Posts Tagged ‘il y a’

I thought it would be useful to take another look at how il y a transforms in colloquial language to y’a, and to y’a-tu when used as part of a yes-no question. It’s a frequently occurring feature, so it’s a good idea to become familiar with it.

In the OffQc guide 1000, sentence number 111 reads:

Y’a-tu moyen d’avoir un remboursement?
Is there any way to get a refund?
Any chance of getting a refund?

Y’a-tu moyen de is an informal equivalent of est-ce qu’il y a moyen de. You’ll remember that il y a is generally pronounced y’a in informal language. By adding tu after it, we can turn it into a yes-no question.

= il y a-[oui ou non]…?

That tu is definitely not the second-person singular tu meaning you.

In the same way, tu in all of the following is used to ask a yes-no question:

C’est correct. It’s fine, ok.
C’est-tu correct? Is it fine, ok?

Ça se peut. It’s possible.
Ça se peut-tu? Is that possible?

J’ai vraiment dit ça, moi. I really said that.
J’ai-tu vraiment dit ça, moi? Did I really say that?

Back to y’a-tu…?, remember that this means is there…? or are there…? Wherever you might have used est-ce qu’il y a…?, you’re likely to hear y’a-tu…? used spontaneously in conversations, although questions with est-ce que remain entirely possible.

Y’a-tu quelque chose qui va pas?
Is something the matter? Is something wrong?
(Quelque chose might be pronounced informally as què’que chose, where què’que sounds like “kek.”)

Y’a-tu moyen de bloquer les alertes/les notifications?
Is there a way to block the alerts/notifications?
(e.g., on a smartphone)

In an older post on OffQc, we came across the use of y’a-tu moyen de in a scene from 19-2, when a father in a moment of anger yelled at his son:

Y’a-tu moyen d’êt’ obéi dans c’te maison-là?!
Is there any chance of being obeyed in this house?!

Êt’ is an informal pronunciation of être, where the -re ending isn’t enunciated. C’te is a contraction of cette. To pronounce it, first say te. Then put an s sound at the beginning of it: s’te.


Understand spoken Québécois French and sound less bookish when speaking: 1000 examples of use (#945)

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Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
Is anybody there?

What does y’a-tu mean in this question?

During conversations, maybe you’ve noticed that il y a is almost always pronounced colloquially as y’a (sounds like ).

Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-tu quelqu’un?

The tu after the verb here signals that we’re being asked a yes-no question.

Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-[oui ou non] quelqu’un?

In the song Maudite jalousie (listen on YouTube here), Kevin Parent sings:

Y’a-tu quelqu’un qui peut m’expliquer?
Is there anybody who can explain to me?
Can anybody explain to me?

A question beginning with y’a-tu…? means the same thing as one that begins with est-ce qu’il y a…?

Y’a-tu quelqu’un que ça intéresse?
Est-ce qu’il y a quelqu’un que ça intéresse?
Is there anybody who’s interested? Is anybody interested? Is there anybody who cares? Does anybody care?

Y’a-tu vraiment une différence entre les deux?
Est-ce qu’il y a vraiment une différence entre les deux?
Is there really a difference between the two?

Do you remember how tu is pronounced by most Québécois? It sounds like tsu. Y’a-tu sounds like yâ-tsu.

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Here’s some random French I overheard today in Montréal while out.

All of these examples of French were said by a group of three women in their 60s in the seating area of a public space.

1. Y’a une place icitte.

There’s a place (to sit) here.

Y’a is an informal pronunciation of il y a. Icitte means ici and is often heard at the informal level of language.

2. Amène une chaise.

Bring a chair. Get a chair.

The verb amener is used here to tell someone to bring something. There’s another example of this below.

3. Qu’est-ce tu veux?

What d’you want?

Qu’est-ce sounds like kess. Dropping que here (qu’est-ce tu veux instead of qu’est-ce que tu veux) is an informal usage.

4. Amène-moi un biscuit.

Bring me a cookie.

Here’s another example of the verb amener. The woman who said this yelled it out to her friend who was ordering food.

5. A s’en vient.

She’s coming.

You’ll often hear elle pronounced informally as a, like the a in ma, ta or la. The verb s’en venir is frequently used: je m’en viens, I’m coming; tu t’en viens, you’re coming; y s’en vient, he’s coming; y s’en viennent, they’re coming.

One of the three women said this as her friend was coming back to their table after ordering food.

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On Urbania, Kéven Breton writes about the challenge of getting into different bars in Montréal on his wheelchair, in Vie nocturne à roulettes : tous ces bars qui ne veulent pas de moi.

He says some bars pass the test, and others don’t.

And then there are the bars in between… a sort of fake kind of accessible, as in:

Ah ouais c’est accessible chenous monsieur! Vous avez juste à passer par l’arrière, dans la petite ruelle qui pue le cadavre. Y’a une petite porte en métal, à côté des vidanges. Cognez, on va aller vous ouvrir! Pis rendu là, y’a juste deux petites marches!

Yeah sure, we’re accessible here, sir! You just have to go around the back into the alley that smells like a dead body. There’s a small metal door beside the garbage. Knock and we’ll let you in! Then after that, there are only two small steps!

We first looked at Kéven’s use of chenous (chez nous) in #861. Maybe you’ll remember that chez nous can mean “at my place” in Québec, just like chez moi. For example, a person who lives alone might say chez nous to talk about his place, instead of chez moi. And even if you live alone, he might say chez vous to talk about your place, instead of chez toi.

In the example above, we really can understand chez nous to refer to more than one person though. Chez nous here (or chenous) refers to the bar and its employees.

Kéven also used vidanges in his text: à côté des vidanges, or “next to the garbage.” Elsewhere on OffQc, we’ve see the term un sac à vidanges, which is a garbage bag.

Learn the verb cogner! Every learner of French learns to say frapper à la porte for “knock on the door,” but have you learned cogner à la porte too? You need to!

You’ll hear the Québécois use the adjective rendu a lot too. We won’t look at all the uses of rendu here, just the one in the example above. Broadly speaking, rendu means “arrived” or “become.” Using “arrived,” we can say that rendu là means “arrived there” — or in more natural-sounding English: “at that point.”

Finally, the word cadavre… This word can be added to the list of 50 words pronounced with the â sound in Québec but not spelled with the accented â. That’s because cadavre is pronounced cadâvre. Only the second a is pronounced â, not the first one. You can hear it pronounced on this Wiki page, near the bottom.

Kéven also wrote y’a a couple times instead of il y a. If you listen to a lot of spoken French, you know that the most normal way of pronouncing il y a during regular conversations is certainly y’a. The negative form is y’a pas.

You can continue reading Kéven’s text on your own, discover more vocabulary and understand how Kéven feels about accessibility in Montréal bars. (You’ll also find an example of pogner in there, when Kéven says pogner le métro, or grab the métro.)


chez nous can mean chez moi
chez vous can mean chez toi
à côté des vidanges, beside the garbage
un sac à vidanges, a garbage bag
cognez!, knock!
cogner à la porte, to knock at the door
pis rendu là, then at that point, then after that
cadavre is pronounced cadâvre
y’a is an informal pronunciation of il y a
pogner le métro,
to grab the métro

P.S. Pogner and cogner rhyme. Be sure not to pronounce the g in these words. They sound like ponnyé and connyé.

_ _ _

Quote by Kéven Breton in Vie nocturne : tous ces bars qui ne veulent pas de moi, on Urbania, 7 October 2014.

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Today’s three usages come to us by way of a woman in her 70s. I overheard her speaking with her husband in Montréal.

1. une sacoche

One of the things the woman talked about was her handbag (or purse), which she called une sacoche. I don’t recall her exact words now, but here’s an example:

J’ai laissé ma sacoche sous la table.
I left my handbag (purse) under the table.

2. un char de police

Not far from us, a man got arrested outside. The woman talked about the police cars on the scene.

We’ve seen the masculine word char before, which means “car” in Québec. The woman used this word to talk about the police cars, calling them chars de police.

Y’a deux chars de police.
There are two police cars.

Remember, y’a is an informal (and the most frequent) pronunciation of il y a.

3. m’as

The woman also used the contraction m’as, which means “I’m gonna…” It’s pronounced mâ.

M’as te dire une affaire, là.
I’m gonna tell you something.

M’as aller m’en chercher un.
I’m gonna go get myself one.

If these don’t make sense to you, replace m’as with je vais.

Where does m’as come from?

je m’en vais
je m’en va’s
m’en va’s

Je m’en vais is a variation of the simpler je vais.

You don’t have to start using m’as yourself. Nobody expects a non-native Québécois to use it. Do learn what it means though so you’ll understand it when you hear it. It’s always fine to use je vais. (Note that the Québécois very often say je vas as well, which sounds like je vâ.)

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Comedian Martin Matte reminds us of the importance of instilling a sense of respect in children for their parents.

When watching the videos on this blog, listen a few times without peeking at the French transcription first.

Un autre p’tit truc, un enfant doit apprendre à respecter son père en toutes circonstances. Alors il faut surtout pas hésiter à mettre son respect à l’épreuve.

— Papa, j’aime pas ça quand tu viens me chercher à l’école, ça me gêne!

— Oh! Qu’est-ce qu’y’a là, hein? T’as honte de ton papa? Est-ce que c’est ça? Vous avez honte de votre papa? Il faut jamais avoir honte de son père. Allez jouer, là. Par là-bas! Va jouer…

Tss… Tu fais tout pour eux pis c’est comme ça qu’ils te remercient…

ça me gêne, it embarrasses me, it bothers me
qu’est-ce qu’y’a (informal) = qu’est-ce qu’il y a
t’as (informal) = tu as
pis (informal) = puis

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