French Word of the Day: Si

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French Word of the Day: Si
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No, we haven't done a Spanish Word of the Day by mistake, but this French word is commonly used and can easily confuse foreigners.


Why do I need to know si?

Because properly using si will demonstrate that you know the nuances of the many different ways to say ‘yes’ in French.

What does it mean?

Si - roughly pronounced see (similar to how one might say it in Italian or Spanish) - is one of the many ways to say ‘yes’ in French, along with the ever reliable oui and its more casual cousins ouais and mouais, the latter being used when you have a hint of hesitancy about whatever you are agreeing to.

Si, however, is used in a very specific situation, when you are contradicting someone who has made a negative statement. 

Si can also be used to reply to a negative question with a "yes!" in the same emphatic and challenging way. For instance, your friend might say 'you don't feel like going to the pool do you?' and if you are really excited to go take a dip, then you could say 'Si, si je veux y aller' (yes, yes I want to go).

Remember: si is used when stressing the opposite of what the other person is saying, if their comment or question is negative. If they were making a positive statement and you wanted to contradict them, use non instead. 


Si is also used in other contexts, so you will need to listen carefully to the conversation before employing it. Si can mean 'if' - one might say si tu veux to mean 'if you want'.

It can also mean 'so' or 'very'. For example, if you want to say 'the queue was very long', you would say 'la queue était si longue'.

Use it like this

‘Tu n'aimes pas le chocolat, n'est-ce pas?’ ‘Mais, bien sûr que si! J'adore ça!' - ‘You don’t like chocolate, right?’ ‘But, of course I do! I love it!’

‘Tu étais paresseux aujourd'hui et tu n'as pas travaillé?’ ‘Si! J'ai travaillé!’ - ‘You were lazy today and didn’t work?’ ‘Yes! I worked!’


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