comment puis-je vous aider?

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by jpredman123, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. jpredman123 Senior Member

    why is this puis-je and not peux-je? if it was subjunctive, wouldn't it be puisse-je? thanks
  2. Mister K New Member

    this is one of the difficulties of french...
    acually it's a simple present but it is only used in interrogative forms
    you don't have to wonder it's just the way it is!
  3. Mister K New Member

    to answer to your question "why", i think it comes from an old version of the verb "pouvoir" which isn't used anymore
  4. charleythefrog Senior Member

    Ireland French
    And by the way it cannot be "puisse-je", and that's not a shame because even as a French native, I reckon I can't say that properly!
  5. LadyBronwyn Member

    France French
    yes, "je puis" is an old manner to say "je peux", but it's quite formal (puis-je), you can hear it in cashiers' mouths for instance : it's a respectful expression, and... isn't that nice !
  6. dmtforum New Member

    South East Asia
    Hi I always say "puis-je.." simply because I always see it used. But I've always thought it's just an alternative to "peux-je..". You mean it is actually grammatically wrong to say "peux-je.."? thanks
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
  7. LadyBronwyn Member

    France French
    "peux-je" is just incorrect nowadays. French people would find it hard to pronounce, as "puisse-je".
    But, i understand now why you asked this question (wouldn't it be puisse-je?). You forgot an accent : "puissé-je" did exist in French, but it is very formal, almost ancient (I suppose, not many people would say that today), you would hear that in films or TV series about the Renaissance.

    An alternative to "puis-je" could be "pourrais-je ..." (avoir du sel, s'il-vous-plait ?" for example) and I think this one is the proper way to ask something because it is somehow neutral, people won't pay attention to the tense and find it strange.
  8. Frenchaccenture

    Frenchaccenture Senior Member

    This might be a curious case of "an exception of an exception".
  9. LadyBronwyn Member

    France French
  10. dmtforum New Member

    South East Asia
    ah c'est vraiment riche la langue francaise. merci.
  11. Gswiss Senior Member

    Anyhow, may I help you in French would be puis-je vous être utile. Puis-je vous aider is grammatically correct and understandable but not currenty used in French-speaking Europe, except in Québec.
  12. LadyBronwyn Member

    France French
    Oh no I don't think so, I mean, it doesn't shock me as too formal, it shows that you know the proper way to speak to someone. You would hear "Puis-je vous aider ?" in every clothes shop, it just depends on the type of clientele, maybe you won't hear that if you go in a shop for adolescent girls or boys.
    Both "puis-je" and "pourrais-je" are good, the first is just a bit more formal than the second, the latter is more neutral.
  13. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    "Puis-je vous aider ?" :D Si une vendeuse me disait ça, je me demanderais bien à quoi elle veut m'aider ! A sortir de son magasin, peut-être ? A m'habiller toute seule comme une grande ? (je me dirais alors que j'ai l'air bien décrépit !)

    Je crois, au contraire, que c'est surtout dans les boutiques pour adolescents qu'on entend ça. Là où les jeunes vendeurs regardent les séries américaines mal traduites et ne savent plus très bien ce qui se dit en français !:rolleyes::D
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
  14. Kecha Senior Member

    French (France)
    effectivement ! les vendeuses que je connais disent plutôt "je peux vous aider ?" ou "vous cherchez quelque chose en particulier ?" ou encore "je suis à votre disposition si vous avez besoin de quelque chose".
    mais ça c'est quand on a du bol, en général en France, les vendeuses te foutent la paix et ne viennent rien te proposer du tout ! :D
  15. Prokia New Member

    Canadien Français

    au Québec on dit:

    Comment puis-je vous aider?
    Est-ce que je peux vous aider?

    Comment pourrais-je vous aider? : non, ça ne se dit pas naturellement
  16. Nicomon

    Nicomon Senior Member

    Français, Québec ♀
    itka, elle veut t'aider à chercher le « quelque chose en particulier » que tu ne pourrais pas trouver sans son aide précieuse. Moi, je réponds... non merci, en général ce sont les choses qui me trouvent. :p

    Comment puis-je... m'énerve! Je préfère : est-ce que je peux. Mais je ne me souviens pas non plus avoir entendu au conditionnel pourrais-je vous aider.

    @Gswiss : granted, I'm from Quebec, so I'm used to hearing « aider ». But I'm not sure at all that we're the only ones saying this. Looking at previous threads... I read several answers from Europeans - from France, to be specific - who also suggested « aider ».

    In my vocabulary, être utile = be helpful/to be of help or service. And I might use it in a context like this, below :
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2010

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