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French expression of the day: Ne vous méprenez pas

Misunderstandings abound when you are learning a language, so this little phrase is likely to come in very handy.

French expression of the day: Ne vous méprenez pas

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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For members


French Expression of the Day: C’est le box

This French expression has little to do with storage devices.

French Expression of the Day: C’est le box

Why do I need to know c’est le box?

Because you might have described your adolescent bedroom this way.

What does it mean?

C’est le box roughly pronounced say luh box – comes from the longer expression c’est le boxon, and does not have to do with a container to store things. In reality, c’est le box means either literally or figuratively that something is a mess or disaster.

It is a synonym for the more commonly used French expression c’est le bordel

Both are slang terms that border on being vulgar, are originally references to brothels, and describe disorder or disarray.

The word boxon first appeared in the early 1800s in the form of bocson, which meant cabaret and later “house of tolerance”. Its origins are disputed, but over the past two centuries it has come to be synonymous with a “place of debauchery” and later messiness and disorder.

You can also say “Quel box!” or “Quel Boxon!” to mean “What a mess!” or “What a disaster!”

If you are looking for a less vulgar way to describe a mess, you could instead say “c’est le bazar”.

Use it like this

C’est quand la dernière fois que tu as nettoyé ta chambre ? C’est le box ici. – When was the last time you cleaned your room? It is a disaster in here.

Je ne suis pas la seule personne qui pense que c’est le boxon dans cette ville en ce moment. – I’m not the only person who thinks this city is a mess right now.