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"So basically, this is what you're talking about, j'ai bon ?"

Is this phrase used when you want to know for sure if you've understood the situation correctly? Is some word dropped after bon?

11

This popular spoken French expression is asking if what has just been done/said is correct or not.

It comes from school teacher's usage to write Bon (for bonne réponse, good answer) in front of a pupil's correct answer and Faux otherwise.

It is sometimes used jocularly after an obviously incorrect statement.

The question works as is so is not missing anything but can be expanded to that equally common one:

J'ai bon ou j'ai faux ?

An alternative version of j'ai bon can also be:

J'ai juste ?

Despite what other replies state, j'ai bon should not be considered as grammatically incorrect.

Here bon is neither an adverb, an adjective or an attribute (je suis bon) but is used as an invariable substantive. This substantive is the direct object complement (COD) which represent the score, the mark that has been or would be obtained.

The sentence answers to the question:

Tu as quoi ?.

It can be compared to:

J'ai une bonne note.

J'ai dix-huit.

J'ai vingt sur vingt.

J'ai A.

J'ai TB.

J'ai la moyenne.

12

"J'ai bon ?" means "Am I right ?". Some students when they are under stress in an exam ask the teacher "J'ai bon ?" or "J'ai bon ?" to know if they have the good answer.

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    It must be stressed that this form, without anything else behind, is used in spoken French. – Christophe Jun 14 at 10:25
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    @Christophe Ton propos est inexact, il s'agit simplement de langage des écoliers en France et en Belgique. On peut l'écrire et l'employer aussi au figuré : « Sur le plan économique, il [un gouvernement] a eu presque tout faux. » (Gilles Martinet, ds. Le Monde). – suiiurisesse Jun 14 at 16:04
3

To be honest, "J'ai bon" is not used that often in France in your context. I don't know about Canadian French since there are some differences between the two (like British vs American English).

Now, let's explain. You use "J'ai bon" as asking for confirmation which is grammatically correct. It can also be used as an exclamation, like if you were right in a test "Cool, j'ai bon !".

But as I said, it is barely used. More common alternatives would be :

  • "C'est (bien) ça ?" with "bien" optional, it makes no real difference to include it or not. To use your example, it would be "So basically, this is what you're talking about, c'est bien ça ?"
  • Another alternative would be "Pas vrai ?". Note that it is more familiar.
1

There are already several good answers here. But for the sake of completeness, I’d like to add that this form is colloquially used and accepted in Belgium:

  • as answer when asked about your comfort, to mean that you are ok: “Tu as chaud ? Non, j’ai bon” (source: article about Belgian French in Le Soir)
  • to say that you like doing something. It is the followed with “à”: “j’ai bon à boire de la bière” (source: blog on Belgian French)
  • as oral form by pupils (source: same as above), to ask_/say they ere right, as already explained in the other answers.

It is possible that it may be used in similar ways in other regional forms.

It is worth to mention that although it is used colloquially in some countries and regions, the form “j’ai bon” is grammatically incorrect: “bon” is an adjective that is supposed to qualify something that would be missing, and “ai” prevents it from qualifying the subject.

The correct form would require a be-verb, e.g. “je suis bon”, which has a different meaning (see also the Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales for additional usages of “bon”).

1

Dans le monde scolaire « j'ai bon » signifie « j'ai la réponse correcte » (dans une classe d'élèves qui font un exercice par exemple). Mais ce n'est pas une manière correcte de parler/écrire.

In the school world, "j'ai bon" means "I have the correct anwser". In the social world near Liège (Belgium), "j'ai bon" means "I feel so good, so happy" (after a good drink in the summer).

People from Liège are serious CASTARDS. But it is another story.

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    Have you got any sources ? And did you have a look on this : french.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer ? :) – purerstamp Jun 15 at 22:03
  • Bonjour ! L'affirmation à l'effet que ce n'est pas une manière correcte me semble discutable. Bof. Cette Q&A montre que ça fait certainement réagir. – suiiurisesse Jun 15 at 23:34
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I'm no language expert, but in French Canadian, I have heard numerous times the usage of "J'ai bon" in this context :

J'ai bon de l'aider, mais ça ne servira à rien.

Meaning "Even if I would help him, it would be no use"

  • Are you sure this was j'ai bon and not j'ai beau i.e. j'ai (eu) beau l'aider? Never heard that in the region identified in your profile, but then again, I haven't heard everything and there are quite a few Belgians in Qc. too. – suiiurisesse Jun 15 at 16:49
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In standard French you don't say that; all that you can say that comes close is "C'est bon ?". Otherwise if you add some words you do obtain expressions that are meaningful. Here are a few for instance;

  • J'ai (un) bon appétit. ("un" is possible, meaning similar*)
  • J'ai (un) bon caractère. ("un" is possible, meaning similar*)
  • …, si j'ai bon souvenir.
  • J'ai bon espoir
  • J'ai bon pied (to be steady on one's feet)
  • J'ai bon moral

The sentences given are set phrases; for other concepts it becomes necessary to add the indefinite article;

  • J'ai une bonne attitude.
  • J'ai une bonne compréhension du sujet.

On ne trouve aucune des des formes suivantes ;
J'ai bon.,J'ai bon;J'ai bon !,J'ai bon?,j'ai bon.,j'ai bon;j'ai bon !,j'ai bon?,Il a bon.,il a bon.,tu as bon. ngram

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    This is plain wrong or you'll have to define what "standard French" means. See the other answers, "j'ai bon" is a sentence any French person will know and understand. – Pierre Arlaud Jun 14 at 8:14
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    @Christophe Are you sure it's « J'ai bon + infinitive »? I can't find a single obvious case. Wouldn't you be making a confusion with «J'ai beau + infinitive »? – LPH Jun 14 at 10:26
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    @LPH argh ! moi-même victime d’une forme orale (belgicisme?) Oui, effectivement, j’ai beau chercher, je ne trouve pas ;-) – Christophe Jun 14 at 10:37
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    @LPH Je ne suis pas sûr de comprendre en quoi « j'ai "bien" » est plus standard que « j'ai "bon" » mais quoi qu'il en soit la question était de savoir si cette question était usitée et ce qu'elle signifiait. J'ai beau être un avocat du français « correct », votre réponse nie une réalité linguistique et n'explique à aucun moment ce que « j'ai bon » pourrait signifier, ce qui était pourtant la question. – Pierre Arlaud Jun 14 at 12:11
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    @PierreArlaud Il est clair que l'origine est le langage des écoles et qu'il faut comprendre « J'ai «bon » »; de là vous passez vous-même d'éjà à « J'ai bon . »; ce n'est plu la même chose; la signification initiale c'est « J'ai un « bon ». » , comme pour « bien » d'ailleurs; on disait par exemple « J'ai eu un « bien » en géographie. ». En utilisant cela dans la langue courante on change tout et on ne demande plus à la personne à qui l'on parle s'il elle nous donne un « bon » (ce que l'on pourrait faire de façon amusante/ironique/etc., (champ 1) – LPH Jun 14 at 12:27

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