French Flag - French Translation

French language is not simple, but so beautiful; that’s why it is the first foreign language learnt in the UK. The most difficult part when learning a foreign language is putting it into practice. In fact, we often fear to sound ridiculous when speaking something outside of our native language. Don’t worry so much. This blog will tell you of some similarities to avoid awkward French translations. In addition, there are some funny French idioms to help you sound like a native speaker.

French translations you need to be careful with!

1. Tu es bonne

It is a bad French translation for “you are good”. In French this sentence means that “you are good… in bed”. In order to avoid this awkward situation, try to always be precise what the person is good at. If you are uncomfortable using it at all, just use another expression if you want to be sure: “tu es doué(e)” meaning “you are gifted.

Duck - French Translation

2. Canard and Connard

If you are in a restaurant and ask for “un canard” it means you ask for “a duck”. However, be sure that you correctly pronounce the first syllable of the word! In fact, if you sound like you say an “o” instead, the waiter will understand “connard”! And you don’t want that, it would mean that you just asked for “a jerk”!

3. La Paix and Le pet

Be careful. Both words are pronounced the same way, but don’t mean the same. The first one means “Peace” and the second “a fart”! The articles that indicate the gender of the words “le” and “la” allow you to recognise the two words when speaking.

4. Je suis excité

Don’t say that! Never ever! When you want to translate into French “I am excited” or to say “I am excited about something” please don’t say this expression above. In fact, it means that you are excited in a sexual way. However you can say “je suis excité comme une puce” meaning “you are excited and impatient”. If you don’t want to use it you can say instead the following expression: “j’ai hâte de…” or “je me languis de…” meaning “you can’t wait for something”.

5. Baisser? Baiser? Or Un baiser?   

There are three meanings here. Be careful when you want to say “to lower” which is “Baisser” in French.  You need to pronounce it with the sound ‘S’ like in the word “Snake”. If you don’t pronounce it properly and say the sound “Z” instead, it gives the verb “Baiser”, which literally means the F-word. However if you use this verb as a noun “un baiser”, it means “a kiss”. So be aware if you don’t want to embarrass yourself!

British Airways - French Translation

6. Les anglais sont arrivés

Translated word by word it gives “The English people arrived”, but if a woman says it, it actually means that she has her period. Maybe specify which English people have arrived by their city… or, you know, their names.

What you can use: 5 Funny French idioms!

1Faire la grasse matinée

Literally translated by “to do the fat morning”. This expression means “to sleep in”, “to lie-in”, that is to wake up later than usual. You can use this expression if you sleep really late.

2. Les doigts dans le nez

The translation would be “The fingers in the nose”. It actually means that something is so easy that you can do it even with your eyes closed.

Rabbit - French Translation

3. Poser un lapin

The literal translation is “to put a rabbit”, it means that you turn someone down. For example, if a person ask you for a date and you say no, when you tell this story to your friends you can say: “je lui ai posé un lapin” which means that you “you turned him or her down”.

4. Donner sa langue au chat

“To give his/her tongue to the cat” is the French translation word by word. It means that you give up answering a question. For example if you don’t know the answer of somebody’s questions you can say: “je donne ma langue au chat”.

5. Faire un froid de canard

It literally means “to do a cold of duck”. It is a strange saying to tell someone that the weather is extremely cold and hostile. It probably comes from the fact that, during winter, ducks go away from lakes and are therefore exposed to hunters.

Winter - French Translation

Fingers crossed this blog made you smile while reading it! Just remember that even if you make mistakes it is OK. You are learning the language so people won’t judge you, they would probably laugh about it and give you the correction of your mistakes. Furthermore, by avoiding the awkward expressions that I gave you and by using funny French idioms, you can almost pretend to be French. You’ll just have to work on your accent and you’ll fit in the country!

Written By Anais Laget.

 

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  • Elise

    Hi ! I think “poser in lapin” actually means that you do accept to go on a date or to meet with someone, and then never show up, causing them to wait forever before they realize that you did not even take the trouble to actually put a rabbit anywhere, not even in the place where they were expecting to find you. Wait, is this saying a LIE ?

    • admin

      Hi Elise, thanks for reading! Perhaps you’re correct and our French intern, Anais, had difficulty expressing how it means to be stood up or maybe it changes with region. Anais is from Marseille, how about yourself? It is interesting to have native speakers translate their idioms as each culture’s sound bizarre to another.