Archive for the ‘Entries #151-200’ Category

Deux secondes… (#186)

Imagine you share an apartment with a friend.

You’re in your room working away on your computer when your friend calls out your name from somewhere else in the apartment.

You want to let your friend know that he or she is going to have to hold on a second because you’re busy with something else.

Deux secondes!

By telling someone “two seconds,” you’re telling them to “hang on a second.” (Just one second in English, but two in French!).

Rather than just sticking with the same old attends!, you can try working deux secondes into your vocabulary when speaking informally with French-speaking friends.

To help you pronounce it more naturally, say:


[This entry was inspired by the series Trauma, “Douleur et violence,” season 2, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 4 January 2011.]

Read Full Post »

Oui allô? (#185)

When we answer the phone in French, we often do it in one of two ways:

The first is with allô?

The second is with oui allô?

You’ve probably already learned the first one, but the second one is used frequently too. You can use either one if you’re answering your phone in French.

When we say oui allô?, there’s no pause after oui. It’s pronounced as though it were all one word: ouiallô?

Read Full Post »

In the series Les Parent, Louis and Natalie are talking about the differences between boys and girls.

At one point, Natalie says that girls have more intelligence émotionnelle than boys. Obviously, her husband Louis doesn’t agree! (Neither do I; c’est vraiment n’importe quoi!)

Part of Louis’ response to Natalie was:


This was Louis’ way of saying “ooooo (watch what you’re saying)” or “ouch!” A little difficult to describe how iiiiiiii sounds, but it tends to start higher and then drop. It’s often accompanied by a sour look on the face.

Can we call iiiiiiii a word??? I don’t know, but it definitely has a meaning!

Other times, you may hear speakers use this sound when they hear unfortunate news.


-J’ai coulé mon examen. (I flunked my exam.)
-iiiiiiii! (=Ouch!)

[This entry was inspired by the character Louis in Les Parent, “Traitement de canal,” season 3, episode 20, 14 March 2011.]

Read Full Post »

That’s nonsense! Whatever!
Yeah, right!!!

I’m sure you already know that the French expression n’importe quoi very often means “anything” in English.


Je suis prêt à faire n’importe quoi pour toi.
I’m willing to do anything for you.

But did you know that you can also use the expression n’importe quoi to show your disbelief about something you think is nonsense?


C’est n’importe quoi ce que tu dis!
What you’re saying is nonsense!

Ils disent vraiment n’importe quoi.
They really don’t know what they’re talking about.

Voyons, c’est n’importe quoi!
But that’s ridiculous! that’s nonsense!

N’importe quoi!!
Whatever!! Yeah, right!!

[This entry was inspired by the character Olivier in Les Parent, “Traitement de canal,” season 3, episode 20, 14 March 2011. Here, Olivier said that people on TV don’t know what they’re talking about, qu’ils disent n’importe quoi.]

Read Full Post »

Osti que c’est bon… Asti que ça m’énerve… Esti que t’es cave…

Osti, asti and esti are all vulgar renditions of hostie (le pain bénit). In the examples above, osti que, esti que and asti que could all be translated with “goddamn” in English.

Osti que c’est bon.
Goddamn that’s good.

Asti que ça m’énerve.
Goddamn that annoys me.

Esti que t’es cave.
Goddamn you’re stupid.

Osti que, asti que and esti que are all on the same level of vulgarity. You may also see osti spelled as ostie or hostie, and asti/esti as astie/estie.

Read Full Post »

Montréal à vélo (#181)

Nicer weather is on the way, and that means the streets of Montreal will soon be full of cyclists qui se promènent en vélo. Many of those cyclists will be riding a bike from une station BIXI. Une station BIXI is where you can borrow a bike in exchange for a fee. You can see an image here. If you don’t have a bike of your own, you can always prendre un vélo BIXI instead.

But… cyclists and drivers aren’t always the best of friends. On 98,5 FM yesterday morning, listeners were reminded by Cécile Gladel of some of the dangers that come along with cycling in a city like Montreal.

One of those dangers:

Les portes qui s’ouvrent!
Opening doors!

That’s right — you’re riding along gleefully when, all of a sudden, il y a un automobiliste qui ouvre la porte de sa voiture. Il ne regarde même pas dans le rétroviseur. Ayoille! The last thing you want to do is foncer dans une porte qui s’ouvre. Ouch!

What do you do? Pour éviter la porte, vous faites un petit écart, or a “little swerve.” But guess what? The driver on your other side risks running into a gaping Montreal-style pothole, un gros nid-de-poule! Et, bien sûr, pour éviter ce gros nid-de-poule, l’automobiliste vous coupe la route: he cuts you off!

Luckily, some parts of Montréal are equipped with des pistes cyclables, or bike paths. Mais même lorsque vous utilisez une piste cyclable, you still need to watch out for those automobilistes qui vous coupent la route when you pass through an intersection.

Some drivers won’t check their blind spot, l’angle mort, before making a turn at an intersection. If the driver doesn’t see you quand vous arrivez dans l’angle mort de l’automobiliste — paf! vous foncez dans la voiture!

On 98,5 FM, Cécile Gladel reminded cyclists de ne pas rouler sur les trottoirs (to not ride on the sidewalks) et de ne pas rouler à contresens dans une rue à sens unique (and to not ride against the traffic in a one-way street).

Amusez-vous bien, mais soyez vigilants dans la jungle urbaine!

[This entry was inspired by Marie Plourde and Cécile Gladel, Isabelle le matin, 98,5 FM, Montreal, 4 April 2011.]

Read Full Post »

Super le fun! (#180)

Dominique from 30 vies sees his girlfriend in front of the lockers at school. He notices that she’s not herself and seems really down.

Dominique wants to know what’s up with her. He tells her that normally she’s super le fun, but right now she’s not.

Do you remember that le fun is used informally in French the same way English speakers say “fun” (without the article)?

Ça va être le fun.
C’était le fun!
C’est une ville le fun.

Dominique made le fun stronger by adding super in front of it: super le fun.

Ça va être super le fun.
C’était super le fun!
C’est une ville super le fun!

Even people can be le fun or, as Dominique said, super le fun.

Elle est super le fun.
Mes colocs sont super le fun!

(un, une coloc = informal for “roommate”)

Don’t forget that le in front of fun!

[This entry was inspired by the character Dominique in 30 vies, season 1, episode 29, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 28 February 2011.]

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »