Dis donc

Dis donc !
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French Expression

Meaning wow, my goodness; look, listen, by the way; hey, say
Literally say then
Register normal, informal
Pronunciation [dee do(n)(k)]  (k sound is optional)
IPA   [di dɔ̃(k)]

Usage notes: Dis donc is something of an all-purpose French expression, which makes it difficult to translate into English as it depends so much on context. But it can be broken down into three general meanings/uses.

1) Express surprise

You can say dis donc in reaction to something surprising, whether good or bad.

Par exemple…

Dis donc, c’est un joli paysage.   Wow, this is beautiful countryside.
Il a perdu son emploi ? Ben, dis donc !   He lost his job? My goodness!

Somewhat synonymous

2) Draw attention

Say dis donc when you want to make sure people are listening to what you have to say.

Par exemple…

Dis donc, j’ai oublié mon portefeuille.   Listen, I forgot my wallet.
Dis donc, Pierre va nous rejoindre dans une heure.   By the way, Pierre is going to join us in an hour.

3) The combo

Dis donc can also be a sort of combination of the above, used to indicate surprise and displeasure while at the same time making sure the person is paying attention.

Par exemple…

Dis donc, je ne suis pas à tes ordres !   Hey, I don’t take orders from you!
Mais dis donc, il ne faut pas parler ainsi !   Say, you shouldn’t talk like that!

  Dis is the tu form of the imperative of dire (to say), which means you’d say dites donc when talking to more than one person or to someone you use vous with. If you’re not sure, check out my lesson on tu vs vous.

 Related lessons

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Dis donc
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2 Responses

  1. Checkerboard 6 February 2015 / 17:13

    J’ai toujours du mal avec une expression similaire: “Voila donc.” Si vous pouviez m’expliquer le sens, je vous serais tres reconnaissant! Merci, Peter

    • lkl 8 February 2015 / 6:46

      Ce n’est pas vraiment une expression, juste deux mots qui peuvent être utilisés ensemble ou à part.

      Voilà – there you go, there you have it

      Donc – so

      Donc, voilà donc = so there you go / so there you have it.