top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Quand même: The French phrase for almost every occasion

There is no direct English translation for this very multi-purpose phrase

Inserting quand même into conversations may help you sound like a local Pic: Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

Like many of the everyday French words and phrases that we deal with in this column, the oft-overheard “quand même” has no direct translation into English, which makes your insertion of it into conversations all the more difficult. Yet by mastering it you will blend in like a local in no time. 

The problem is that quand même has several meanings and nuances, and these include “wow”, “even so”, “even though”, “anyway,” “despite”, “at least” or “really”.

Perhaps the easiest to understand is when it is used to express surprise at what someone tells you. If someone says to you “Cette Ferrari m’a couté trois cent euros”, (‘This Ferrari cost me three hundred euros’), your jaw might drop before you utter “Ah oui? quand même!” This means “Oh yeah? Wow!”.

You can express gratitude with a quick quand même too. If someone has tried to do you a favour, even if it did not come good you might say “merci quand même” – ‘thanks anyway’.

Similarly, express ‘anyway’ in another context thus: “I didn’t fancy going shopping with my wife but I went anyway” would be “J’avais pas envie de faire les boutiques avec ma femme mais j’y suis allé quand même”. 

Another example might be when something is not how you expected it to be, but you like it anyway:  “C’était quand même bien”. (It was still good.)

Adding emphasis or more power to an adjective – the English equivalent of ‘really’ (as in “very”) is another good way to use quand même. For example: “La maison est quand même grande”, (“The house is really big”).

Related articles

Bâton de pèlerin: double meaning of Macron's pilgrim’s staff

How do you express irritation in French but in a polite way?

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France