Lesson Transcript

Hey, guys! It's Pierre from France and welcome back for more videos on French learning. Today’s video will be about casual French. Maybe you've noticed that when French people when they speak in a casual way, the way they speak is really different from the way you've learned French at school. So here, I'm going to explain what are the three main rules that are used in casual French.
So first, this is the elision of the negation. This is really common and more and more French people are doing that even in non-casual situation. You get rid of the /ne/ and the /nꞌ/.
So for example here - je ne sais pas “I don’t know”. So you've learned that when you add the negation, you have to add ne and then the negation like pas. But in practice, we get rid of it. So here, you say - je sais pas. This is casual. If you want to stay polite, remain more polite, it's better to say that but je sais pas, I use that with my parents, with my family, with my friends so this is really common.
Same when you have the nꞌ which is the same word just because here there is a vowel, you get rid of the -e so il nꞌy a personne. So, again here, this is the negation and you've got the nꞌ like the couple negative word and nꞌ - il nꞌy a personne, ilya personne. So here, nothing - il ya personne, just this negation. The meaning is “Nobody is here.” “Nobody is here.” Il ya personne. Il nꞌy a personne / Il ya personne. So this is really easy like you just get rid of that, no specific rule, like really easy. I think this is really easy to get used to it. So this was the first one.
The second one is the non-inversion. When you ask a question in French, you have to do the inversion and it's quite similar in English, but usually in casual situations, you don't do the inversions. So when you say - Es-tu arrivé? “Did you arrive” Es-tu arrivé?, you just say - Tu es arrivé? So here like if it was not a question - Tu es arrivé? To make the distinction between an affirmative sentence and a question, this is the tonality and the context that will help you to understand if it's a question or not - Tu es arrivé? Tu es arrivé? Tu es arrivé. This is quite subtle especially here because there is no context, but usually, it's not that hard to understand the difference - Tu es arrivé? Usually, you go up at the end of the sentence - Tu es arrivé? Yeah, you can guess what’s the context.
So here you have that, but sometimes you know there is interrogative word like comment like in English “how”, “How do you make it?” Comment fais-tu? Here, there are two ways to become more casual - Comment tu fais? So here again, you don't do the inversion, but there is one other possibility which is putting this at the end of the sentence and of course you don't do the inversion. So - Tu fais comment? Comment fais-tu? Comment tu fais? Tu fais comment? So here, you see that you can make the order that you want for all these sentences for this like those three sentences exactly the same meaning. Those two ones, there is no subtlety of meaning between those two. Here, it's more polite but here, it’s like really equivalent. So you can choose what you want and it's not only applicable, like you can also use that with other interrogative nouns and you can also do that with other interrogative words like Combien? “How much?”, or “How old?” like Quel âge? But there is one exception that you need to keep in mind is que. When you ask a question, you say - Que fais-tu? which is quite polite, “What are you doing?” Que fais-tu?, in polite situation. You cannot use the non-inversion. You cannot say - Que tu fais? No meaning in that. It's totally wrong. So what you can do is putting that at the end of the sentence, but if you do that, you don't use que but you use quoi, Tu fais quoi? “What are you doing?” Tu fais quoi? So just remember that like que and quoi, it’s quite different like there is this little trick that you have to keep in mind. But basically, you don't do the inversion when you ask a question and I think you can do that in English as well so this is quite similar.
So those two rules; elision of the negation and non-inversion are quite easy to understand and you will easily get used to it. But the last one is a bit more complicated because there are some rules. This is contractions. You can do some contractions in French, but in casual situations, you can do even more contractions. So here, there is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven - seven rules that I'm going to show you and with this, you will be able to do casual contractions in French.
So first, je. You know that when there je and then a vowel, you have to do a contraction, but in casual situations, you can also do a contraction with a consonant. So in casual situations with je, you always do a contraction, je + consonant becomes jꞌ. So for example - je bois du vin. It means like “I’m drinking wine” je bois du vin, jꞌbois, je bois / jꞌbois, je bois / jꞌbois. So this is really casual. If you want to be polite, it's better to say that, but with your friends, jꞌbois will be way more natural.
Here again, there is M which is a consonant - je m'appelle Pierre, j' m'appelle. So here, you can see that there are two contractions, but as it is a common contraction, you don't pay attention to that. It's like the M which is important so you say - j' m'appelle. So here, it's really easy and it's better to say should j' m'appelle with your friends than je m'appelle Pierre. But once again, if you say that like if you don't do the contractions or even if you don't do those two rules like the elision of the non-inversion, it's definitely okay. It's just like if you really want to sound like a typical young French, it's better to know those rules, but who cares if you can speak like a young French in a language? What is important is to be understood. So I'm just introducing to you those rules like that you would be able to understand them.
So this is with je, but there is one additional rule with je. It's when there is an S so S is a consonant. So you can do either that, just that, or changing this sound into /ch/. Here, you remember that - je ne sais pas / je sais pas. So here, we are going to use the elision and also the contraction. So you can say j'sais pas if you apply this rule, j'sais pas. But it's quite hard to say j'sais...j'sais pas. Maybe, you have difficulties to say it. So usually, French people also say chais pas, j'sais pas / chais pas. I don’t know if you can hear the difference but it's way easier for the mouth and the tongue to say chais pas instead of j'sais pas, but you can say both. Personally, I use this one a lot, chais pas.
So here is another example - jesuis perdu, something like “I’m lost” jesuis perdu. Jesuis perdu or j'suis perdu. Jesuis perdu / j'suis perdu. Can you hear the difference? It's quite subtle but anyway, if you have difficulties to say that, just use the sound /ch/.
Let's move on to the next one which is with tu. So you know tu, there is no contraction usually with tu. So here in casual French, you can add one contraction when there is a vowel like you cannot do the contraction when there is a consonant, but when there is a vowel, you can do the contraction.
So here for example - Tu as faim? It's a question and you can notice like I'm doing again the non-inversion here. Tu as faim? / T'as faim? Tu as faim? / T'as faim? This is shorter and we use this a lot. So here, there is a vowel so we can do the contraction.
But here - tu manges, you cannot do any contraction here. You have to say tu manges even in casual situation, tu manges.
Let's move on to the next one which is il. Here again, this is only with consonant so there is no contraction you can do usually with il. It’s like tu. But here with a consonant and consonant only, not vowel this time, you can do a kind of contraction which is turning il into y like with a Y, but you say /i/.
So when you say - Il mange quoi? Question, again like you can see that I'm using this pattern - “What are you doing?” Tu fais quoi? Il mange quoi? So I’m using this pattern - Il mange quoi? / Y mange quoi? Il mange quoi? / Y mange quoi?
But here, if there is a vowel - il était malade, you cannot do any contraction. You have to say - il était malade. You cannot just use y.
So Il mange quoi? / Y mange quoi?
There is one exception which is not really a kind of exception, but it's not a contraction but it's an elision of il. It’s when you hear ilya. For example - il ya deux ans “two years ago” il ya deux ans. Instead of doing il ya, you just say ya like you get rid of this and you add this to this letter and you say ya, il ya deux ans / ya deux ans “two years ago”. Il ya deux ans, formal situation; casual situation, ya deux ans “two years ago”.
So we've seen je, tu, il like personal pronoun, but here is another form like the equivalent of je is me, the equivalent of tu is te and the equivalent of il is se. So here, with that, there is also a contraction that you can do. When there is again a consonant, because usually when there is a vowel, you do the contraction, but here in casual French, you can do also the contraction with the consonant. So here, the same rule is applied - je me fais à manger “I’m cooking for myself”. Je me fais à manger “I’m cooking for myself”. So you can say - je m' fais, je me fais / je m' fais. But you see that there is also here je and a consonant so you can also do j'me fais, but you cannot do both because it's really hard. You cannot say the two contractions in the same time. The idea of a contraction is to speak easier like to have an easy way to speak and a faster way to speak. But here, it's really hard to say if you try to do the two contractions. So we don't do that, we never do that. So here, you have to choose between one of the two and it's exactly the same meaning. There is no nuance in the meaning so je m' fais / je me fais, j'me fais / je me fais. Formal situation, je me fais and then you can choose in casual situation je m' fais or j' me fais. I don't know if you can hear the difference, but again, as long as you can understand when someone say je me fais, you don't care which kind of contraction he used. What is important is you understand the meaning of the sentence.
So here again with tu, tu te promènes, tu te promènes / t' promènes. I think it's quite hard to hear my T sometimes, t' promènes. So this is a way to contract the tu, tu te promènes / t' promènes. So again, consonant here, P, you can do the contraction.
Here - il se couche tôt. Il se couche tôt / Il s' couche tôt. Il se couche tôt / Il s' couche tôt. “He is going to bed early.” Il se couche tôt. Here, you can also use this rule because here there is il + consonant, Il se couche tôt. Here, you can apply both rules. You can do this one and this one. Unlike in this situation, you can do with il, you can transform the il into y so it means like you have to say y s' couche tôt. Il se couche tôt / Y s' couche tôt. Il se couche tôt, formal situation, Il s' couche tôt, casual situation and y s' couche tôt, even more casual like it's the same casualty like the same casualness. Il s' couche tôt. / Y s' couche tôt. Don’t focus too much on the difference. There is no real difference between those two. So here, just keep in mind that you can do the contraction with that and here you cannot, like the two contractions, you cannot and here you can do the two contractions. The reason is, it's really easy to say when you do the two contractions here and it's not easy to say when you do the contractions here. So if you want a real reason for why we can do two contractions here and not to here, it's because it's easy to say in French. Y s' couche tôt, really easy, no difficulties.
Let's move on to another one which is again with /e/, but this time is le and de. Again, when there is a consonant, you can say le or de. Usually, you have to do that again when there is a vowel, but here you can also, in casual situations, again, you can do with a consonant. So when you say - j'ai pas le temps, this is the formal formal, you can say - j'ai pas l'temps. J' ai pas le temps like formal situation, j' ai pas le temps and in casual situation, j' ai pas l' temps.
So here it’s with le, but here is an example with de - Le train va de Paris à Marseille. “The train goes from Paris to Marseille.” which is a city in the south of France. Here, I forgot to translate that, but j' ai pas le temps “I don’t have time”, quite easy. I don’t have time.” J' ai pas le temps. Pas l'temps.
So here, Le train va de Paris à Marseille. Usually, sometimes it's quite difficult to say /de/ those two sounds so sometimes, the /de/ turns into a kind of /t/, Le train va de Paris à Marseille. This is not exactly a /de/, not exactly a /t/, it’s like a kind of in between, but don't focus too much on that. As long as you can understand again, this is quite fine - Le train va de Paris à Marseille. This one, I think - Le train va de Paris à Marseille, I would use both like even in casual situations, I think I might also say d' Paris à Marseille, but, I guess it depends on the feeling - Le train va de Paris à Marseille. / Le train va d' Paris à Marseille. So again, le / de, with only consonant because usually, you can do the contraction when there is a vowel. No need to be in a casual situation.
The last one is some sort of general rule of what we've seen. Because here, you've noticed that there is /e/. Here again, /e/, /e/, /e/… /e/, /e/ like E in English, but /e/ is the French way to say E in French.
So here, you can do a contraction when there is a consonant but in fact, you can do a contraction with /e/, you can always do a contraction with /e/ when there is a consonant just after /e/. So it's also something that is true in the middle of words.
So here, when I say - petit cheval “a small horse”, petit cheval “small horse”, you can say p'tit ch'val. Here, I get rid of the E here and here again because there is a consonant here, the T and the V, so I can say p'tit ch'val. You can say just one if you want or the two or even none of them, but it's quite common to say that - p'tit ch'val.
Here, I’m just going to do the contraction for cheval, petit ch'val. So here, I just get rid of the E in cheval, petit ch'val. So petit cheval, full sentence; p'tit cheval and then petit ch'val. So here, I just did one contraction and I'm gonna do the two contractions - p'tit ch'val.
Here is another one which is really common in French, even in non-casual situation. This is the verb acheter “to buy” in English. Because here there is an E and there is T, you can say ach'ter, but there is one subtlety. You know that sometimes when you use the conjugations of this verb, you can add the accent. For example when you say - j'achète, here, there is an accent.
So here, this rule, you can only use it when there is no accent. Here, there is an accent so you cannot… like I don't know how you would manage to do it because it's really hard. You cannot do the contraction here, but if there is no accent in the middle of the word, you can do this contraction. So this with the verb acheter, you can do the contractions sometimes when there is no accent, acheter, ach'ter du pain “to buy some bread” ach'ter du pain, ach'ter, acheter / ach'ter. No contraction, acheter, with the contraction, ach'ter.
So here we've seen that this is kind of generalization of those rules. So so far we've seen that we can do the elision of the negation, ne, you get rid of it. You can also get rid of the mandatory inversion in questions - Es-tu arrivé? / Tu es arrivé?, with some exceptions that you have to keep in mind with que. Also, contractions which are really important in casual French with all those rules; je, tu, il, me, te, se, le, de and /e/ in middle of words.
So now, you know how to use that, but maybe you don't know when to use that. The distinction between casual and formal is not quite true. In many situations at shops and stuff like that, you will do sometimes the contractions, but what you have to keep in mind as a French learner is the less contractions and the less casual French you use, the clearer you are. Sometimes when a friend don't understand what I'm saying, when I will repeat the sentence, even if it's a French person, I will get rid of all those rules. I will say the full sentences because it's clearer to speak with that. So if you're not confident with the French pronunciation, I think it's better not to use that.
So why learning that? I think it's also important to learn that because when you speak to someone like a French person, he can sometimes speak with that like this person can sometimes use casual French so it's good to know that to be able to understand what he is saying. But for you, what is important is to be understood so just use full sentences instead of using contractions and stuff like that if you're not confident enough.
Well, that's all for today and I hope we will see you again on our next video on French learning. Bye!