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Posts Tagged ‘tu’

A woman who was making a phone call hung up when there was no answer on the other end. In French, she an equivalent of: “There’s no answer. Is this the right number?”

To say that there wasn’t any answer, she used the verb répondre. Here’s what she said:

Ça répond pas. C’est-tu le bon numéro ça?

The expression ça répond pas is the one that’s always used to say that there’s no answer on the other end. You can understand ça here as meaning the same thing as on.

If you were talking about a telephone call you’d made yesterday and we’re telling someone about it today, you could say instead ça répondait pas, there was no answer.

The question c’est-tu le bon numéro ça? means the same thing as est-ce que c’est le bon numéro ça? The tu after c’est transforms the sentence into a yes-no question, in an informal way.

Bon here means right, correct. Le bon numéro, the right number. La bonne adresse, the right address. La bonne réponse, the right answer.

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Refresh your French or get caught up: The OffQc book 1000 Québécois French is a condensed version of all the language that appeared in the first 1000 posts on OffQc. You can buy and download it here.

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During a conversation, someone asked a French equivalent of do you want to try? Does how you’d have asked this question in French resemble the following?

Est-ce que ça te tente d’essayer?
Do you want to try?

That’s how the question was asked, using the verb tenter. Although to want can be said in French using the verb vouloir (e.g., tu veux, you want), it’s frequently said using tenter instead (e.g., ça te tente, you want).

Tenter is cognate with the English verb to tempt. So, if it helps you to analyse this verb, the expression ça te tente is like saying in English it tempts you. Does it tempt you to try? Just understand that the verb tenter translates better here as to want.

Ça me tente. I want to.
Ça me tente pas. I don’t want to.

Ça te tente and ça me tente can contract to ça t’tente and ça m’tente in spoken language, which sound like çat tente and çam tente. Ça m’tente pas!

The speaker asked the question with est-ce que, but don’t forget that yes-no questions are often asked using tu in spoken language:

Ça t’tente-tu d’essayer?

Don’t confuse the tu in that last question with the second-person singular meaning you. Instead, this tu turns a statement (ça t’tente) into a yes-no question (ça t’tente-tu?).

You can hear the question ça t’tente? (but asked without the yes-no tu) here, in the third video.

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At a store, I heard one employee ask another the equivalent of this in French:

Does he have his card?

Can you guess how the employee might’ve said it? She said it in an informal way, without using est-ce que.

Here’s what the employee said:

Y’a-tu sa carte?

In this question, y’a-tu means does he have?, has he got?

Here’s why:

Il a sa carte means he has his card. But, in colloquial language, it’s more likely to be pronounced y’a sa carte. (This is because the final L sound of il is very frequently not pronounced: i’ a sa carte.) Then, by putting tu after the verb, we turn y’a sa carte into an informally asked yes-no question: y’a-tu sa carte? (Remember, this tu doesn’t mean you.)

In other questions, y’a-tu can mean is there?, are there?

Y’a-tu un problème?
Is there a problem?

This time, though, y’a is an informal pronunciation of il y a, not il a. This informal pronunciation occurs because the il of il y a is losing its L sound again: i’ y a. Then, by putting tu after the verb again, we create an informally asked yes-no question: y’a-tu?, is there?, are there?

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In a television show called Mensonges, a character who plays an investigator said to another character:

Pis? Ça avance-tu mon enquête?

In this question, we’ve got an example of tu being used to ask a yes-no question.

pis?
so? well? and?

ça avance
it’s advancing, moving forward

ça avance-tu?
is it advancing?, moving forward?

mon enquête
my investigation

Remember, the tu in this question can be understood as meaning yes or no? (and not you). It’s used to ask yes-no questions in an informal way in spoken French. Ça avance-[oui ou non], mon enquête?

Pis is a contraction of puis. It sounds as if it were written pi.

Pis? Ça avance-tu mon enquête?
So? Is my investigation moving forward?
So? Is my investigation going well?

This yes-no tu is placed after the conjugated verb.

Tu veux-tu?
Do you want to?

Ça se peut-tu?
Is that possible?

In tenses like the past tense, where there’s an auxiliary and a past participle, tu is placed after the auxiliary.

J’ai-tu dit ça?
Did I say that?

Tu is used to ask yes-no questions. You can’t use it with quand, pourquoi, qui, etc. For example, you can’t ask pourquoi tu fais-tu ça? because that’s not a yes-no question. You’d ask pourquoi tu fais ça? instead.

Can you turn these into yes-no questions with tu?

1. T’aimes ça.
2. On a besoin de ça.
3. T’as peur.

Answers
1. T’aimes-tu ça?
2. On a-tu besoin de ça?
3. T’as-tu peur?

There are many more examples of yes-no questions using tu in the downloadable OffQc books.

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On the radio, I heard a speaker say this in an advertisement:

Pis? Ça va-tu mieux?
So? Is it better? Is that better?
Are things better?

We’ve seen in other posts how pis (sounds like pi and is a contraction of puis) is often used in the sense of and. Although we could in fact translate it as and here, it’s being used as a way to get someone to speak.

Pis?
And? So? Well?

In the question ça va-tu mieux?, can you identify the subject?

This question contains the informal yes-no question marker tu. You can mentally replace it with oui ou non in your head:

Ça va-tu mieux?
Ça va-[oui ou non] mieux?

This means, of course, that tu is not the subject in this question. Tu only signals here that this is a yes-no question, asked in an informal way.

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Sometimes you’ll hear people say that, in Québécois French, the second-person singular tu (meaning you) gets added in anywhere and everywhere in sentences… without rhyme or reason!

On y va-tu?
T’as-tu vu ça?
Ça se peut-tu?
Shall we go?
Did you see that?
Is that possible?

But, as we’ve seen before, the tu they’re referring to isn’t the second-personal singular at all. It’s a yes-no question marker used in informal language.

On y va-[oui/non]?
T’as-[oui/non] vu ça?
Ça se peut-[oui/non]?

If you leave out the yes-no tu, the question still means the same thing:

On y va?
T’as vu ça?
Ça se peut?

But, rather than just making the voice rise at the end like in those last examples, the tu is often included when formulating yes-no questions — or at least in informal language, it is.

The answer to the title of this blog post is ça se peut-tu, with a t in peut, not an x. That’s because the tu in ça se peut-tu isn’t the second-person singular; it’s not the subject. The conjugation, then, aligns with ça (i.e., peut), not tu (i.e., not peux).

Why is this important?

The next time you hear someone say the Québécois add in the second-person singular tu just about anywhere they like as if it were salt, you’ll know it’s not true!

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Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
Is anybody there?

What does y’a-tu mean in this question?

During conversations, maybe you’ve noticed that il y a is almost always pronounced colloquially as y’a (sounds like ).

Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-tu quelqu’un?

The tu after the verb here signals that we’re being asked a yes-no question.

Y’a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-tu quelqu’un?
= Il y a-[oui ou non] quelqu’un?

In the song Maudite jalousie (listen on YouTube here), Kevin Parent sings:

Y’a-tu quelqu’un qui peut m’expliquer?
Is there anybody who can explain to me?
Can anybody explain to me?

A question beginning with y’a-tu…? means the same thing as one that begins with est-ce qu’il y a…?

Y’a-tu quelqu’un que ça intéresse?
Est-ce qu’il y a quelqu’un que ça intéresse?
Is there anybody who’s interested? Is anybody interested? Is there anybody who cares? Does anybody care?

Y’a-tu vraiment une différence entre les deux?
Est-ce qu’il y a vraiment une différence entre les deux?
Is there really a difference between the two?

Do you remember how tu is pronounced by most Québécois? It sounds like tsu. Y’a-tu sounds like yâ-tsu.

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