Learn French Idioms to Sharpen your Conversation Skills

Listening to the French speak their beautiful language, is pure music to the ears, due to the exceptionally colourful nature of the sounds. There is also a strong reference to culture in their expressions and idioms which permeate the languageTo learn French and in particular to acquire good French speaking skills is not for the faint-hearted. In this blog we introduce you to some well known idiomatic expressions which have the potential of boosting your level of French conversation.

Here are a few common expressions to get you into French mode:

  • Je flippe grave! (I’m really stressed out)
  • Mille grâces. (A thousand thanks).
  • Ça m’énerve! (That bugs me)
  • Je suis hors de moi! (I am beside myself)

Let’s move on to learn French with some idioms?

So, what is an idiomatic expression in the first place? An idiom or idiomatic expression is a word, phrase or short sentence portraying a figurative meaning. The literal meaning is there, though it does not usually make too much sense. It is the hidden meaning which expresses the true essence of the idiom. To clarify, the English expression, “it’s raining cats and dogs”, is idiomatic and English speakers would not vaguely imagine these lovable creatures falling from the sky. Upon hearing the expression, it is understood to mean, it is pouring with rain.

Ready for a mini French lesson with idioms, are you?

I am very drawn to the French idiom, Il y a quelque chose qui cloche, (literally, there is something ringing) with the actual meaning being, something is wrong. This expression can be used as follows: Jacques n’est pas allé à l’école, ce matin, il y a quelque chose qui cloche (Jacques didn’t go to school this morning, something’s wrong).

Is there a lazy person you know? Ne rien faire de ses dix doigts (to do nothing with one’s ten fingers). The actual meaning is, to be lazy, so you could say Je connais quelqu’un qui ne fait rien de ses dix doigts (I know someone who is lazy).

Here is an expression which relates strongly to English: Donner un coup de main (literally to give a kick of hand). The actual meaning is, to give a helping hand and an example of its use could be: L’enfant donne un coup de main à son père (the child gives his father a helping hand).

Learn French and know this idiom

Who enjoys the company of a person who somehow always finds something to complain about, even though there isn’t anything?

In fact they look for something. In this mini French lesson, we learn this: Chercher la petite bête (literally, to look for the little beast) with the actual meaning being, to always look for something to complain about or to split hairs. It refers to someone who is extrêmement méticuleux (extremely meticulous). Elle m’ennuie parce qu’elle cherche la petite bête (She bothers me because she’s always looking for something to complain about).

Here is a final mini French lesson for now:

We all enjoy feeling comfortable about ourselves, don’t we? Well, learn French right here and know how to say you feel comfortable in your own skin and as such comfortable with and good about yourself. The French idiomatic expression is, être bien dans sa peau. So you can say, c’est important d’être bien dans sa peau, (it’s important to feel good about oneself, to feel comfortable with yourself).

Voilà !