Archive for the ‘Entries #201-250’ Category

Mettons que… (#260)

Gabrielle, a school teacher, tells a colleague:

J’suis contente que ça se calme dans ma classe parce que, côté famille là, mettons que… mettons que ça se corse.

[Said by the character Gabrielle in 30 vies, season 1, episode 54, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 12 April 2011.]

In this scene from 30 vies, Gabrielle explains that she’s happy that things have calmed down in her class, because at home, things are getting complicated.

OK, but what does mettons que mean? It’s another way of saying disons que, or “let’s say that.”

Côté famille, mettons que ça se corse.
At home, let’s just say things are getting difficult.

In other contexts, mettons que can mean “take for example that” or “suppose that.” You can find a good example of this here, on Wikébec. If you haven’t seen this website before, you’ll find it useful for learning more Quebec French.

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Just some random stuff… I could make this list even longer, but I’ll keep it to six items!

1. Alleys. The atmosphere in them is so different to the world going on in the main streets.

2. The Canal de Lachine. I especially like the part that goes from Farine Five Roses to around marché Atwater.

3. Rust. Montreal’s got lots of it. I like rusty old buildings because they have a story to tell. Silo no. 5… majestueux!

4. The Victoria Bridge. Not only is it stunning, but I also like the humming sound that car tires make on it.

5. Lebanese food. Don’t give me poutine; give me shawarma.

6. The sound that the metro trains make as they pull out of a station. (But I guess that will disappear when the new trains come. I like our old trains. I’ll be sad to see them go.)

And you? What do you love about Montreal?

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Quand ça? (#249)

In a scene from 30 vies, social worker Karine finds out that a student named Blaise has had another epileptic attack. She wants to know when it happened. She asks in French:

Quand ça?

Don’t be surprised to hear ça after question words such as quand, qui, comment, où, pourquoi. When speaking informally, this ça can denote surprise or help reinforce the question.


-Je pars en France.
-Quand ça?

-Le magasin est tout près d’ici.
-Où ça?

-Quelqu’un m’a téléphoné.
-Qui ça?

-Je l’ai vu hier.
-Qui ça?

-J’ai vu ton frère.
-Quand ça?

-Il veut nous aider.
-Comment ça?

-Je sais pas.
-Comment ça, tu sais pas?*

* “What do you mean you don’t know?” You can read more examples of comment ça used like this in entry #290.

[This entry was inspired by the character Karine in 30 vies, season 1, episode 51, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 6 April 2011.]

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T’es malade, toi! (#248)

Yet again, walking down Sainte-Catherine in Montreal provided me with inspiration for a new entry!

A teenager said to his friend:

T’es malade, toi!

He wasn’t commenting on his friend’s health — no, instead he was telling him that he thinks he’s crazy…

t’es malade = t’es fou = yer crazy!

(Remember, t’es is an informal way of pronouncing tu es.)

You may also hear malade used to describe events:

C’est malade, ya* du monde partout ici!
It’s crazy, there are people everywhere here!

C’était malade, son party!
His party was wild! sick! amazing!

* ya is an informal pronunciation of il y a

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Karine is a social worker at the école du Vieux-Havre, in the TV series 30 vies. She’s having trouble with a colleague at work.

She’s upset with the way she was treated by her colleague and says that he is bête avec elle. In other words, he’s rude or unfriendly to her.

être bête avec quelqu’un
to be rude, unfriendly to someone

Mes voisins sont bêtes avec moi.
My neighbours are rude, unfriendly to me.

La serveuse a été bête avec moi.
The waitress was rude, unfriendly to me.

If someone is bête avec quelqu’un, he’s unfriendly, impolite, talks in a harsh way and could even be described as being mean or nasty.

[This entry was inspired by the character Karine in 30 vies, season 1, episode 51, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 6 April 2011.]

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I paid five bucks for it (#246)

P.-A., Carlos, Rémi and Steve from the show Les Invincibles have agreed to a pact. As part of the pact, all four are now wearing a cheesy “SuperWatch Plus,” a blue watch given to them by Steve.

In one scene, we see P.-A. getting dressed in the bedroom. His girlfriend is in bed, and she’s checking out his blue SuperWatch. She asks him if he bought the watch himself.

P.-A. doesn’t want to reveal anything about the pact, so he responds: “I paid five bucks for it.” You remember what informal word you’ll hear in Quebec to refer to a dollar, right? (Hint: une piasse)

So, you know that “five bucks” is cinq piasses. Can you say informally in French “I paid five bucks for it” the way P.-A. did?

Here comes the answer… don’t look yet if you haven’t guessed!


I paid five bucks for it.
J’ai payé ça cinq piasses.

To avoid talking about the pact with his girlfriend, here’s what P.-A. said in full:

J’ai payé ça cinq piasses… c’est pour le fun.
I paid five bucks for it… it’s (just) for fun.

Go further:

Combien tu as payé ça?
Combien t’as payé ça? (informal pronunciation)
How much did you pay for it/for that?

Combien tu as payé cette montre?
Combien t’as payé cette montre? (informal pronunciation)
How much did you pay for this watch?

[This entry was inspired by the character P.-A. in Les Invincibles, season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 14 September 2005.]

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In an article from Métro entitled Le bel homme vide*, Juliette (no surname given) writes about life as une éternelle célibataire (an eternal single girl).

In her article, she describes one of her nights out in a bar. There, she saw a really good-looking guy whom she decides to call Vincent. Not wasting any time, she immediately struck up a conversation with him.

As they talked, however, Juliette realised that Vincent wasn’t very intellectually stimulating.

Vincent then asked her to dance. Juliette accepted, wondering if there’d be a physical connection with him despite the absence of an intellectual one.

Turns out there wasn’t. She explains that she felt nothing for him quand elle dansait collée à lui.

She goes on to explain that, near the end of the evening, Vincent kissed her. She says that she could have refused, but, au point où elle était rendue, elle n’avait pas grand-chose à perdre. Oh boy.

Then she tells us what the kiss was like:

… ce french a été le pire de ma vie!
… that was the worst French kiss of my life!

She goes on to describe la morale de cette histoire:

Les très beaux garçons sont rarement ceux avec qui ça va cliquer.
You rarely click with the really good-looking boys.

She even leaves us with this bit of wisdom:

… la prochaine fois que je sors danser, j’oublie les beaux gars et je cherche ceux dont le physique est moins frappant. La beauté est à l’intérieur, tout le monde le sait, mais il faut parfois un french avec trop de langue et trop de bave pour nous le rappeler!

(bave = slobber, spit, etc.)

So, there you go! Two more things you can add to your growing knowledge of informal French:

un french (un french avec trop de bave!)
(les garçons avec qui ça va cliquer)

There are a lot of other useful expressions in these quotes too, like: danser collé à quelqu’un, la morale de cette histoire, un physique frappant (a stunning body), ne pas avoir grand-chose à perdre…

[All three quotes from: Juliette (17 août 2011). « Le bel homme vide ». Métro (Montréal), p. 10.]

* I read the paper version of this article, but an online version is available here.

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