French Expression of the Day: Au fur et à mesure

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

French Expression of the Day: Au fur et à mesure
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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.


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French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why being a good pupil can sometimes be … bad.

French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why do I need to know Syndrome de la bonne élève?

Feeling under-valued at work despite doing everything – and more – asked of you? You may have ‘good student syndrome’.

What does it mean?

Syndrome de la bonne élève – pronounced sin-dromm de la bon ell-evv – translates, as we’ve already hinted, as good student syndrome. 

You may well also see it written as syndrome du bon élève (pronounced sin-dromm doo bon ell-evv) – but this is predominantly a female issue.

It refers to someone in the workplace who tries their hardest to work to the rules, do all the jobs asked of them – and more – and yet is overlooked in favour of co-workers who don’t necessarily put in the same hard graft.

It’s not an official ‘syndrome’, but mental health experts do recognise it in many people – particularly women.

It is a hangover, according to features in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, from school days when girls are considered to be harder workers and less trouble than their boy counterparts.

Marie Claire labelled it a “destructive perfectionism … which affects the mental health of the women they become, while preventing them from embracing positions of responsibility’.’

Use it like this

Le syndrome de la bonne élève touche essentiellement les femmes dans le monde occidental. – Good student syndrome mainly affects women in the Western world.

Cette question d’éducation est d’autant plus marquante que le syndrome du « bon élève » affecte généralement les femmes – This question of education is all the more striking because “good student” syndrome generally affects women