French Expression of the Day: ça va aller

It's rare that you'll get through a whole day in France without hearing the expression 'ça va aller'. Here's a look at what it means.

French Expression of the Day: ça va aller
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Why do I need to know ça va aller?

It is an extremely common expression which is said all the time in France and you will start sounding a lot of more native if you can start throwing it into conversation too. 

What does it mean?

Ça va aller means 'It's going to be alright' or 'It'll be ok'.

So for example, if you're with a friend who is worrying about something, you could comfort them with the words: Ne t'inquiète pas, ça va aller. – Don't worry, it's going to be alright. 

You can also use it in a different context. 

For example, it's very common to hear people use it in a restaurant, cafe or boulangerie when they are asked if they need anything else. 

In this situation, you could say, Non merci, ça va aller — 'No, thanks, that's ok'. 

You can also turn it into a question, so you could ask: Ça va aller?  to mean 'Will it be ok?' or 'Will that work?'

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French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.