French Lessons

Topics

Coin coin!

In a recent video, Lionel samples some beer at a local market in the town of Toul. In classic Lionel fashion, he delivers a witty pun: 

 

Quand on boit de la bière Coin Coin il faut vivre dans une pièce sans coins.

When you drink "Coin Coin" [Quack Quack] beer, you need to live in a room without corners.

Captions 36-37, Lionel - Les bières artisanales Coin Coin

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The name of the beer is derived from the onomatopoeic expression coin coin, or "quack quack," as in the sound a duck makes (check out this page for some more French animal sounds). When not repeated, the word coin has several meanings. As Lionel demonstrates, un coin usually means "a corner." He's talking specifically about the corner of a room, but un coin can also be a street corner: 

 

Au coin de la rue Fabre et de la rue Laurier.

At the corner of Rue Fabre [Fabre Street] and Rue Laurier [Laurier Street].

Caption 39, Canadian Chocolate Seller - Chocolats

 Play Caption

 

The other word for "corner" in French is angle (which literally means "angle," as you may have guessed). So you could just as easily say l'angle de la pièce (the corner of the room) or l'angle de la rue (the street corner). 

 

Sometimes, un coin can refer not simply to a street corner, but to a broader area of a town or city:

 

De l'extérieur, on dit que c'est un coin... un quartier chaud.

Outsiders say that this is an area... a rough neighborhood.

Caption 29, Actus Quartier - Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Or it can have a more general locational meaning, like "spot" or "place":

 

J'ai trouvé un coin sympa au bord de l'eau. 
I found a nice spot on the waterfront. 

 

There's also the adjectival phrase du coin, which refers to all things local: 

 

Pas de polémique: qu'ils soient du coin ou qu'ils viennent de loin...

No argument: whether they're from around here or from far away...

Caption 14, Le Journal - Un automne bien chaud

 Play Caption

 

Nous sommes allés au bistrot du coin
We went to the local bistro. 

 

Coin is a false cognate of the English word "coin." The word for "coin" is pièce, which also means "room," as in Lionel's example above. Try not to get them confused! 

 

C'est la pièce de dix euros, euh, qui représente la région.

It's the ten-euro coin, uh, that represents the region.

Caption 2, Normandie TV - La pièce de 10 euros bas-normande

 Play Caption

 

You can find many expressions featuring coin on this page. Keep them dans un coin de la tête (at the back of your mind) for whenever you speak French! 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Tweet us @yabla or send your topic suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Vocabulary

Forward-Thinking Adjectives

Do you remember from our last lesson Michel Garcia and his mysterious catch from Easter Island? Today we will reveal his secret: what made him famous worldwide was his discovery of a beautiful shell, extremely rare and previously unknown. And the name of this shellfish? The Garciai! Michel's pride in his namesake is second only to that for his son, Tokiroa.

 

Tokiroa est tout de même plus important que la belle garciai.

Tokiroa is all the same more important than the beautiful garciai.

Caption 43, Le Journal - L'île de Pâques

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

By now, you're probably used to adjectives in French following the nouns that they modify (as in le ciel bleu, "the blue sky"). But, as you can see above, the adjective belle precedes the noun Garciai. That's because Garciai is a proper noun, a nom propre, and in French, adjectives precede proper nouns.

In fact, there are a few other occasions when you'll see an adjective placed before the noun it modifies. It can also occur when an adjective is used very often in day-to-day language and is easily associated with the noun that it qualifies (generally these adjectives are short words). For example, notice that the common and monosyllabic adjective long (long), comes before frisson (shiver) in the lovely music video Les mots d'amour (The Words of Love) by Debout Sur Le Zinc.

 

Et ce long frisson qui n'en finit pas

And this long shiver that does not end

Caption 6, Debout Sur Le Zinc - Les mots d'amour

 Play Caption

 

And, similarly, Ina-Ich places the short and common adjective beau (beautiful/handsome) before gosse (kid), giving us beau gosse, a common French expression that means "handsome" or "good-lookin'," as in, "Hey handsome!"

 

À quoi penses-tu beau gosse?

What are you thinking about, handsome?

Caption 3, Ina-Ich - Âme armée

 Play Caption

 

The most common adjectives that you will find placed before a noun are: beau (beautiful), bon (good), grand (tall), gros (big), jeune (young), joli (pretty), mauvais (bad/mean), nouveau (new), petit (small), vieux (old) and their feminine forms. Some examples: un bon livre (a good book), une jolie fleur (a pretty flower), un gentil chien (a nice dog).

However, we should point out that when an adjective of this type is accentuated or highlighted, the tendency is to place it after the noun. You would normally say, C'est une gentille fille (She's a nice girl), but you'd say C’est une fille gentille! (She's a really nice girl!) if you wanted to emphasize gentille.

We expect hot sunny days in the summer, but in Un automne bien chaud, a bright, warm November day throws some people off.

 

Quinze centimètres sous les pas, un soleil gros comme ça, et pourtant pas un chat!

Fifteen centimeters under your feet, a big sun like this, and yet nothing stirring!

Caption 1, Le Journal - Un automne bien chaud

 Play Caption

 

Notice that the short and common adjective gros (big) this time follows the noun soleil (sun) to emphasize how exceptionally large the sun seems to be on an unusually warm autumn day.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The sun, the sea, and the words of love: three magical elements right there at your fingertips, waiting to teach you more about the placement of French adjectives. What are you waiting for? Check out the videos!

Grammar

You May Also Like