French Expression of the Day: c’est ça

This little phrase is used so frequently, we didn’t even think to explain it until now.

French Expression of the Day: c’est ça
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Why do I need to know c’est ça?

C’est ça (pronounced ‘say sah’) is one of those phrases you hear all the time without even realizing it – probably because it’s useful in lots of different situations.

What does it mean?

Literally translated as ‘it’s that’, c’est ça is most often used as a sort of confirmation, the way English speakers will say ‘exactly’, ‘that’s it’, or ‘that’s right’.

For example, Laquelle est ta voiture, la verte ? – Oui, c’est ça. (Which one’s your car, the green one? – Yes, that’s right.) or Je suis sûr que c’est ça ! (I’m sure that that’s it!)

C’est ça can also be used to identify an element of particular importance, like ‘That’s the… (problem, thing, etc.)’:

You could say, C’est ça le problème, ils l’ont jamais connu. (That’s the problem, they never met him.)

Tack a question mark at the end, and c’est ça becomes a search for confirmation, like ‘right?’ or ‘is that it?’

Tu t’appelles Guillaume, c’est ça ? – ‘Your name is Guillaume, right?’

Be careful, though. The French frequently use c’est ça with a good dose of sarcasm, like an anglophone would say, ‘yeah, right’.

Elle ne m’aime pas parce qu’elle est jalouse ! – Ouais, c’est ça… (She doesn’t like me because she’s jealous! – Yeah, right…)

Or, Vous étiez là toute la soirée, mais vous n’avez rien vu, rien entendu, c’est ça (You were there all night, but you didn’t see anything or hear anything, right?). 


Often, a oui is added before or after c’est ça, or the ça is transformed into a cela (which means the same thing but adds a little emphasis):

Et tu n’es pas venu parce que tu avais peur ? – Oui, oui, c’est cela ! (And you didn’t come because you were afraid? – Yes, yes, exactly!)

For more French Expressions and French Words of the Day you can CLICK HERE to see our full list

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French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

This French expression is not the kindest, but it will certainly get your point across.

French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

Why do I need to know bordéliser?

Because when things feel chaotic, you might want to use this word.

What does it mean?

Bordéliser roughly pronounced bore-del-ee-zay – comes from the swear word “bordel” which means brothel.

In popular usage, bordel is used to describe a mess or a chaotic environment, and bordéliser turns the bordel into a verb – meaning to make or create disorder, disaster or chaos. 

During periods of unrest in France, you may hear people blame one group for causing the problem by using this expression. Keep in mind that bordéliser is not polite language – the English equivalent might be to “fuck (or screw) something up”.

One popular theory says that the root word bordel comes from medieval French – at the time, sex workers were explicitly not allowed to work near the ports, so they were relegated to wooden huts or small houses – or bordes, in French –  away from the city.

You may also hear another French expression that uses the same root word: “c’est le bordel”. 

This literally translates to “it’s a brothel” but it is used to describe a situation that’s untidy, messy or chaotic, both literally and figuratively as in  ‘what a bloody mess!’ or ‘it’s mayhem!’ or ‘what a disaster!’

Use it like this

Le militant accuse le gouvernement de bordéliser le pays avec sa réforme impopulaire. – The activist accuses the government of “fucking up” the country with its unpopular reform.

Tu as bordélisé l’appartement et notre dynamique de colocation en achetant le singe comme animal de compagnie. Qu’est-ce qui t’a pris ? – You have screwed up the apartment and our roommate dynamic by buying the monkey as a pet. What were you thinking?