5 Weird French Expressions to Sound Like a Native

Bonjour !

To sound like a native, you can work hard, or take a few shortcuts.

As students often testify, it takes only a few special expressions to sound surprisingly French! Breaking duck legs, cooking beans, fishing eels…

Let’s dive in a few weird, funny and typically French expressions that only the natives know about.

5 easy expressions that will help you pass for French

Et toi ?

Did you know any of these expressions before?

What is your favorite French idiomatic expression?

What are the weirdest expressions from your own language?

Bonne journée,

Géraldine

Join the conversation!

  • Fantastique épisode! J’en connaissais quelques-unes mais pas toutes. J’ai appris l’expression “casser trois pâtes à un canard” en Savoie mais j’ai eu des regards vides en essayant de l’utiliser dans d’autres régions. Je me demande alors si l’expression est connue plus dans certaines régions. Aussi, en anglais je le traduirai, “It’s nothing to write home about.”

  • My favourite expression is ‘Ce n’est pas la mer à boire!’ in other words it’s no big deal! I also like ‘J’ai un chat dans la gorge’ for the English, it’s a frog 🙂

  • Some years ago I came across the expression ‘Mettez ça dans votre poche et mettre votre mouchoir sur le dessus’ for which the English version is ‘put that in your pipe and smoke it’ meaning ‘it’s the truth whether you like it or not’ 🙂

  • Bonjour Geraldine. Instead of “ca casse pas trois pattes à un canard” could you say “C’est pas sorcier”? Also, can you explain why, at the beginning of each episode, you say “Bienvenue sur Comme une Française” and not “Bienvenue à . . . “

    • Bonjour Barbara,
      Excellentes questions !
      En effet, on peut dire “C’est pas sorcier” mais “ça casse pas 3 pattes à un canard” a aussi le sens de “Ce n’est pas extraordinaire”, même si ce n’est pas la personne qui l’a fait. “C’est pas sorcier” a plutôt le sens de “Ce n’est pas difficile à faire”.
      Je dis “Bienvenue sur” car c’est l’usage pour un média. “Bienvenue sur France Inter” / “Bienvenue sur TV 5 Monde”

  • Hi Géraldine!
    Merci beaucoup for another fantastic video! Truly, I always look forward to the new Comme une Française episodes and enjoy them.
    For ‘casser trois pattes à un canard’, we would say ‘it’s not rocket science’, and we also say ‘flat-pack furniture’ (describing how it comes). We’d definitely say ‘and what’s that got to do with the price of fish?!’.
    There is a *very* famous line from the World Cup Final England v West Germany 1966 (the last time England won!!). In the dying moments of the game, the commentator said “They [the players, the crowd] think it’s all over…it is now!”.
    https://www.youtube.com/wat
    ‘Gravel’ is said with a short ‘a’ 😉 :-).

  • Mais quel rapport avec la choucroute?, au Brésil on dirait “O que o cú tem a ver com as calças?” (quelque chose comme: Mais quel rapport a le fion avec le pantalon?)

  • Salut Géraldine
    I think the English expression is “what’s that to do with the price of fish?”

    Love the videos

    Isobel

    • Perhaps for the English, but in the US, we say “What’s that got to with the price of grapes.” I think the using “the price of tea in China,” is considered a bit old fashioned.

  • Merci, Géraldine! What a great video! Your students might be interested to know that lever or soulever un lièvre (literally to lift a hare) can be translated as ‘to hit on a problem’ or ‘to come across a problem before other people do’. It comes directly from hunting and has been around since the 17th century. If you are out hunting and come across a hare, you have been surprised by something unexpected. A snag is a problem which has been well hidden before it is stumbled upon, just as a hare lies hidden before it darts out in front of you. The hunter with the best chance of shooting the hare is the first one to startle the animal; hence the idea of being the first one to notice a problem. I have copied this explanation from my book on French expressions, “Je mourrai moins bête: 200 French expressions to help you die less stupid”. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it here but I’m sure anyone enjoying today’s video would like it.

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