French Expression of the Day: ça craint

This French expression is a handy one for when you want to describe something you don't like.

French Expression of the Day: ça craint
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Why do I need to know ça craint?
This small expression has a few different meanings all of which you can use to talk about things that you don’t like.
What does ça craint mean?
The word craint comes from the verb craindre (quelque chose), which means to be afraid of something.
But young French speakers use ça craint informally to describe things they don’t like, things that are worrying and things that are dangerous.
Its loose definition means it can translate to a range of expressions such as ‘it sucks’, ‘what a pain’, ‘its creepy’ or ‘it’s dodgy.’
So, you could use ça craint to talk about risky situations, for example ne va pas faire ton footing au bois de Boulogne le soir, ça craint trop. (Don’t go jogging in the bois de Bologne at night, it’s too dodgy.)
Or for describing something that you don’t like, such as mon colocataire m'a offert des chaussettes pour Noël. Ça craint comme cadeau! (My housemate got me socks for Christmas. What a rubbish present!).
Or for describing something slightly creepy or worrying like mon colocataire ne sort jamais de sa chambre. Ça craint, non? (My housemate never leaves his room. That’s weird isn’t it?)
And if you really want to emphasise how risky, rubbish or odd something is you can also add au maximum to the end for emphasis to make the expression ça craint au maximum.
Ça craint is not impolite but it is informal. For a more elevated way to say something is lousy you could try c’est nul. And ça fait peur is a formal way to say something is scary.
How do I use ça craint?
Être en retard à un entretien d'embauche, ça craint! – Being late for a job interview sucks! It sucks to be late for a job interview!
Ça craint ici. – It’s dodgy around here./It sucks here.
(The above examples are from

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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