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You probably know that all four of these French verbs can be used in the sense of to live, to reside: habiter, vivre, résider, demeurer.

There’s a fifth verb that can be used, however. It’s a colloquial usage.

During a conversation, a woman said in French an equivalent of I don’t live far. She didn’t use any of the four verbs listed above. She used instead the fifth, colloquial one.

Here’s what she said:

J’reste pas loin.
I don’t live far.
(or: I live nearby.)

The verb rester can be used in the same sense as the other four above.

Note also that she didn’t say je ne reste pas loin; she said j’reste pas loin. The ne was omitted, and the vowel sound of je dropped.

Additionally, you’ll notice that when reste is pronounced spontaneously, it sounds as though it were spelled resse. This is because the final st consonant cluster gets simplified into just an s sound.

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The OffQc book C’est what? will help you get your bearings in the colloquial variety of French spoken in Québec and pave the way for further independent study. You can buy and download it here.

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In the chapter of strange things you can see in Montréal: customers at a supermarket removing all the leaves and fibres from cobs of corn before buying them, and throwing it all on the ground, there in the supermarket. Good thing they don’t do the same with their banana peels!

In Québec, the term blé d’Inde means corn. Un épi is a cob. The verb éplucher means to peel (away the leaves).

This means we can say éplucher un épi de blé d’Inde or, more simply, éplucher un blé d’Inde and éplucher un épi.

As for customers throwing leaves on the ground, we can say ils jettent les feuilles par terre, but another good verb to know, heard in the French of Québec, is garrocher. It means the same thing as jeter.

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Here are three expressions that have come up in conversations recently, and which are usually underused or unknown by learners of French.

1. DE BONNE HEURE

De bonne heure means early. Arriver de bonne heure, to arrive early. Se lever de bonne heure, to get up early.

Y’est d’bonne heure un peu, mais j’vas fêter ça quand meme.
(=Il est de bonne heure un peu, mais je vais fêter ça quand même.)
It’s a bit early, but I’m gonna celebrate it anyway.

Y’est d’bonne heure sounds like yéd / bonne / heure. The conjugation j’vas rhymes with pas. The j and v are said together, with no vowel sound between, as jva. J’vas is a colloquial form of je vais.

2. ÇA M’TENTE PAS

We’ve looked often at this expression, but there’s a very good reason — it’s frequently used in conversations, and you need to know it. Instead of saying j’veux pas all the time, you can try to work in ça m’tente pas.

Des fois ça m’tente pas.
(=Des fois [parfois] ça ne me tente pas.)
Sometimes I don’t want to.

Ça m’tente pas d’sortir.
(=Ça ne me tente pas de sortir.)
I don’t wanna go out.

To pronounce ça m’tente, imagine the m as being on the end of ça instead: çam / tente / pas. The same goes for pas d’sortir; imagine the d as being on the end of pas instead: çam / tente / pad / sortir.

3. FAUDRAIT BEN QUE

Here’s a colloquial expression that might be used in place of j’devrais, tu devrais, etc. It’s a short form of il faudrait bien que. It means (I, you…) really should (do), (I, you…) really must be (doing). This expression is followed by the subjunctive.

Ça m’tente pas trop, mais faudrait ben qu’j’me lève.
(=Ça ne me tente pas trop, mais il faudrait bien que je me lève.)
I don’t really wanna, but I really should get up.

Ben sounds like the French word bain. Ben qu’ sounds like bain with a k on the end of it. In j’me, the j and m are said together, with no vowel sound in between: faudraitbaink / jme / lève.

Faudrait ben qu’tu’m’racontes ça.
(=Il faudrait bien que tu me racontes ça.)
You really gotta tell me all about it.

You’d say this last one as: faudrait / baink / tum / racontes / ça. Of course, you’ll remember that the t of tu in fact sounds like ts when pronounced by the Québécois (like the ts in the English words cats, bats, hats): faudrait / baink / tsum / racontes / ça.

With these expressions in mind, can you say the following in French?

I don’t really want to leave early.
I really should do that, even if I don’t wanna.
I really gotta start getting up early.

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Lots of contractions in this post — learn how words contract in spoken Québécois French (with audio): read Contracted French

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