Archive for the ‘Entries #1101-1150’ Category

A woman was looking for a mosquito spray in a store in Montréal (i.e., a spray that you spray on yourself to keep mosquitoes away).

Can you guess how she said mosquito spray in French?

There are in fact two words for mosquito in French: un moustique and un maringouin. She used moustique.

How did she say spray? We’ve in fact seen it before: she called it un pouche-pouche, which is an informal term. Any sort of spray bottle might be called a pouche-pouche in colloquial language, like a spray bottle with water in it.

Perhaps you’ll remember from a past post that a mother-to-be with a slightly detached placenta asked in an online forum if it would be okay to take a dip in the pool on hot days. Another woman provided her with this advice to keep cool:

Moi, j’ai toujours un pouche-pouche d’eau dans le réfrigérateur. Quand je me peux p’us, je m’arrose de cette eau très froide et OH que ça fait du bien!
I always keep a spray bottle filled with water in the refrigerator. When I can’t take it anymore, I spray myself with the cold water and OH does it ever feel good!

The woman looking for the mosquito spray, then, called it un pouche-pouche à moustiques.

Read Full Post »

While shopping in an office supplies store in Montréal, I came across two signs for sale: one reads vente de garage, and the other vente-débarras.

Both terms refer to what’s known in English as a garage sale, which is an informal sale held by the residents of a house, usually in their driveway or on their front lawn.

At garage sales, people usually sell off whatever household items they no longer want, like books, furniture, kitchenware and blackrubberything that’s been sitting at the back of your garage for the past decade.

Is there any difference between the two French terms vente de garage and vente-débarras?

Although they both refer to a garage sale, only vente-débarras is approved by the Office québécois de la langue française. The Office encourages this term in the hope they’ll render vente de garage obsolete because it derives from English.

The term vente de garage is nowhere near obsolete, however. In regular language, it’s still the usual term used to talk about garage sales.

Read Full Post »

Let’s take a look at a general French expression (not limited to Québec), useful in conversations: d’après moi (d’après toi, etc.). We’ll look at two ways you can use this.

The first way it can be used is to emit an opinion, as in in my opinion, if you ask me, personally I think…

D’après moi, ça va marcher.
I think it’s going to work.
If you ask me, it’s going to work.
Personally, I think it’s going to work, etc.

D’après moi, il te niaise.
If you ask me, he’s putting you on (having you on, fooling you, stringing you along, joking with you, etc.). Remember: il in spoken language sounds like i’.

A second way this expression can be used is to invite someone to make a guess about something:

— T’as quel âge, toi?
— D’après toi?
— How old are you?
— How old do you think I am? (It literally means in your opinion? The person saying d’après toi? is curious to see what age the other person will guess.)

It can also be used with a sarcastic or aggressive tone:

— C’est quoi ton problème?
— D’après toi?!
— What’s your problem?
— What do you think my problem is!


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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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).

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »