Archive for January, 2016

A little while ago, Joyce requested we look at lyrics by Bernard Adamus. So far, we’ve looked at the wording donne-moi-z-en here, and an informal pronunciation of the subject pronoun elle here, both of which were taken from his lyrics.

Let’s look at something new from him:

un vingt dins poches

This is taken from his song Donne-moi-z’en. What does dins mean?

First, dins is pronounced as if it were written dain in French. It rhymes with the French words bain and main. In other words, the ins of dins is the nasalised in sound.

Dins is in fact a contraction. It’s a contraction of dans + les.

un vingt dins poches
= un vingt dans les poches

a twenty(-dollar bill) in her pocket (literally, a twenty in the pockets)

In another song by Bernard Adamus (Arrange-toi avec ça), he uses:

dins chars
dins parcs
dins rues

These mean in the cars, in the parks, in the streets. Dans les chars, dans les parcs, dans les rues.

What if the word after dins begins with a vowel?

dins années 50

In this case, the liaison is heard. The s transfers to the beginning of the next word. So that last example sounds like:

dins z’années 50

The s on the end of dins comes from the s of les. In its uncontracted form, the s of les would also be transferred:

dans les z’années 50

Dins is a spoken, informal usage.

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Mohammad asks about a word he heard while watching 19-2. This word is adon. He sent me the dialogue where it occurred. It went like this:

Nick : C’est un adon.
Ben : T’es sûr?
Nick : Fie-toi sur moi. Je sais que c’est poche, mais c’est juste un ostie d’adon.

Adon here means coincidence.

Nick: It’s a coincidence.
Ben: You sure?
Nick: Trust me. I know it sucks, but it’s just a fucking coincidence.

In the dialogue, we’ve got the vulgar word ostie. Note that ostie is followed by de when you’re using it like the English a fucking [noun].

un ostie d’adon (a fucking coincidence)
un ostie de menteur (a fucking liar)
un ostie de bon show (a fucking good show)
une ostie d’arnaque (a fucking scam)
une ostie de folle (a fucking madwoman)
une ostie de grosse mouche (a big fucking fly)

It’s un or une before ostie depending on the gender of the noun. Un menteurun ostie de menteur. Une arnaqueune ostie d’arnaque.

Using adon, the answer to the question in the title is c’est juste un adon. You can hear this sentence pronounced by Cynthia Dulude in this video from the Listen section. In the transcription, you’ll find it in the third paragraph.

Another way adon is used is in the expression être d’adon. Someone who’s friendly, accessible, helpful, easy to get along with, etc., can be said to be d’adon.

Y’est ben d’adon.
He’s really friendly, easy to get along with, etc. (Ben is a reduction of bien. It sounds like bain and means very, really here.)

The newest OffQc guide Entendu au Québec is now available. Read more about it here or buy and download it here in the OffQc store.

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I’m happy to put up for sale today a new OffQc guide for you – Entendu au Québec: 99 questions and answers. This guide uses genuine examples of overheard language to challenge and guide you to say things more in line with how native speakers of French from Québec say them spontaneously during conversations.

Buy and download Entendu au Québec here in the OffQc store

To create this guide, I collected 99 short, conversational French sentences highly typical of spoken language. I heard all 99 of these examples of French pronounced during real conversations in Québec.

Your job with this guide is to guess just how the speakers said these sentences in French using context and vocab clues. You’ll then check your answer by comparing it to how the Québécois speakers said it, and read the related language notes to help you understand why they said it that way.

The best way to illustrate how it works is to check out these pages taken from the guide itself. (Click on the pages for larger size.)

Table of contents and introduction


Sample question and answer


Another sample question


I’ll let you check the answer to that one in the book!

In total, there are 99 questions and answers like this.

Given that many of you are learning French in places quite far from Québec with little to no access to French speakers, getting feedback on your French isn’t easy. By attempting a guess in French and then comparing it with how a speaker from French really said it spontaneously in a genuine conversation, you’ll have the opportunity to gauge how close (or how far off!) your French comes to that of the natives.

As I mentioned in the book itself, don’t be concerned if you find that your attempts rarely match how the speakers themselves said it. That’s kind of the point! This guide is meant to help you identify where you might be saying things in ways that don’t sound colloquial or natural in French. The more mistakes you make and catch, the more you’ll learn. So don’t worry about making mistakes when you work through the guide.

If you choose to work through the guide a second time, you’ll find your guesses are much more accurate.

You can buy and download this guide immediately in the OffQc store, along with all the others. (Follow the link below.) It’s in PDF format. Payment is by credit card or PayPal.

Buy and download Entendu au Québec here in the OffQc store

Bonne lecture!

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On the radio, a woman who lives off the island of Montréal, in the suburbs, talked about how it takes her a really long time to get into the city on snowy mornings.

From the radio studio in Montréal, she said:

Ça me prend un temps fou pour m’en venir à Montréal.
It takes me forever to come to Montréal.

Un temps foua crazy time — is a really long time, forever.

S’en venir means to come. Maybe you’ve heard people use viens-t’en! before. It means come!, come here/along!


A while back, I mentioned that I was working on a new guide about contractions heard in spoken language. I’m still working on it. But even before that one comes out, I’ll have a different guide ready for you. This one uses a question-and-answer format and overheard language to strengthen your knowledge of spoken French. It should be ready for you to buy in the OffQc store in the next few days. Stay tuned; details to come.

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Take a look at these examples of French:

– à part le matin
– à m’tanne avec ça
– à shake d’l’épaule

All three phrases come from the song Donne-moi-z’en by Bernard Adamus. (Do you remember we looked at the meaning of donne-moi-z-en here?)

In the phrases above, you might think à is the preposition à, but in fact it’s not. This à is an informal pronunciation of the subject pronoun elle that you’ll often hear in spoken language. (It sounds just like the preposition à, though.)

The phrases above are spoken equivalents of:

– elle part le matin
– elle me tanne avec ça
– elle shake de l’épaule

Knowing then that à is an informal pronunciation of elle, do you now understand the meaning of the three phrases?

à part le matin
she leaves in the morning

à m’tanne avec ça
she gets on my case about it, she goes on and on about it to me, etc.

à shake d’l’épaule
she shakes her shoulder (she shakes from the shoulder)

The informal verb shaker is pronounced like the English shake + é. The conjugated form shake sounds like the English shake.

In à m’tanne avec ça, the vowel of me has dropped. Shift the m’ to the end of à, then say tanne.

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In #1060, we started looking at how en is used in French. From that series of posts, you’ll remember that, loosely speaking, en means some, (some) of it, (some) of them.

J’en veux.
I want some.

J’en veux un.
I want one of them.

The meaning of donne-moi-z-en, then, isn’t too hard to figure out:

Give me some.
Give me some of it.
Give me some of them, etc.

Donne-moi-z-en deux.
Give me two of them.

But what’s that zed doing in there?

It’s there because it’s providing a buffer between the words moi and en, to avoid saying donne-moi en.

Although you’ll hear donne-moi-z-en, it’s important to remember that this is considered an informal usage heard in spoken language. It’s okay to use it with friends during conversations, but don’t use it on your French exam if you’re expected to use standard written grammar. In this case, use m’en instead of moi-z-en. Donne-m’en deux. Give me two of them.

Inspiration for this post: Donne-moi-z’en, Bernard Adamus

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Imagine you’re listening to a song (une chanson in French or, informally, une toune), and you want to tell your friend that it’s good.

Which one will you say?

C’est bon, or
C’est bonne.

Whether you’ve got the word une chanson or une toune in mind, the French word for song is feminine. So it must be c’est bonne, right?

Except… it’s not.

C’est bonne is never used in French. Never. Jamais. As in never-ever-ever with a cherry on top. None of these are ever used either: c’est chaude, c’est froide, c’est mauvaise, c’est grande, c’est petite, c’est belle. Nope!

After c’est, it’s always the unmarked (i.e., masculine) form that’s used: c’est chaud, c’est froid, c’est mauvais, c’est grand, c’est petit, c’est beau. Always. Even when referring to something whose name is a feminine noun in French.

If you’re talking about hot soup (soupe is feminine), you’ll say c’est chaud. If you’re talking about a little cup (tasse is feminine), you’ll say c’est petit. If you’re talking about cold water (eau is feminine), you’ll say c’est froid.

Look now at this example using the feminine toune:

C’est-tu bon, c’te toune-là?
Is that song good?
(literally, is it good, that song?)

C’te is a contraction of cette. It sounds like te with an s sound on the front of it.

As for c’est-tu, it means the same thing as est-ce que c’est. C’est-tu is heard very frequently in spoken language. The tu of c’est-tu only serves to turn c’est into a yes-no question, like est-ce que does. This tu doesn’t mean you. The unmarked form of the adjective is also used after c’est-tu. So you ask c’est-tu bon?, and never c’est-tu bonne?

The same applies to c’était, of course. You don’t say c’était bonne; you say c’était bon, even when referring to something whose name is a feminine noun in French.


As Cheyne mentioned in the comments, the reason the masculine form is used is because the adjective is agreeing with its subject, which is ce. (C’est is a contraction of ce est.)

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