We looked at 7 ways to express anger in French like the Québécois without swearing here, and 12 words used in Québécois French that you might be mispronouncing here. Let’s look now at 6 different expressions you can use in situations where you want to express surprise over a matter. (Depending on context, some of these might also be used to express anger.)
1. TU M’NIAISES-TU? (are you kidding me?)
A friend tells you he’s found ten thousand dollars hidden in the floorboards of his apartment. Tu m’niaises-tu?
This question means the same thing as me niaises-tu? or tu m’niaises? (tu me niaises?) In tu m’niaises-tu?, only the first tu means you (tu m’niaises). The second tu turns tu m’niaises into a yes-no question, in an informal style (tu m’niaises-tu?). The second tu means the same thing as est-ce que here, but it gets placed after the verb instead.
To pronounce this, move the contracted m’ to the end of tu (tum’ / niaises / tu). Remember that tu in Québec sounds like tsu. The t sounds like the ts of the English words cats, bats, rats, etc.
The conjugated form niaises sounds like nyèz. The verb niaiser means to joke, to kid.
2. NON MAIS ÇA S’PEUT-TU? (can that be? is that possible?)
A friend tells you about something terrible a group of people did. Non mais ça s’peut-tu, du monde de même?
Du monde de même means people like that. Du monde means people, and de même means like that, comme ça. The whole thing literally means is it possible, people like that?, the idea being how can people like that exist? or how can people be like that?
Ça se peut means that’s possible, that can be. It contracts to ça s’peut. To pronounce it, move the contracted s’ to the end of ça (ça s’ / peut). Just like in number 1, tu turns this into a yes-no question: ça s’peut-tu?
The example above non mais ça s’peut-tu, du monde de même? conveys surprise mixed with indignation.
3. BEN VOYONS DON’! (oh come on!)
Your landlord is increasing the rent again. Ben voyons don’!
We saw this expression in 7 ways to express anger. It can also be used to express surprise.
4. T’ES PAS SÉRIEUX! (are you serious? for real?)
Your co-worker tells you a rude customer started yelling and threatening the employees. T’es pas sérieuse!
T’es is a contraction of tu es; it sounds like té. The negated form tu n’es pas contracts to t’es pas.
English usually asks are you serious? in the affirmative, whereas French asks you’re not serious? in the negative.
5. C’EST PAS VRAI! (are you serious?, for real?)
Your neighbour tells you his house has been broken into for a second time this year. C’est pas vrai!
This expression means the same thing as t’es pas sérieux! above. Ce n’est pas contracts to c’est pas in spoken language.
6. C’EST QUOI C’T’AFFAIRE-LÀ? (what’s up with that?)
You work in a supermarket. A customer asks where the eggs on special are. You advise him there aren’t any left. He gets upset you’ve advertised a product you don’t have in stock; he yells: Ben là, c’est quoi c’t’affaire-là? (Ben là means oh come on.)
C’t’affaire-là (literally, that matter) is a contraction of cette affaire-là. The contracted c’t’ sounds like st (staffaire).
Learn how words contract in spoken Québécois French (with audio): read Contracted French