juh nuh seh KWA (The "seh" has a short "e" as in "self."
The "KWA" has a short "a" as it "watch.")
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about a je ne sais quoi.)
A je ne sais quoi is a certain good quality, and it's hard to explain or hard to know just what that good quality is, exactly.
"Je ne sais quoi" is French for "I don't know what."
How to use it:
Talk about someone or something having "a je ne sais quoi" or "a certain je ne sais quoi" when that person or thing is special or interesting in some way that's hard to describe. It can be a person, a work of art, a restaurant, a performance, a place, and so on that has "a little je ne sais quoi" or "that je ne sais quoi."
You can stick an adjective in front of this phrase and talk about "a holy je ne sais quoi" or "an alluring je ne sais quoi," for example, but then you're venturing into sticky territory: why describe something that you're saying is indescribable?
"Je ne sais quoi" is a bit fancy, obviously. If you're comfortable saying "à la mode," "c'est la vie," "déjà vu," "faux pas," and so on, then you're probably also fine with "je ne sais quoi." I include it despite its fanciness because it's so darn useful to know a phrase that means "I don't know how to explain it, but it's a thing that's really great!".
This book is technically well done, but the author hasn't yet developed that je ne sais quoi that draws a following.
Other shows have been equally quirky, cute, smart, and funny, but The Big Bang Theory has a certain je ne sais quoi unmatched by other sitcoms.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "je ne sais quoi" means when you can explain it without saying "can't pin it down" or "excellent quality."
Think of a place you love to go to over and over, and fill in the blanks: "(Place), with _____, has a je ne sais quoi that pulls me back there again and again.”
Example: "The Container Store, with its aisles and aisles of organizational miscellany, has a je ne sais quoi that pulls me back there again and again."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Messages that go through an automated translator into several languages and back into English again often end up sounding funny and garbled-- but still somehow meaningful. We’re having fun with that phenomenon this month as we play our game: Guess the moral from Aesop’s Fables after it has been translated into a few foreign languages and back again by a computer program. Some of the morals may be very familiar to you, others not so much. You don’t need to quote Aesop verbatim but rather just understand the message being conveyed. Try it out each day and see the right answer the following day.
Yesterday’s answer: The translation-babble said, “The person who turns to for help in difficult times Dishonest be destroyed villain, not saved.” Aesop said, “The person who turns to a dishonest scoundrel for help in times of trouble will be ruined, not rescued.”
Try this one today: “Destroy your enemies, it is a simple thing, in the same place, and if they match with each other, do not defeat the enemies of the people that is true, but they refused to cooperate.”
A Point Well Made:
Lewis B. Smedes: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
1. The opposite of JE NE SAIS QUOI is
2. We're looking for _____, something that'll add that je ne sais quoi.
A. a higher quality set of windshield wipers
B. a more artistic layout and color palette for our website
C. a textbook that addresses current issues in the field with more detail
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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