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Many times per day I hear the phrase “quand même”. I have looked it up and I know there are several possible translations, such as “even so”, “all the same”, “anyway”. What are other possible meanings?

What does it mean when used alone... as an exclamation:

Quand même!

As a question:

Quand même?

And when it seems to finish off a sentence?

Tu peux le faire quand même.

I personally tend to ignore it when I hear it because it seems to be a throwaway phrase like “anyway” in English, which can be used just to link sentences but doesn't really add information to the sentence. Is it the same with “quand même”? Can someone explain this enigmatic phrase please?

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I have read some time ago that tout de même is better French than quand même. Can't find a reference though –  Benoit Aug 23 '11 at 6:48

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

When used as an exclamation, quand même simply expresses surprise.

Un Monégasque sur trois est millionaire.
Ah, quand même !

The question form is similar to the interjection, and means something like "really?!"

Quand même can also mean "still" or "anyway" :

Je n'aime pas trop le rock, mais j'aime quand même les Beatles.

It's also a mid-sentence interjection used for emphasis : C'est difficile, quand même, le français means almost the same thing as C'est difficile, le français, but the first may have a slight nuance that the speaker doesn't necessarily expect the listener to know that French is difficult.

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Dans le deuxième exemple j'aurais tendance (je ne sais pas si c'est juste) à mettre quand même avant les Beatles: "Je n'aime pas trop le rock, mais j'aime quand même les Beatles". Cela me parait plus naturel. Qu'en penses-tu ? –  LudoMC Aug 22 '11 at 22:20
    
Je suis d'accord avec toi ; je l'ai changé. –  Brennan Vincent Aug 22 '11 at 22:21
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Et nous sommes (hélas) avec ma femme les deux autres monégasques de la première phrase (les non-millionaires...). Je trouve d'ailleurs le ratio un peu exagéré ;) –  LudoMC Aug 22 '11 at 22:22
    
Par contre, je pense qu'on peut quand même ( :) ) le dire avec quand même après, mais tu as raison quand tu dis que c'est un peu moins naturel. –  Brennan Vincent Aug 22 '11 at 22:23
    
@LudoMC : même pas en centimes de francs? –  ℝaphink Aug 22 '11 at 22:24

My understanding is that it means 'None the less' or 'in any case', try substituting this into the phrases above and you'll see what I mean.

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If you hear it many time a day from the same person, it may simple be a habit of language.

A sound exclamation point. Something like the "Tu m'en diras tant" of my grand-father, the "J'y crois pas" of my daughter, or the "Fan de pied" of my friend from Marseilles. All of them syntactically incorrect on purpose.

In facts, consider you as lucky! Your circle could use the more colloquial "Putain!" n times a day.

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Quand même il y en a qui disent "puis j'ai fait," "puis il a fait," "puis j'ai fait," si on veut discuter des marqueurs de discours, veuillez pardonner l'anglicisme. Comme dit @alaind it is a simple habit, quand même. –  livresque Apr 9 '13 at 5:48

In an informal setting, « Quand même » can be used to "punctuate" a conversation, a bit like "Really!", or "Really?" in a way.

So, I would say that:

Quand même !

would be an equivalent to "Really!"

and

Quand même ?

an equivalent to "Really?".

When used in a more formal way, inside a sentence, it would mean "even so", "all the same" or "anyway" as you said in your question. In the case of your example:

Tu peux le faire quand même.

means

You can do it anyway.

in the context of something that would seem to be impossible or forbidden.

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