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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: comme d’hab

Comme d’hab, the Local is here to explain the French expressions you hear all the time, but aren’t quite sure how to use..

French Expression of the Day: comme d’hab
Photo: Deposit Photos

Why do I need to know comme d’hab?

The handy little phrase will let you emphasize the routine or repeated nature of any occurrence or situation. And is a handy response to the most common French question: “ca va?”

What does it mean?

In French there are many slang shortcuts and like petit dej (breakfastand Bon app (enjoy your meal), comme d'hab is one of them

Comme d’hab is a shortened version of comme d’habitude, meaning ‘as usual’, 'as always' or ‘same as ever’. It is pronounced ‘com dab’ and can stand on its own or be used as an adverbial phrase to describe an action or situation.

For example, comme d’hab is a common response to the ubiquitous ça va?, and can save you a good deal of explaining :

(Comment) ça va ? – ‘How’s it going?’ Oui ca va comme d’hab. – ‘Yeh OK, same as ever.’

Or if a certain behavior has become so frequent that it is habitual, you can emphasize that by adding in a comme d’hab:

Il est déjà 10 heures, et, comme d’hab, Mylène n’est pas encore arrivée  – ‘It’s already 10 o’clock, and, as usual, Mylène hasn’t arrived yet.’

The same goes for commonplace situations:

J’ai cherché de quoi manger, mais, comme d’hab, il n’y avait rien ouvert dimanche soir – ‘I looked for something to eat, but, as always, there was nothing open on Sunday evening’.

As you can see, if the behavior or situation being described is a negative one, comme d’hab can take on and even multiply that negative connotation.

Alternatives

Saying the complete version of the phrase, comme d’habitude, makes it less colloquial and may be more appropriate for more formal situations.

Comme toujours or à l'accoutumée are also alternative manners of communicating the same idea, though none of these is as concise and catchy as comme d’hab.

To give you a few more examples, we’ll leave you with Claude François’s 1967 hit Comme d’habitude, which may sound familiar, as it was later adapted into an English-language hit by the likes of Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra, and Sid Vicious:
 

 
by Edward O'Reilly

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: De bonne heure

Surprisingly, this French phrase does not mean ‘on time’.

French Expression of the Day:  De bonne heure

Why do I need to know de bonne heure?

Because someone might tell you to arrive at this time, and you’ll want to know what they mean.

What does it mean?

De bonne heure – usually pronounced “duh bohn urr” – literally translates to “the good hour,” which you might think would mean “to be on time.” However, in practice, the phrase actually means to be early or to be in advance. The most common French synonym of this phrase would simply be “tôt” which means early.

It can also be used to describe something that happens early in the morning or early in the day more generally. 

Interestingly enough, when the phrase started being used in the 14th century, it did mean to be on time, but its meaning shifted over time, the reason for which remains unclear. 

Up for a pun? Say this phrase three times fast to feel happy (if you didn’t get the joke, it’s because bonne heure sounds like bonheur, French for happiness).

Use it like this

Nous avons commencé la réunion de bonne heure, vers 7h30, avant l’ouverture des marchés boursiers. – We started the meeting early, around 7:30am, before the markets opened.

Je n’avais même pas encore commencé à cuisiner quand il est arrivé de bonne heure. Je n’étais pas préparée à le recevoir. – I hadn’t even started cooking when he arrived early. I wasn’t ready to have him over.

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