hear pogner pronounced here in this video.

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On a wall in a shopping centre in Montréal, I came across these blocks of text providing reasons to go shopping there. Let’s look at two of them.


C’est la fête de ma blonde.
It’s my girlfriend’s birthday.

Sushi avec la gang du bureau.
Sushi with the office crew.

Fête can be used to refer to a birthday. C’est ma fête aujourd’hui, for example, means it’s my birthday today. C’est la fête de ma blonde means it’s my girlfriend’s birthday, where une blonde is a girlfriend. Un gâteau de fête is a birthday cake. Bonne fête! Happy birthday!

Une blonde is a girlfriend, and un chum is a boyfriend. Blonde and chum might also be used to refer to a spouse. On the Wikitionnaire page for blonde, we find this usage note:

Traditionnellement, au Québec, les mots chum et blonde servent à désigner l’ami et l’amie de cœur, par opposition à mari/femme, époux/épouse ou conjoint/conjointe pour les couples mariés. Toutefois, depuis les années 1990, il est fréquent d’entendre des couples mariés utiliser les mots chum et blonde pour désigner le conjoint. Ce phénomène est attribuable à une image «vieux jeu» du mariage et à une volonté de ne pas révéler clairement si le couple est officiellement marié ou non. Cet usage est assez fréquent mais critiqué par certains qui le voient comme une dévalorisation du mariage.

In short, it says that chum and blonde were traditionally used to refer to boyfriends and girlfriends; however, since the 1990s, some married couples may also use them to avoid revealing their marital status or because other terms, like mari and femme, strike them as sounding old-fashioned. Some people see this usage as a corrosion of values regarding marriage.

Gang here is a feminine noun pronounced like its English equivalent. It can be used to refer to a group of friends (e.g., sortir avec la gang). La gang du bureau is an informal way to refer to one’s office co-workers.

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I spotted this Pages Jaunes ad in Montréal, which reads:

Rosemont compte 18 déménageurs. Et beaucoup trop d’escaliers pour s’en passer. There are 18 moving companies in Rosemont. And far too many staircases to be able to do without (the movers).

Un déménageur is a mover.

Rosemont is a neighbourhood in Montréal.

As for les escaliers, if you’ve visited Montréal, then you know there are lots of them here and that they’re very much part of the city’s look.

Screenshot of Google results showing outdoor staircases in Montréal

Screenshot of Google results showing outdoor staircases in Montréal

What does the expression se passer de mean? It means to do without, to go without. S’en passer then is to do without it/them, etc.

Je ne suis plus capable de me passer de mes verres de contact.
I can’t do without my contact lenses anymore.

Ça fait deux jours que je dois m’en passer.
I’ve had to go without (it, them) for two days.

Remember that passer is pronounced with â, as if it were written pâsser. You can hear the conjugated form passe pronounced here when Korine Côté says y’a une ambulance qui passe, there’s an ambulance going by.

Back to the ad, it’s saying that there are so many staircases in Rosemont that you’ll want to take advantage of the movers located there.

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