Quand même: understand how to use this helpful French expression

This phrase can be employed in all sorts of situations - is it one you use often?

A person rejecting a coffee in a cafe in France
Have you ever said 'merci quand même' to someone offering you a coffee?

Quand même is a phrase in French that you will hear crop up in all sorts of conversations, and it is a really useful tool to have up your sleeve.

As is often the case with French expressions, there are various contexts in which you can use quand même, and could even use it multiple times a day in different contexts.

Below, we cover the main uses of quand même which you are likely to encounter.

Quand même as emphasis

Mainly, quand m ême is used to underline or highlight a certain point or statement.

En cas de changement de planning, la moindre chose est de nous prévenir, quand même. (If the plans change, warning us is really the least you can do).

In this case, the quand même is employed to reiterate that it is very important to do something – in this case, warn someone of something.

Along the same lines, it can be used as an acknowledgement for effort put in even if it has not led to the results you wanted or you are not interested. 

For example, merci quand même (thanks anyway/thanks all the same) can be used if you want to politely turn something down or if something did not pan out as you hoped.

Quand même and ‘nonetheless’

Quand même is often used when explaining something that is contradictory, although not necessarily in a bad way. 

In this case it may be translated as nevertheless in English.

Bien que Louise est bavarde, elle est quand même un peu timide. (Although she is chatty, she is nonetheless a little shy). 

Read more: Learning French: the many flexible uses of the word 'coup'

Quand même and impediments

Another way quand même can be used is to disregard an impediment or problem. In English, it may be used as ‘anyway’.

For example, le café est froid là mais je le bois quand même (The coffee is cold now but I’m drinking it anyway).

It can also be employed as a means of simply recognising an impediment: C’est quand même difficile (Still, it’s difficult).

Quand même as an interjection

You may hear quand même used as an interjection to express outrage, surprise or disbelief. 

In this case, it is dependent on context how it is interpreted.

Quand même, c’est pas nécessaire ça ! (Really that’s not necessary!)

Read more: 9 ‘English’ words in French that do not exist in English

Quand bien même 

Meanwhile, quand bien même is the English equivalent of even if or even though and is often followed by the conditional tense. It is used for imagining alternatives.

Quand bien même je serais disponible ce soir-là, je ne voudrais pas y aller (Even if I was free that evening I wouldn’t want to go).