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Si ce n'est pas indiscret

French expressions analyzed and explained


Serait-il indiscret...
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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.

   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?

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