If you’re around native-French speakers for any extended period of time you’re bound to hear the term quand même used quite a bit. The problem with it however is that just as soon as you feel like you’ve understood how to use it you’ll hear it used by someone else in a different context.
All of this is to say that quand même can be a pretty complicated expression for foreigners to completely get down. The goal of this article is to demystify it and explain exactly how and when you should use it.
All of this is to say that quand même can be a pretty complicated expression for foreigners to completely get down. The goal of this article is to demystify quand même and explain exactly how you should use it.
Using quand même went you want to do something anyway
The first way of using quand même that we’re going to go over is for when you’re in a situation where you come across some sort of difficulty and want to do whatever you are doing all the same.
If this explanation doesn’t mean anything for you just think of it as the French equivalent of “anyway” or “still” as in the phrases “thanks anyway” or “I’m still going to try”.
Beware though, you would NOT use quand même like you would use “anyway” in the sentence “anyway, I’ll see you later”.
Je sais qu’il est au travail mais Je vais lui téléphoner quand même – I know he is at work, but I’m going to call him anyway
Il n’est pas venu à ma fête d’anniversaire, mais je l’aime quand même – He didn’t come to my birthday party, but I still love him (I love him anyway)
Using quand même when you're surprised
Most English speakers can understand the first way of using quand même rather easily however this next way is just a little bit harder. The only reason for this is because there isn’t as much of a direct English translation here. You should still be able to get it down without too much effort though.
This way of using quand même is for when someone says something to you that surprises you or that you maybe weren’t expecting.
For example, if you knew that your friend bought a new car and then they told you that they bought a Ferrari you could then use quand même because you weren’t expecting for them to have bought such a nice car.
Person 1 – Tu as combien de chats ? – How many cats do you have?
Person 2 – J’en ai douze – I have 12
Person 3 – Ah quand même – Ah wow
Person 1 – Tu es allé où en vacances ? – Where did you go on vacation ?
Person 2 – Au Japon – To Japan
Person 1 – Quand Même – Wow
For those who are familiar with the French Youtuber Cyprien he released a video several years ago titled La Bouffe (food) in which he uses the expression quand même. You can check out the video here and watch until the 1:13 mark (when he opens the fridge). This may help you understand how to use quand même in this way.
Using quand même as way to say Are you serious?
The next way to use quand même that we are going to talk about is for when you are surprised that somebody is doing something and almost want some sort of confirmation. It basically turns a statement of what they are doing into a rhetorical question. This often comes in the form of words like “are you?” or “did he?” however it’s not a hard rule that this has to be the case.
I know that this definition probably doesn’t help you a whole lot so as always let’s look at a few examples so you have a better idea.
Tu vas pas acheter ça quand même !? – You aren’t going to buy that are you?
Il ne va pas faire ça quand meme !? – He’s not going to do that is he?
quand même to add emotion or emphasis
You can add quand même to a phrase to add more emphasis to what you’re saying. It doesn’t really have an exact English translation, but as you can see in the below examples it’s just like a way to make your phrase a little stronger. It’s best used in short and simple sentences.
Il est con quand même ! – He’s so stupid!
Je suis fatigué quand même – I’m really tired
Using quand même when overcoming hard times
Being 100% honest, you may not ever have to use this one yourself in real life. Nevertheless, you may see it from time to time usually in reference to a historical event.
France toujours ! France quand même ! – France forever! France against the odds!
You hopefully should now have a better idea of when and how to use the expression quand même in French. It’s definitely something that can be a little intimidating for new learners to the point where they avoid it completely.
As you should see it’s not as hard as it may seem and with some practice you’ll know how to use it confidently in no time.