Quand même

Useful French Expression

Meaning still, anyway, even so, all the same, nevertheless; really; how about that!; finally…
Literally when even
Register normal, informal
Pronunciation [ka(n) mehm]
IPA   [kɑ̃ mɛm]

Usage notes: Used extensively—and almost exclusively—in spoken French, the expression quand même has a multitude of meanings.

1) To disregard an impediment

The original meaning is also the simplest: quand même is an adverbial phrase meaning something like "still" or "anyway" when you can’t, shouldn’t, or don’t want to do something.

Par exemple…

Je suis très occupé, mais je vais quand même à la fête.   I’m very busy, but I’m still going to the party.
Fauché, il m’a quand même acheté un beau cadeau d’anniversaire.   He’s broke, but he still bought me a nice birthday present.
Merci quand même.   Thanks anyway.

Somewhat synonymous

  • cependant – nevertheless, however
  • de toute façon – in any case
  • en dépit de ça – despite that
  • malgré ça – despite that
  • pourtant – yet, even so
  • tout de même – even so, all the same

The above phrases can replace quand même with more or less the same meaning, or you can rework the sentence using other expressions of opposition in a different part of the sentence, such as

Bien que je sois / Même si je suis très occupé, je vais à la fête.   Even though I’m very busy, I’m going to the party.
Bien qu’il soit / Même s’il est fauché, il m’a acheté un beau cadeau d’anniversaire.   Even though he’s broke, he bought me a nice birthday present.
Merci, mais je dois refuser votre proposition.   Thank you, but I have to refuse your offer.

2) Acknowledgement of an impediment

Related to the first meaning, quand même can indicate unexpected, contradictory, or adverse conditions.

Par exemple…

C’est quand même difficile.   All the same / Even so / Actually / Still, it’s hard.
C’est un peu acide, quand même.
(en mangeant de la glace à la cerise)
  It’s kind of sour, surprisingly.
(eating cherry ice cream)
Quand même

3) Triumph over an impediment

Quand même can succinctly reference the overcoming of adversity.

France toujours ! France quand même !
(sur l’affiche à droite)

This 1914 etching by Gustave Fraipont depicts French soldiers throughout history: "France forever! France against all odds!"

— 

Quand même
(monument aux morts sculpté par Antonin Mercié, 1884)

Hommage to the Siege of Belfort during the Franco-Prussian War. Its name comes from the patriots’ motto: « Car, malgré tout, il faut quand même résister. » Source: Besac.com

— 

La vie quand même
(sur une photo du retour à la vie normale après un désastre)

"Life goes on" and "Back to normal" are missing something; maybe "Triumph over / after adversity" is the best translation.

Informal uses of quand même

4) Emphasis

Informally, quand même can be used for emphasis.

Par exemple…

Fais attention, quand même !   Hey, pay attention!
Quand même, ça suffit.   OK, that’s enough.
C’est beau, quand même.   It’s really beautiful.
Quel imbécile, quand même !   Wow, what a fool!

5) Interjection

Quand même can indicate a strong reaction like surprise, disbelief, or outrage. I think this is the trickiest to understand, and hesitate to use it for fear of being misunderstood.

– J’ai gagné !
– Quand même !
  – I won!
– How about that!
– Je suis trop fatigué pour sortir.
– Il n’est pas si tard que ça, quand même !
  – I’m too tired to go out.
– Come on, it’s not that late!
Quand même, Juliette !   Honestly, Juliette! What were you thinking?
Oui, mais quand même !   Yes, but still!

6) Rhetorical question / Disbelief

Quand même with a future construction indicates that whatever you’re thinking about doing is probably not a good idea.

Tu ne vas pas sortir en catimini, quand même.   You’re not really going to sneak out, are you?
Ils ne vont pas divorcer pour une question d’argent, quand même.   Come on, they’re not really going to divorce over money.

7) Acknowledgement

Recognition of effort or a saving grace.

Tu as essayé, quand même.   At least you tried.
Il est honnête, quand même.   At least he’s honest.

 Native speakers always point out that quand même should follow the verb directly, but in my experience, it’s almost always said at the beginning or end of the sentence.

Related expressions

Ah, quand même = Finally, How about that

– J’ai fait la lessive.
– Ah, quand même !
  – I did the laundry.
– Finally!

Mais quand même / Oh, quand même = Don’t mention it

– Merci beaucoup !
– Oh, quand même.
  – Thank you so much!
– Don’t mention it.

Quand (bien) même + conditional = even if

Quand bien même tu partirais maintenant, tu serais en retard.   Even if you left now, you’d be late.

  Quand même was French actress Sarah Bernhardt’s motto, but which meaning to ascribe to it is a matter of some debate. I lean toward the word play of two translations: "nevertheless" (which is apparently something that actors like to say in response to direction) and "overcoming adversity."

 Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

Quand même
Stay up to date with Lawless French!
Twitter Facebook Quora Instagram Pinterest YouTube RSS Newsletter
Quora

Any Questions?

 Get help on the forum.
  
 

More Lawless French

 Subscribe to my twice-weekly newsletter.
       

Support Lawless French

  This free website is created with love and a great deal of work.

If you love it, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation.

Your support is entirely optional but tremendously appreciated.