Un point c’est tout.
UH PWAA say TOO. Click below to hear the audio file!
That’s it, end of story. (Literally: one period, that’s all.)
If you ever studied French in school, anywhere in the world, at any level, you are probably familiar with the dictée (deek-TAY), a test or written exercise specifically designed to cause agony and torment to students. The professor reads a passage in French, and you are to write down exactly what you hear, punctuation and all. Of course, you are expected to hear what the professor actually said, not some invention of your under-functioning brain….
They even read the punctuation, and that’s where today’s phrase comes in. Here are some of the punctuation marks in French, as a teacher might read them within a paragraph.
point = period (pwaa)
virgule = comma (veer-GEWL)
point-virgule = semi-colon (pwaa veer-GEWL)
deux points = colon duh PWAA)
point d’exclamation = exclamation mark (pwaa dex-klah-mah-seeYAW)
point d’interrogation = question mark (pwaa daa-tay-roh-gah-seeYAW)
points de suspension = … (ellipsis) (pwaa duh sew-spah-seeYAW)
tiret = dash (tee-RAY)
trait d’union = hyphen (tray dew-neeYAW)
à la ligne = new paragraph (ah lah LEE-nyuh)
In English, the ellipsis is typically used to mean that something has been omitted, from a quotation, for example. In French the points de suspension mean that and more. Used at the end of a sentence, it means that you have not completed your thought; you have left part of it unsaid, for the other person to guess at.
Because students in French-speaking countries are so accustomed to the dictée with its punctuation incorporated right into the text read by the professor, it seems a natural move to carry this manner of speaking over into ordinary conversation. So you might say, for instance, C’est la goutte d’eau points de suspension. That means, It’s the straw… and your interlocutor will complete the sentence in his or her head (that broke the camel’s back).
But what if you want to emphasize that you have said your say, made your point, will not tolerate any arguments? That’s when you use today’s phrase. This is how the language works. Un point c’est tout.