I found the following sentence over Quora:

S’assoir et se détendre dans un café. Y’a pleins de cafés avec des gens qui lisent, discutent. À Atlanta, c’est tu achètes ton café et tu le bois dans la rue.

I have not seen this usage of c'est ~ expression. All the other usages of c'est ~ expression has been either c'est + determiner or c'est que ~ (clause).

So I wonder if it is fine just to start the clause after c'est ~ without the pronoun que. Or is it not proper French but nonetheless common, like Y'a?

  • La phrase manque de ponctuations pour être correcte. À Atlanta, c’est : « Tu achètes ton café et tu le bois dans la rue ».
    – Personne
    Feb 10 '19 at 1:30

As cl-r commented, a properly punctuated sentence would be:

À Atlanta, c’est : « Tu achètes ton café et tu le bois dans la rue ».

C'est can be removed from the French sentence without changing the meaning:

À Atlanta, tu achètes ton café et tu le bois dans la rue.

Here, the rôle of c'est is to introduce a clause describing the way things go in Atlanta. The sentence can be translated by :

In Atlanta, the practice is to buy a coffee and drink it in the street.


In Atlanta, you just buy a coffee and drink it in the street.

C'est is proper spoken French just like y'a.

Here is an example of this usage of c'est:

La création, pour moi, c'est : tu prends des gens et tu fais avec les matières que tu as en face de toi.

Pierre-Emmanuel SORIGNET, Danser, enquête dans les coulisses d'une vocation, 2010

  • Thanks. Is this use (without punctuations) very common?
    – Blaszard
    Feb 11 '19 at 4:52
  • 1
    I don't think so but the expression is rare is written French. The colon is required by grammar rules and implies a slight pause but the quotation marks are optional. They depend on whether the second clause is considered a quote or an explanation.
    – jlliagre
    Feb 11 '19 at 8:19

This construction is exceptional, rarely used because it's intended for a special effect; it is used to make it clear to someone that a rule or a way of life is quite différent from what they're entitled to expect or what is usual or simply what they expect because of their particular outlook on life while reality is somewhat different. It is a way to say "and that's that", "there is no more complication about it", "as harsh or difficult or strange as it may seem there is no other way", or again "you'd better do it that way as there is none other". I can't tell about the register of this construction; I do know it is used with the pronoun "vous" instead ot "tu"; it might not do in formal writing, though.

In Atlanta, you buy your coffee in the street and you drink it in the street and that's that.

  • that's that (Oxford dictionary) colloq there is no more to be said (or done), the matter is settled, closed, finished, etc.
  • Peut-être « it's really about you... » + gérondif. Je ne sais pas exactement, je ne suis pas anglophone...
    – user3177
    Feb 10 '19 at 0:35
  • @Jardindefrostedflakes « In Atlanta, it's really about you buying your coffee … and …drinking it…» ? Non, ce n'est pas ça;
    – LPH
    Feb 10 '19 at 0:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.