Archive for the ‘Entries #1001-1050’ Category

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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More French from the radio today — a radio host said this about a song she’d just played on air:

Eille, c’est què’qu’chose, là!
Hey, it’s really great [that song]!
Hey, it’s really somethin’ [that song]!

Què’qu’chose is a contraction of quelque chose, meaning something. This contracted form sounds as if it were written quèc chose in French, or like keck shows using English spelling.

If something’s què’qu’chose, it’s great, remarkable, or just like in English, “something.”

Eille, an interjection meaning hey, sounds like the eille ending of the French word abeille, meaning bee.

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During a conversation, someone asked a French equivalent of do you want to try? Does how you’d have asked this question in French resemble the following?

Est-ce que ça te tente d’essayer?
Do you want to try?

That’s how the question was asked, using the verb tenter. Although to want can be said in French using the verb vouloir (e.g., tu veux, you want), it’s frequently said using tenter instead (e.g., ça te tente, you want).

Tenter is cognate with the English verb to tempt. So, if it helps you to analyse this verb, the expression ça te tente is like saying in English it tempts you. Does it tempt you to try? Just understand that the verb tenter translates better here as to want.

Ça me tente. I want to.
Ça me tente pas. I don’t want to.

Ça te tente and ça me tente can contract to ça t’tente and ça m’tente in spoken language, which sound like çat tente and çam tente. Ça m’tente pas!

The speaker asked the question with est-ce que, but don’t forget that yes-no questions are often asked using tu in spoken language:

Ça t’tente-tu d’essayer?

Don’t confuse the tu in that last question with the second-person singular meaning you. Instead, this tu turns a statement (ça t’tente) into a yes-no question (ça t’tente-tu?).

You can hear the question ça t’tente? (but asked without the yes-no tu) here, in the third video.

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During a conversation, someone said:

J’p’us capab’.

It means I can’t take it anymore, I can’t deal with it anymore, I can’t stand it anymore, I’m sick of it, I’ve had it, etc.

Looking at j’p’us capab’, you can see there are a number of contractions in there (apostrophes), so let’s look here at what those contractions are. Then we’ll look at the pronunciation of j’p’us capab’; it’s not nearly as hard as it looks.

First, let’s back up: je ne suis plus capable is the full version of this example, with all words written in their uncontracted form. It literally means I am no longer capable. We’ll start from this full form.

Je ne suis plus capable.

The final le of words like capable, table, diable, etc., can drop in colloquial speech, so capable can be pronounced informally as capab’. Now we have:

Je ne suis plus capab’.

Ne plus is a negator meaning no more, not anymore, no longer. The ne of ne plus drops in colloquial language, leaving just plus. Now we have:

Je suis plus capab’.

Plus sounds like plu. Informally, plus can contract to p’us, which sounds like pu. Now we have:

Je suis p’us capab’.

Now comes the contraction of je suis. Je suis contracts all the way down to j’ here. Now we have:

J’p’us capab’.

Right, so that takes us to what the speaker said. But how do you pronounce j’p’us anyway? When a contracted j’ comes before a p as it does here, it sounds like the French ch (like the ch in chez). So here’s how our example sounds:

chpu capab

It’s really quite fascinating — we went from seven syllables (je ne suis plus capable) all the way down to three (j’p’us capab’). If you’ve ever wondered why you struggle so much to understand spoken French, that’s probably one of the biggest reasons why — contractions.

I’m working on a new e-guide for sale — this one will be about all the main contractions you need to know to understand spoken French as it’s used in Québec. When it’s ready, it’ll go up for sale in the OffQc store with the other guides, which you should go buy now (as in là, là) if you haven’t done so already, of course. 😀

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The OQLF favours two words for hamburgerun hamburger and un hambourgeois, and they recognise an informal usage: un burger.

The thing about words favoured by the OQLF, though, is that they aren’t necessarily the words in use. Hambourgeois was created to replace hamburger, but it never took on. So, in actual usage, we really only have:

  • un hamburger
  • un burger

Use caution if you consult the Grand dictionnaire terminologiqueIt doesn’t reflect how French is really spoken in Québec — it reflects how the OQLF would like to see French spoken in Québec. It’s a collection of a) words in use that they approve, b) words in use that they disapprove, and c) words that are used little or not at all but that ideally they’d like to see catch on, like hambourgeois.

A hamburger restaurant called Harvey’s has this as its slogan in Québec:

à chacun son burger

À chacun son burger literally means to each his (own) burger, but more naturally it means something like your burger, your way. That’s because you can choose what you want on your burger at Harvey’s.

Burger is pronounced as in English (beurgueur), with English r‘s and all. It still uses normal French stress, though (i.e., stress on the second syllable).

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I tried on an article of clothing in a store recently. When I came out of the cabin after trying it on, a woman working at the counter asked me if it fit.

Any idea how she might’ve said it?

She asked:

Ça vous faisait?

When talking about clothes, faire can be used in the sense of to fit.

If you wanted to ask a friend does it fit?, you might say:

Est-ce que ça te fait?
Est-ce que ça fait?

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A reader of OffQc asks how to say looking forward (to it) and looking forward to the weekend. You can use j’ai hâte, which means I’m looking forward to it or I can’t wait. If you want to say what it is that you’re looking forward to, use the preposition à before it:

J’ai hâte à la fin de semaine.
I’m looking forward to the weekend.
I can’t wait for the weekend.

J’ai hâte à lundi.
I’m looking forward to Monday.
I can’t wait for Monday.

J’ai hâte à l’été.
I’m looking forward to the summer.
I can’t wait for the summer.

But use de before a verb in the infinitive:

J’ai hâte de partir en vacances.
I’m looking forward to leaving on holiday.
I can’t wait to leave on holiday.

J’ai hâte de faire ça.
I’m looking forward to doing it.
I can’t wait to do it.

Use que before a subject, followed by the subjunctive:

J’ai hâte que tu viennes.
I’m looking forward to you coming.
I can’t wait for you to come.

J’ai hâte qu’il fasse chaud.
I’m looking forward to it being hot out.
I can’t wait for it to be hot out.

J’ai hâte à la fin de semaine!


Hâte sounds a little like the English word ought. That’s because the h is silent, and the â resembles something falling in between the English aw and ow sounds. (That’s the Québécois pronunciation; a European speaker pronounces hâte like the English word at.)

Fin de semaine is pronounced spontaneously as fin d’semaine. But when this contraction occurs, the d’ is in fact pronounced like a t. This means fin d’semaine sounds like fin t’semaine. To say it, say fin with a t sound on the end of it, then say semaine.

À la, maybe you’ll remember, often contracts to à’ in spontaneous speech. (It sounds like an ever-so-slightly longer à.) This means à la fin de semaine can be pronounced spontaneously as à’ fin t’semaine.

Try saying j’ai hâte à la fin de semaine again, using this knowledge.

Hâte –> haste

The circumflex accent in French (e.g., in words like forêt, arrêt, hâte) can replace what used to be an s. English conserved that s: forest, arrest, haste. J’ai hâte literally means “I have haste.”

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