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French Idioms

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Infographics of French Idioms

French pronunciation isn't all that matters. Certainly, the right way pronunciation of the notorious French "r" can make you sound more like a native. Yet, what use is it that if you can't really communicate in French easily? This is the reason you ought to consistently work on expanding your vocabulary with practical thoughts, for example, French sayings, expressions, or idioms. These can add substance and even humor to your talk and can make you sound like you have been living in France your entire life. Add a touch of joie de vivre to that and people will think you were born and brought up in Paris.

Furthermore, French sayings will give knowledge into French history and culture and they will also make you sound more natural, more authentic. All things considered, this is your principal objective when learning French, right? 

So let’s take a dive in and see what French sayings, idioms, and expressions you can use to seem as though you were French-born.

Common French sayings

So what’s a French saying? A saying is a short, pithyt, and normally known expression that offers wisdom or a suggestion. How about we take a dive at some the most widely recognized of them.

"Strike the iron while it is hot" in French - Battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud

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Literal meaning: 
Since we have a similar saying in English, this current one's easy. When the blacksmith is fashioning the iron, the metal should be intensely hot so its shape can be changed. This implies you need to take advantage of favorable circumstances.
  • J'ai trouvé une très bonne application pour apprendre et pratiquer mon français.  =I found a very good app to learn and practice my French

  • Qu’est-ce que tu attends ? Il faut battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud !  =What are you waiting for? Strike the iron while it’s hot!

"This is not the sea to drink" in French - Ce n’est pas la mer à boire

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Literal meaning: 
It’s not that big a deal or it’s not that difficult. You can use it when somebody complains impossibility of a task.
  • Je dois faire quatre affinities cette semaine.  =I need to complete four reports this week.

  • Oh là, ce n'est pas la mer à boire !  =Please, it's not the apocalypse!

"Take some time to think about it" in French - La nuit porte conseil

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Literal meaning: This is the equivalent of “sleep on it”. Or, in other words, take your time as necessary prior to settling on a decision.
  • A) Je ne sais pas si je devrais revenir ou pas.. =I don't know whether I ought to come again or not.

  • La nuit porte conseil =Sleep on it

"As you make our bed, now lean on it" in French - Comme on fait son lit, on se le bâti.

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Literal meaning:
There's a funny Italian expression that says Hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala! ("Did you need the bike? now ride it.") and it has precisely the same meaning as Comme on fait son lit, on se couche. Isn't interesting how various societies approach a similar circumstance?
Exact as the biblical version “you reap what you sow”, this French saying cautions that you endure the outcomes of your actions or that you should acknowledge the undesirable results of something you've done. Then again, the opposite is also possible! Make a decent bed and you will sleep soundly.
  • Je me suis endormi et j'ai brûlé les côtelettes de porc.  =I fell asleep and burned the pork chops.

  • Comme on fait son lit, on se le bâti.  =You’ve made your bed, now lie on it.

"To want to is to can" in French - Vouloir, c’est pouvoir

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Literal meaning: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” You can use this saying to support somebody who doubts themselves.
  • Je ne pense pas pouvoir parler français comme un natif. =I don't think I can speak French like a native.

  • Vouloir, c’est pouvoir.  =Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

"Impossible isn’t French" in French - Impossible n’est pas français.

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Literal meaning: Famously credited to Napoleon Bonaparte, impossible n'est pas français is what might be compared to "nothing is impossiale". While it might appear to be exceptionally energetic, français here doesn't refer to the French public, yet rather to the French language. As in "impossible is certifiably not a French word".
  • Je ne peux pas le faire, c'est impossible pour moi!  =I can't do it, it's impossible for me!

  • Rien n'est impossible pour vous..  =Nothing is impossible for you.

"Nothing should be left to chance" in french - Il ne faut rien laisser au hazard

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Literal meaning: “Clear out nothing to chance/risk".
  • Je pense que je vais sauter ces leçons. Il ne semble pas que Mister Robin inclura dans l'examen =I think I’m gonna skip these lessons. It doesn't seem like Mister robin will include in the exam

  • Faites ce que vous préférez. Dans tous les cas, rien ne doit être laissé au risque non plus. =Do whatever you might prefer. In any case, nothing ought to be left to risk as well

"Hunger accompanies eating" in French - L’appétit vient en mangeant

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Literal meaning: This expression can be used both literally and metaphorically and it refers to how the craving increases as an activity proceeds (to eat, to claim, and so on).
  • L'appétit vient en mangeant =Hunger accompanies eating.

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