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N'importe quoi = Nonsense, anything (indefinite pronouns)

N'importe quoi is a very peculiar expression in French.

N'importe quoi  = "anything"

The original meaning of n'importe quoi is "anything", but it's not the most common use of it.

Pour toi, je ferais n'importe quoi!
For you, I would do anything!

 

 

(main meaning) N'importe quoi  = "nonsense"

It is most commonly used to express a lack of understanding at a situation. It is actually closer to "nonsense".

It is a very difficult expression to translate to English, as it can be translated differently depending on the context. 

Regarde-le! Il fait n'importe quoi!
Look at him! He's being silly / He doesn't know what he's doing! 

Pfff! N'importe quoi!          
Pfff! Nonsense!

Tu dis n'importe quoi!
You're talking nonsense / You don't make sense!

Note that 'n'importe quoi' is a very common expression.

 

See also the related lesson: Autre chose / quelque chose d'autre = Something else (indefinite pronouns)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Pour toi, je ferais n'importe quoi!
For you, I would do anything!


Tu dis n'importe quoi!
You're talking nonsense / You don't make sense!


Pfff! N'importe quoi!          
Pfff! Nonsense!


Regarde-le! Il fait n'importe quoi!
Look at him! He's being silly / He doesn't know what he's doing! 


Q&A

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

16 September 2017

3 replies

N'importe quoi and regarde-le pronunciation.

I notice the ees on the end n'importe and regarde are both pronounced here. Have you any hints on when an end ee is pronounced? As ever thank you for the opportunity to ask such novice questions.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

17 September 2017

17/09/17

Bonjour Jennifer,
I asked a similar question a couple of years ago about the word «parle» where the speaker also pronounced the «-e» final. I was told by my French professor at the time that this is a predominately south of France pronunciation. It appears that native speakers who grew up in the south of France learned to pronounce the final «-e» when there were no other following letters.
However, now my French professor, who grew up in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, teaches us that the final «-e» is silent, muet.
I will say, having traveled in several French regions, that pronunciation varies by region.
J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

8 October 2017

8/10/17

A belated yes, it does help me. Thank you for your reply.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 October 2017

13/10/17

Bonjour Jennifer and Ron !

Wow! Such an interesting question!
The fact is that I had never really noticed these cases where indeed we do pronounce the final e [euh]. This isn't a regional particularity here, as we would all do it :)

The only explanation I can give relates to poetry reading:
In poetry, if the mute "e" at the end of a word is followed by a consonant (la belle robe), you will need to pronounce it to respect the pace of the poem.

In those cases, I think a similar rule applies, to make it sound more harmonious to the French ear.
Some people speaking fast could omit them, but doing so immediately sounds less elegant.

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Héctor

Kwiziq community member

13 June 2017

1 reply

Why I cant say "C'est absurde" instead of C'est n'importe quoi"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

14 June 2017

14/06/17

Bonjour Héctor !

Actually, in this case, "c'est absurde" is also an acceptable translation, and thanks to you, I've now updated the question to accept this answer as well.

Bonne journée !
Thinking...