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Posts Tagged ‘épicerie’

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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By “informal,” I mean a word or expression far more likely to be found in normal, spontaneous, everyday language — between friends and family, for example — than in high literature or business correspondence or news reports.

In many posts on OffQc, you’ve no doubt noticed that I very often say that such-and-such a word or expression is an informal usage. Maybe you’ve even begun to wonder if all Québécois words and expressions are informal…

They’re not. There are many words and expressions unique to Québec that you’re just as likely to hear in everyday, spontaneous language as you are in a televised news report or formal language, in the same way that words like téléphone and café can cross language levels.

Below are some examples of both informal and level-neutral Québécois French.

Informal (between friends, for example)

  • pogner, to grab, catch
  • checker, to check
  • c’est-tu…?, is it…?, is that…?
  • capoter, to flip out
  • m’as, I’m gonna (+ infinitive)
  • c’est don’ bin cute!, is that ever cute!
  • pis là, and then
  • faque, so
  • enweille!, come on then!
  • un char, car

Level-neutral (not limited to one language level)

  • un cégépien, cégep student
  • faire l’épicerie, to go food shopping
  • magasiner, to shop, shop around for
  • une tête-de-violon, fiddlehead
  • la poudrerie, blowing snow
  • un melon d’eau, watermelon
  • une pourvoirie, grounds where you can hunt, fish, trap
  • à l’arrêt, at the stop sign
  • un téléroman, soap opera
  • un REER, retirement investment, pronounced ré-èr

It’s true that a lot of the language on OffQc falls more in the informal category than the level-neutral one. I do this because this is the language that’s more difficult to learn.

Informal words and expressions are less likely to appear in dictionaries and learning materials than the level-neutral ones. Informal usages are also sometimes “hidden” from learners by language instructors who judge them negatively or, outside of Québec, may be unknown to them if they aren’t familiar with the Québécois variety of French.

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Here’s a translation exercise you can do, similar to the ones in Say it in French: Translate 125 sentences to conversational Québécois French.

See if you can say the sentences below in French (the Québécois variety, of course!), without looking at the answers. If you need help, check the clues.

When you’re done, check the possible answers (they come after the image) and read the notes. You can try the exercise again after that to test yourself.

Say in French:

  1. No, thanks, I’m just looking.
    (what customers say to shop assistants when they don’t want help)
  2. I do my food shopping with reusable bags.
  3. Hahaha, what a hilarious video!
  4. I hate mosquitos.
  5. It’s too bad (it stinks, it sucks), but that’s how it is.

Clues:

  • regarder
  • maringouin
  • juste
  • plate
  • crampant
  • épicerie
  • haïr

Possible answers:

  1. Non, merci, je fais juste regarder.
  2. Je fais mon épicerie avec des sacs réutilisables.
  3. Hahaha, c’est crampant comme vidéo!
  4. J’haïs ça, les maringouins.
  5. C’est plate, mais c’est comme ça.

Notes:

  1. Je fais juste can be followed by a verb in the infinitive depending on what you want to say. Je fais juste te rappeler que… I’m just reminding you that… Informally, je fais can contract to j’fais, which sounds like ch’fais. Juste can sound informally like jusse.
  2. The expression faire l’épicerie means to do the grocery shopping.
  3. Something crampant is hilarious.
  4. Un maringouin is a mosquito. J’haïs is pronounced ja-i.
  5. Plate means too bad here (in the sense of unfortunate), but it can also mean boring. T’es plate! You’re boring! You’re no fun!

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Six oranges, check. Five tomatoes, check. One locally grown child, check.

Last week, I went to a supermarket called Maxi.

At Maxi, you have to put une piasse (1 $) into a device on le panier (shopping cart) to release it from the other ones. The panier only accepts one-dollar coins.

When I had finished shopping and returned my panier, two women approached me. One of them asked if she could take my piasse in exchange for four quarters so that she could take a panier.

She asked:

Est-ce que je peux prendre ta piasse pour quatre vingt-cinq sous?
Can I take your loonie [one-dollar coin] for four quarters?

At Maxi, there’s a large sign posted at the spot where customers return their paniers in the parking lot, le stationnement.

I took a photo of the sign so that you could see it and learn French vocabulary from it.

Some of the vocabulary on the sign includes: dépôt, se procurer un panier, retourner le panier, magasiner, passer à la caisse, déverrouiller un panier, monnaie, jeton réutilisable.

The word panier doesn’t just refer to shopping carts with wheels, though.

I found another sign that uses the word panier on it at the entrance to a store called Dollarama.

On this sign, shoppers are told to use a panier (basket) when shopping in the store, and not one of their own sacs réutilisables, reusable bags.

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Chris asks what the phrase arrondissement du cent means on a receipt he received at the grocery store (à l’épicerie).

The penny (sou noir or cenne noire) isn’t used in Canada anymore, so the price you pay is now rounded up or down to the nearest increment of five cents if you’re paying cash. Cash registers still display the price before being rounded-off.

If the cash register displays 6,52 $ (six et cinquante-deux), round the price down and pay 6,50 $ (six et cinquante). If it displays 6,53 $ (six et cinquante-trois), round the price up and pay 6,55 $ (six et cinquante-cinq).

A receipt may show both the original price and the rounded-off price. If it shows the rounded-off price, it may be preceded by something like montant arrondi or, like on the receipt that Chris received, arrondissement du cent.

The verb arrondir means “to round off.” Rounding up is arrondir à la hausse. Rounding down is arrondir à la baisse.

You’ll often hear cashiers call the receipt une facture. For example, a cashier may ask if you want the receipt by saying:

Voulez-vous la facture?
Do you want the receipt?

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I took a photo of some jumbo ouates in a supermarket:

ouates

Did you catch the literal meaning of ouate de phoque printed on the t-shirt in entry #687?

I wanted to take a photo of a cuddly, little phoque, but I couldn’t find any here in Saint-Léonard. Here’s one from Wikipedia instead:

phoque

Ouate de phoque? Seal puff!

Near the jumbo ouates in the supermarket were these bâtonnets ouatés:

q-tips

They’re usually just called Q-Tips in regular conversations, though.

In Cynthia Dulude’s video about applying eyeliner, she says:

Vous pouvez faire des petites retouches avec un Q-Tips.
You can do little touch-ups with a Q-Tip.

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Le petit guide du parler québécoisTo give more depth to your knowledge of Quebec French vocabulary, I can suggest the Petit guide du parler québécois by Mario Bélanger, 3rd edition.

This book is the size of a paperback novel, organised by keywords in alphabetical order. The entries contain useful example sentences.

I like this book for five reasons:

1. affordable ($13)
2. pertinent choice of vocabulary
3. good example sentences
4. culture and pronunciation notes
5. easy to browse

If you’re a word nerd, I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s the sort of book that you can dip into at any point and discover something new.

For the amount of vocab included, $13 is a really good price. There are other books out there for about the same price, even cheaper ones, but the content isn’t very satisfying. The vocabulary presented in this book will be pertinent to your everyday life as a learner of French.

Two sample entries:

The keyword is in bold. The example sentence is in italics. In parentheses, an equivalent in “international” French.

COUDON adv. Coudon, c’est qui ce gars-là? (Au fait, pendant que j’y pense.) R. Déformation de « écoute donc ».

ÉPICERIE n.f. Elle profite de sa sortie pour faire l’épicerie. (Faire le marché.)

I can suggest casually browsing this book to familiarise yourself with lots of vocabulary and examples, and then complement this by listening to large amounts of spoken French from Québec.

When you’re done browsing, it becomes a good reference.

You can buy it or see a sample page here. You can also buy it in the major bookshops in Québec.

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