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N’importe quoi in French is an expression that literally means no matter what. This expression is the combination of “n’importe” which translates to “no matter” and the adverb “quoi” which means “what”. In French, n’importe quoi can be used for various purposes and situations. Let’s go over a few sentences that contain the French expression n’importe quoi with different meanings:
- J’ai écouté le discours du maire, c’est du n’importe quoi. I listened to the speech of the mayor, it’s nonesense.
- Pour apprendre le français, Georges ferait n’importe quoi. To learn French, Georges would do anything.
- On mange n’importe quoi avant de prendre la route de nouveau. We’ll eat anything before we take the road again.
How to pronounce "N'importe quoi" in French?
In French, the word n’importe quoi is pronounced /nɛ̃pɔʀt.kwa/. In details:
- /n/ sound: Place the front of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth. The tip of your tongue should touch the roof of your mouth. Vibrate your vocal cords.
- /ɛ̃/ sound: The mouth is slightly open and stretched horizontally, the tip of the tongue touches the front lower teeth.
- /p/ sound: Close the lips and push air through the mouth against the closure. Do not close your teeth. Hold it back very briefly, and then release it with a small puff of air. Do not vibrate your vocal cords when you make this sound.
- /ɔ/ sound: The letter o is an open o: the mouth is much more open to pronounce the /ɔ/ sound.
- /r/ sound: The key to making /r/ is not letting the tip of your tongue touch the roof of your mouth. The tip of the tongue must touch the front lower teeth. Vibrate your vocal cords and let the airflow around and over your tongue.
- /t/ sound: Place the tip of your tongue on the ridge behind your upper teeth. As you push air out of your mouth, briefly stop it behind your tongue before releasing it. Do not vibrate your vocal cords as you make this sound.
- /k/sound: Lift the back of your tongue and press it against the soft palate, above your throat. Push air out of your throat, stopping it briefly behind your tongue before releasing it. Your vocal cords do not vibrate while making this sound.
- /wa/ sound: To pronounce the sound /wa/, you need to pronounce the sound /u/ first and then move rapidly to pronounce the /a/ sound.
N’importe quoi is useful in many real-life situations such as when you are involved in an argument, when you want to express interjection, objection, to say bullshit, as well as in other contexts.
N’importe quoi is frequently used in French conversations, in TV programs, and also in the news headlines. Here are some examples:
- Sur le Mont-Blanc, c’est le grand n’importe quoi et un arrêté est à l’étude (source: leparisien.fr)
- Fête de la musique: le grand n’importe quoi ? (source: bfmtv.com)
- Internet de tout et n’importe quoi (arte.tv)
In the following, we’ll go through a number of important meanings of n’importe quoi.
When n'importe quoi means nonesense
When n'importe quoi means anything
Another common meaning of n’importe quoi is to refer to “anything”. In this case, it is a totally different context that nonsense. Use n’importe quoi to show that you’re ready to do anything for someone or for something:
- Je ferai n’importe quoi pour que mes enfants soient contents: I’ll do anything for my kids to be happy.
- Elle fera n’importe quoi pour réussir: She’ll do anything to succeed.
N’importe quoi can be used to express that someone is easy going, for example:
- Je peux manger n’importe quoi, je ne suis pas difficile: I can eat anything, I’m easy.
When n'importe quoi means ridiculous
It’s not nonsense, it’s just funny or silly. If a good friend, un bon ami, is making a joke on you, it’s also common to reply with n’importe quoi in French. It’s like saying whatever! If so, just shake your head and say “n’importe quoi”!
Other expression with n'importe: où, quand, qui, comment
N’importe can be used with other pronouns in French. Let’s see a few cases and their most common meaning:
- N’importe où: Anywhere
J’irai n’importe où pour être avec lui: I’d go anywhere to be with him.
- N’importe quand: Anytime
Je peux prendre une semaine de vacances n’importe quand: I can take a week of vacation anytime.
- N’importe qui: Anyone
Il peut discuter avec n’importe qui: He can discuss with anyone.
- N’importe comment: Anyhow
Les habits sont mis n’importe comment dans l’armoire: The clothes are put anyhow in the closet.
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