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Try these 17 French expressions to help improve your language skills

From être dans la dèche to c’est pas Versailles ici we look at some of the best French expressions

These expressions will help improve your level of everyday French Pic: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

We often do not realise how many little expressions we use each day until we start speaking another language. 

French, like English, is full of sayings and expressions that are used in almost every conversation. 

Some have English equivalents, while others are unique to the French language. 

We have rounded up some common French expressions to help improve your French. 

Which one is your favourite? Let us know at

1. Pierre qui roule n’amasse pas mousse

Translation: A stone that rolls does not gather moss. It means people who are always on the move, failing to put down roots, or those who are always changing their lives and avoid  picking up responsibilities.

2. Mettre les pieds dans le plat

Translation: To put your foot in the plate. This is the equivalent of the English expression “to put your foot in it”. 

3. Il pleut comme vache qui pisse

Translation: It is raining like a cow peeing. This means it is raining very heavily. It is the equivalent of the English expression “It is raining cats and dogs”. 

Read also: A dozen French idioms to improve your language skills

4. Pleuvoir à seaux

Translation: It is raining buckets. It is the same as the English expression “it is bucketing down”, which describes heavy rain. 

5. Vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tue

Translation: To sell the skin of the bear before having killed it. This means to act as if something is yours before you have acquired it 

6. Être dans la dèche

Translation: To be skint. The literal translation of this is “to be in hardship” or “to be in poverty” but it is used to say you are skint or have very little money. 

7. Prendre le taureau par les cornes

Translation: To take the bull by the horns. This is the same as the English expression. It means to confront a problem straight on.

8. Mordre à l'hameçon

Translation: To take the bait. This literally translates as “to bite the hook” and is the equivalent of the English expression “to take the bait”. 

9. C’est pas Versailles ici

Translation: It is not Versailles here. Parents and grandparents often say this to their children when they leave a room and forget to turn the light off or use electricity in a wasteful way. Versailles refers to the Palace of Versailles. 

10. Être de mauvaise foi

Translation: To be a liar or insincere. This expression literally translates to “to be in bad faith” and is used when someone is lying or being hypocritical. 

11. Avoir le cafard

Translation: To have the blues. This means to be down in the dumps or feel sad. 

12. Avoir la flemme

Translation: To have laziness. This is used to say you cannot be bothered. “J’ai la flemme!” - I can’t be bothered. 

13. Un de ces quatre matins

Translation: One of these four mornings. This is equivalent to the English expression “One of these days” meaning in the near future. 

Read also: Seven beginner mistakes in French to avoid

14. Etre têtu comme un ane

Translation: To be stubborn as a donkey.  This is the same as the English expression and means to be extremely stubborn or stuck in your ways. 

15. En avoir marre

Translation: To have had enough. This means to be annoyed with something or to have had enough. 

16. Laisse tomber

Translation: Forget about it or never mind. The literal translation is “to let fall”, so “laisse tomber” means to let something go or “never mind”. 

17. Faire expres de faire

Translation: To do something on purpose. This means to do something intentionally or to do something on purpose. 

Related articles 

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