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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Fais gaffe!

If you live in France and hear the words "fais gaffe!", it's time to pay attention.

French Expression of the Day: Fais gaffe!
Photo: Deposit photos
Why have we chosen it?
 
Faire gaffe (in the infinitive form) is something you never come across when you're learning the language at home but this slang phrase is hard to escape once you're in France. 
 
And even for those who have studied a considerable amount of French, faire gaffe or fais gaffe as you more likely to hear it, can easily trip you up. 
 
So, what does it mean?
 
It means “be careful” or “watch out” which is why it's certainly a handy one to know just in case there are any moments when a French person shouts it at you. 
 
It is actually the slang or informal version for faire attention.
 
The confusing part, however, is that faire une gaffe literally means “to make a mistake” — so the opposite of what the slang version means without the word “une”. 
 
If you're addressing one person you would say, fais gaffe! and if you're using the plural form you would say, faites gaffe!.
 
You can also say fais gaffe à toi to mean “watch yourself.”
 
Origin
 
Faire gaffe first appeared early in the 20th century in a maritime context. Still today on fishing boats, the gaff is a long pole with a hook, which allows sailors to catch a mooring buoy, hold on to another boat or push back an obstacle. The expression gradually progressed out of the marine world to mean to be cautious.
 
Some say that the reason for the confusion over the very different meanings of the word gaffe as in “mistake” or “blunder” and the slang meaning is that they come from different places. It is thought that the slang version of “gaffe” could come from the German verb “gaffen” which means “to watch with your eyes wide open”.
 
Examples
 
1. Fais gaffe! C'est fragile.
Watch out! It's delicate. 
 
2. Fais gaffe à la marche !
Watch out for the step!
 
(The above two examples are from wordreference.com)
 
3. Fais gaffe à qui tu fais rentrer chez toi
Be careful who you let in your house
 
READ ALSO:

French Expression of the Day: Ne pas arriver à la cheville de quelqu'un

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.

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