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Posts Tagged ‘qu’est-ce que’

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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Michael asks about a usage he’s heard in which qu’est-ce que is used instead of ce que, like this: je comprends qu’est-ce que tu veux dire.

Should you adopt this usage?

It’s not considered to be standard, not even in Québec where you’ll sometimes hear people use it.

You can continue to use ce que, which is always correct and won’t make you sound any less natural: je comprends ce que tu veux dire.

How do the Québécois pronounce je comprends ce que tu veux dire?

When said colloquially, je comprends tends to contract to j’comprends. When j’ comes before c, like it does here, it’s pronounced ch (like the sh in flash).

ch’compren…

When you pronounce ce que, try to say it with one syllable rather than two. This will sound more natural. To say ce que with one syllable, first say que. Now add an s sound to the beginning of it: sque.

ch’compren s’que…

Don’t forget the letter t is pronounced ts before the French u sound. It’s like the ts sound in the English word “cats.” So tu is pronounced tsu.

ch’compren s’que tsu veu…

The letter d is pronounced dz when it comes before the French i sound. It’s like the dz sound in the English word “pads.” So dire is pronounced dzir.

ch’compren s’que tsu veu dzir

Of course, it’s never written like that, not even in an informal text. If you write it like that, people will think you’ve lost your mind!

At most, it might be written like this informally: j’comprends c’que tu veux dire.

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