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Posts Tagged ‘débarrer’

An important Québécois usage related to shopping for food is the French equivalent of to go food shopping.

In French, this is faire son épicerie.

Je viens de faire mon épicerie.
I’ve just gone food shopping.

When you go food shopping, you push your items about in a wheeled shopping cart. This is called un panier in Québec.

The term in full is panier d’épicerie, but panier on its own is fine when it’s clear what you’re talking about.

Certain places may require you to put a coin in the cart to unlock it.

Ça prend une piasse pour débarrer le panier.
You need a loonie to unlock the cart.

If you’ve got no change, you might say:

J’ai pas d’change sur moi!
I’ve got no change on me!

Du change is often used in place of de la monnaie.

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The OffQc guide 1000 Québécois French will help you to increase your vocabulary and knowledge of essential, everyday expressions. It’s a condensed version of the first 1000 posts on OffQc; you can use it to become acquainted with the most important Québécois French vocabulary and expressions for the first time, or to review a large amount of material in less time.

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Débarre ta villeIn the last post about how to talk about locking up your bike in French, we saw the verb barrer.

I was reminded of this verb’s opposite earlier today on the métro, when I spotted a free newspaper sitting on a seat.

The front page reads:

Débarre ta ville
Unlock your city

If you can lock things up with barrer, then you can unlock them with débarrer, like:

débarrer un cadenas
to open a lock

débarrer une porte
to unlock a door

Débarre ta ville is a treasure hunt from the STM.

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You’ll often hear the verb barrer used in Québec in the sense of “to lock,” as in locking a door, a bike, a car, or anything really that can be locked up to prevent people’s access to it. For example, you can say barrer une porte (lock a door).

In Québec, barrer is pronounced bârrer. The vowel â sounds a little like “aww.”

This use of barrer comes from a different meaning of the same verb, which is to close up a door with a bar or plank. Using barrer to mean closing up with a lock is just an extension of this idea.

The Usito dictionary gives us examples of this québécois use of barrer in the sense of locking up, which, in fact, is not exclusively québécois. The authors of the dictionary point out that this use is also known in parts of France and other French-speaking areas.

Francophones elsewhere in the world who do not use barrer like this prefer to use fermer à clé or verrouiller instead. These two ways are of course also understood in Québec.

Three good examples of barrer provided by Usito are:

barrer la porte en sortant
to lock the door on the way out

barrer son vélo avec un cadenas*
to lock up one’s bike (with a lock)

barrer son auto
to lock one’s car

The opposite of barrer is débarrer, “to unlock.”

débarrer les portières d’une auto
to unlock the doors of a car

Here are more examples that you can learn (not from the dictionary):

La porte est barrée.
The door is locked.

La porte est débarrée.
The door is unlocked.

As-tu barré la porte?
Did you lock the door?

Trottoir barré J’ai barré mon vélo en bas de la côte.
I locked my bike at the bottom of the hill.

J’ai mis mon passeport* dans ma valise barrée.
I put my passport in my locked-up suitcase.

You’ll frequently see signs reading rue barrée and trottoir barré in the streets of Montréal. In this sense, it just means that the street or sidewalk is closed.

*Both cadenas and passeport use the â sound: cadnâ, pâspor.

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