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Someone told me that, if you want someone who is talking too much to be quiet, you can use either of the two phrases: "ferme-la" and "tais-toi". I know that they are both casual phrases and that you might sound stern or rude. But I was also told that they aren't exactly the same because one of them is a stronger phrase.

I just want to know: Which one is stronger and which one is more polite?

  • If the goal is to try to achieve total calm and silence in the room then any of the suggestions below would probably do the trick, but if you want to silence a particularly chatty speaker so that you can say something you could try to find an opening to edgily state the simple, undeniable fact that “Je n’arrive pas à en placer une [avec toi]!” and the offender, if not totally insensitive, might get the message, maybe even offer an apology [but doubtful], and most importantly, “shut the f@@@ up” without you having to come right out and order/request them to with: "Ta farme-tu ta yeule!?!" – Papa Poule Oct 1 '16 at 23:30
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Ferme-la ! (or La ferme !) is very rude although you might be even more rude with Tu vas la fermer ta gueule ! or just Ta gueule !.

Tais-toi ! or Taisez-vous ! is only acceptable if you are talking to kids or to people under your orders, better to add s'il te plait / s'il vous plait to slightly soften the request.

With friends, you might say Camembert (for ferme ta boite à camembert…) but it's more a joke than anything, and only used in France.

If you are talking to someone you don't know, directly asking to that person to stop talking is rude, whatever the way you say it. This is true in English too.

In such case, you'd rather indirectly ask like one of these ways:

Est-ce que je peux vous demander un peu de silence s'il vous plait ?

Excusez-moi, pourriez-vous parler un peu moins fort s'il vous plaît ?

Pourriez-vous faire un peu moins de bruit pendant que je … ?

Finally, chut ! or just the index in front or the lips is a common way to ask for silence, exactly like the "shhh!" gesture.

  • 1
    This isn't exactly asking the same thing. "Tais toi" means "stop talking at all", what you've written means "talk more quietly". – Najib Idrissi Sep 30 '16 at 14:36
  • Precisely, asking someone you don't know to stop talking is rude whatever the way you ask it. This is the case in English too. – jlliagre Sep 30 '16 at 15:03
  • Note also that Camembert is very French oriented and is not really used, to my knowledge, in Belgium. – Laurent S. Oct 1 '16 at 6:43
  • In Switzerland I've never heard "Camembert" in that context. – Tim Oct 1 '16 at 7:37
  • @LaurentS. Yes, even in France, it is only used colloquially when you make a point against someone, not really to ask for silence. – jlliagre Oct 1 '16 at 21:06
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Both are rude, but « Ferme-la » is the strongest. These are very disrespectful and you should avoid using them. Actually, as mentioned by Simon Déchamps in the comments, it's rude because it's imperative. Asking someone to stop talking is in most cases rude. To stay polite the good way would be to ask the person to make less noise (Pourriez-vous faire moins de bruit s'il vous plait ?).

« Tais-toi ! » is sometimes used to ask a child to be quiet, and in an adult-to-children talk there's no problem using it, but in an adult-to-adult conversation it's disrespectful due to its imperative aspect, though the verb itself isn't rude. « Ferme-la » is disrespectful even when talking to children, and it's rude anyway.

Note that even though « Tais-toi ! » can be used toward a child, there are still more respectful ways to tell it, by example :

Pourrais-tu te taire s'il te plaît ?

Which translates to « Could you please stop talking ?`

If you want it to sound more like an order, adding « s'il te plaît » will make it more polite :

Tais-toi s'il te plaît

  • 2
    "Tais-toi s'il te plaît" is still quite rude unless you are talking to a child. – jlliagre Sep 30 '16 at 11:34
  • @jlliagre I totally agree, I would not use any of these with an adult. For an adult I don't personally know that well (i.e. not a close friend) I'd use something like "Excuse-moi de t'interrompre, mais serait-il possible de faire moins de bruit ?", probably with the reason of my demand and some thanks right after. For a totally unknown person I'd replace "Excuse-moi de t'[...]" by "Excusez-moi de vous[...]". – Tim Sep 30 '16 at 12:22
  • I'd say that tais-toi ! is rude only because it's imperative. Like keep quiet!. But the verbe se taire is not rude, indeed it's the exact verb that means to not talk. So if you say tais-toi s'il-te-plaît it's less rude, and something like auriez-vous l'amabilité de vous taire ? sounds polite to me. – Destal Sep 30 '16 at 13:02
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    @NajibIdrissi I disagree, asking someone to make less noise puts the problem on the noise, not directly the person. Asking someone to stop talking is more extreme. But yes mixing both is better :) Personally if someone tells me to make less noise I won't react negatively, though I'll consider that a bit too direct. But if someone tells me to stop talking, there might be an argument. – Tim Sep 30 '16 at 15:04
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    In general, in any language, if you're going to ask another adult to stop talking, it's already going to be rude anyway... – corsiKa Sep 30 '16 at 15:05
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Both are direct orders, so depending on the context they may both be rude. You wouldn't go up to a stranger and tell them either "tais toi" or "ferme la" (or even "taisez vous" ou "fermez la") unless you wanted to aggravate them.

"Tais toi" on its own is not really rude; it's the presumption that you can give someone an order when you can't that's rude. A teacher can certainly tell their students "taisez vous" so that they make less noise, because the teacher has authority over the students, for example. But even in this case "Fermez la" would be rude, as "la fermer" is rude in any case, it's definitely not elevated language. If you'd like an analogy in English, "tais moi" means "stop talking" while "ferme la" means "shut up" (it's not a perfect translation obviously).

If you want a more polite manner of telling someone to stop talking, find a way to tell them in a non-imperative manner and add a "please", such as "Pourrais-tu te taire s'il-te-plaît", or if you use "vous" with the other person, "Pourriez-vous vous taire s'il-vous-plaît".

If you want to be even ruder, a common expression is "Ferme ta gueule", or simply for short "ta gueule" -- "gueule" being the word used for the mouths of most animals, so you're at the same time ordering them to stop talking and implying they're an animal. If you say that to a random stranger, prepare for at least a verbal fight. "Ferme ta bouche" is the same thing but a bit less nasty, about on the same level as "ferme la" I would say.

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I think the best way to say that is:

Un peu de silence, s'il vous plaît.

Which means:

Be quiet, please.

-3

Femme la bouche - shut your mouth

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    Hi & Welcome to FLSE ! Giving an answer without any explaination doesn't really answers the question. Can you please give details about how close it answers the question ? Here, this is rude, so doesn't applies to every contexts, which you should at least make notice... (as jlliagre did). please also note a typo to "ferme"... – Random Sep 30 '16 at 14:08
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    Not only is there a typo in the word "ferme", but what you've written would mean "shut the mouth", not "shut your mouth". The correct thing would be "ferme ta bouche". – Najib Idrissi Sep 30 '16 at 14:24

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