French Expression of the Day: Plus ça change

As you're no doubt aware, the French can be a pessimistic bunch and that's when they tend to crack out this famous expression.

French Expression of the Day: Plus ça change

Why do I need to know plus ça change?

When you're sitting in a cafe in France with French friends the mood can turn pessimistic quite quickly and if it does then it's highly likely this expression will be used. 

What does it mean?

Plus ça change literally means 'more it changes' which understandably won't make much sense to you if this is the first time you've come across it.

In fact, this is a very common way to shorten the longer expression plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose which means 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'.

And you may well have heard it said in English too.

In both languages the expression means the person who has used it is experiencing a certain kind of disillusionment or resignation. 

For example it could be down to the fact that even though they have a new boss, the same old problems still exist in the team or that they have been visiting a psychologist but are still suffering from whatever it was that led them to book the appointments in the first place. 

The expression is used on its own and is not considered to be slang. 


Plus ça change, plus c'est pareil – The more it changes, the more it's the same


Plus ça change (et) moins ça change – The more it changes (and) the less it changes

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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