Tu te serais pas mis à fumer des cigarettes, par hasard ?

Case 1: When you enter a room, you notice that it stinks of some kind of smoke. Then you say:

= You wouldn’t happen to have started smoking a few cigarettes here, would you?

Case 2: You had never known your husband to be a smoker, but you spotted some cigarette ends smouldering in a tray on his desk. Then you say:

= You wouldn’t happen to have taken up smoking cigarettes, would you?

Am I correct in assuming that in the context of Case 1, « se mettre à fumer » can mean « commencer à fumer seulement cette fois-ci. », whereas in the Case 2 scenario, the expression can mean « prendre l’habitude de fumer »?

  • This is only asking about someone which has started to smoke. And this, regularly, since it is a drug. – Yohann V. Dec 1 '16 at 7:02
  • @YohannV. I’m not sure what your last sentence (“And this, regularly, since it is a drug.”) means. Does it mean that when a drug is involved that “se mettre à [whatever activity involving a drug]” can only mean “first taking up the activity” without any room for ambiguity? If so, when describing how my friends and I started drinking (alcohol, the drug) to try to ease the pain when Hillary conceded last month, would saying “on s’est mis à boire” only make sense if it had been the first time that any of us had ever experimented with alcohol? – Papa Poule Dec 3 '16 at 19:57
  • @PapaPoule Hillary conceeding isn't hurting you enought to make your drinking permanent. Drinking alcohol is not as strong as smoking when the addiction starts. In my personal believe, you have to feel some pain to make alcohol a drug. While smoking become an addiction just because habbit. My point is, "se mettre à" is talking about a starting point, the habit is depending about context. Smoke addiction is easy and fast, so habit is implied. Drink to celebrate is not linked to addiction. – Yohann V. Dec 5 '16 at 7:17
  • Moreover, seeing the tone and the question, it feels like it is a friend asking. (S)He wouldn't care about one cigarette, but about the drug addiction, yes. – Yohann V. Dec 5 '16 at 7:20

Ce jour là, il se mit à fumer pendant le repas. Chose qu'il ne faisait pas d'ordinaire.

Il s'agit ici de parler d'une occurrence de la pratique d'un fumeur.

Il fumait depuis l'âge de dix-huit ans. Il s'était mis à fumer avec des amis pendant les vacances d'été.

Il s'agit ici de prendre l'habitude de fumer.

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  • +1 for leaving some wiggle room for different contexts. (here’s another context that could possibly make sense: “Tu te serais pas mis à en fumer un/une [sans moi], par hasard?”) – Papa Poule Dec 3 '16 at 20:24

It means "to start smoking", as a habit, not a single cigarette.

There is no point asking someone if they started smoking a cigarette right now, because either they're still smoking and you can see it (and use "T'es pas en train de fumer" directly, or they're done and you'll ask if they smoked a cigarette, not if they started then stopped.

If you ever need to say it, I'd say "Tu n'aurais pas commencé/allumé une cigratte, par hasard ?"

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