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I was wondering how to say "Can you come with me for a sec?" in French.

I thought about going with "Tu peux venir avec moi pour une seconde ?" or "une minute". But it doesn't seem like commonly used.

What would be the "frenchy" way of saying it?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

First, the pour preposition is unexpected here and can be omitted. Yes, it must be said that sometimes it can be a valid preposition to introduce a period of time, but it's less and less used and would sound very formal¹, like out of a book or an old song. The reverse interrogative form (peux-tu / pouvez-vous) would be odd for the same reasons, which leaves the forms est-ce que ... or even preferably the affirmative phrasing with interrogative intonation (most common).

On another matter, incidentally, the default short time in french (not mathematically but linguistically equivalent to the english a sec) is quite often deux minutes, so you could use any of these idiomatic ways of saying it :

Tu peux venir avec moi deux minutes ?

Tu peux venir voir (quelque chose) deux minutes ?

Tu peux venir me voir deux minutes ?

¹ I assumed from your question's phrasing that you were adressing a friend or close relative, not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or something...

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Spontanément en français on aurait tendance à utiliser une formulation plus courte : « tu peux venir une minute ? » « Je peux te voir une minute ? » –  Laure Mar 30 at 7:11
    
So, "deux minutes" or "une minute"? -) –  Phil Mar 30 at 11:55
    
@Laure Oui, une minute est une durée symbolique également utilisée. Il me semble cependant que c'est un niveau de langue légèrement plus soutenu, et un peu moins employé, mais il serait intéressant de pouvoir comparer sur des données plus tangibles que mes impressions subjectives je suis bien d'accord. Un nGram peut-être ? –  Romain VALERI Mar 30 at 20:15

Technically, French inverts verbs and pronouns to ask questions, or uses a question tag, such as "est-ce que". Therefore, the way to ask your question would actually be "peux-tu venir avec moi pour une seconde?" or "est-ce que tu peux venir avec moi pour une seconde?".

If you want to be more formal, you would use "vous" instead of "tu" and conjugate the verb accordingly (pouvez).

However, if you are being more familiar, you can forgo the verb-pronoun inversion and indeed say "tu peux venir avec moi?". In that case, the question will usually be understood by the time of voice used.

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Peut-tu venir avec moi pour un moment?. Ou bien, Tu pourrais m'accompagner, si?

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