Archive for June, 2016

During a French conversation in Montréal, one guy asked another if he had time to accompany him somewhere. His friend said yes because he wasn’t in a rush. Let’s look at how he said in French I’m not in a rush.

To say in a rush, he used the adjective pressé. In its full form, we can say I’m not in a rush as je ne suis pas pressé.

But I’m sure you’ve already guessed that this isn’t quite how he pronounced it. Here’s what he really said: j’pas pressé, là.

J’pas pressé is a contraction of je ne suis pas pressé. First, the ne is dropped, leaving us with je suis pas pressé. The remaining je suis can then contract to j’su’ pas (sounds like chu pas) or even further to j’pas (sounds like ch’pas). A contracted j’ makes the French ch sound before p; that’s why j’pas sounds like ch’pas.

J’su’ pas pressé, là.
J’pas pressé, là.

The  here doesn’t necessarily translate to any word in particular in English. It just helps to add a sort of nonchalance, a sort of hey, I’m not in a rush, so why not? feel to what he’s said.

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Let’s take a regular French sentence as it would be written in codified French (i.e., the standardised form of language taught in French classes, used mostly in writing, described in grammar books, etc.), and then modify it one step at a time to take it to a colloquial sounding equivalent.

Let’s use the French for he’s not scared of that.

The French for to be scared of is avoir peur de. In French, you have fear of something, so you use avoir and never être to say this.

Using avoir peur de, we can say he’s not scared of that in French as il n’a pas peur de ça.

As a first step to making this sound colloquial, let’s remove the ne in the ne pas construction because colloquial language avoids the use of ne like the plague. This gives us il a pas peur de ça.

Now that il and a come together, they can morph into a single unit sounding like ya. This gives us y’a pas peur de ça.

Finally, in colloquial language, you’ll often hear de ça pronounced as de t’ça. To say this, just put a t sound on the end of de, then say ça.

il n’a pas peur de ça
il a pas peur de ça
y’a pas peur de ça
y’a pas peur de t’ça

Let’s try another: she didn’t talk to me about that. As a starting point, we’ll use elle ne m’a pas parlé de ça.

Our first step is to remove the ne, leaving us with elle m’a pas parlé de ça.

Do you know how you you might hear the subject elle pronounced in spoken language? It can sound just like the French word à. We’ll use the spelling à’ here, where the apostrophe represents the contracted L sound of elle. This gives us à’ m’a pas parlé de ça.

Finally, we can apply the same change to de ça as in our first example above: à’ m’a pas parlé de t’ça.

elle ne m’a pas parlé de ça
elle m’a pas parlé de ça
à’ m’a pas parlé de ça
à’ m’a pas parlé de t’ça


Refresh your French or get caught up: The OffQc book 1000 Québécois French is a condensed version of all the language that appeared in the first 1000 posts on OffQc. You can buy and download it here.

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If you look up ugly in an English-French dictionary, you’ll find (amongst a few other adjectives):

laid (m.) and
laide (f.).

As an approximation, the feminine form laide sounds like the English word led; the masculine form laid sounds like led without the d on the end.

But there’s also another way to say ugly, which can be heard in colloquial language: laitte (also spelled laite), which sounds like the English word let.

Y’est ben laitte, ton dessin!
Your drawing’s really ugly!

Y’est is a contraction of il est; it sounds like yé. Ben is a contraction of bien; it sounds like the French word bain. Ben means really here.

T’es don’ ben laitte!
You’re so ugly!

T’es is a contraction of tu es; it sounds like té. Don’ is a phonetic spelling of donc, where the c is silent. Don’ and ben together before an adjective is stronger than just ben on its own. (It’s also possible to just say t’es ben laitte, of course.)

C’est trop laitte comme nom!
That’s such an ugly name!

We also saw an example of laitte in a past post. An author said that, on the sidewalks of Québec during moving season, there’s plein de vieux divans à motifs laittes (lots of old sofas with ugly designs).

Remember, laitte is a colloquial form. It’s fine during informal conversations, but not on your French exam (not unless, of course, you’re writing informal dialogue or otherwise know what you’re doing such that you can break the rules).

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A few posts ago in #1133, we looked at the word affaires, where it appeared twice in this sentence said by a man in Montréal:

On a pas d’affaires à dire des affaires d’même!
They’ve got no business saying things like that!
They’ve got no right to say stuff like that!

We also saw:

T’as pas d’affaires à dire ça!
You’ve got no business saying that!
You’ve got no right to say that!

Let’s look at another example using affaire, which you’ll want to learn because it’s useful in conversations:

L’affaire, c’est que…

We can translate this as the thing is… This expression can be used to introduce the downside to a situation.

J’comprends, mais l’affaire c’est que…
I understand, but the thing is…
I understand, it’s just that…

L’affaire, c’est que j’ai pas l’goût d’attendre deux semaines.
The thing is I don’t wanna wait two weeks.
It’s just that I don’t feel like waiting two weeks.

The expression avoir le goût de means to want (to). When you say the contracted j’ai pas l’goût (with ne omitted because this is colloquial language) say it in three syllables: j’ai / pas l’ / goût. The second syllable pas l’ sounds as though pas ends with an L.


Refresh your French or get caught up: The OffQc book 1000 Québécois French is a condensed version of all the language that appeared in the first 1000 posts on OffQc. You can buy and download it here.

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The keyword to learn to talk about being in a relationship is the masculine noun couple.

For example, to say that you’re in a relationship with someone, you can use the expression être en couple.

Ils sont en couple depuis deux mois.
They’ve been in a relationship (or: they’ve been together) for two months.

J’ai un kick sur toi, mais je suis en couple.
I’ve got a crush on you (or: I’ve got the hots for you, I really like you), but I’m in a relationship.

To say in our relationship, you can use dans notre couple.

On a des problèmes dans notre couple.
We’ve got problems in our relationship.

Pronunciation tips:

In ils sont en from the first example, the word en is in fact pronounced t’en because of the liaison. Also, colloquially, ils contracts to i’. This means ils sont en sounds as though it were written i’ son t’en.

In the second example, je suis en can be pronounced colloquially as though it were written ch’t’en, where je suis contracts to the French ch sound (like in chaise, cher, etc.). A t then comes in between the contracted ch sound and the word en: ch + t + en, said all in one syllable (chten). You’ll discover and listen to many more contractions like this in Contracted French.

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