comme ci comme ça

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by chmckeon, Nov 14, 2005.

  1. chmckeon New Member

    English, USA
    Is "comsi comsa" French and what does it mean? Thank you.

    chmckeon

    Moderator note: Multiple threads merged to create this one.
    Note de modération: plusieurs fils fusionnés ici
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  2. xanana

    xanana Senior Member

    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaisie (English)
    «comme ci, comme ça»

    Not too good, not too bad.
     
  3. alahay

    alahay Senior Member

    US
    Phoenicia
    "comme ci comme ca" means "so-so" (usually in reply to questions like "how are you")
     
  4. MWJacobs Junior Member

    USA (Georgia)
    USA, English
    Hello,

    I'm so glad someone brought this up. Years ago I was told that no one actually uses this expression. Is that true?

    Thanks.
     
  5. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    No, it's not true ! But it might often be replaced by the more common "bof" (which is a lot less cute :))

    A variant of "comme ci comme ça" in spoken language is "couci couça"
     
  6. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Actually what's funny is that foreigners are taught to say 'comme ci comme ça' but French people don't use it that much. I think that they use more: bof. But using 'comme ci comme ça' is far cuter. :)
     
  7. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    I see we agree on the "cuteness" of the expression !
    From now on, I'll try to use "comme ci comme ça" more often... we need to keep it alive :D
     
  8. No, it's not true. It's not very "à la mode", but allways in use (with a little hand gesture !)
     
  9. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    By the way, funny that we can't get rid of that hand gesture when we say it. :)
     
  10. labelleaude Junior Member

    Kansas City
    US English
    Hm. Savais pas qu'on le considérait comme cute. J'ai bien entendu "bof" mais j'avais l'impression que c'était, 'fin, pas impoli, mais très familier. Ai-je bien compris?
     
  11. zam

    zam Senior Member

    England
    England -french (mother tongue) & english
    If I had a quid for every foreigner who's told me that 'bof' was the best word in the French language, I'd be loaded !
     
  12. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Oui, c'est assez familier. On ne dirait pas "bof" à son chef, par exemple (enfin, ça dépend du chef bien sûr ;))
     
  13. Jessila

    Jessila Senior Member

    France
    France, french
    you made me laugh with this... it's so true !

    and by the way, do English people use "so-so" ?
    we learned it as School, but I've never heard it anywhere!
    I've heard "I'm okay" (said in a low voice in which you clearly get that it's not true ^^), "Seen better" or "Been better", "Not so good"...

    Is it like our "comme ci, comme ça", an expression still existing but not very much in use ?


    Oh, and for those interrested, there's an old french song called "Y'a des jours comme ci, y'a des jours comme ça"...
    The only time my father had a little car accident, he was listening to that song lol :D
     
  14. chmckeon New Member

    English, USA
    [...]
    Hello Jessila,

    I don't know about the English, but in Texas it is still in use. Of course I am 77 years old.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  15. zam

    zam Senior Member

    England
    England -french (mother tongue) & english
    and by the way, do English people use "so-so" ?
    we learned it as School, but I've never heard it anywhere!
    I've heard "I'm okay" (said in a low voice in which you clearly get that it's not true ^^), "Seen better" or "Been better", "Not so good"...

    Yes, it's still very much used in the UK and what's even more used with so-so is the phrase 'a so-and-so' (often with 'little') meaning 'un personnage un peu antipathique' (as in 'he is a right little so-and-so') which is used really to avoid using a swear word e.g b****** !
     
  16. ganieda

    ganieda Senior Member

    it depends
    french
    I was talking about the same on another thread, and saying that many french speakers also say "couci couça", still with the gesture ;)
     
  17. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    Do English people say "so so"?

    I would say not very often - the most common response to "How are you?" questions is: OK -

    which is not exactly radiating enthusiasm and would equate to "so so" in my ears!
     
  18. mooo989 New Member

    Florida, USA
    English - USA
    My Phonetics professor at University of Laval in Quebec said to me that she's pretty much never heard the expression <<comme ci, comma ça>> used, except by Anglophones (and she's lived in the city of Quebec for 15 years or so now, if I remember correctly). She figured for quite a while (due to having taught it in classes using standard French Foreign Language textbooks) that it's more of a France-French phrase than Quebecois phrase, but upon going to Paris, she still never heard it.

    As for "so-so," it's used, but not particularly often.

    Edit: You know, I should really look at dates of old posts before I reply. I now feel like an idiot for bumping a 4 year old thread.
     
  19. Jessila

    Jessila Senior Member

    France
    France, french
    mooo989 > don't worry, it happens to everyone to bump up an old thread and it can be useful to new users of the board ;)

    As for "comme ci, comme ça" I think your teacher is right and it must be a french expression but I think it's more the older generations who still use it. (I'm not saying that there are no young people using it, just that it's far less common - around Paris anyway).
     
  20. w0lverine

    w0lverine Senior Member

    btw, remember that Canadian French and French are quite different.

    We also tend to use "couçi, couça" instead of "comme çi, comme ça"
     
  21. Yulis New Member

    Spanish
    Hi everybody!!

    I'd like to know what's the exact translation of the phrase "comme-ci, comme ça"... Is it the same than saying "more or less"?

    Thank you!!
     
  22. pbx

    pbx Senior Member

    Singapore
    French (France)
    It is more or less the equivalent of more or less but not exactly.

    The meaning of it is rather it could be. Cannot suggest a proper translation unfortunately.
     
  23. Quaeitur

    Quaeitur Mod'elle

    Lille, France
    French
    For me it mostly means so so as in the following dialog:

    Comment ça va? // How are you doing?
    Comme-ci, comme-ça. // so so
     
  24. wesetters Senior Member

    France
    English
    :thumbsup:

    I've seen it translated as "more or less" once or twice, but never by a native speaker. It sounds pretty wrong to me. "More or less" just means "plus ou moins", it's not the same!
     
  25. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Tout dépend du contexte.

    "Comment ça va? - Comme-ci, comme-ça" pourrait bien se traduire : "Is everything OK? - More or less."
     
  26. Yulis New Member

    Spanish
    Great! Thank you everybody!! Your comments have been very useful!
     
  27. mecalbertain New Member

    Montréal (Québec)
    Canadian English
    Moi, je dirais que dans le cadre d'une réponse à la question de comment va quelqu'un, une traduction appropriée pourrait être "all right" ou même "neither bad nor good." Je voudrais dire "average" aussi.
    Qui avait dit "so-so" aurait raison aussi, à mon avis.
    En tout cas, oui, tout dépend du contexte bien sûr.
     
  28. ataraxy3 Senior Member

    NY, USA
    English
    Bonjour!

    Est-ce qu'on peut répondre à "Comment vas-tu" avec "comme ci comme ça" ??

    Et même avec "Comment allez-vous" même si c'est tant poli?

    Merci d'avance! :)
     
  29. Michelvar

    Michelvar quasimodo

    Marseille - France
    French-France
    Bonjour,

    oui, on peut.
     
  30. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Can one use "comme ci, comme ça" for anything other than to describe how one is doing?

    For example, if someone asks whether the food is good at a restaurant, can answer "Comme ci, comme ça"?

    Merci d'avance.
     
  31. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Yes, you can (just as you could say "so so" in English).
     
  32. FleurMarlowe

    FleurMarlowe Senior Member

    France
    French-France
    -C'était comment tes vacances aux Bahamas ?
    -Comme ci, comme ça ... beaucoup de soleil, de sable chaud, de mer transparente, et tu sais moi, j'aime les calottes polaires et les aurores boréales.
     
  33. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Merci beaucoup, SwissPete et FleurMarlowe.
     
  34. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    What about in contexts such as the following?

    Question: Est-ce que ton fils est (très) grand? / Est-ce que l'examen a été difficile? / etc.
    Réponse: Comme ci, comme ça.

    Or would it be better to answer these types of questions with "Plus ou moins" or something else?

    Merci d'avance.
     
  35. Martyn94 Senior Member

    English
    I have a vague idea that "comme ci, çomme ça" is more popular among anglophones (like "San Fairy Ann" but a bit more sophisticated) but am happy to be contradicted.
     
  36. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Thank you for your comment, Martyn94.

    I imagine that you are right, but I would like to see if "comme ci, comme ça" can actually be used in such situations, and even if it can, what a better alternative would be.
     
  37. Itisi

    Itisi Senior Member

    Paris/Hastings UK
    English UK/French
    I don't think there's anything wrong with 'comme ci, comme ça', as long as it's used in the right place. zapspan, It would work fine for the 'examen' example, but doesn't sound right for the 'fils' one. I can't think of an explanation, though! That doesn't mean there isn't one...

    Mon fils n'est ni grand ni petit/de taille moyenne (not a very exciting answer...).
     
  38. FleurMarlowe

    FleurMarlowe Senior Member

    France
    French-France
    Bonsoir,

    Comme ci, comme ça est assez répandu et encore utilisé. On dit aussi mezzo-mezzo et couci couça.
    Pour une formule moins familière, il y a ça dépend et plus ou moins (cité par zapspan).

    Dans leur sens et leurs utilisations, ils sont similaires, donc interchangeables: vous pouvez utiliser celui qui vous plait le plus.
    Mis à part mezzo-mezzo qui veut dire aussi moitié-moitié, et dont le sens est un peu à part à cause de cette nuance.

    Par contre, je pense qu'une question comme "est-ce que ton fils est grand" admet difficilement ce genre d'expression, car soit on est grand, soit on ne l'est pas, non ? L'entre-deux me semble difficile ..
     
  39. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Merci, Itisi et FleurMarlowe. Vos réponses me paraissent très utiles. J'avais pensé avant à "Mon fils n'est ni grand ni petit", mais je voulais savoir s'il y avait une réponse plus simple pour mes étudiants [C'est un cours de français pour débutants]. Quand je leur pose la question "Est-ce que X est grand?" ils veulent savoir comment on dit "so-so", "more or less", pour répondre à cette question, et je voulais éviter une tournure avec ne...ni...ni. Possiblement il vaut mieux que j'évite ce genre de question :). Ou bien utiliser "Il est de taille moyenne".
     
  40. FleurMarlowe

    FleurMarlowe Senior Member

    France
    French-France
    Bonjour,

    A la question "Est-ce que x est grand ?", quand x n'est pas grand mais pas petit non plus, la réponse peut être "pas vraiment".
     
  41. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Merci, FleurMarlowe.
     

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