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Quelconque and Quiconque

The words quelconque (any) and quiconque (anyone) can come in handy when you're talking about something general or non-specific in French. Though they look quite similar, you can easily tell these words apart by focusing on what comes before -conquequi (who) and quel (what, which). There are a few key differences between these words. While quelconque can refer to both people and things, quiconque only refers to people. And while quiconque functions as a relative or indefinite pronoun, quelconque functions as an adjective: 

 

Elle fouille la maison de fond en comble à la recherche d'un quelconque indice.

She rifles through the house from top to bottom in search of any clue.

Caption 19, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Nos bébés ont été échangés... - Part 5

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Mais la petite sirène était incapable de faire du mal à quiconque.

But the little mermaid was incapable of hurting anyone.

Caption 41, Contes de fées - La petite sirène - Part 2

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Quelconque and quiconque are very similar to two other expressions we discussed in a previous lessonn'importe quel and n'importe qui

 

ls la postent dans n'importe quelle boîte aux lettres en oubliant pas de mettre leur adresse retour...

They mail it in any mailbox, not forgetting to put their return address...

Captions 12-13, LCM - "Cher Père Noël..."

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Et qui l'achète? -Ah, n'importe qui.

And who buys it? -Ah, anyone.

Captions 4-5, Le Journal - La bougie du sapeur

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Note that while the quel in n'importe quel changes depending on the gender and number of the noun it modifies (n'importe quelle, n'importe quels, n'importe quelles), the quel in quelconque never changes. However, since quelconque is an adjective, it takes an "s" when modifying a plural noun:

 

Si vous avez de quelconques questions, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter. 
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us. 

 

Quiconque can mean "whoever" or "anyone who" in more formal contexts: 

 

Quiconque arrive en retard ne sera pas autorisé à entrer dans le théâtre. 
Anyone who arrives late will not be allowed to enter the theater. 

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And quelconque is sometimes used as a pejorative meaning "ordinary," "second-rate," or "mediocre": 
 
 

Ce restaurant est très quelconque
That restaurant is very mediocre

 

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Vocabulary

Telling Stories and More with "Histoire"

In the latest segment of Le Jour où tout a basculé, Frédéric and Anne-Sophie meet Laetitia at a café to deliver some shocking news: their daughters were switched at birth. Upon hearing this, Laetitia is in a state of total disbelief. She says to the couple: 

 

Mais qu'est-ce que c'est que cette histoire?

But what is this all about?

Caption 38, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Nos bébés ont été échangés... - Part 5

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Histoire is related to two English words, "history" and "story," and can mean either one depending on context:

 

Ici, donc une ville riche en culture et riche en histoire...

So here a town rich in culture and rich in history...

Caption 8, Lionel - à Wissembourg

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C'est vraiment une histoire d'amour, c'est parti d'une histoire d'amour.

It's really a love story, it started out as a love story.

Caption 4, Annie Chartrand - Sa musique

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But in informal expressions like qu'est-ce que c'est que cette histoire, the word means something more along the lines of "business" or "matter." It often has this meaning in the construction histoire de + noun: 

 

Ici tout est histoire de récup' [récupération], de quoi créer un beau Noël.

Here it's all a matter [or question] of recycling, enough to create a beautiful Christmas.

Caption 58, Alsace 20 - Alsace: les plus belles déco de Noël!

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When histoire de follows an infinitive, it means "in order to," "just to," or "so as to": 

 

Bats le beurre de citron, histoire de bien mélanger le tout.

Whisk the lemon butter, it's a matter of mixing it all well.

Caption 47, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

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Two other, less familiar ways of saying "in order to" are pour + infinitive and afin de + infinitive.

 

Be careful with the expression raconter des histoires. It can either mean "to tell stories" or "to tell lies":

 

La mère raconte des histoires aux enfants chaque soir. 
The mother tells stories to the children every night. 

 

Arrête de me raconter des histoires!
Stop telling me lies!

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That's the story with histoire! If you have any questions or comments, please write to us at newsletter@yabla.com or tweet us @yabla.

Vocabulary

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