French Conversation Between Husband And Wife

French Conversation Between Husband And Wife (with audio)

Interactions between husband and wife can be tender, but also tense at times.  The following is a dialogue between Jean-Marc and his wife Sandrine as he gets home quite late.

-Ah, enfin te voilà! C'est à cette heure-ci que tu arrives!
- Excuse-moi chérie, j'ai été retenu au bureau.
- Si tard? Mais tu travailles trop mon pauvre chéri...
- Oui, avec Pierre on prépare une présentation pour la direction.
- Et vous l'avez préparée au bar?
- Non, pourquoi tu dis ça?
- Parce-que tu pues l'alcool!
- Euh... c'est le patron qui nous a emmené prendre une bière après.
- Et ce rouge à lèvre sur ta chemise, là, c'est celui du patron?
- Ah ça... C'est Pierre qui s'est déguisé en fille pour rigoler.
- Ben justement, sa femme a appellé! Elle le cherche partout!
- Oui euh bon... Je suis crevé. Je monte prendre une douche.
- C'est ça oui, vas-y...  On va en reparler...

Listen to the audio:

And now, here's the English version:

-Ah, finally you're here! Do you know what time it is!
- Sorry honey, I was held up at the office.
- That late? But you're working too hard, my poor honey!
- Yeah, Pierre and I are working on a presentation for management.
- So you worked on it at the bar?
- No, why do you say that?
- Because you stink like alcohol!
- Uh... The boss took us out for a drink afterward.
- What about that lipstick on your shirt, is that the boss's?
- Oh that... It's Pierre, he dressed up as a girl for laughs.
- Well speaking of him, his wife called! She's looking for him all over the place!
- Yeah well uh... I'm beat. I'm going upstairs to take a shower.
- Right, go ahead...  I'm not through with you though...

Understanding the French dialogue

As Arthur walks into the house, Sandrine shows she's upset and asks:

Ah, enfin te voilà! C'est à cette heure-ci que tu arrives!

The expression "enfin te voila!" is commonly used in French when to let someone know you've been waiting for them for a while:

"Enfin te voilà! Ça fait une heure que je t'attends!" (finally you're here! I've been waiting for you for 2 hours!)

"Enfin vous voilà! Vous étiez où??" (finally you guys are here! Where were you??)

The husband apologizes and explains to his wife why he's late:

"Excuse-moi chérie, j'ai été retenu au bureau"

Notice he calls her "chérie" (honey) which is a slightly old-fashion way of addressing your spouse.  See this article for more on how people in a relationship address each other.

"J'ai été retenu(e)" is a typical phrase (true or not) you use when you arrive late:

Nous avons été retenu à l'aéroport" (we got held up at the airport)

Il est en retard car il est retenu aux impôts (he's late because he's being held up at the tax office.

The wife replies to her husband:

Si tard? Mais tu travailles trop mon pauvre chéri...

The phrase "si tard?" serves to express her surprise as to how late he's coming home.  Here are other examples of this construction:

Elle lui a donné 30 euros... ->   Si peu?  (she gave him 30€ ->That little?)

Il a sauté à plus de 10m!  -> Si haut? (he jumped more than 10m high -> that high?)

Le train arrive en moins de 2 heures -> Si rapide? (the train gets there in under 2 hours -> that fast?)

Notice the word "mais" the wife uses in "mais tu travailles trop".  A leading "mais" indicates astonishment or indignation:

Mais ce n'est pas possible!  (but that's not possible!)

Mais je n'en veux pas! (but I don't want it!)

Mais pas du tout!  (but... not at all! = absolutely not!)

The wife finished her sentence with the expression "mon pauvre chéri" which is supposed to express sympathy for her dear husband who's working so hard.  She's actually being sarcastic - though the husband doesn't really realize it - as the rest of the dialogue shows.

Oui, avec Pierre on prépare une présentation pour la direction...

The husband tries to come up with a good excuse.  Notice the colloquial sentence structure "avec Pierre on prépare...".  This is spoken French, in formal, written French you would say "Pierre et moi préparons...".  Examples:

Avec ma copine on part en vacances" (with my girlfriend we're going away on vacation)

Avec ses amis elle va faire une grande soirée (with her friends she's going to have a big party)

The husband says he was working on a presentation for management ("la direction"). The wife's answer gets even more sarcastic:

Et vous l'avez préparée au bar?

This is equivalent to saying: "et vous l'avez préparée au bar, votre présentation?" (and so you worked on the presentation at the bar?)

Here the "et" preposition might translate into "and so", expressing the fact the wife doesn't believe a word about her husband's presentation story. Her use of "et" and the unlikeliness of the event she's referring to (working on a presentation at the bar) show the wife's sarcastic tone.

The husband is starting to catch on the sarcasm, and understands his wife is not fooled:

Non, pourquoi tu dis ça?

Obviously he's playing dumb, asking her what she means by that. He's really trying to find out what gave it away.  The answer:

Parce-que tu pues l'alcool!

At this point, the wife stops playing the sarcasm game and gives it to him harshly (you stink like alcohol!).  Notice the French expression "puer (something)":

Je pue la cigarette (I stink like cigarette)

Ils puent le fric (they stink like money)

Cette pièce pue l'humidité (this room stinks like humidity)

At this point, the husband has no choice but admit he went out for a drink:

C'est le patron qui nous a emmené prendre une bière après.

Notice the construct "c'est le patron qui..." which is a common way in spoken French to put the responsibility on someone (or something) else. In this case, the husband is suggesting that his boss is to blame for him going to the bar and drinking.  More examples:

C'est elle qui m'a dit de le faire (she's the one who told me to do it)

C'est ma femme qui m'a entrainé là-bas (my wife is the one who dragged me there)

The husband uses the phrase "prendre une bière" which means "have a beer":

Je vais prendre un café  (I'll have some coffee)

Vous prenez une salade?  (Are you having a salad?)

The wife is not buying her husband's story about a work-focused afterwork drink with his boss and colleague:

Et ce rouge à lèvre sur ta chemise, là, c'est celui du patron?

She's being sarcastic again, asking her husbamd if the lipstick on his shirt is his boss's - note the boss must be a man since she says "du patron" vs "de la patronne".

Again, she uses the leading "et" (= and so), suggesting her husband's story is just not credible.  The phrase "et ce..." is also commonly used in spoken French to mean "what about this...":

Et cette montagne, là-bas? Quel est son nom? (what about that mountain over there? What is it called?)

Et ce pull jaune, là? Qu'en penses-tu? (what about this yellow sweater? What so you think?)

Et ce type dans le coin? Tu le connais? (what about this guy in the corner? Do you know him?)

The husband once again is looking to put the blame on someone else,
again using the phrase "c'est (someone) qui...":

Ah ça... C'est Pierre qui s'est déguisé en fille pour rigoler.

The phrase "se déguiser en..." means to dress up as:

Je me suis déguisé en clown (I dressed up as a clown)

Ils sont déguisés en guerriers (they're dressed up as warriors - here there's no "se": "ils se sont déguisés" would mean "they dressed up")

Tu vas te déguiser en quoi? (what are you going to dress up as?)

Note that a costume is "un déguisement" in French.

The husband adds "pour rigoler" (for fun).  The word "rigoler" is slang for "rire" and is very commonly used in French:

Tu me fais rigoler (you make me laugh - can be positive or negative)

Faut pas rigoler avec ça (you shouldn't joke with that)

On a bien rigolé!  (we had a lot of fun)

Ben alors, on n'a plus le droit de rigoler? (come on! can't we have a little laugh/fun?)

C'est rigolo!  (it's funny - slang as well)

The husband is trying to change the topic by talking about his co-worker's jokes.  In French, we say "il essaye de noyer le poisson" - literally "he's trying to drown the fish", that is, he's trying to change the topic, evade the issue.

His wife, once again, is not fooled:

- Ben justement, sa femme a appellé! Elle le cherche partout!

The expression "justement" is used a lot in French, and often, depending on context, has no direct equivalent in English. Here it could translate into "speaking of which", or "since you mention him".

Tu ne sais pas où est Nathalie? (do you know where Nathalie is?) -> ben justement je viens de la croiser (funny you mention her, I just ran into her)

J'ai réussi mon examen! -> justement, j'allais te poser la question (I was just going to ask you about it)

The wife says Pierre's wife is looking for her husband all over the place: "elle le cherche partout".

The husband can sense that things are getting worse since his wife and his co-worker's are both upset and talked to each other, so he prefers to bail out:

Oui euh bon... Je suis crevé. Je monte prendre une douche.

"Je suis crevé" is a very common French slang expression to indicate tiredness, exhaustion:

Tu dois être crevé (you must be beat)

Cette séance de sport m'a vraiment crevé (this workout really exhausted me)

He says he's going upstairs to take a shower,"prendre un douche".  Notice the use of "prendre" just like in "prendre un verre" (have a drink).  Like in English, "prendre" has countless uses.

Je vais prendre un bain (I'm going to take a bath)

Elle prend le soleil  (she's sunbathing)

Tu prends ton temps (you're taking your time)

The wife lets him off, but only for now:

C'est ça oui,vas-y...  On en reparlera..

"C'est ça" in French is often used to mean "yeah right", "yeah sure", "I'll pretend to believe what you're saying":

J'ai été plus rapide que tout le monde!  -> c'est ça, oui (I was faster than everyone -> yeah sure)

Je vais lui dire toute la vérité -> c'est ça, vas-y  (I'm going to tell her all the truth -> yeah sure, go ahead)

"On en reparlera" is often used to mean "that's not the end of it", "we're not through yet", "this conversation is not finished".

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