For those of you working through the new Contracted French book or who are thinking of buying it, check out the song called Octobre by Les Cowboys Fringants. (I can’t find an official version of the video to put here, but you’ll find the song on YouTube.)
The first four lines are:
Y’a tout l’temps quat’ ronds d’allumés
Su’l’feu d’mes ambitions
À force de m’dépasser
J’me perds moi-même dans l’horizon
In just these four lines, there are seven very important informal contractions to know. All of them are explored in Contracted French.
Can you identify the informal contractions?
Y’a  tout l’temps  quat’  ronds d’allumés
Su’l’feu  d’mes  ambitions
À force de m’dépasser 
J’me  perds moi-même dans l’horizon
If you’re working with Contracted French right now, here’s where you’ll find info about these kinds of contractions:
- y’a, chapter 3
- tout l’temps, chapter 5
- quat’, chapter 12
- su’l’feu, chapter 5
- d’mes, chapter 6
- de m’dépasser, chapter 7
- j’me, chapter 7
In the book, you’ll discover how to form these contractions yourself in similar phrases. I also explain in detail how to pronounce the contractions, and these explanations are backed up with audio so you can listen to the contractions too.
For example, de me dépasser and de m’dépasser don’t sound the same. The full de me dépasser has five syllables, whereas the contracted de m’dépasser has four. It’s these details that make your French sound natural if you apply them yourself when you speak (and unnatural or stilted if you don’t apply them). It’s also these details that make listening to French so challenging for the uninitiated.
If you take the lyrics above and rework them into full, uncontracted form, here’s what you get:
Il y a tout le temps quatre ronds d’allumés
Sur le feu de mes ambitions
À force de me dépasser
Je me perds moi-même dans l’horizon
rond, burner, element (like on a stove)
à force de, due to the effort of, through (my) effort of
me dépasser, to outdo myself
A very literal translation:
There are always four burners lit
On the fire of my ambitions
By always outdoing myself
I lose myself in the horizon
Sur le feu de mes contracts to su’l’feu d’mes. It goes from five syllables (in full form) to just three (in contracted form). Can you say su’l’feu d’mes in three syllables?
Contractions are a challenging area to master in French. Give yourself lots of time for contractions to become part of your usual French. Remember, keep listening to as much spoken French as you can; give yourself as many opportunities as possible for them to sink in.
Now that you know je me perds contracts to j’me perds, can you say how je me donne contracts? What about je me dis and je me suis? (Don’t forget that suis can take on contracted forms too! This is also dealt with in Contracted French and its mp3 files.)