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I came across a little sign in a sports equipment store. It says:

Faites votre frais avec ce gilet.

There’s word play going on here… To understand it, you first need to know the expression faire son frais as used in Québec.

One of the advantages of this gilet is that it’s been designed to keep you cool, or frais, when you wear it.

That’s why the author of this sign chose the expression faire son frais to promote it — it allows for wordplay on frais, “cool.”

What does faire son frais mean?

Faire son frais means “to show off” in Québec.

There are two forms to this expression: a masculine form (faire son frais) and a feminine form (faire sa fraîche).

What this sign is telling us is that we can show off by wearing this gilet, with the added meaning conveyed by the word frais that it will keep you cool.

Faites votre frais avec ce gilet.
Show off with this shirt.
(and keep cool)

More examples of faire son frais…

As usual, I went digging around on the web looking for good examples of the expression faire son frais, faire sa fraîche. Here’s what I found. Remember, you can click on all the images to see a larger size.

A Facebook update reads:

Ce chien fait son frais dans une Porsche!

This dog is showing off in a Porsche!

In the image, we see a dog poking its body out the window, showing off as he rides in a Porsche.

On a site called Gros Blogue, I found an article about the best selfie of the year. They displayed images of different selfies taken by celebrities.

For one of the selfies in particular, the caption used the expression faire son frais:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt qui fait son frais dans sa limousine.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt who’s showing off in his limousine.

The smug look on his face says it all… faire son frais!

And the feminine form faire sa fraîche

But what about the feminine form faire sa fraîche? All the examples that follow refer to females (or feminine nouns).

A blog author expresses dislike for the show Tout le monde en parle and has this to say about it:

J’écoute que très rarement l’émission Tout le monde en parle, je suis vraiment pas capable de Guy A. Lepage, Dany Turcotte et de l’espèce de pétasse prétentieuse qui fait sa fraîche avec son vin.

I only watch the show Tout le monde en parle very rarely. I really can’t stand Guy A. Lepage, Dany Turcotte and the pretentious bitch who shows off with her wine.

Side note 1: Do you remember the informal expression pas capab’? If someone says chu pas capab’ de Guy A. Lepage, it means “I can’t stand Guy A. Lepage.” In entry #812, we saw examples of this expression, like: Moi là, l’hiver, pas capab’, which means that the person can’t stand winter.

Side note 2: The verb écouter is used very frequently in Québec to talk about watching a television show. Regarder is also used in Québec, but know that you’ll probably hear écouter used more often: écouter une émission, to watch a show.

In another example, a blog commenter writes a sentence that mentions a sister-in-law showing off with a new coat from France:

La belle-sœur faisait sa fraîche avec son manteau commandé en France (…).

The sister-in-law was showing off with her coat ordered from France.

And in this last example, the author of an article about cars comments on the lack of style of a particular model of Hyundai:

Donc, aussi digne de notre attention fût-elle, cette petite machine n’a jamais fait sa fraîche au chapitre du style.

So, as much as (this car) was worthy of our attention, it’s never stood out (lit., showed off) as far as style goes.

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Pu capab' !

Pus capab’, moé !

Moi là, l’hiver, pas capable!

Literal translation:
Personally, the winter, not capable!

Huh??
Not capable of what?
Not capable of standing the winter, of course!

Moi là, l’hiver, pas capable!
Personally, I can’t stand the winter!

The le in capable often drops in colloquial speech: capab’. It sounds like capabe.

Moi là, l’hiver, pas capab’!

Honnêtement là, c’te fille-là, pas capab’!
Honestly, I can’t stand that girl!

C’te is an informally contracted form of cette. To understand what c’te sounds like, first say te. Now put an s sound at the beginning of it: ste.

People also say chu pas capab’. Remember, chu is an informally contracted form of je suis. So chu pas capab’ is a contracted form of the much less informal sounding je ne suis pas capable.

Chu pas can contract even further to ch’pas. Maybe this contraction will remind you of Lisa LeBlanc’s song J’pas un cowboy, where j’pas is pronounced ch’pas. I’ll use the spelling ch’pas here because it’s more phonetic, but remember that you might read j’pas instead in authentic texts.

L’hiver, ch’pas capab’.
I can’t stand the winter.

C’te fille-là, ch’pas capab’.
I can’t stand that girl.

J’aime tous mes voisins. Y’a juste toi que ch’pas capab’.
I like all my neighbours. You’re the only one I can’t stand.

Ouch!

If pas capab’ means “can’t stand it,” then pu capab’ means “can’t stand it anymore.” Remember, pu is an informally contracted form of plus, which means “no more.” It’s also often spelled pus (don’t pronounce the s).

C’te fille-là, pu capab’.
I can’t stand that girl anymore.

Ch’pus capab’ d’habiter au centre-ville.
I can’t stand living downtown anymore.

Honnêtement là, l’hiver, ch’pu capab’.
Honestly, I can’t stand the winter anymore.

Lots of contractions in this post! If you can manage them, you’ll go a long way in making your French sound more natural.

If these contractions are still too challenging for you, don’t stress out about it. Keep listening to lots of spoken French and you may just find that you start using them without having to think too much about it.

Image credit: Watyrfall

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