Will I be understood?

I live in Canada. From grades 4-9 it was required for me to take a French class in school. Since I didn't go to a French immersion school I didn't learn much. I'm in university now so it's been a while since I've learned any French. I've heard that France French is much different than Canadian/Quebecois French. My question is: Is it so different that I wont be understood by native French-Canadian speakers here? Also, will I understand them?

(On the upside I know many immigrants that speak the France French.)

June 5, 2015


Being French, I never had problems to communicate with Québécois people. For sure there are some local words I don't know (and vice versa) but while communicating, you just clarify the meaning of those few words and all goes smoothly (and, bonus, you learn some more words ;)). And, when speaking face to face, people will often get at your facial expression that you didn't get the word and will naturally adapt to make you understand.

June 5, 2015

So there are only a little bit of differences? I was worried it would be like a whole different language, but I'm feeling a bit better with your response.

June 5, 2015

Well, you have to be used to the accent for sure: I don't watch often Canadian movies and I need often like 15/20 min to get used **in order to get 99%, the 1% missing being the local words I don't know) of what they're saying. But before those 15min, I get like 95% I think. So, different but we can communicate w/o any pb. ;)

But they are the same languages.

However very rare same words don't mean the same. The only example I have in mind is:

  • breakfast <-> petit déjeuner [FR] <-> déjeuner [QB]
  • lunch <-> déjeuner [FR] <-> dîner [QB]
  • dinner <-> dîner [FR] <-> souper [QB]

And the QB use is also used in few regions in France and it's the original/etymologic use. It just changed little by little in (most of) France.

June 5, 2015

From what I understand, the difference is somewhat like the difference between British and American English. People will think you have an accent and there may be some confusion regarding slang and idioms and so on, but it's not a different language or anything. At least, that's what I've heard from Quebecois visiting France and vice versa. I'm an American so I don't anything from personal experience. :P

June 5, 2015

I spent 6 months in Quebec as a Dutch person who had French in high school for 5 years. I would say that if anyone would have trouble understanding the Quebecois, it would be someone with elementary knowledge of (European) French.

However, I found it very similar. The most striking difference to me was the pronounciation of the letter ê. French people will pronounce for example "bête" as beht, whereas a Quebecois will say something like bite. Cursing is very different too, but you probably don't want to swear to people anyways. :)

My Quebecoise ex-girlfriend was chatting away with her French friends here in Europe without any problems.

June 5, 2015

If your French level is reasonable then you will understand be understood, at least when they are speaking with you. You may have more trouble understanding Québécois speaking to other Québécois. In my experience people usually are aware of the main differences between Canadian French and Metropolitan French, and will make an effort to speak something closer to Metropolitan French with outsiders.

June 5, 2015

You will probably be understood, but you may find it more difficult to understand them, unless, as others have said, they correct their pronunciation or go more slowly. I am actually able to follow the gist of someone speaking Parisian French, but the accent of Canadian French stymies me (and I am Canadian!).

June 5, 2015

The first thing you realize when you compare the two (I won't say languages because it's the same language) is the accent, of course, and then some slangs and expressions. As a Quebecer I can't tell which is the easiest to understand since I perfectly know Canadian French, but I think our pronunciation is worse than the pronunciation in France. But we tend to try to speak better when we have to speak with a non-Quebecer French person. At least that's what I do.

In Quebec, I think you you should be good if your accent is not too bad. Most of us have to learn English at school (I've been learning English for 9 years so far and I'm not even done) so maybe you could ask if some people speak English if you're not comfortable enough, especially if you go to Montreal since there are a lot of English speakers there (but the thing will be that if they're not that good in English you'll have to deal with their accents xD). But if you do, there might be a few slangs that you'll have to learn, but you should be alright.

I don't know about France, though. I can perfectly communicate with French people from France, I don't know some expressions and I have to ask sometimes, but I'm fine. Again I don't know about people from France, but it should be fine too.

June 7, 2015

I'm actually already noticing a difference in accent. A lot of the words on here sound a lot different than I remember. I'll think "Oh, I know this word!" but then I hear the pronunciation and I'm like "well that's different." Hopefully I will be able to learn the differences in both dialects! :)

June 8, 2015
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