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Complete post:

Jan

09

2013

“Je ne sais pas grand-chose sur ce sujet…”

“I know almost nothing about this subject…”

One of our listeners asked about the expression above which we discussed in Lesson 31, entitled 'Tell me about your home town…'

In fact, we can say either:

  • Je ne sais pas grand-chose sur [un sujet précis]. (verbe savoir)

Or…

  • Je ne connais pas grand-chose à [un sujet précis]. (verb connaître)

Frequently, people also say (about something being talked about or which has been talked about previously):

  • Je n'y connais pas grand-chose.
    = I know almost nothing about it.

Here, the personal pronoun y means 'about that' (à cela).

As for grand-chose (an indefinite pronoun or adverb), this compound word is preceded by the negatives – pas or plus – and means 'almost nothing'.

Consider the following:

  • Je ne sais pas grand-chose sur l'informatique.
    = I know almost nothing about computing.
  • Jean ne sait pas grand-chose sur la politique.
    = Jean knows almost nothing about politics.
  • Ma tante ne connaît pas grand-chose à la mécanique.
    = My aunt knows almost nothing about mechanics.
  • Quant à l'informatique, mes parents n'y connaissent pas grand-chose.
    = As for computing, my parents know almost nothing about it.

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Finally, un pas-grand-chose is a colloquial expression, used pejoratively, to refer to someone who isn't worthy of consideration, respect, etc.

Écouter les exemples de phrases ci-dessus en cliquant sur le lien audio ci-après.

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