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Transfert s01e22, Quiz 36: il faut que

Can you catch all of these phrases in fast spoken French? Hear “il n’était plus là”, “en train de”, “il faut que”, and “je sois”. When they’re in context they might be sped up, contracted and sound different. Can you catch them all? Start at any level and improve your French listening skills with us.…

Learn French with a podcast snippet! This clip is is from Transfert s01ep22. We do not own the content. Listen to the entire episode here.

18 seconds, 55 words
, ',, '., ' ' ', ',,,.
Euh, ',, n'étaitpluslà.,euh 'appris qu'illeil qui'ilallaitdécéder,euh 'boss,,euh,mourirjesois.
EuhÇa, c'était,, n'étaitpluslà.Donc,quandeuh j'aiappris qu'illeil qui'ilallaitdécéder,euh j'aiditàboss,àYves,luiaiditeuhYves,papaestentraindemourirfautquejesoislui.

The above audio sample and transcription is from Transfert s01ep22. We do not own the content. Listen to the entire episode here.


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The snippet in English

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

Euh … Ça, c’était au mois de mai, en août, il n’était plus là. Donc moi, quand euh j’ai appris qu’il allait euh qui’il allait décéder, euh j’ai dit à mon boss, à Yves, je lui ai dit euh Yves, mon papa est en train de mourir et il faut que je sois avec lui.

Uh … That was in May, in August, he was gone. So when I learned that he was going to die, I told my boss, Yves, I told him, Yves, my dad is dying and I have to be with him.

The above translation from Deepl

What does “il n’était plus là” mean?

Basic Meaning: The phrase “il n’était plus là” translates to “he was no longer there” in English. It is often used as a euphemism for death, implying that someone has passed away without directly stating it.

Contextual Use: This phrase is typically used to convey the absence or loss of someone in a less direct or softer manner. It’s a gentle way of acknowledging death, often used in sensitive or emotional contexts.

Other Common Euphemisms for Death in French:

  1. “Il a disparu”: Literally means “he disappeared.” This can be used to softly indicate that someone has passed away.
  2. “Il a quitté ce monde”: Translates to “he left this world,” a poetic and gentle way to refer to death.
  3. “Il a rendu l’âme”: Literally “he gave back the soul,” a phrase used to denote the act of dying.
  4. “Il est parti”: Simply means “he is gone” or “he left.” Like “il n’était plus là,” it’s a softer way of indicating someone’s passing.
  5. “Il est décédé”: While a bit more formal, “décédé” is a softer term than “mort” (dead), often used in official contexts.
  6. “Il nous a quittés”: Translates to “he has left us,” another gentle way of expressing that someone has died.

Cultural Notes:

  • Sensitivity in Language: In French culture, as in many others, discussing death often involves a degree of sensitivity and respect. Euphemisms are commonly used in personal conversations, literature, and even in the media to address the subject of death in a more gentle manner.
  • Poetic and Indirect Language: French, with its rich literary tradition, often favors poetic and indirect expressions, especially for delicate topics like death.


“Il n’était plus là” is a common French euphemism for death, used to imply that someone has passed away without directly stating it.

What does “en train de” mean?

The phrase “en train de” is a common French expression used to indicate that someone is in the process of doing something. It is equivalent to the English expression “in the process of” or “in the middle of.”

Usage and Context:

  • Describing Ongoing Actions: “En train de” is used before an infinitive verb to describe an action that is currently happening.
  • Emphasis on Continuity: It emphasizes the ongoing nature of the action.


  • “Je suis en train de lire.” (I am in the process of reading / I am reading right now.)
  • “Elle est en train de cuisiner.” (She is in the process of cooking / She is cooking right now.)

Colloquial Speech and Pronunciation:

  • In fast, colloquial French speech, the “de” in “en train de” may sound like it’s shortened or slightly dropped, but it is grammatically necessary to complete the expression. The elision or blending of words is common in spoken French, which can make it seem like certain parts of phrases are less pronounced.
  • However, even in casual conversation, completely dropping the “de” would be unusual and might lead to misunderstandings. The phrase would typically be contracted to sound more like “en train d'” before a vowel sound for ease of pronunciation, but the “de” or its contraction remains important for the phrase’s meaning.

Cultural Notes:

  • Common in Everyday Speech: “En train de” is a very common expression in French, used in both formal and informal contexts. It’s a crucial component of describing current actions.


“En train de” is an essential French phrase used to indicate an ongoing action, similar to saying “in the process of” in English. While the pronunciation of “de” might be contracted in fast, colloquial speech, especially before a vowel, it is not grammatically correct to completely omit it. Understanding and using “en train de” is important for expressing present continuous actions in French.

What does “il faut que” mean?

“Il faut que” is a French expression that translates to “it is necessary that” or “one must” in English. It is used to express a need, a requirement, or a necessity for something to be done.

Usage and Context:

  • Expressing Necessity or Obligation: This phrase is often used to indicate that a particular action is necessary or required.
  • Followed by Subjunctive: “Il faut que” is always followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood because it expresses a necessity or obligation, which is a condition that inherently carries uncertainty or subjectivity.


  • “Il faut que tu fasses tes devoirs.” (You must do your homework / It is necessary that you do your homework.)
  • “Il faut qu’il arrive à l’heure.” (He must arrive on time / It is necessary that he arrives on time.)

Subjunctive Mood:

  • The subjunctive mood, used after “il faut que,” reflects the non-factual, subjective, or uncertain nature of the action or state being discussed. It’s a key aspect of conveying nuances like obligation, desire, and necessity in French.

Cultural Notes:

  • Common in Formal and Informal Speech: “Il faut que” is widely used in both formal and informal contexts. It’s a fundamental expression in French for conveying the need for action or compliance with a requirement.
  • Politeness and Directiveness: While it expresses necessity or obligation, the phrase can be softened with polite language or made more direct based on the context and tone.


“Il faut que” is a versatile and commonly used French phrase for expressing necessity or obligation, always followed by the subjunctive mood. It captures the essential nature of the action that needs to be taken and is an important expression for understanding the subtleties of obligation and necessity in French. The use of the subjunctive mood after “il faut que” is a grammatical requirement, reflecting the inherent uncertainty or subjectivity of the obligation being expressed.

What does “je sois” mean?

“Je sois” is the first-person singular present subjunctive form of the verb “être” (to be) in French. It translates to “that I am” or “I be” in English, though the latter is not grammatically correct in modern English. The subjunctive mood is used to express doubt, uncertainty, desire, or a subjective viewpoint.

Usage and Context:

  • Subjunctive Mood: “Je sois” is used in situations that require the subjunctive, such as after certain expressions and conjunctions that express doubt, necessity, emotion, desire, or other subjective states.
  • Example Sentences:
    • “Il faut que je sois là à 8 heures.” (I have to be there at 8 o’clock.)
    • “Bien que je sois fatigué, je continuerai.” (Although I am tired, I will continue.)

Pronunciation in Fast Spoken French:

  • In rapidly spoken French, “je sois” might sound somewhat contracted, and the “je” can sound like “zh” (phonetically similar to the English “zh” in “vision”). This pronunciation is a result of natural speech patterns where words are blended for ease of articulation.
  • The “e” in “je” is often pronounced as a schwa sound (like the “a” in “sofa”) and can be very subtle or almost silent in casual conversation. However, the distinctiveness of the verb “sois” usually remains clear in context.

Cultural Notes:

  • Language Fluidity: French speakers often blend words in conversation, a natural aspect of the language’s fluidity. Understanding these nuances comes with listening practice and immersion.
  • Importance of Subjunctive: The subjunctive mood, including forms like “je sois,” plays a significant role in French grammar, reflecting the language’s capacity to convey nuanced emotions, doubts, and subtleties of thought.


“Je sois” is the subjunctive form of “être” used to express subjective states or conditions. In fast spoken French, the “je” in “je sois” may sound contracted or have a schwa-like sound, but the verb form remains identifiable. This reflects the natural fluidity of spoken French and the importance of the subjunctive mood in expressing nuanced thoughts and emotions.

What is opening up for you?

Comment below with the words you thought you heard, where you struggled, where you surprised yourself, or what you thought about this clip. Every little bit inspires other learners, thank you for being that inspiration to others on their French fluency journey!

Can you catch all of these phrases in fast spoken French? Hear “il n’était plus là”, “en train de”, “il faut que”, and “je sois”. When they’re in context they might be sped up, contracted and sound different. Can you catch them all? Start at any level and improve your French listening skills with us.…

3 thoughts on “Transfert s01e22, Quiz 36: il faut que”

  1. Hey,

    After “j’ai appris que” I believe the speaker just repeats “qu’il allais”, and there’s a typo in the transcription that says “qui’il” instead of “qu’il”.

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