Posts Tagged ‘t’as-tu’

This bin full of ice in front of a dépanneur (corner shop) in Montréal asks us:

As-tu ta glace?
Have you got your ice?

Yes, we’ve got enough ice in Montréal these days, thank you very much!

In addition to asking questions with as-tu, you’ll also hear t’as-tu used spontaneously in conversations.

The title of this La Presse article asks us:

T’as-tu ton tattoo?
Have you got your tattoo?,
but feels more like: Ya got your tattoo?

(Tattoo, borrowed from English, is pronounced tatou. It means the same thing as tatouage and is used informally in conversations.)

T’as is a contraction of tu as. When tu is placed after it, we get a yes-no question.

T’as / ton tattoo.
You’ve got / your tattoo.

T’as-tu / ton tattoo?
You’ve got-(yes or no) / your tattoo?

Asking yes-no questions with tu is often misunderstood. Sometimes people think that the second-person singular tu is being stuck in all over the place! But that’s not what’s happening. In t’as-tu ton tattoo?, the second-person singular tu appears just once — it’s the t’. Tu on the other hand signals that we’re being asked a yes-no question here.

Back to the wording on the bin…

How come it says as-tu on the bin and not t’as-tu?

The question as-tu ta glace? could also be asked informally as t’as-tu ta glace?, but remember that the t’as-tu form is informal. We can liken asking t’as-tu ta glace? to something informal in English like “ya got your ice?” Probably too informal for the text on this bin.

You will on occasion see the yes-no tu used in advertising, but when it occurs, the writers are deliberately seeking an informal style.

By the way, if you’re new to OffQc, be sure to check out the transcribed videos in French in the Listen section.

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In the last entry (#717), there was an example of a yes-no question using the inverted form as-tu:

As-tu mal à la tête?
Do you have a headache?

Even though this question uses the inversion, it still works at the conversational level of French in Québec. You can read more about when the inversion is used and avoided in Québec in entry #717.

Another way that you may hear people ask as-tu questions is with the formulation t’as-tu. This formulation is an informal one that you may catch people use during everyday conversations.

Below are some examples. I’ve translated them into informal English to help convey the feel of the t’as-tu form:

T’as-tu vu ça?
Didja see that?

T’as-tu une cigarette?
Ya got a cigarette?

T’as-tu une blonde?
D’ya have a girlfriend?

T’as-tu peur?
You afraid?

All of those questions could have also simply been asked with as-tu rather than t’as-tu. So, where on earth does t’as-tu come from then?

The t’as part of t’as-tu is a contraction of tu as. This contraction occurs very frequently in French, and not just as part of the formulation t’as-tu but anywhere tu and as come together.

The -tu part of t’as-tu is the famous yes-no question marker so prevalent in the French of Québec.

All the questions above can be answered with yes or no. We can understand the -tu part of t’as-tu as meaning “yes or no?” like this:

T’as-tu une blonde?
= Tu as (oui ou non) une blonde?

How is t’as-tu pronounced?

The t’as part sounds like tâ, or like “taw” using an English approximation. The -tu part sounds like tsu. That’s because tu is a tsitsu word, and you remember all about those tsitsu words… right?? So, t’as-tu sounds like tâ-tsu.

Similarly, as-tu sounds like â-tsu.

It’s not necessary for you to adopt t’as-tu to make yourself understood by the Québécois. As-tu is always good. (It’s important to understand t’as-tu though because you’ll be hearing it.) And, of course, you can always use est-ce que, or just make your voice rise at the end of a statement to turn it into a yes-no question.

These questions all ask the same thing:

As-tu compris?
T’as-tu compris?
T’as compris?
Tu as compris?
Est-ce que t’as compris?
Est-ce que tu as compris?

How’s that for variety?

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