With a little help from my friends …

1 Jul

Basic French Photo by Jennifer FlueckigerIn response to my post last week To learn or not to learn, some friends on Facebook volunteered a few of their favourite French phrases. Please let me know your favourites in the list and suggest any you think I should add:

  • avoir besoin – to need
  • c’est la vie – such is life
  • pas trop cher – not too expensive
  • Pourquoi est-ce que votre singe mange mon dîner? – Why is your monkey eating my lunch?
  • jusqu’ici, tout va bien – so far so good
  • il est très beau aujourd’hui – it’s a great day
  • Il n’y a rien que je peux y faire. – There is nothing I can do about it.
  • comme il faut – as it should be  Comment that came with suggested phrase – “More often heard in the negative. Always thought it had a very hauteur/Anna Wintour air about it and then last year my 3 yr old niece used it meaning I was putting her shoes on wrong.”
  • Je suis espion. – I am a spy.
  • Il n’y a rien que je peux y faire. – There is nothing I can do about it.
  • Zut alors – Jings crivens help ma boab – sorry, no translation given :0)

My personal favourite and one I think I will use most often came from my Dad with this message:

“Dad’s favorite saying in French is ‘Je ne sais ce que vous dites’– I don’t understand you. This is after attempting 21 hours of French courses to get the 12 hours required to get my undergraduate degree! I hope you have some of my good points too!”

Special thanks to the following for submitting their faves: Sarah, Chris, Tom, Dave, Elizabeth, Niall, Eliott and my dear father, Robert, from whom I sadly inherited my foreign language skills.  All the translations and spellings are their own. :0)

7 Responses to “With a little help from my friends …”

  1. Mary Kay at 5:55 pm #

    “Je suis espion” caught my fancy. Now I’m just trying to figure out when I’ll be able to use it! My least favorite French expression is “C’est possible” used after telling my French-speaking husband something that I know to be a fact. For example — Statement: The sky is blue. Response: C’est possible.

    • Jennifer Flueckiger at 8:56 pm #

      I know, I like that one too. I’ve been trying to figure out when I might be able to drop the fact that I am a spy in conversation. :0)

  2. nanskiparis at 9:16 am #

    Well, that’s quite a collection! You’re off to a good start… Sorry, I can’t help my anal-retentive nature, I must point out a few necessary corrections:

    -If FAIT beau aujourd’hui. (not “est”)… You could use this one today!
    -Je suis UN espion… Who knew?
    -Jusqu’a PRESENT, tout va bien…

    Here is one of my personal faves to add to your list…
    “C’est hallucinant!”… It’s unbelievable. It’s crazy….

  3. cartbeforehorse at 11:21 am #

    I was going to reply to your last post, but got side-tracked and forgot.

    My favourite mini-phrase(s) in French.

    >> “enfin” (often pronounced just “fin”) (also “bref!” or “enfin, bref”)
    Said when you find yourself blabbering on a bit, and including too much information in what you’re trying to say. You cut yourself off with “enfin”, and then get to point of what you want to say.
    Literally translated, it means “at last”, “finally”, “in short” or “anyway”, but in my opinion in this context, is one of those little untranslatables. I’ve found myself using it in English.

    Q: Did you buy the hat today?
    A: They didn’t have one in my colour, and the queues at the checkout were long, and it was so nice I preferred to be outside, and.. “Enfin.” No I didn’t buy the hat.

    By the way, if you ever change your mind about learning the language, I can recommend a good teacher.

  4. FROM THE RIGHT BANK at 12:46 am #

    The monkey one should come in handy. 😉 I love the name of your blog – thanks so much for stopping by mine.

  5. Mary Kay at 1:34 pm #


    Having somewhat of an anal retentive nature myself, I had to ask my French speaking husband if it’s necessary to use an article in front of “espion” and if there is male and female form of the word. Not being a French teacher, he had to think about it a few minutes and said that articles aren’t used when referring to a profession. He gave me the example of “Je suis ingenieur” and “Je suis charpentier”.

    Does anyone know if there is an official rule about this?

    Like cartbeforehorse, I also like “enfin”. Our children are always teasing my husband about how much he uses it.

  6. Annie Gunner Logan at 12:11 pm #

    Okay here are my own faves.

    C’est dingue! (That’s crazy)

    C’est archi-dingue! (That’s really crazy) (note that archi- can be added more or less anywhere, in similar fashion, for emphasis)

    Arrete ta connerie! (Stop messing around – there’s good joke about this by the way, see below)

    Je m’en fous (I don’t give a toss)

    Putting “bah” in front of anything and everything, makes you sound totally French (“Bah oui”, “Bah non” etc)

    Ditto, saying “donc” (so/therefore) frequently and fairly randomly as you converse

    And here is Johnny Logan’s all-time favourite French expression (actually pretty much his only French expression, if you discount the many words he knows for hardware and power tools) – it got him a lot of free pastis back in the day: “Tu est tres jolie ce soir Brigitte”.

    See you very soon!

    Annie xxx

    Okay here’s the French joke: What was Aretha Franklin called after she married the guy who played James Bond in the sixties? Arrete ta connerie! (Geddit?)

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