Why Learn French Idioms?

Imagine being a student about to go on exchange to France. You want to meet new friends and have interesting  conversations but you certainly don't want to sound formal and awkward or even worse like a middle school textbook. Knowing common French expressions can help you make the most of your experience and even sound fluent! Here’s a list of French idioms to help you sound like a French person.

The examples are related to the topics in year 12 to help my students reach their full potential and succeed with flying colours at their exam.

couter les yeux de la tete

1. COÛTER LES YEUX DE LA TÊTE

Literal translation : to costs the eyes in your head  - Meaning : to cost an arm and a leg.

Je voudrais acheter le nouvel Iphone mais il coute les yeux de la tête.

I would like to buy the new Iphone but it costs an arm and a leg.

 

2. BOIRE COMME UN TROU

Literal translation : to drink like a hole - Meaning : to drink too much - to drink like a fish.

Les jeunes essayent d'impressioner leurs amis et boivent comme des trous

Young people try to impress their friends and drink like fishes 

 

3. FAIRE LA GRASSE MATINÉE

Literal translation : to have a fat morning - Meaning : to sleep in 

Pour lutter contre le stress, il faudrait apprendre à se detendre et faire la grasse matinée le week-end.

To fight against stress, one must learn to relax and to sleep in during the weekend.

avoir le cafard

 

4. DONNER LE CAFARD

Literal translation : to give the cockroach - Meaning : to depress

Regarder les actualites me donne le cafard.

Watching the news depresses me

This expression was first used by Baudelaire in  “Les Fleurs du Mal” in 1857 and has been quite popular ever since. Also, Avoir le cafard - Literal translation : to have the cockroach - Meaning : to be depressed

 

5. DONNER UN COUP DE MAIN

Literal translation : to give a knock of hand - Meaning : to give a helping hand. It is very similar to English.

On devrait toujours donner un coup de main aux immigrants dans le besoin

We should always give a helping hand to immigrant in needs

 

6. FAIRE UN FROID DE CANARD

faire un froid de canard

Literal translation : to do a cold of duck - Meaning : to be extremely cold.

Je ne pourrais jamais habiter au Canada parce qu'il y fait un froid de canard là-bas.

I couldn't live in Canada because it’s very cold.

 

7. AVOIR LA GUEULE DE BOIS

Literal translation : To have the wooden face - Meaning : to be hangover

The expression comes from the fact that your mouth is dry like wood when you are hangover. 

Si on boit trop d'alcool, on se réveille souvent avec la gueule de bois.

If you drink to much alcohol, you often wake up with a hangover.

 

8. AVOIR LA MUSIQUE DANS LA PEAU

Literal translation : To have the music in the skin - Meaning : to have music under one's skin

La musique? Oui, j'adore. J'en écoute tous les jours dans le bus, dans ma chambre, dans la voiture.... j'ai la musique dans la peau!

Music? Yes, I love it. I listen to music every day on the bus, in my bedroom, in the car...I have music under my skin!

 

9. NE PAS SAVOIR OÙ DONNER DE LA TÊTE

Literal translation : to not know where to give the head - Meaning : to not know where to start.

On est souvent stressé quand on a beaucoup de travail et on ne sait pas où donner de la tete.

We are often stressed out when we have a lot of work to do and don't know where to start.

 

apres la pluie le beau temps

10. APRES LA PLUIE LE BEAU TEMPS

Literal translation : after the rain, the beautiful weather - Meaning : every cloud has a silver lining
Les demandeurs d'asile font souvent face à des problèmes extrêmement difficiles mais après la pluie le beau temps et ils sont beaucoup plus heureux dans leur pays d'accueil.

Asylum seeker often face extreme difficult issues but every cloud has a silver lining and they are much happier in their host country.

Sometimes things get a bit challenging and you "can't see the forest for the trees" (l'arbre cache souvent la forêt). But if you look at it another way, it's possible that "it's a blessing in disguise" (c'est un bien pour un mal). 

 

Wants to learn more French idioms, click here ;-)

 

Comment