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Yesterday, we looked at how to talk about jeans that don’t fit in French. Today, let’s look at a fun expression used in Québec related to pants that are way too short!

First, know that in Québec the basement of a house is often called la cave. It’s also known as le sous-sol, but you’ll need to know the word cave to understand today’s expression.

Imagine your basement, or cave, flooded with water. You’d have to roll up the bottom of your pants or trousers before going down to the cave to take care of business, right?

When your pants are rolled up, they look too short. So, if you heard someone say that so-and-so has “water in the basement,” it’s a funny way of saying that his pants are too short!

avoir de l’eau dans la cave
to be wearing pants that are too short
(literally, to have water in the basement)

Remember, dans la often contracts to dans in conversations. So, when you hear people in fact say avoir de l’eau dans cave, it’s not a grammatical mistake; it’s an informal shortcut in pronunciation.

I found this example online about someone who hates how his pants look so short when he gets up on his motorbike:

Je déteste avoir de l’eau dans cave quand je m’assis sur le bike.
I hate how my pants look so short when I get on the bike.

Without wanting to get too far off topic, you may sometimes come across the conjugation je m’assis in Québec. If you use it yourself, francophones may correct you: it’s not the standard form in Québec. I recommend you learn what it means (i.e., I sit) but say or write je m’assois instead. This always works.

As for the difference between the forms je m’assois and je m’assieds, the first one (je m’assois) is used more often in spoken Québécois French than the second one (je m’assieds).

Finally, to say “to wear a pair of pants,” you can use either porter un pantalon or porter des pantalons. For some people, pantalons in the plural is less correct than pantalon in the singular. In a written text, you can avoid all doubt and use the singular. Otherwise, know that both are used.

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