Take Your Pills! – Finding Batteries in France Posted by John Bauer on Dec 9, 2015 in Vocabulary
I recently bought une souris sans fil (a cordless mouse), but forgot that it needs batteries to function. So I was surprised when ma souris stopped working il y a quelque jours (a few days ago), and I needed to buy new batteries. By now I know to look up what I want beforehand so I at least know what to ask for when I walk in the store.
That’s how I learned that une batterie is not always the same thing as a battery. A car battery or a computer battery is une batterie, but a small disposable battery is une pile.
Une fois au magasin (once I was at the store), I walked up to the nearest employé (worker) and asked them:
Est-ce que vous avez des piles ?
Do you have batteries?
L’employé responded nicely:
Oui, mais il faut demander à la caisse.
Yes, but you have to ask at the register.
Pas de problème (no problem). I knew I had the right word because l’employé understood what I was looking for. However, once I was at la caisse, I had a very swift French lesson.
Quel type de pile ?
What kind of battery?
Thinking it couldn’t be much different than in English I simply said:
The confusion on le visage du caissier (the cashier’s face) made me realize that’s not how it’s said in France. It turns out that a double A battery is une pille AA (pronounced “ah-ah”). I left the store slightly embarassed, but with better French than when I entered thanks to my mistake.
It also made me think about how with all these problems I’m having, I think I know what to ask for Christmas!
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