Posts Tagged ‘niaiser’

We looked at 7 ways to express anger in French like the Québécois without swearing here, and 12 words used in Québécois French that you might be mispronouncing here. Let’s look now at 6 different expressions you can use in situations where you want to express surprise over a matter. (Depending on context, some of these might also be used to express anger.)

1. TU M’NIAISES-TU? (are you kidding me?)

A friend tells you he’s found ten thousand dollars hidden in the floorboards of his apartment. Tu m’niaises-tu?

This question means the same thing as me niaises-tu? or tu m’niaises? (tu me niaises?) In tu m’niaises-tu?, only the first tu means you (tu m’niaises). The second tu turns tu m’niaises into a yes-no question, in an informal style (tu m’niaises-tu?). The second tu means the same thing as est-ce que here, but it gets placed after the verb instead.

To pronounce this, move the contracted m’ to the end of tu (tum’ / niaises / tu). Remember that tu in Québec sounds like tsu. The t sounds like the ts of the English words cats, bats, rats, etc.

The conjugated form niaises sounds like nyèz. The verb niaiser means to joke, to kid.

2. NON MAIS ÇA S’PEUT-TU? (can that be? is that possible?)

A friend tells you about something terrible a group of people did. Non mais ça s’peut-tu, du monde de même?

Du monde de même means people like that. Du monde means people, and de même means like that, comme ça. The whole thing literally means is it possible, people like that?, the idea being how can people like that exist? or how can people be like that?

Ça se peut means that’s possible, that can be. It contracts to ça s’peut. To pronounce it, move the contracted s’ to the end of ça (ça s’ / peut). Just like in number 1, tu turns this into a yes-no question: ça s’peut-tu?

The example above non mais ça s’peut-tu, du monde de même? conveys surprise mixed with indignation.

3. BEN VOYONS DON’! (oh come on!)

Your landlord is increasing the rent again. Ben voyons don’!

We saw this expression in 7 ways to express anger. It can also be used to express surprise.

4. T’ES PAS SÉRIEUX! (are you serious? for real?)

Your co-worker tells you a rude customer started yelling and threatening the employees. T’es pas sérieuse!

T’es is a contraction of tu es; it sounds like té. The negated form tu n’es pas contracts to t’es pas.

English usually asks are you serious? in the affirmative, whereas French asks you’re not serious? in the negative.

5. C’EST PAS VRAI! (are you serious?, for real?)

Your neighbour tells you his house has been broken into for a second time this year. C’est pas vrai!

This expression means the same thing as t’es pas sérieux! above. Ce n’est pas contracts to c’est pas in spoken language.

6. C’EST QUOI C’T’AFFAIRE-LÀ? (what’s up with that?)

You work in a supermarket. A customer asks where the eggs on special are. You advise him there aren’t any left. He gets upset you’ve advertised a product you don’t have in stock; he yells: Ben là, c’est quoi c’t’affaire-là? (Ben là means oh come on.)

C’t’affaire-là (literally, that matter) is a contraction of cette affaire-là. The contracted c’t’ sounds like st (staffaire).


Learn how words contract in spoken Québécois French (with audio): read Contracted French

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I went through the last dozen posts on OffQc, pulled out key expressions and vocabulary, then rearranged it all into this dialogue for review. (If you squint your eyes and plug your nose, it almost sounds like a real dialogue, with a surprise ending and all.)

Enweille! Qu’est-ce tu fais? C’est pas l’temps d’niaiser!
J’gratte ma guitare, man…
— Ah, c’est l’fun, hein?
Pas tant qu’ça. J’file pas… J’peux-tu t’bummer une smoke?
— Euh… non.
T’es ben gratteux, toé. Enweille, donne-moé une smoke. J’te niaise pas. J’ai un paquet d’problèmes! Mon restaurant spécialisé en grilled cheese a été vandalisé.
— Ah, ok. Bon ben… c’est pour ici ou pour emporter?
— Quoi?
Tes Timbits, c’est pour manger ici ou pour emporter?
— Ah, ouais… mes Timbits… euh, pour emporter… merci…

— Come on! What’re ya doing? Quit wasting time!
— Strummin’ my guitar, man…
— Ah, that’s fun, huh?
— Not really. I’m not feelin’ good… Can I bum a smoke off ya?
— Uh… no.
— You’re so cheap. Come on, give me a smoke. I’m not kidding. I’ve got a whole bunch of problems! My restaurant specialised in grilled cheese was broken into.
— Ah, ok. Right so… is it for here or to go?
— What?
— Your Timbits, are they for here or to go?
— Oh yeah.. my Timbits… uh, they’re to go… thanks…

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We’ve seen niaiser quite a few times now in the sense of to kid, to joke:

J’te niaise!
I’m just kidding!

J’te niaise pas!
I’m not kidding!
I’m serious!

The contracted j’te (from je te) sounds like ch’te.

We’ve also seen niaiser used in the sense of to waste time, such as in this video promoting the Québécois winter to European visitors.

The speaker there says pas l’temps d’niaiser (no time to waste, time to get busy, time to get going, etc.) because there are just so many things to do during a Québécois winter. (I thought we all just huddled inside and waited it out till spring, but ok.)

Now check out the image below. The owner of this beast is about to tear up some serious street because… pas l’temps d’niaiser.


The OffQc book C’est what? will help you to get your bearings in the colloquial variety of French spoken in Québec and pave the way for further independent study. You can buy and download it here.

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We’ve seen quite a few times now how the verb niaiser can be used to render the expression I’m just kidding (you) into French:

J’te niaise,

which is a contraction of je te niaise. J’te niaise sounds like ch’te nyèz. (Ch’te sounds like the French word te with the French ch sound stuck on the front of it.) It literally means I’m kidding you, I’m joking you.

During a conversation, though, an elderly woman said I’m just kidding in a different way. She didn’t say j’te niaise. In fact, she didn’t use the verb niaiser at all, but she did use the plural noun blagues, meaning jokes.

Can you guess how she said it?

Here’s what she said:

C’est des blagues que j’fais!
I’m just kidding (you)!
(literally, “I’m making jokes,” “it’s jokes that I’m making”)

J’fais is a contraction of je fais. It sounds like ch’fais.

Getting back to j’te niaise, if you haven’t learned that one yet, learn it now. It’s used frequently. The negative form is also used a lot: j’te niaise pas, meaning I’m serious, I’m not kidding, for real, etc.

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Only 15 posts away from 1000...!

Only 15 posts away from 1000…!

In #984, I pulled together a list of informal contractions used in Québécois French and that have come up in recent videos added to OffQc.

Let’s do another list here in #985 — useful phrases from the same videos that you can learn and start using right away when you speak French. The links take you back to the original posts so you can listen again if you want.

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