Posts Tagged ‘contractions’

For those of you working through the new Contracted French book or who are thinking of buying it, check out the song called Octobre by Les Cowboys Fringants. (I can’t find an official version of the video to put here, but you’ll find the song on YouTube.)

The first four lines are:

Y’a tout l’temps quat’ ronds d’allumés 
Su’l’feu d’mes ambitions 
À force de m’dépasser 
J’me perds moi-même dans l’horizon

In just these four lines, there are seven very important informal contractions to know. All of them are explored in Contracted French.

Can you identify the informal contractions?

Y’a [1] tout l’temps [2] quat’ [3] ronds d’allumés 
Su’l’feu [4] d’mes [5] ambitions 
À force de m’dépasser [6]
J’me [7] perds moi-même dans l’horizon

If you’re working with Contracted French right now, here’s where you’ll find info about these kinds of contractions:

  1. y’a, chapter 3
  2. tout l’temps, chapter 5
  3. quat’, chapter 12
  4. su’l’feu, chapter 5
  5. d’mes, chapter 6
  6. de m’dépasser, chapter 7
  7. j’me, chapter 7

In the book, you’ll discover how to form these contractions yourself in similar phrases. I also explain in detail how to pronounce the contractions, and these explanations are backed up with audio so you can listen to the contractions too.

For example, de me dépasser and de m’dépasser don’t sound the same. The full de me dépasser has five syllables, whereas the contracted de m’dépasser has four. It’s these details that make your French sound natural if you apply them yourself when you speak (and unnatural or stilted if you don’t apply them). It’s also these details that make listening to French so challenging for the uninitiated.

If you take the lyrics above and rework them into full, uncontracted form, here’s what you get:

Il y a tout le temps quatre ronds d’allumés 
Sur le feu de mes ambitions 
À force de me dépasser 
Je me perds moi-même dans l’horizon

Some vocab:

rond, burner, element (like on a stove)
allumé, lit
à force de, due to the effort of, through (my) effort of
me dépasser, to outdo myself

A very literal translation:

There are always four burners lit
On the fire of my ambitions
By always outdoing myself
I lose myself in the horizon

Sur le feu de mes contracts to su’l’feu d’mes. It goes from five syllables (in full form) to just three (in contracted form). Can you say su’l’feu d’mes in three syllables?

Contractions are a challenging area to master in French. Give yourself lots of time for contractions to become part of your usual French. Remember, keep listening to as much spoken French as you can; give yourself as many opportunities as possible for them to sink in.

Now that you know je me perds contracts to j’me perds, can you say how je me donne contracts? What about je me dis and je me suis? (Don’t forget that suis can take on contracted forms too! This is also dealt with in Contracted French and its mp3 files.)

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The new OffQc book about contractions is ready for purchase. It’s called Contracted French, and you can buy and download it here immediately in the OffQc store in PDF format, along with the mp3 audio files that accompany it.

Part of the reason you have trouble understanding spoken French is due to a lack of awareness of contractions. In school, you learned to say je suis, tu es, il est, and so on. But, during the course of a normal conversation, you’ll hear j’su’, t’es and y’est, which sound as though they were written in French chu, té and yé.

Without knowledge of contractions, a lot of what you hear in spoken French will remain off limits to you. You might even feel as though people are speaking a secret language — and you’re not allowed in.

Do you know how francophones might pronounce je suis allé in a normal, everyday conversation? What about dans la vie? Or il n’y a plus de lait? Or je ne suis pas sûr?

In Contracted French, we’ll look at how these and other common words and sample phrases contract in spoken French.

I’ve divided this book into fifteen chapters, each one focusing on a set of related contractions that you need to know to understand spoken French. In each chapter, you’ll see different contracted words and phrases highlighted in blue — I’ve recorded these highlighted items in mp3 files. (It’s my voice.) Each chapter also contains exercises to complete; the exercises come with an answer key in the back of the book so you can check your work. I’ve also recorded the entire answer key so you can listen to it too.

Below are sample pages.

Table of contents

Do you recognise the building? I took all the photos in this book in (or near) Old Montréal and the Old Port.


Audio list

The recordings are spread out over five mp3 files. Each file is roughly five minutes in length and consists of a reading of the contracted words and phrases that appear in the chapters and answer key. (In the screen shot above, the time within brackets isn’t the duration; it’s the position of the item within the track so you can locate it.)

Random pages from the chapters

Random pages from the answer key

As usual, you can buy this book in the OffQc store (follow link below). Payment is by credit card or PayPal.

After you pay for this item, you’ll need to download 6 files:

  • the book in PDF format (1 file)
  • the audio tracks in mp3 format (5 files)

Buy and download Contracted French here in the OffQc store

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In the videos I’ve posted to OffQc lately, quite a few informal contractions have come up. It’s imperative to learn these contractions to understand spoken French.

I’ve pulled together a list of these contractions; there’s a link for each one that will take you back to the video where it appeared so you can listen again and learn it.

Here’s something you can try. The sentences below have been written without contractions. Try to say them aloud applying whatever informal contractions are possible from the ones above.

Je suis bien content.
Tu n’es pas tanné?
Je l’ai croisée sur la rue.
Des fois je me fâche.
Il y en a qui disent ça.


J’su’ ben [chu bin] content. I’m really happy.
T’es pas tanné? You’re not fed up?
Je l’ai croisée s’a rue. I bumped into her in the street.
Des fois j’me fâche. Sometimes I get angry.
Y’en a qui disent ça. Some people say that.

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