Why do I need to know si?
Si will demonstrate that you know the nuances of the many different ways to say ‘yes’ in French.
What does it mean?
Si is one of the many ways to say ‘yes’, 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. The appropriate facial expression to adopt when using si is an indignant one.
Si can also be used to reply to a negative question with a “yes!” in the same emphatic and challenging way.
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.
One word of warning. Si also means ‘if’ in French. So context is crucial.
How is it pronounced?
Exactly the same as the Spanish or Italian si, or the English see or even sea.
‘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!’