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Quebecers often add something like a second “tu” when asking a question. For example:

T'as tu un crayon ?

I just don't know how to use it, like in what kind of expressions/sentences/questions? or if it depends on the region?

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  • 6
    Well, to be honest I don't think you actually need to; you'll be perfectly understood if you don't use it. If not, we French or Belgian tourists would never be able to visit Québec. But let's rather hear advice from actual people from Québec.
    – Joubarc
    Oct 2, 2011 at 5:20
  • C'est-tu correct si tu le fais ... (heard in Montréal a week ago)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Aug 2, 2023 at 12:52

6 Answers 6

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Joubarc is right, you don't actually need to; in fact, many Quebeckers don't use it in formal situations (though I have never met one who does not use it otherwise). Of course, it should never be used in most texts.

If you do wish to use it for any reason, this “tu” actually replaces “est-ce que”, but is placed after the conjugated verb. You can use it with other pronouns as well, for example:

Elle a-tu dit oui? (Est-ce qu'elle a dit oui?)
J'ai-tu quelque chose sur mon nez? (Est-ce que j'ai quelque chose sur mon nez?)
On y va-tu? (Est-ce que nous y allons? Never use this “tu” with “nous”.)
Ça va-tu? (Est-ce que ça va?)

Small addition, which, considering Kareen's comment, may be regional: we do actually use the “tu” with "vous"; there are two ways to do so:

  • The “tu” is changed to “vous”, granted this is rarer. Example:

    Vous voulez-vous aller au marché?

    This is sometimes taken to extremes and the “tu” is also added! Example:

    Vous voulez-vous-tu aller au marché?

  • Then, of course:

    Vous voulez-tu aller au marché?

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  • 4
    "Vous voulez-vous-tu aller au marché?" - just LOL.
    – Jez
    Mar 16, 2014 at 1:44
  • 2
    As a quebecer, I just want to tell that it's not current to see "Vous voulez-vous-tu [...]"... But most ofter "Voulez-vous-tu [...]". And must say that it's not "normal" to see that. This is people with bad speeking. If my child say "Voulez-vous-tu"... I will tell him to say "Voulez-vous". Aug 27, 2014 at 15:58
  • Vous voulez-vous-tu; extreme as in maybe derisive.
    – user3177
    Jan 6, 2015 at 21:00
  • Vous voulez-vous aller au marché? is not something I have heard in this life. Possible is vous, (virgule) voulez-vous aller au marché? but this is unrelated to the question at hand. Nov 2, 2022 at 21:27
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Like Joubarc mentioned, there is no need or convention about this way of speaking. I could maybe compare it to some people saying y'all in English.

As far as I know, this construction seems like the amalgamation of the two ways of asking questions in the second person singular:
1- Formal: Verb+subject+object? eg. As-tu un crayon?
2- Informal: Subject+verb+object? eg. Tu as un crayon?

Put them together and you get "Tu as-tu un crayon?", which, when ellipted, gives us the "T'as-tu" structure. It is used with just about any verb and is usually used when asking questions. It can be used with most pronouns, though it is informal speech, so I've rarely ever used or heard it used with nous or vous, as those are usually a little more formally in Québec. Interestingly enough, when used with pronouns other the second person singular, the second pronoun remains "tu". It usually follows this construction:

1st person singular: J'ai-tu?; J'veux-tu?; J'mange-tu?; etc.
2nd person singular: T'as-tu?; Tu veux-tu?; Tu manges-tu?; etc.
3rd person singular: Il a-tu? Elle a-tu? On a-tu?; Il veut-tu? Elle veut-tu? On veut-tu?; Il mange-tu? Elle mange-tu? On mange-tu?; etc.
1st person plural: N/A
2nd person plural: N/A
3rd person plural: Ils ont-tu? Elles ont-tu?; Ils veulent-tu? Elles veulent-tu?; Ils mangent-tu? Elles mangent-tu?; etc.

Again, it's a way of speaking in informal situations, and it is absolutely not necessary to employ it. You will be perfectly understood even if you don't use this rather particular structure.

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  • Remains tu, excellent remark, but imho there is no reason to not come full circle with the 1st,2nd plural: nous avons-tu?, vous avez-tu?; the latter probably more common.
    – user3177
    Jan 6, 2015 at 20:55
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In fact, in questions, the word 'tu' is a phonetic variant of the old French 't'y'. Ex: Tu veux-tu? (Tu veux-t'y?) This was lost in France but is still used everyday in Quebec in non formal conversations.

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As a Québécois, I would ask you to not use it. It is nowhere near "le bon usage". It is not taught in school and I hope it disappears as soon as possible.

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    À chacun son opinion, mais justement c'est un commentaire.
    – user3177
    Feb 19, 2015 at 1:45
  • 3
    Nowhere near “le bon usage”? Well, it is in my copy of it: Le Bon usage, 14e édition, §395, where I can read: “Quoique encore bien vivant dans certaines régions (comme en Normandie et au Québec), le tour paraît aujourd'hui en recul, sans doute sous l'influence de l'école”. It appears like schools might not be as innocent as they seem in the aversion some people feel towards this particular way of composing a question. Ça se pourrait-tu, dites-moi? Jun 15, 2017 at 15:07
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I'm not sure if everyone is implying that this is a Canadian usage. If you are, you may be interested to know that expressions such as "vous avez-ti?" crop up in the novel Clochemerle.

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  • Cela ne répond pas vraiment à la question !
    – Toto
    Aug 2, 2023 at 12:07
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    – Community Bot
    Aug 3, 2023 at 1:12
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It is an English-ism and does come from replacing the "Est-ce que"

T`as tu un crayon? (you have your(yourself) a pencil?) Do you have a pencil?

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