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LEARNING FRENCH

Beyond oui: 23 ways to agree in French

It's not exactly obscure knowledge that the French word for yes is 'oui', but the language also offers many other alternatives to agree, express your support or generally sound positive.

Beyond oui: 23 ways to agree in French
If all else fails, stick to the international 'yes' gesture to show your agreement. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

With the help of French language expert Camille Chevalier-Karfis, founder of French Today, we have put together this list of ways to expand beyond oui.

Oui – this is the basic yes, but also the one to use if you’re in a formal situation. Interviews at the préfecture, talking to your bank manager or a job interview is not the time to branch out, stick to oui or for extra politeness oui monsieur/oui madame.

WITH AUDIO – the different ways to say yes in French

Ouais – this is the more casual version of oui, it’s roughly equivalent to yeah or yep. It’s not rude but it’s certainly casual so your French teacher might take a dim view of you using it in class.

Mouais – this is really a contracted version of Mmmm, ouais and you use it when you’re agreeing slightly doubtfully to something.

Tu aimes ça, les brocolis? Mouais – You like broccoli? Yeah, kinda

Ben ouais – the French ben, pronounced bah, baaah or baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah depending on how much emphasis you want to give, is a sound that you will hear all the time in France. It is often paired with oui or ouais to really give emphasis to your agreement. 

Tu aimes les croissants ? Ben ouais, c’te question !! – You like croissants? Of course, what kind of question is that?!

Oui oui – the subject of much immature sniggering in French classes (because it sounds like wee-wee, the childish way to say urine), the double oui is used a lot in France. 

Chéri, tu viens ? Oui, oui, j’arrive – Honey are you nearly ready? Yes, yes, I’m coming

Je peux le faire demain ? Oui, oui, c’est bon – Can I do it tomorrow? Yes, of course that’s fine

Mais oui – keep this one for when you’re upset or irritated. It is used in France, but it’s not just a casual option for an agreement, it carries a sense of annoyance, anger or irritation or that the question you’ve just been asked is stupid.

It’s a useful one to use, but make sure that you know the impression that you’re giving before you say it. Likewise, mais non is used if you’re really upset about something or the person that you’re talking to is being completely unreasonable.

Inhaled oui – there’s also a version of oui that is aspirated or inhaled – it’s frankly quite difficult to explain so we made this video.

So as we have established, oui is a very versatile word. But the French language also has other options for agreeing.

Si – this is a truly useful word that we think English should have too. It means yes, but in a very specific context – when you’re disagreeing with a negative.

Tu n’aimes pas Paris? Mais si ! Bien sûr que si j’aime Paris !! – You don’t like Paris? Yes! Of course I like Paris

It makes very clear what you mean and does away with those confusing conversations ‘No, I like it’ – ‘You mean that no you don’t like it, or no you do like it etc’. For extra emphasis you can say si si.

D’accord – OK or I agree

OK – OK is very widely used in France, often paired with d’accord or even oui – Oui, OK, d’accord, j’arrive – yes, alright, I’m coming

ça marche – that works. This is an informal one and it’s often used when you’re making arrangements.

Vendredi 18h ? Oui, ça marche – Friday at 6pm? Yeah, that works

Exactement – exactly

Certainment – certainly

Absolument – absolutely

Carrément – definitely (very casual)

Effectivement – yes, that’s right

Evidemment – yes, that’s obvious (often used in an angry or sarcastic way)

Pas de problème – no problem

Pas de souci – no worries, a more casual version of no problem, usually used by younger people

Bien sûr – of course

Bien entendu – yes, for sure (literally translates as ‘well heard’)

Avec plaisir – with pleasure. This is the one that you would use to accept an invitation.

Dîner chez moi dimanche ? Avec plaisir – Dinner at mine on Sunday? Yes, great.

Tout à fait – yes, exactly, precisely

C’est ça – that’s it, that’s right

En effet – yes indeed (usually used in a formal context)

You can read a fuller version of this article with Audio guides to the correct pronunciation on French Today – HERE.

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PROPERTY

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at societe.com. If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.

Vocab

Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.

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