Posts Tagged ‘lui’

During a conversation that took place in Montréal, a woman said in French an equivalent of this: “Buy him some chocolate; he likes that.”

Here’s how she said it:

Achètes-y du chocolat ; y’aime ça.
Buy him some chocolate; he likes that.

Achètes-y? What the woman said is an informal equivalent of achète-lui du chocolat, il aime ça.

In achète-lui (buy him), she contracted the lui to ‘i (shown above as y).

But that’s not all:

In codified (standard) French, the s of the imperative achètes drops before lui, which is why it’s achète-lui, and not achètes-lui. But when the contracted form of lui is used instead, the s is retained in colloquial language: achètes-y, and not achète-y. This means the contracted ‘i (or y) really sounds like zi (achète-zi).

achète-lui: codified French
achètes-y (achète-zi): colloquial French

In the second part of what she said, she contracted il to i’ (shown above again as y).

il aime: codified French
y’aime: colloquial French

Further reading:
Contracted  French

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Oh all right, I’m not that cruel… 🙂

Here are the answers to the Québécois French and Montréal quiz from #982, with a short explanation as to why each answer is the correct one.

If you click on the thumbnail, you’ll get the full size.

_ _ _

In the 1000 Québécois French guide, there’s an example sentence (#49) that reads:

Y va capoter si j’y dis ça!
He’s gonna lose it if I tell him that!

Let’s look at the two uses of y in that example, which mean different things.

If we cancel out the informal spellings in the example, we get:

Il va capoter si je lui dis ça!

In conversational language, both il and lui (when used in the sense of à lui or à elle) can contract. Il can contract to i’, and lui to ‘i. So, they both sound like i in their contracted forms. When these informal features show up in writing, they’re usually written as y.

Knowing this, can you say how the following might be pronounced informally in a conversation?

je lui donne
je lui ai donné
je lui ai dit
je lui ai demandé

Lui can contract after other subjects, but let’s leave that for another post.

Remember, lui can only contract like this in informal language when it means à lui, à elle. In pour lui, avec lui, à côté de lui, etc., lui is still pronounced as… lui.


j’y donne
j’y ai donné
j’y ai dit
j’y ai demandé

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Say this sentence:

Puis là, je lui dis que je n’aime pas ça.
So then, I tell him that I do not like that.

If I asked you to transform this sentence into something more colloquial sounding, the way you might hear it said during a regular conversation, could you do it?

Maybe you know that the ne in the negative construction ne… pas generally gets dropped, so we can start with that:

Puis là, je lui dis que j’aime pas ça.

And maybe you also know that puis is almost always pronounced spontaneously as pis (pi) during everyday conversations, so we can change that too:

Pis là, je lui dis que j’aime pas ça.

There’s another thing we can change here to make it sound like something you might hear someone say spontaneously in a conversation. The title of this post gives it away — it has to do with the pronunciation of lui:

Pis là, j’y dis que j’aime pas ça.

Here, lui got pronounced as y (i). You don’t necessarily have to start pronouncing it like this yourself too, but do learn to recognise it.

je lui dis que…, j’y dis que…
je lui donne…, j’y donne…
on lui a dit que…, on y a dit que…

We saw an example of lui pronounced as y in #868: j’ai juste à y flasher ça dans’ face! If we spell everything in full, we get: j’ai juste à lui flasher ça dans la face!

You’d only ever catch lui pronounced as y when it’s put before a verb (either conjugated or in the infinitive form) like in the examples above, as an indirect object pronoun.

Lui wouldn’t be pronounced as y in these examples:

Sans lui, je pense que ça aurait été différent.
Je me suis beaucoup occupée de lui.
Avec lui, je pense que notre équipe ira loin.
Il s’appelle Martin, lui.

Let’s go back to the first example:

Pis là, j’y dis que j’aime pas ça.

Don’t forget that the Québécois pronounce the letter d as dz when it comes before the i sound. So dis sounds like dzi.

If you’ve been listening to lots of spoken French from Québec, then you know just what the vowel sounds like in the words là, pas and ça. If you’re not sure what it sounds like, please go turn your radio on!

Here’s the unmodified sentence from the beginning of this post:

Puis là, je lui dis que je n’aime pas ça.

Can you say it now the way you might happen to hear it said spontaneously during a conversation?

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