Before girlfriend started finding out French, there’s a phrase you can have already been familiar with: Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

A quick online search will display you you’re not alone. You’ll easily find dozens of story of tourists or French student spouting out this question, periodically without even knowing what it means, and always with cringeworthy results.

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Why the cringe-worthiness? for one thing, although the technically correct and French world will know it, Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? has a bizarre ring to it for French native speakers. 

For another, just blurting the end this sentence or questioning it to someone in earnest is front at best, and offensive in ~ worst.

Let’s look at why Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? is so well-known about the world, and why you most likely shouldn’t say it to a French person.


Table of Contents
Why does everyone know the expression Voulez -vous coucher avec moi ?
What go Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? mean?
carry out French world say “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir ?”
as soon as would you to speak “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir ?”

Why does everyone recognize the expression Voulez -vous coucher avec moi ?

It turns out that what appears to be an top French phrase was in reality popularized by foreign speakers. 

In 1921, American writer john Dos Passos used it in his book Three Soldiers, albeit intentionally misspelled and minus the ce soir. This is the first recorded use of the phrase. Not long after, E.E. Cummings (one the my favourite poets, for what that worth), included the phrase Voulez-vous coucher avec moi in his poem “Little Ladies”. The was additionally used in Tennessee Williams’s famous 1947 pat “A Streetcar named Desire”, this time with ce soir added. 

A couple of decades later, that soared come popularity many thanks to disco! In 1974, the Patti LaBelle-fronted team Labelle released the ultra-catchy “Lady Marmalade”, a song about a brand-new Orleans prostitute who claims the now-famous line.

People of mine generation space probably more familiar v the 2001 work again, please again of the French tune featuring Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink, and also Lil’ Kim (as well as a cameo by Missy Elliott), because that the movie Moulin Rouge!.


As a language learner, girlfriend probably know that it’s often less complicated to memorize things once they’re in song form, and also that’s what appears to have happened here: Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? is sung come a really catchy track that sticks in your head, in an era when music has gone global. It to be bound to end up being famous.

What go Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? mean?

Let’s rest it down: Voulez-vous is the inverted kind of Vous voulez – the is, “Do friend want?” This is complied with by coucher – “to sleep”, climate avec moi – “with me”, and also to end up it off, ce soir – “this evening/tonight”.

If this phrase is engraved in your brain, there’s great news: You deserve to use it to assist you mental the simple structure of inverted interrogative French sentences: 

1. The conjugated verb (in this case, Voulez)

2. A hyphen 

3. The topic (in this case, vous)

4. A noun or a 2nd verb (in the infinitive) (in this case, coucher

5. Any extr elements (in this case, avec moi ce soir)

Try the with any question you like. Because that example, this is a concern I ask in order come gauge simply what sort of human being I’m talk to: Aimez-vous les chats ou les chiens? (Do you prefer cats or dogs?). 

Here’s an additional question, this time with a 2nd verb: Veux-tu aller à la plage demain ? (Do you want to go to the coast tomorrow?)

*
Veux-tu aller à la plage demain ?

Do French human being say “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir ?”

The factor for this phrase’s popularity, and also its structure, make a many sense, right? Well, now I’m going to blow your mind: A native French speak would most likely never speak “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”!

That’s because, although it’s grammatically correct, the usage of vous, the formal type of “you”, v an invite to such an intimate act is jarring to most French people. If a French human were forward sufficient to asking you to sleep v them outright, also if they didn’t understand you well, lock would usage the unshened tu.

If you’ve ever been fight on in France, you’ve probably found this already. 

When would certainly you speak “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir ?”

So, those the deal? Is this phrase simply an American author’s mistake?

It doesn’t seem likely, due to the fact that other writers seem to have heard it, as well. This is wherein it it s okay interesting. 

John Dos Passos and also E.E. Cummings were two free-spirited authors who invested time in Paris in an era whereby maisons closes (brothels) and also prostitution were legal and reasonably common. This makes me wonder if the expression is something that they heard prostitutes say, one of two people to address the group of passersby (don’t forget that vous can also signify many people) or merely to include a keep in mind of politeness/professionalism come the front question. 

I’m not the just one who’s wondered about this. And in Cummings’ poem “Little Ladies”, the phrase is spoken by a French prostitute (or, at least, the speaker’s storage of one). So it seems prefer this theory is most likely correct.

So, what execute I to speak if I want a French human being to sleep with me?

Prostitution is still legal in France today, although maisons closes space not, due to a law that forbids pimping. If you speak “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” come a French prostitute today, they most likely won’t bat one eye – company is business. Yet they won’t ever say this to you.

As for the basic population, don’t believe the stereotypes. French civilization are no super-sexual beings that declare your passions and also desires without any type of kind of dead or restraint.

The French might be a bit more open about specific things, but it’s still taken into consideration incredibly forward and rude to walk approximately someone and also ask them come sleep through you, especially if you’ve never met lock before. 

Don’t let gift in a foreign nation make you totally lose your feeling of respect. And if you do, don’t concern – in ~ the an extremely least, the person you approached will ignore you; in ~ worst, you’ll acquire slapped or maybe even beaten up. And then, yes the law. In 2018, catcalling and also other kinds of street harassment became a crime in France. To speak something crude come someone and you’ll get hit through a 70 euro well the an initial time, then a 3000 euro fine the next.

So also if you’re mad through desire because that someone in France, try to act normal. It is in polite and non-threatening. Sell to buy them a drink and also get to recognize them. And of course, be ready for rejection also if you’re on your finest behavior. Contrary to what pop society often shows, French people don’t just sleep with anyone they meet.

It’s necessary to say all of this, but I haven’t really answered the question, have actually I? What if you in a instance where you can reasonably think the person you’re talking to can be interested in obtaining it ~ above (to reference an additional 70’s music hit) v you? How can you ask if they’re up because that it?

So lot depends top top context and on your relationship. Flirting is an art, and so is communication. And of course, when it pertains to physical things, it often just…happens, without much planning in advance.

That said, this article gives two examples of the actual method Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? would certainly be claimed in France today: Veux-tu coucher avec moi ce soir? and also Tu together envie de coucher avec moi ce soir ?

As the writer of the short article points out, the first example still feels a little formal, due to the fact that inverted questions in spoken French tend to have actually that connotation. So, the second example works better. I particularly like it because it has envie, which is frequently used to express bold sex-related desire — J’ai envie de toi, because that example, method “I want you.”

That said, both of this phrases likewise have a slight, sour note to me, together they probably do for numerous other people who’ve been approached or harassed in France. There space times once you might be sit in a park, analysis a publication or checking her phone and also wearing clothing that certainly don’t accumulate the expression “Oh là là, ” and also yet, the end of nowhere, someone will strategy you. They might be French, or they might be someone from an additional country who assumes the you’re “easy” because you’re French (or, in ~ least, a seemingly accessible person in France).

Whether friend look like Alain Delon or Brigitte Bardot in your heyday or a sketchy individual from the streets, top up to people who do this: that is no attractive. It actually comes off together desperate, shallow (at least chat me up a bit and also pretend to favor me!), and also even threatening.

So, to recap: If you were planning to walk to France and also ask every attractive human you see to sleep through you, no, the is not typical in France to ask someone you don’t know or barely know to sleep with you.

If you in a partnership with someone, ~ above the other hand, or you guys are in heavy flirtation mode and have been seeing each various other for a while, you could say “J’ai très envie de faire l’amour avec toi” (I really desire to do love come you/I really want you.). 

Of course, keep in mind that no matter how you ask, there’s no guarantee the human being you’re asking will say “Oui.”

When it involves getting a French human being to sleep with you, usage your language skills in a various way. Find out to make conversation, ask questions, provide the occasional compliment. Things should proceed naturally from there.

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leave Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? on your bookshelves or the dancefloor.