French Expression of the Day: allez-y / vas-y

For today's French expression of day, you get two for the price of one. 'Allez-y' and 'vas-y' are two different ways of saying the same thing -- but do you know what they actually mean?

French Expression of the Day: allez-y / vas-y
Photo: Depositphotos

Why do I need to know what allez-y and vas-y mean?

It's hard to overstate how useful allez-y and vas-y are in colloquial French conversation.

They are a great way to make your spoken French sound more natural and native and also — once you understand what it means — you won't be left behind (literally) when someone says it you. 

So, what do they mean?

Allez-y and vas-y are the polite (or plural) and informal (or singular) versions of the same expression. 

They mean 'Go!', 'Go on!', 'Go ahead!', 'Be my guest!', 'Go for it!' or even 'Knock yourself out!'.

You'll often hear the more polite form — allez-y — used by waiters when they're ready to take your order. 

So, for example once a waiter has checked that everyone at your table is ready to order, they might say: Allez-y, je vous écoute — 'Go ahead, I'm listening'. 

Also, you might say it to one of your neighbours if you're holding the lift door for them. 

For example, Allez-y. Après vous. — Go ahead. After you. 

Meanwhile, the more casual — or singular — form vas-y is used in exactly the same way but with young children or friends. 

For example, if you are encouraging your child in a race, you might say: Vas-y, cours! — 'Go on, run!

Allez-y is the most common version you'll hear in France and is made up of the vous form of the verb aller (to go) plus y which means 'there'. 

Vas-y on the other hand is made up of the tu form of the verb aller with y tacked on at the end. 


When saying allez-y, you can stress the 'z' and when saying vas-y, you pronounce it vah-zee

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Surprisingly, this phrase has nothing to do with beekeeping.

French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Why do I need to know faire son miel?

Because you might want to describe how you were able to buy a new wardrobe after the airline lost your luggage.

What does it mean?

Faire son miel – usually pronounced fair soan mee-ell – literally means to make your honey, or to make your own honey. In practice, this phrase actually means to take advantage of a situation, usually by turning a profit or to get the most out of a situation. 

The phrase comes from the idea that bees are actually profiteers: they take advantage of flowers in order to make honey. In the 16th century, this phrase was first put into use, and it followed the idea that bees fly up to the innocent flowers and steal their nectar and pollen for their own purposes. People began to use this as a way to describe people who take advantage of others or particular situations for their own benefit, or those who take things that do not belong to them.

Though the phrase is tied to the idea of turning a situation around for your own benefit, it is does not necessarily have a negative connotation. It can be used both for physical profit, or intellectual. It is somewhat similar to the English phrase of ‘making lemonade from lemons’ – taking a bad situation and making something good out of it.

In fact, French actually has another phrase that is quite similar to this one: faire son beurre, which is potentially even older than faire son miel

Use it like this

La compagnie aérienne a perdu nos sacs, avec tous nos vêtements dedans. Nous avons pu faire notre miel de la situation et acheter un nouvel ensemble de meilleurs vêtements avec l’argent de la compagnie aérienne! – The airline lost our bags, with all our clothes inside. We were able to take advantage of the situation by buying a whole new wardrobe on their dime!

Les oiseaux font leur miel de tous les nouveaux arbres plantés dans la ville. Ils profitent de ce nouvel espace pour faire leurs nids. – The birds are taking advantage of all the new trees being planted across the city. They are enjoying the new space to build their nests.

Le politicien a fait son miel des fonds supplémentaires et en a utilisé une partie pour son propre projet de construction. Ils pourraient le mettre en procès pour corruption. – The politician took advantage of the extra public funds for his own construction project. They might put him on trial for corruption.