Unlocking French language: quand the French use quand même
Quand même. Quand même… Quand même!
It’s a phrase that stops a nation, or more so, a young girl at the ripe age of 16 on her first trip to France. This common French expression would continue to stump me for years to come, and I’m ashamed to add that the first time I heard this phrase, I transcribed it as ‘comme même’.
However, I shouldn’t be disheartened by my cultural linguistic naivety. This typical French expression, quand même, may be easily translated into English, but the translation changes drastically depending upon the context!
So let’s identify and explore quand même on the dissecting table…through hypothetical situations.
6 ways to use ‘quand même’
1. You’re out buying clothes and see a silk top that you just have to have. Unfortunately, it’s not in your size on the rack, so you ask the shop assistant for help who disappears out the back to check. She returns, only to tell you the bad news that they’re out of your size, so you say…
“Merci quand même” – Thanks anyhow.
2. It’s been a long and hard day at work. You trudge home on the train and slouch straight on the couch. You’re absolutely exhausted! Only problem, it’s nearly dinner time and you have to cook for the kids, so…
Tu le fais quand même – You do it anyway/nevertheless.
3. Your best friend from France is complaining about the distance from London to Paris, and you reply…
“C’est quand même pas si loin!” – It’s really not that far!
4. Your mother is struggling with modern-day technology again. She’s trying to type an email, but can’t access the internet. Actually, she can’t even turn on the computer, so you get a call…
“Mais, quand même! Maman!” – Really!
5. You line up to view the chapel that all your friends told you to see in Paris, Sainte-Chapelle. An hour passes shuffling in line and you finally enter the bottom chamber. It’s nice but nothing fancy.
You and your partner eventually make the climb up the winding, narrow staircase which suddenly reveals a room of never ending stained glass. You turn to your partner and say…
“C’est quand même impressionnant!” – That’s really amazing/ stunning!
6. You meet your friend’s son after so many years, and he’s really grown up… and up!
“Il est grand, quand même” – He’s tall isn’t he? (Rhetorical)
You’re on the way to French fluency!
The above sentences are not the only examples of this fine expression, given that it goes far beyond just words, and seems to be affected by other qualities such as prosody.
I feel that quand même is one of those expressions, that when mastered, you’re really on the way to speaking fluent French.
What are your quand même experiences?Image credits:
1. Gribouilleendlire via blogspot.
2. Healthy Professor via timesunion.
3. Sainte Chappelle, by randihausken on Flickr