Posts Tagged ‘voyons donc’

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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1. BEN VOYONS DON’! (oh come on!)

You’re crossing the street when an oncoming car goes through a red light and zips past in front of you. Ben voyons don’!

Ben sounds like the French word bain; it’s a contraction of bien. Don’ is in fact donc, but don’t pronounce the c here. This expression is also said as voyons don’!

2. FRANCHEMENT! (oh honestly!)

The person ahead of you in line is taking forever to decide what food to order. Franchement!

3. C’EST-TU CLAIR? (is that clear? understood?)

You’ve just lectured someone, and now you want to make sure you’ve been perfectly understood. C’est-tu clair?

The tu here turns c’est clair into a yes-no question, in an informal way. It doesn’t mean you. It’s like est-ce que in meaning.

4. ÇA VA FAIRE! (that’s enough! cut it out!)

You’ve got a headache, and the kids won’t stop arguing. Ça va faire!

5. BEN LÀ! (oh come on!)

Someone’s just said something so ridiculous you can’t believe it. Ben là!

This expression means the same thing as voyons don’!

6. TA YEULE! VOS YEULES! (shut up!)

The neighbours won’t stop screaming. Vos yeules!!!

Yeule is a colloquial pronunciation of gueule. Use ta yeule! to tell one person to shut up, and vos yeules! with more than one person.

7. QUESSÉ ÇA PEUT BEN TE FAIRE? (what do you care?)

Someone doesn’t like the way you’re going about a matter, and you want that person to back off. Quessé ça peut ben te faire?!

Quessé is an informal contraction of qu’est-ce (que) c’est (que).


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

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Here are 10 of the most googled French usages that led readers to OffQc this year. Do you know them all?


When feeling taken aback by something, you can say voyons don’. (Don’ is in fact donc, but the c is silent here.) You can also say ben voyons don’ for more effect. (Ben sounds like bain; it’s a contraction of bien.) Voyons don’ is similar to the way you might say oh come on in English. For example, maybe you’ve just spilled your coffee for the second time today. Voyons don’! Come on! Or maybe a friend is getting back together with a terrible ex. Ben voyons don’! Oh come on!


Whether it’s pronounced with one syllable (as fak) or two (as fa-que), this means so, just like the French word alors. Faque qu’est-ce qu’on fait à soir? So what’re we gonna do tonight? Faque c’est ça! So there you have it! So there you go! Because of its resemblance to the English F word, a friend from Central America asks me if it’s rude to say faque. Nope! You can faque all you like.


You know how in English people say things like shoot, dang, crikey, cripes, etc., to avoid using the original swear word it comes from? Same thing with tabarnouche — it’s a toned-down version of the vulgar Québécois tabarnak. C’est un bon produit, mais tabarnouche! C’est super cher. It’s a good product, but jeez! It’s super expensive.


Here’s another thing you can say when you’re surprised, taken aback. Picture it — a mother has just told her son he can’t go out and play because he’s got homework to do. He says: Ben làààà! Oh come oooon! Nooo! Or maybe you’ve just found out that everyone at work got a pay increase but you. Ben là! What the? For real?


When you want to say it’s/that’s fine, it’s/that’s ok in French, you can say c’est correct. Maybe your partner just burnt the toast, but you don’t mind. C’est correct, là! C’est pas grave. It’s fine! It’s no big deal. Note that correct is pronounced informally as correc’ in spoken language, without the final t.


If a friend made a comment and you wanted to show your entire agreement, you might say c’t’en plein ça! Exactly! Spot on! C’t’en is a contraction of c’est en. It sounds like en with an st sound attached to the front (st’en). C’est en, on the other hand, sounds like cé t’en.


Not limited to Québécois French, this expression simply means it’s not easy, it’s complicated. Apprendre cinq langues en même temps, c’est pas évident! Learning five languages at once isn’t easy!


You just got a parking ticket? C’est plate. Broke up with your girlfriend? Ah c’est plate. You can use c’est plate (or c’est platte) in the same way you might say in English that stinks, that’s sucks, that’s too bad.


In spoken language, tu can serve the same purpose as est-ce que. C’est-tu, then, means the same thing as est-ce que c’est. This tu is not the second-person singular meaning you; instead, it’s used to form a yes-no question in informal language. C’est-tu correct? Is it/that okay? C’est-tu normal? Is it/that normal?


This literally means you’re sick, you’re ill (where t’es is a contraction of tu es sounding like ), but you’ll also hear t’es malade used informally in the sense of you’re crazy. T’es malade, toi! You’re crazy!

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Yes! Entry #600!

As #600 approached, I got curious as to the most googled québécois words and phrases that led people to OffQc since it began in December 2010… and there they are in the image above!

You can click on it to make it bigger.

Do you know them all?

Thanks everybody for continuing to read OffQc. It’s a privilege to have your attention.

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