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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: coup de fil

This phrase will facilitate your ability to communicate with others, in more ways than one.

French Expression of the Day: coup de fil
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Why do I need to know coup de fil?
 
Coup de fil (‘coo d(eu) feel’, the ‘e’ will often go unpronounced) is an expression that will be useful for talking about a regular activity, especially if you’re an expat who likes to keep in touch with the folks at home.
 
What does it mean?
 
Un coup de fil can be broken down into coup, or ‘blow/hit/strike’, and fil, in this case, ‘wire’ – the ‘wire’ part being a reference to the wires that connected telephones back in the good old days.
 
Literally it might not make too much sense but un coup de fil is roughly equivalent to the English ‘ring’ or a ‘phone call’, as in: Attends un moment, il faut que je passe un coup de fil. (Wait a moment, I have to make a phone call.)
 
Or, Il a reçu un coup de fil de son père et il est parti. (He received a phone call from his father and left.’)
 
How do I use coup de fil?
 
In order to use the expression coup de fil, you’re often going to need a verb, though, which is going to depend on whether the subject is phoning or being phoned. 
 
If the subject is going to make a phone call, one would typically use passer or donner un coup de fil (à quelqu’un), as in:
 
Tu devrais passer un coup de fil à ta mère. — You should call your mother.
 
Elle m’a donné un coup de fil ce matin. — She gave me a ring this morning.
 
If the subject is receiving the phone call, then the formulation recevoir un coup de fil (de quelqu’un) is most typical:
 
On a reçu un coup de fil de la police. — We received a call from the police.
 
Alternatives
 
More formal options include un coup de téléphone or un appel (téléphonique), but coup de fil is so common and well-established that it should be fine in most circumstances. 
 
 
 
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Un de ces quatres

The perfect response to that invitation you don't really want to say a firm yes to.

French Expression of the Day:  Un de ces quatres

Why do I need to know un de ces quatres?

Because you will probably hear this phrase while trying to make plans with someone in French

What does it mean?

Un de ces quatres – usually pronounced uhn duh say cat-truhs – translates exactly to “one of these fours.” If taken literally the phrase really does not make any sense in French or English. But in actuality, it means “one of these days,” “at some point,” or just “soon.”

This expression is a shortening of “one of these four mornings to come,” which was first used in the second half of the 19th century. It designates a time that is sometime in the near future, but still rather indeterminate.

In French, the number ‘four’ is often used in expressions to refer to imprecise, or small, quantities. Some people say this is because four is the number for the seasons and cardinal points (North, South, East, West), so saying ‘one of these four’ shows a level of ambiguity. But unfortunately we don’t really know exactly how (or why) this phrase arose.

If you want another way of saying this, you can always stick with the regular “un de ces jours” (one of these days).

Use it like this

J’ai été tellement occupée ces derniers temps mais nous devrons prendre un verre un de ces quatres. – I’ve been so busy lately, but we have to grab a drink one of these days.

Il m’a dit qu’il nettoierait la salle de bain un de ces quatres, donc je suppose que ça n’a pas encore été fait. – He told me he would clean the bathroom one of these days, so I guess it hasn’t been done yet.

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