1. Education

Discuss in my forum

Si ce n'est pas indiscret

French expressions analyzed and explained

By

Serait-il indiscret...
Adam Hester / Getty Images
Expression: Si ce n'est pas indiscret

Pronunciation: [see seu nay pah zeh(n) dee skreh]

Meaning: if it's not too personal, if you don't mind my asking

Literal translation: if it's not indiscreet

Register: normal

Notes: Questions considered too personal to ask of acquaintances vary from culture to culture. Americans, for example, are likely to ask what you do for a living within the first few minutes of meeting, but in the French mind, one's job is considered off-limits, at least for a while. When the French do ask personal questions, they'll soften them with one of these expressions:

   si ce n'est pas indiscret
   serait-ce indiscret de vous demander
   est-il indiscret de vous demander
   excusez mon indiscrétion
   sans indiscrétion

   sans être indiscret (indiscrète)
   je ne veux pas être indiscret (indiscrète)

Note that indiscret can only change to feminine to agree with the speaker in the last two expressions. In the first three, the subject, ce or il, is impersonal and so there can't be any agreement.

Example
   Si ce n'est pas indiscret, que faites-vous dans la vie ?
   If you don't mind my asking, what do you do for a living?


More
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. French Language
  4. French Vocabulary
  5. French Expressions
  6. Expression of the Week
  7. Si ce n'est pas indiscret - French Expression

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.