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Passerelles ep. 1, Quiz 50: surtout

    “Qu’est-ce que c’est” and “surtout” – what about these phrases? Hear them in this moderately paced clip from Passerelles podcast. Practice your ear for spoken French with words you know and words you don’t in this clip of French in real life.

    This clip is from Passerelles Episode 1. Listen and fill in what you hear below. Read more and find a translation below. Listen to the full episode here.

    14 seconds, 32 words

    This audio sample and transcription is from Passerelles ep. 1. We do not own the content. Listen to the entire episode

    '- ', ? '.,.
    '- ', ? 'surtoutquestionperception.Engénéral,tendancevoirétantjeunechronologique.
    '- c'estavoir, ? C'estsurtoutquestionperception.Engénéral,onatendanceàsevoircommeétantplusjeunequenotreâgechronologique.

    most of all

    What’s opening up for you with this clip?

    The snippet in English

    Find a translation of this snippet here, how much of this did you hear?

    Qu’est-ce que c’est avoir quarante ans, cinquante ou soixante ? C’est surtout une question de perception. En général, on a tendance à se voir comme étant plus jeune que notre âge chronologique.

    What does it mean to be forty, fifty or sixty? It’s mostly a question of perception. In general, we tend to see ourselves as younger than our chronological age.

    The above translation from Deepl. Source

    What does “qu’est-ce que c’est” mean?

    A staple in the French language that often puzzles beginners but is undeniably essential. Let’s explore this ubiquitous query!

    “What is it?” or “What is that?” It literally translates to “what is it that it is?”, which might seem redundant in English but makes perfect sense in the structure of French questions. “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” is commonly used when pointing to something unfamiliar or when seeking clarification.

    • “Qu’est-ce que c’est, ce bruit?” (What is that noise?)
    • “Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça dans ton assiette?” (What is that in your plate?)

    It can pop up anywhere in daily conversations to request explanations or details. “Tu as parlé d’un nouveau projet. Qu’est-ce que c’est?” (You mentioned a new project. What is it?)

    For English speakers, the literal translation might seem long-winded, but this format is a part of several interrogative structures in French. It emphasizes the question and makes it clear to the listener.

    Depending on the context and formality, you might also hear: “C’est quoi?” – a more casual, shortened version. “Qu’est-ce que c’est que cela/ça?” – a longer, more emphasized form.

    “Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” translates to “What’s happening?” or “What’s going on?”

    “Qu’est-ce que tu fais?” means “What are you doing?”

    Questions like “qu’est-ce que c’est?” are integral in day-to-day interactions in French. Whether it’s kids inquiring about their surroundings or adults in a discussion, this phrase is versatile and universally understood.

    What does “surtout” mean?

    “Surtout” is one of those French words that’s compact in form but expansive in application. Let’s unpack this versatile adverb and its various uses in the French language. It primarily means “especially” or “above all,” but it can also translate to “mainly,” “particularly,” or even “most of all.”

    “Surtout” is often used to stress the significance or importance of a specific element in a sentence.

    • “J’aime tous les fruits, mais surtout les fraises.” (I like all fruits, but especially strawberries.)

    It can be used to suggest that something is prevalent or common.

    • “Il aime surtout la musique classique.” (He mainly likes classical music.)

    “Surtout” can be placed at the beginning of a sentence to give advice or a warning.

    • “Surtout, ne lui dis rien!” (Above all, don’t tell him anything!)

    To describe the extent or reach of something.

    • “C’est un problème surtout parmi les jeunes.” (It’s a problem particularly among young people.)

    Depending on the intended meaning, the position of “surtout” in a sentence can vary. It’s flexible and can be found at the beginning, middle, or end of a statement. The word’s meaning can slightly shift based on context. For instance, when giving advice, “surtout” leans more towards “above all” or “most importantly.” In other contexts, it may simply mean “especially” or “particularly.”

    “Pas surtout” can be used in a negative sense to mean “not particularly” or “not especially.”

    • “Ce film n’était pas surtout intéressant.” (That movie wasn’t particularly interesting.)

    “Surtout pas” translates to “certainly not” or “definitely not.”

    • “Veux-tu sauter en parachute? Surtout pas!” (Do you want to skydive? Definitely not!)

    “Surtout” is a multifaceted adverb that comes in handy in various situations. Whether emphasizing preference, offering advice, or highlighting the significance of something, this little word is a big player in the realm of French conversation and writing.

    What does “on a tendance” mean?

    The phrase “on a tendance” is an intriguing construction that shows the oddities of language translation and the rich tapestry of French expressions.

    “On a tendance” directly translates to “one has a tendency” or “we have a tendency.” In practice, it’s equivalent to the English “we tend to.” The phrase often points to general tendencies or habits shared among people. It’s a way to make observations without pinpointing a specific person, making it a more neutral statement.

    • “On a tendance à oublier les petits détails.” (We tend to forget the small details.)
    • “On a tendance à manger plus quand on est stressé.” (People tend to eat more when they’re stressed.)

    Why is it “we have a tendency” in French? Languages often don’t map perfectly onto each other. What one language suggests indirectly or assumes, another might state directly or spell out. While English uses “tend to” as a verb, French prefers the construction “have a tendency to,” using “avoir” (to have) as the verb. The pronoun “on” in French is versatile. It can mean “one,” “we,” “they,” or “people” depending on context. Here, it’s a general, collective pronoun, indicating a shared tendency among people.

    There are alternative ways to express the same Idea:

    • “Il est courant que”: (It is common that.) “Il est courant qu’on oublie les petits détails.” (It’s common that we forget the small details.)
    • “Généralement” or “En général” (generally), they can be used to describe a usual practice or tendency. “Généralement, on oublie les petits détails.” (Generally, we forget the small details.)
    • “Souvent” (often) It can be used in contexts where the tendency is frequent. “On oublie souvent les petits détails.” (We often forget the small details.)

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    “Qu’est-ce que c’est” and “surtout” – what about these phrases? Hear them in this moderately paced clip from Passerelles podcast. Practice your ear for spoken French with words you know and words you don’t in this clip of French in real life.

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