Canadian French Necessities: Distinctive Phrases for Each Dialog



Oh, Canada! A sprawling, warm-hearted nation that you simply may know for its well-known friendliness, spectacular mountains, cosmopolitan cities, maple syrup, and love of hockey. It’s a land the place huge wilderness and wildlife meet bustling fashionable cities. However it might be a disgrace to color all of this superb nation with the identical brush. There’s a wealthy number of language and tradition in Canada, together with a number of Francophone areas—the largest of which is Québec.


As a learner of French, a visit to French-speaking Canada is perhaps on the prime of your listing, and we predict that’s une bonne idée (a good suggestion)! However will your Customary French abilities translate to French in Canada? May there be some confusion between the French dialects? The French spoken in Canada is exclusive, however don’t panic—your Customary French will certainly turn out to be useful. 

We’ll have a look under at how Customary French and Canadian dialects differ. Plus, we’ll share an entire listing of phrases which can be sure to turn out to be useful! 


It doesn’t matter what dialect or area you’re exploring, there’s extra to a language than memorizing vocabulary and verb charts. Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion can convey linguistic selection proper to your fingertips, mirroring the way in which you first acquired language as a baby. And in the event you’re trying to put your French abilities to the check by reserving a visit and soaking within the fascinating allure of Québecois French, we’re right here that can assist you put together!

>>You’ll wish to know 100+ Primary French phrases for any state of affairs earlier than you pack your luggage!

Why is French spoken in Canada? 

Canada has a posh historical past with the French language, one that may scarcely be lined in a brief weblog put up. It started through the 1500s when Jacques Cartier arrived in Newfoundland.  French settlers, a lot of them fur merchants, colonized the world, together with what’s now generally known as Québec, first based in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. 

Because the British colonized extra of the land, wars, missionary exercise, and additional disputes over land and language resulted in a linguistically divided nation. Even when French colonial rule got here to an finish, the French language and tradition endured in some areas.  

In 1969, the Official Languages Act acknowledged each English and French as co-official languages and granted them equal standing by legislation. The federal authorities operates in each languages, and provincial governments and territories are required to offer bilingual instruction to their college students. To encourage extra Anglophone residents to pursue mastery of French, there are a lot of bourses (scholarships) and alternatives out there for Canadian residents to pursue higher-level research of French as an extra language. 

What dialects of French are spoken in Canada? 

The British conquest, paired with the sheer geographical vastness of Canada, separated teams of French audio system into three separate entities. Remoted from one another, the dialects advanced individually, however they every share options that differ from European French. Québecois is the dominant dialect of the province of Québec, and would be the focus of this put up. 

There are additionally particular dialects related to every of the provinces of Canada, as Francophone communities maintained their language and tradition over centuries. Notable French dialects embody Acadian, Franco-Ontarian, and Terre-Neuve (Newfoundland) French. All through Canada, and even south of the Canadian border, are different Francophone communities with associated dialects.   

What are the French-speaking areas of Canada?

Throughout the continent, over 7 million Canadians converse French as their first language. The bulk reside in Québec, with French being the only official language within the province, and in bilingual New Brunswick, the place French has co-official standing.  

In Québec, over 95 % of individuals converse Québecois (the French dialect spoken in Québec) as their first or second language. Round a million French audio system reside in different components of Canada, with round a 3rd of Canadians reporting that they’ve a conversational degree of French. In practically each province one can find pockets of Francophone communities, every with their very own language distinctives. 

Alongside the Atlantic we discover the area known as Acadia, together with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, which all have robust French-speaking traditions, distinctive to the world.  

With regards to Ontario, many newcomers of all language backgrounds select to settle in Toronto. Over 60,000 folks converse French on this dynamic and multicultural metropolis. 

As you journey additional west, you usually tend to discover solely smaller pockets of individuals sustaining their lengthy standing francophone heritage, resembling St. Boniface (a part of Winnipeg) in Manitoba, Gravelbourg in Saskatchewan, and St Paul in Alberta. 

In the event you’re touring to Canada as a scholar or vacationer, you’ll see signage and paperwork in each English and French. That is the case all through the nation, however in the event you actually wish to concentrate on French, go for a group that’s majority Francophone. Join with a sympathetic native who’s used to learners, and also you’ll get pleasure from most publicity to their distinctive dialect.   

What does a Canadian French accent sound like? 

Everybody has an accent that displays the pronunciation and cadences of their important language influences from childhood. Most English audio system are accustomed to a common distinction between American and British dialects, although each teams have multitudes of smaller regional accents amongst them. This degree of differentiation holds the identical between Québecois and Customary French.  

It’s essential to notice that there isn’t any one explicit Canadian French accent. Similar to in English, there are regional variations, even between areas which can be solely separated by a pair hours’ drive. For somebody who has grown up in Québec, totally different accents is perhaps apparent between cities, however a number of issues distinguish most Québecois from Customary French.  

  • Many vowels are pronounced otherwise, with extra diphthongs created in Québecois. 
  • The “o” in phrases like selected (factor) in Québecois will sound as if you might be announcing each “o” and “oo.” 
  • The “oi” sound in moi (me) sounds extra like “oé.”
  • The ultimate “ain” sound in phrases like important (hand) seems like “a-in” with a really nasal sound. 

These vowel sounds mirror an older type of French, as pronounced by the aristocratic pronunciation of the colonizers.    

  • Speech in Canada is taken into account to have extra of a “sing-song” high quality compared with France.
  • Vowels and phrase endings with silent consonants have extra of a nasal sound, which might even result in confusion between phrases, resembling dad and mom (dad and mom) which might be confused with parrains (godparents). 
  • A cautious listener will hear an “s” or “z” sound in some phrases with t or d consonants, resembling mardi (Tuesday) which sounds extra like “mardzi” or “extraordinaire” (superb) which seems like “extraordzinaire.” 

It may be actually enjoyable to match and distinction how new buddies and acquaintances pronounce phrases. Although adapting to the Québecois accent is significantly harder for a European French speaker than say, a Swiss French accent, having persistence, a humorousness and curiosity is the secret!  

What are the variations between Canadian French and Customary French? 

Much less formality

Canadian French audio system use the extra casual tu (you) as a substitute of vous (you) far more typically than in France, which can make Canada look like a pleasant place to grasp the language. The usage of tu with strangers is taken into account rude in France, however can be extra frequent in Canada. It’s nonetheless not a nasty thought to make use of vous simply in case, although you might be given permission immediately to tutoyer (to make use of the tu kind).  

You’ll additionally discover extra use of on (casual “we”) as a substitute of nous (customary, formal “we”). On this case, verbs are conjugated just like the il/elle kind, so it’s slightly less complicated to kind some sentences, too. 

Affect of English and First Nation languages

There are various First Nation communities all through Canada, resulting in loan-words which can be particular to different indigenous languages.  

French Phrase (borrowed phrase)  Which means
un carcajou a wolverine
un mocassin a moccasin
un achigan a black bass
une babiche a snowshoe
un maringouin a mosquito

English can be a heavy affect in Canada, so anglicismes (phrases and phrases influenced by the English language) are fairly frequent. They don’t essentially correspond with the anglicismes utilized in France, nevertheless! 

Canada France English that means
J’ai parqué mon char J’ai stationné ma voiture I parked my automobile
C’est très le enjoyable. C’est très amusant It’s actually enjoyable
Je vais faire du magasinage Je vais faire du procuring I’m going to go procuring
cette fin de semaine ce weekend this weekend
le courriel le mail the mail
le chien chaud Le hotdog the scorching canine
un joke une blague a joke
ARRÊT STOP STOP (on a cease signal) 

Names of meals 

In the event you’ve studied the distinction between the names of meals in France versus Switzerland or Belgium, this can be a acquainted distinction. The phrases for  “dinner,” “supper” and even “tea” may cause confusion in English as effectively, so it’s helpful to know the norms within the area you might be visiting. 

Canada France Which means
Le déjeuner Le petit-déjeuner the primary meal within the morning, breakfast 
Le dîner Le déjeuner mid-day meal
Lunch, luncheon, dinner (relying on English-speaking area) 
Le souper Le dîner night meal
Dinner, supper (relying on English-speaking area) 

Use of each older and newer phrases  

Similar to in Switzerland and Belgium, there are traces of older French dialects which can be nonetheless in use right this moment, however have disappeared or are actually thought of antiquated in France. For instance, barrer means “to lock” in Québec, however has been changed with fermer à clé or verrouiller in France. 

However, phrases which have been invented particularly for issues that exist solely in Canada, resembling some phrases in authorities, expertise, or phrases for newer merchandise or concepts, will likely be totally different from France as effectively.  

un dépanneur = a small grocery retailer/nook retailer

Formation of questions 

In casual dialog in Québecois, questions can embody the phrase tu as a marker of a query, rather than est-ce que. That is absent in formal French and in Europe. 

  • Elle a-tu dit oui? = Did she say sure? 
  • Il veut-tu aller au marché? = Does he wish to go to the market? 

As you possibly can see, this tu as a question-making add-on can get confused with the topic pronoun tu (you), however serves the aim of forming questions extra shortly.  

What phrases or phrases ought to I do know if I’m touring to French-speaking Canada?

Excellent news! Although there are a lot of variations in Québecois French, your French will likely be useful in Canada, particularly with those that are used to speaking with learners. 


Québecois French Customary/ European French English that means
Bienvenue! De rien ! Je vous en prie You’re welcome
Bonne journée! Au revoir ! Goodbye / Good day
Il fait frette! Il fait froid ! It’s chilly!
C’est amusant! C’est le enjoyable !  It’s enjoyable!

Widespread phrases

It could take a substantial amount of house to listing each vocabulary distinction in Canadian French, however listed here are a couple of you’ll encounter!  

Canadian French Customary/ European French English that means
des bas des chaussette socks
des souliers des chaussures footwear
la boucane la fumée smoke
la facteur une addition a invoice/examine (at a restaurant) 
le soccer le soccer, le foot soccer, European soccer
les vidanges les poubelles rubbish, trash, garbage
un bicyclette (un bicyc)  un vélo a motorbike
un breuvage une boisson a drink
un char une voiture a automobile
un chum un copain a boyfriend
un costume de bain un maillot de bain a washing swimsuit/swimsuit
une balayeuse un aspirateur a vacuum-cleaner
une blonde une copine a girlfriend
une camisole un débardeur a sleeveless t-shirt
une cellulaire un moveable a cellphone
une débarbouillette Une petite napkin/ Un gant de toilette A washcloth/face material
une efface une gomme an eraser (from a pencil) 
une laveuse une machine à laver a washer
une liqueur une boisson gazeuse a carbonated beverage
une pinotte une cacahuète a peanut
une sacoche un sac à important a purse
une tuque un bonnet a beanie/wool hat

Vulgar language… from the place? 

You get the impression that it’s “spicier” language, however if you look it up, all of it appears to be non secular in nature. What’s occurring? Canadian French is thought to intersperse a number of swear phrases whose literal meanings relate to the Catholic church. Simply in case you hear somebody shout phrases resembling “chalice,” “baptism” or “tabernacle,” remember that these are known as sacres (curse phrases that come from holy language), and they’re thought of pretty weighty vulgar language, so use warning. 

These colourful phrases don’t often translate nor correspond with the dangerous language utilized in different French talking areas, and will even confuse French audio system from France! 

Discover French in each area with Rosetta Stone

Whether or not you’re planning a visit, or simply connecting with Canadian tradition on-line, studying in regards to the French in Canada will enrich your language studying expertise. Only a little bit of consciousness of regional language variations helps us keep curious and ask inquiries to keep away from an excessive amount of confusion.  

Have already got a visit to Canada on the calendar? Brush up in your expressions whereas having fun with a go to to La Ville de Québec (Québec Metropolis) to attempt some poutine (french fries with cheese curds and gravy), or tourtière (Québecois meat pie). Go to a cabane à sucre (sugar shack) and take part in some enjoyable traditions! 

Navigate these frequent journey conditions and extra with ease. Rosetta Stone’s Phrasebook teaches you helpful phrases associated to eating out, getting round, well being and security, and extra. Hear a local speaker pronounce every expression and apply saying them your self, so that you’ll be ready for any real-world encounter.

Since most of us can’t journey as a lot as we’d like, convey different French regionalisms straight to you! We’d relatively provide the instruments to make reminiscences relatively than concentrate on memorization alone, so Rosetta Stone focuses on vocabulary and constructions in participating contexts. Uncover the world whereas studying French naturally proper from dwelling!

Written by Jamie Edwards

Jamie is a learner and instructor of Spanish and French. When she’s not studying new phrases, you’ll discover her on the soccer sidelines, ski slopes, and monitor and discipline bleachers having fun with the 4 seasons of Western New York.


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