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Posts Tagged ‘avoir peur’

Let’s take a regular French sentence as it would be written in codified French (i.e., the standardised form of language taught in French classes, used mostly in writing, described in grammar books, etc.), and then modify it one step at a time to take it to a colloquial sounding equivalent.

Let’s use the French for he’s not scared of that.

The French for to be scared of is avoir peur de. In French, you have fear of something, so you use avoir and never être to say this.

Using avoir peur de, we can say he’s not scared of that in French as il n’a pas peur de ça.

As a first step to making this sound colloquial, let’s remove the ne in the ne pas construction because colloquial language avoids the use of ne like the plague. This gives us il a pas peur de ça.

Now that il and a come together, they can morph into a single unit sounding like ya. This gives us y’a pas peur de ça.

Finally, in colloquial language, you’ll often hear de ça pronounced as de t’ça. To say this, just put a t sound on the end of de, then say ça.

il n’a pas peur de ça
il a pas peur de ça
y’a pas peur de ça
y’a pas peur de t’ça

Let’s try another: she didn’t talk to me about that. As a starting point, we’ll use elle ne m’a pas parlé de ça.

Our first step is to remove the ne, leaving us with elle m’a pas parlé de ça.

Do you know how you you might hear the subject elle pronounced in spoken language? It can sound just like the French word à. We’ll use the spelling à’ here, where the apostrophe represents the contracted L sound of elle. This gives us à’ m’a pas parlé de ça.

Finally, we can apply the same change to de ça as in our first example above: à’ m’a pas parlé de t’ça.

elle ne m’a pas parlé de ça
elle m’a pas parlé de ça
à’ m’a pas parlé de ça
à’ m’a pas parlé de t’ça

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Refresh your French or get caught up: The OffQc book 1000 Québécois French is a condensed version of all the language that appeared in the first 1000 posts on OffQc. You can buy and download it here.

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A park for dogs to run around in (and their owners to cruise each other) in Montréal

A park for dogs to run around in (and their owners to cruise each other) in Montréal

We’ve seen the expression avoir la chienne before, but let’s review it. I was reminded of this expression while reading a text written by Véronique Grenier on Urbania called “Rides de char.”

J’ai la chienne!

Chienne is the feminine form of chien. When you’ve got the chienne, you’re terrified or frightened.

J’ai la chienne.
I’m terrified.

J’ai la chienne de faire ça.
I’m terrified of doing that.

J’avais la chienne.
I was terrified.

J’ai eu la chienne de ma vie!
I got the fright of my life!

While on the topic of having the chienne, now’s a good time to look at the difference between j’avais peur and j’ai eu peur.

J’ai eu peur is used to describe getting scared at a specific moment. J’avais peur is used to describe being scared over time.

J’avais peur.
I was scared.
(all morning, this afternoon, while watching a movie…)

J’ai eu peur.
I got scared.
(when I saw him, when that happened…)

The same distinction exists for avoir faim.

J’avais faim.
I was hungry.
(this morning, all night, during class…)

J’ai eu faim.
I got hungry.
(when I saw the cake, when I smelled the pizza…)

Going back to the original expression in this post, j’avais la chienne is used to talk about being terrified over time. In the example j’ai eu la chienne de ma vie, the speaker got the fright of his or her life at a specific moment when something happened.

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