Okay, I'm hoping you'll get what I'm talking about; it's very specific.

This is a thing many Americans do when speaking casually in a joking manner—we use the present indicative tense of a verb to suggest something happening in theory, something which would be somehow entertaining. In writing (often seen in instant message conversations), this sort of thing is usually in asterisks. It suggests an action. Example:

Joe: So then I say to the lady, "Where's my asparagus?"

Mickey: *slaps you*

So, for those who know what I mean, how is this done in French?

Also, I have NO idea how to tag this, so I'm picking a random tag—retag at will.

  • 1
    I'm not really sure this is a matter of translation between languages. I have a feeling it is more an internet usage which has probably caught on everywhere, and as such would probably be somewhat equivalent to asking how to translate a smiley. This is just a personal opinion, mind you, so I'll let someone else confirm or disprove it.
    – Kareen
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 5:25
  • I second Kareen on this. I saw on many Internet french groups this specific way of irony/amusement, just with french verbs. *prend un air important* Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 6:58
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    *agrees* This has nothing to do with languages and is used similarly in French-speaking chats. Asterisks are used to emote when there is no other built-in mechanism (such as the IRC /me), read the wikipedia page on "emote" for more information. Sadly there is no French version of the page, but again, emote is not language-specific.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 7:06
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    I feel that the question is not how to translate the written form, but how to translate the corresponding oral form, so it is language-related.
    – Evpok
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 8:08
  • Yes, I was basically asking whether present indicative is used in French for this as well. It could have been some other tense for whatever reason, very possible, or there might have been some idiomatic phrase for it. Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


As said in comments, the chat usage of *asterisk description* is common in French, too. I have especially seen it on text-based roleplay, it is probably related to didascalies in theatre (couldn't find a translation), since they have the same role and asterisks are the markdown-equivalent to italics.

As for the oral form, I don't think that there is a direct equivalent, but for your particular example, you could say

Jo : Alors j'ai demandé à cette fille, « Où est mon asperge »
Michou : Deux claques

the deux claques, said on a particularly blank tone being equivalent to your *slap you*.

In some cases you could also describe your action at the first person

Joe: Aw, come on, let's burn this cute animal¹
Mickey: *run away*

Jo : Allez, viens, on brûle cette petite chose mignonne
Michou : Bon, je m'enfuis

I have no precise rule for this, though.

1. No cute animals were harmed to write this answer.

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