Archive for the ‘Entries #201-250’ Category

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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C’est beau (#244)

A French expression you’ll often hear used in Quebec is: C’est beau. Can you guess the meaning of it from the example below?

OK, OK, c’est beau. C’est correct, là. J’ai compris…

In this example, c’est beau is just another way of saying d’accord.

You may remember from other entries that correct as used in the example above means “OK.” You’ll often hear it pronounced as correc. C’est correct, when said quickly and informally, can sound like scorrec.

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

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In the last entry (#242), you read how the word affaires was used in the sense of “things,” or choses. (A frustrated wife told her husband: Tu me montres des affaires que j’aime vraiment pas.)

Continuing on with the word affaire, here’s another example of use.

If you saw an object and you didn’t know what it was, you might exclaim:

C’est quoi cette affaire-là?
What’s that thing?

When spoken quickly, it would sound more like:

C’est quoi c’t’affaire-là?
(c’t’affaire sounds like staffaire)

This expression has a few more uses that we’ll explore in later entries.

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The other day, I spent a bit of time at the Plaza St-Hubert in Montreal. As I was walking down the street, an older couple in their late 60s walked out of a clothing shop. When I stepped out of the way to make room for them on the sidewalk, I saw they were having an argument.

The wife was telling her husband (or at least I’m assuming it was her husband…) that she wasn’t going to let him buy her any clothes. Exasperated, she let him know why by saying:

Tu me montres des affaires que j’aime vraiment pas!
You just show me stuff that I really don’t like!

You’d think they’d know by now that they don’t share the same taste in clothes!

Why have I chosen this quote? It’s because of the word affaires. In regular conversations, you’ll hear affaires quite frequently. In the example above, it simply means “things” or “stuff,” just like the word choses.

On a different note, the wife rrrolled her letter Rs when she said that. In Montreal, rolling (or trilling) your Rs was commonly heard in the past, but it has disappeared among today’s generation of native speakers. You can still hear some older speakers who trill their Rs, however.

In fact, when someone wants to imitate an older person’s accent, he may start rolling his Rs when he speaks!

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