Guernsey Patois lesson

29th April 2021

24 November 1949.

This is the first of a series of lessons on Guernsey Patois by Walter Brehaut.

Two Very Important Verbs

There are two very important verbs: 'To have' and 'to be'. Thesa are called Auxiliary or helping verbs. No other verb can be complete without the introduction and help of either of these two.

We shall begin with the first. Three tenses only will suffice for the present; the Indicative or Present, the Imperfect or Past Continuous, and the Future.

To help those who are not acquainted with the PAtois or the French, we shall give the English equivalnet. When possible, the phonetic or sound spelling will be placed in brackets after the word. This will help in the pronunication. If the learner can hear someone say the words, it wil lbe a great help.

Note: Two abbreviaitions: o.f. (old form) and lit. (literal).


The verb 'to have' = Le Verbe ave(r). (Avé) 

Note here that the 'r' is mute; it is placed at the end to indicate an Infinitive.



J'ai = I have

t'as = thou hast

il a = he has

all'a = she has

nous a (j'avon o.f.) = we have

vous avaie = you have

Ils ont = they have



J'avais = I had

t'avais = thou hadst

il avait = he had

all'avait = she had

Note: alle is the patois for she. French — elle.

nous avait (j'avainmes o.f.) = we had

vous avaîtes = you had

ils avaient = they had



J'érai = I shall have

t'éras = thou wilt have

il éra = he will have

all'éra = she will have

nous éra (J'éron o.f.) = we shall have

vous éraie = you will have

ils éront = they will have

It is used for both masculine and feminine in the third person and plural


The tréma (¨) as on avaïe, eraïe, to accentuate or stress the 'i'.

There is much chopping and cutting out of endings and letters in any dialect. Such are indicated by the use of the apostrophe.



We shall now begin our vocabulary of everyday words.

There are five words for Yes: Oui, verre, si-fait, siès, si-fra (o.f.).

Thre are three words for No: Nennain, noufait, nou-na (o.f.).

If you please: Si vous plait (pyait).

Thank you: Mercie.

Thank you very much: Mercie bien (bian).

No thank you: Nennain mercie.

Yes if you please: Oui si'vous plait.



Sentences showing the use of the above: 

Ai-ju yeux à déjunaï? Oui. = Have you had any breakfast? Yes.

T'as yeux un accident? Verre. = You have had an accident? Yes.

Il n'est pas vrai? Siès or si-fait. = Is it not true? Yes.

Avous yeux d'sormers? Nennain. = Have you had any ormers? No.

Absolument ils ont étaï trempaïs? Noufait. = Surely they have been soaked or drenched? No (indeed).

Erous enne coupaïe d'thée? Oui si vous plait. = will you have a cup of tea? Yes please.

Eras-tu du chucre (shucre)? Nennain mercie. = Will you have sugar? No thank you.

Note: Mercie bien = Thank you very much.

Mercie bien des fais = Thank you many times (lit.).

Oui dia = Certainly (lit. but yes).

Nennain dia = Certainly not (lit. but no.)