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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Ça marche

This French expression is as common as coffee and croissants in France. Let's take a look at what it really means.

French Expression of the Day: Ça marche
Photo: Deposit photos

Why have we chosen ça marche?

This is one of the most commonly used expressions in French and you will hear it everywhere in general conversation. 

And you will also hear it restaurants and bars when you've finished placing your order.

But, like other expressions we've looked at, it's one that isn't always taught in French classes.

So, what does it mean?

Ça marche pronounced 'sa marsh' literally means 'that runs' or 'that works' which is why you'd be forgiven for not having a clue what it meant the first time you heard it. 

In conversation, it means a few different things. 

In everyday conversation it conveys the meaning of 'Ok, that works', 'that's fine', 'that works for me' and 'Ok, great!'. 

You'll also hear it said all the time by waiters when you've finished ordering. In this context it means 'Coming up' or 'Coming right up'. 

You can also use it as a question. So, by saying to someone 'Ça marche?' you're asking them 'Does that work for you?' or 'Is that ok for you?'.

Similarly if you want to say something doesn't work, you can say: non, ça ne marche pas (no, that doesn't work).

Sometimes you'll hear it used as part of the expression: ça marche comme sur des roulettes (it runs like clockwork)

Alternatives

In some cases, you'd be able to get away with d'accord! (ok!) but there isn't an exact equivalent that is quite as versatile as ça marche.

Examples

Alors, tu viens m'aider à déménager samedi? – Ça marche! – So, are you coming to help me move on Saturday? – That works! 

(The example above comes from wordreference.com)

Et apporte quelque chose à boire. – Ça marche! – And bring something to drink. – Ok!
 
Une omelette et un verre de vin blanc, s'il vous plaît. – Ça marche. – An omelette and a glass of white wine, please. Coming right up.
 
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Member comments

  1. Il y a une erreur:

    Une omelette et un verre de vin blanc, s’il vous plaît. – Ça marche.
    A salad and a glass of white wine, please. Coming right up.

    C’est une omelette ou une salade? 🙂 😉

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

This might look like a mix of Spanish and French, but it is definitely not Franish.

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

Why do I need to know mettre le holà?

Because you might need to do this if your friends go from laughing with you to laughing at you. 

What does it mean?

Mettre le holà – pronounced meh-truh luh oh-la – literally means to put the ‘holà’ on something. You might be thinking this must be some clever mix of Spanish and French, but ‘holà’ actually has nothing to do with the Spanish greeting. 

This expression is a way to say that’s enough – or to ‘put the brakes on something.’

If a situation appears to be agitated, and you feel the need to intervene in order to help calm things down, then this might be the expression you would use. Another way of saying it in English might be to ‘put the kibosh on it.’

While the origins of ‘kibosh’ appear to be unknown, ‘holà’ goes back to the 14th century in France. Back then, people would shout “Ho! Qui va là?” (Oh, who goes there?) as an interjection to call someone out or challenge them. 

Over time this transformed into the simple holà, which you might hear on the streets, particularly if you engage in some risky jaywalking. 

A French synonym for this expression is ‘freiner’ – which literally means ‘to break’ or ‘put the brakes on,’ and can be used figuratively as well as literally. 

Use it like this

Tu aurais dû mettre le holà tout de suite. Cette conversation a duré bien trop longtemps, et il était si offensif. – You should have put a stop to that immediately. That conversation went on for too long, and he was so offensive. 

J’ai essayé de mettre le holà à la blague sur ma mère, mais ils étaient sans pitié. – I tried to put a stop to the joke about my mother, but they were merciless.

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