Si ce n’est pas indiscret

Si ce n'est pas indiscret
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Polite French Expression

Meaning if it’s not too personal, if you don’t mind my asking
Literally if it’s not inquisitive
Register normal
Pronunciation [see seu nay pah zeh(n) dee skreh]
IPA   [si sə ne pa zɛ̃ di skʁɛ]

Usage notes: Cultural norms about appropriate topics of conversation vary. While Americans don’t think twice about asking complete strangers what they do for a living, to the French, anything to do with money, including work, is off-limits – at least until you know each other a bit better.

When asking about topics that have the potential to be considered too personal, the French soften their question with the polite expression si ce n’est pas indiscret or one of these variations:

  1. Est-il indiscret de vous demander
  2. Excusez mon indiscrétion
  3. Sans être indiscret (indiscrète)
  4. Sans indiscrétion
  5. Serait-ce indiscret de vous demander
  6. Je ne veux pas être indiscret (indiscrète)

Note that indiscret is an adjective that may change to feminine to agree with the speaker only in variations 3 and 6. When the subject is ce or il, it’s impersonal so there cannot be any agreement.

Par exemple…

Si ce n’est pas indiscret, que faites-vous dans la vie ?   If it’s not too personal, what do you do for a living?
D’où êtes-vous ? Sans indiscretion.   Where are you from? If you don’t mind my asking.

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Si ce n'est pas indiscret
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