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Un copain, mon copain

This afternoon, during a family meal chez ma belle famille, the conversation turned towards plans for Christmas break and I regretfully informed everyone that I will not be joining them this year for the celebration. Instead I will be Ireland-bound to visit my family and friends. (Oh yes, I can’t wait to see my niece!)

MIL: Mais oui, c’est bien de voir ta famille, tes amis et, Frédéric dit, ton ancien directeur de thèse aussi?
Me: Mon directeur de thèse? Euuuh non, pas tout à fait. On va peut-être se croisser une soirée…
Boy: C’est pas le directeur de thèse, mais le mec qui s’est occupé de ta thèse, comment il s’appelle? On l’a vu cet été.
Me: Ah, Dave? Mais lui, il est mon copain, pas qu’un collègue.
Boy: Ton copain?
Me: Oui. Non! Un copain! Il est un copain!
BIL: Et nous, on vous laisse de se discuter un peu, hahaha…

Hillarity all round and teases coming my way, I was going red from blushing (it may have been the wine too). With an incorrect use of just one word – one! – I have declared to the family that I have a boyfriend elsewhere, oops.

In French, to denote possession, and specifically something/someone that “belongs” to me, the determiners/adjectives are mon for masculine, singular; ma for feminine, singular; and mes for plural.

A friend is given by un ami (masculine) or une amie (feminine), or informally as un copain (masculine) or une copine (feminine). It is therefore not a far leap in logic (at least to this Anglophone brain) to casually claim “my friend” as mon copain or ma copine.

Nope. It appears such connection is flawed.

In fact, these terms are pretty much exclusively reserved to refer to “my boyfriend” or “my girlfriend”. Forget the French beginner’s class lesson where they are, respectively, mon petit ami and ma petite amie. Cute as these may sound, they are obsolete from day-to-day use. As for referring to my friend, if I opt to use the words copain/copine, he/she will forever just be un copain/une copine (“a friend”).

I wonder though what happens when I refer to them in plural, as in “my friends”. Can I use mes copains or would it be misconstrued as having multiple boyfriends? ;)

Category: Local lingo, Ma vie en France

Tagged: , , , , ,

9 scribbles & notes

  1. Selena says:

    hahaha! the more the merrier???

  2. Frédéric says:

    “Mes copains” should be OK :-)

    • Lil says:

      oh good. and the boy speaketh ;)

    • Selena says:

      at least with this family you don’t appear to be getting the usual m’sian family ripostes like “so when’s your turn then?” (to get a boyfriend/ married/ pregnant) LOL
      I got quite a lot of that after I graduated and started work. Thankfully it was in a different country!

    • Lil says:

      oh gosh no, we’re all very civilised like that ;)

  3. medca says:

    hahahah…french class ;)

  4. medca says:

    dont worry…interesting indeed hehehe

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