Je ne sais quoi écrire!

Je ne sais quoi écrire!

zhuhn say kwah ay-KREER! Click below to hear this.

I don’t know what to write!

After a busy but utterly delightful weekend divided between our beloved grandkids and a wonderful cousin I hadn’t seen for 10 years, I am out of words!

And so I say, Je ne sais quoi écrire. I could say Je ne sais pas quoi écrire, but many French speakers just don’t do that. They leave out the pas. You’re allowed to do that, partly because pas quoi isn’t particularly euphonious, and partly because that’s permitted with the verb savoir, even though it sounds a bit formal. And don’t ask me why it’s allowed; it just is.

You still say je ne sais pas for I don’t know. But for I don’t know what + verb, you use je ne sais (pas) quoi + verb (always in the infinitive, or dictionary, form). So Je ne sais (pas) quoi faire means I don’t know what to do, and Je ne sais (pas) quoi dire means I don’t know what to say.

My completely unscientific impression is that you are more likely to hear the pas in company with dire or faire than with écrire. And my equally unscientific guess as to why that might be so is that the additional syllable in écrire throws the rhythm off. It’s not as punchy. Anyway, you can’t go wrong leaving out the pas in all three of these expressions.

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