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French expression of the day: Tu m’étonnes

Want to get sarcastic with someone in French? Of course you do! Here's how.

French expression of the day: Tu m'étonnes

Why do I need to know tu m'étonnes?

This means the exact opposite of what you would think it means, so if it's said to you it's important to recognise the context. You might also need it yourself if you want to get sarky with someone. 

What does it mean?

Well its exact translation is 'you surprise me' but it's generally used in a sarcastic tone to mean the exact opposite. Some English equivalents would be 'You don't say' or 'tell me something I don't know' or even 'no shit, Sherlock'. 

It's used to convey the sense that what a person has just said to you is boring, obvious or both.

So if a French pal comments to you Les négociations Brexit ne sont pas très réussies  (the Brexit negotiations are not going well) you can reply with a withering look and a tu m'étonnes.

Some other examples would be –  Ton pull de noel est bête. – Tu m'étonnes.

Your Christmas jumper looks daft. – You don't say

La circulation à Paris est mauvaise aujourd'hui. – Tu m'étonnes.

The traffic in Paris is bad today.  – You amaze me.

Je ne pense pas que Donald Trump dise la vérité. – Tu m'étonnes.

I don't think that Donald Trump is telling the truth. – No shit, Sherlock.

As the use of the informal tu suggests this is a phrase best used for friends, family and people you know well. We wouldn't really advise getting sarky with the kind of people you would use vous for (bosses, your mother-in-law, the judge overseeing your case).

And just a word of warning that although it's more commonly used as a sarcastic phrase, it can also be a sincere expression of surprise. Vous parlez français, anglais, italien et chinois? Tu m'étonnes! – You speak French, English, Italian AND Chinese? You're amazing!

It's all in the tone of voice, really.  

For more French words and everyday expressions, head to our French Word of the Day section.





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French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Being patronised by a Frenchman? Roll out this phrase.

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Why do I need to know ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines?

Because someone might be trying to take you for a fool.

What does it mean?

Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines – pronounced ne me pren pah pour un lapan de see sem-enn – translates as ‘don’t take me for a six-week-old rabbit’, and is a go-to phrase to warn people not to mistake you for a fool, someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

The podcast Hit West from French regional newspaper Ouest-France suggests that the ‘six weeks’ comes from the age a rabbit is weaned at, and must therefore be ready to survive on its own.

And why a rabbit at all? Well no-one really seems very sure. Rabbits don’t get a good rap in the French language though, to stand someone up is poser un lapin in French.

English-language metaphor equivalents may be, “I didn’t come down in the last shower”, “I wasn’t born yesterday”, or, as Line of Duty’s DCI Hastings might say, “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble”.

Use it like this

Honestly, keep it simple. If someone’s speaking to you in a patronising manner, simply say: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines.

Ouest France suggests that this is the ‘more elegant’ way to request that people don’t take you for a fool. It’s not offensive, but it might be a little old-fashioned. 


You can use the more basic version of this phrase – Ne me prends pas pour une idiote (don’t take me for a fool) or the slightly more punchy Ne me prends pas pour un con (don’t take me for a moron).