French Expression of the Day: Au fur et à mesure

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French Expression of the Day: Au fur et à mesure
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'Au fur et à mesure' is the perfect example of why you can't translate French phrases usefully.


Why do I need to know au fur et à mesure?

It's one of those expressions that crops up all the time in spoken and written French It's hard to have the confidence to use it because it's a bir of a mouthful so it's worth knowing exactly what it means and how to use it correctly.

So, what exactly does au fur et à mesure mean?

The expression literally means 'at the rate and in measure' and you can check out the pronunciation here

The expression dates back to the 16th century, when the word fur, which doesn't really mean anything in French anymore, meant price or value. 

But when used today, its meaning can vary slightly depending on the context. 

In general it means 'gradually', 'progressively', 'bit by bit', 'as you go along' or even 'throughout' and you can only use it for active, progressive actions such as washing dishes or spending money.

For example: Je lui donne des bonbons au fur et à mesure (I give him sweets little by little/gradually).

Or Je crée les règles au fur et à mesure (I make up these rules as I go along).

It can also mean simply 'as' although this is slightly less precise than au fur et à mesure which doesn't only indicate that two thing are happening at the same time but also the sense that the action was occurring gradually over time.      

For example: Au fur et à mesure des vacances, je me sentais fatigué (As the holidays went by, I felt tired).  

It's important to note that you can't use this expression with passive actions such as reading a book or taking a bath.

Some alernatives: 

If you don't feel confident using au fur et à mesure you could use use petit à petit (little by little), peu à peu (bit by bit) or progressivement (gradually).

Some other examples:

1. Malgré la pluie, le public grossissait au fur et à mesure que les coureurs arrivaient. - Despite the rain, the crowds gathered steadily as the runners arrived.

2. Au fur et à mesure que sa colère grandissait, il devenait de plus en plus rouge. - As he got increasingly angry, he became redder and redder.

3. Les parents apprennent au fur et à mesure à connaître leur enfant. - Parents gradually learn to know their child.

4. Elle sera payée au fur et à mesure qu'elle travaillera. - She will get paid as and when she works.


For more French Expressions and French Words of the Day you can CLICK HERE to see our full list



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