Pousse-toi un peu, veux-tu?

Pousse-toi un peu, veux-tu?

pooss-twah uh puh, vuh-tew? Click below to hear this.

Scoot over a little, will you?

This picnic bench is just a little too short for all of us. Quit hogging all the room!

Instead of my pushing you over, I am trying to be polite. I’m asking you to push yourself a little, will you?

We often use the English push yourself as a challenge to someone who is training for a race, striving for better grades, seeking excellence. It means to make an additional effort, perhaps even a sacrifice, beyond what is comfortable and easy.

Even sitting on a picnic bench can involve the same admonition: We tend to sit where we are comfortable, and to preserve our personal space. But if the potential occupants are many and the bench short, we have to make a special effort to “push ourselves” literally and figuratively.

So pousse-toi un peu conveys the notion that the other guy has done only what is easy for him, and has stopped in the middle of the bench. You’re asking him to move over. Veux-tu literally means do you want to? but at the end of a request, it’s just another way to say please. It’s like asking a child, “You want to help me with this, please?” The answer is likely to be “No, thank you,” because young children are literalists.

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