“Quand même” is an expression the French use all the time. The problem is that its meaning never seems to be the same.
If you open a dictionary, you’ll see that it can mean “anyway”, “even though”, “really” or “despite”.
After reading this article, you’ll know how to use “quand même” like a local and will be able to understand all the nuances behind this expression.
#1 The surprised quand même
Your best friend just told you he won the loto. You ask him how much he earned exactly and he answers “two million euros”.
You didn’t expect the amount to be that high, so you say “ah oui quand même !”.
T’as gagné combien exactement ?
Deux millions d’euros.
Ah oui quand même !
How much did you earn exactly?
Two million euros.
#2 Thanks for trying
You’re lost and ask someone for directions in the street. Unfortunately, the person doesn’t know the place you’re looking for and can’t help you.
You answer “merci quand même” to say “thanks for trying” or “thanks anyway”.
You could also use “merci quand même” ironically to thank someone who didn’t even try to help you.
Excusez-moi, est-ce que vous savez où je peux trouver un supermarché ?
Merci quand même.
Excuse me, do you know where I can find a supermarket?
#3 I’ll do it anyway
You just came back home after a long day of work and don’t feel like studying French. You know that studying everyday is essential though, so you decide to study a little bit anyway.
Je suis souvent fatigué quand je rentre du boulot, mais j’étudie quand même un peu tous les jours.
I’m often tired when I come home from work, but I still study a little bit everyday.
Or you decide to do something even though you know it’s probably not going to work.
Je savais que ça ne marcherait probablement pas, mais j’ai quand même voulu essayer.
I knew it was probably not going to work, but I still wanted to try.
#4 Are you really going to do that?
You’re mad at your noisy neighbor, so you decide to find an inventive way to get back at him. You explain your diabolical idea to your friend who answers:
Tu vas pas faire ça quand même !
You can’t be serious!
The beginning of the sentence literally means “you are not gonna do that”, and “quand même” means “right?” or “are you?”.
Here, you use “quand même” to show you can’t believe what you just heard.
Quand même in the wild
There is no better way to master the use of French expressions like “quand même” than to hear them used in the real world, so here are a few songs you can easily find online (I can’t add them here for copyright reasons):
- Bigflo & Oli – Quand Même.
- M pokora J’le fais quand même.
You can easily find the lyrics of both of these songs if you add “paroles” (lyrics) at the end of your search.