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French expression of the day: Ne vous méprenez pas

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French expression of the day: Ne vous méprenez pas
15:01 CET+01:00
Misunderstandings abound when you are learning a language, so this little phrase is likely to come in very handy.

Why do I need to know ne vous méprenez pas?

Want to be sure you're absolutely clear in what you are saying? This is a handy little phrase to make sure your meaning is right, or to fully emphasize what you are saying.

What does it mean?

It means 'do not misunderstand me' or more colloquially 'make no mistake' or 'don't get me wrong'. It's often used as a rhetorical device if you want to really emphasize a point.

So you could say Ne vous méprenez pas: l'Irlande est pro-européenne - Make no mistake: Ireland is pro-European

Or if you're adding caveats to your argument you could clarify your overall point by saying Ne vous méprenez pas, je ne prétends pas que l'immigration soit sans problème - Don't get me wrong, I'm not pretending that immigration is without problems.

Or even Ne vous méprenez pas sur mes propos: nous avons besoin d'organisations environnementales comme Greenpeace - Please do not misunderstand me, we need environmental organisations like Greenpeace.

It comes from the verb se méprendre - to be mistaken. So you could say Je pensais que les vacances scolaires commençaient en juin, mais je me suis mépris - I thought the school holidays began in June, but I was mistaken.

If you have just mixed up your words and accidentally told someone you prefer your jam without condoms (préservatif = condom, conservateur = preservative) then you would be more likely to say je me suis trompé - I was wrong.

But the phrase ne vous méprenez pas is more often used to make a point clear, rather than when you as a foreigner have just fallen foul of one of the many traps the French language lays for the unwary.

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

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