For members


French expression of the day: À deux doigts

Two fingers in France is usually a complete game-changer.

French expression of the day: À deux doigts
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know à deux doigts?

Because it's a good expression for when you're come really close to something, just not close enough.

What does it mean?

A deux doigts literally translates to ‘two fingers from’, which means being ‘very close to’ something.

Deux doigts is the metaphor for being incredibly close to something – two fingers more and you would have done it/achieved it/reached it – but then you didn't.

Tu es à deux doigts de means you’re ‘at the verge of’ or 'on the brink of' something.

This is one of those expressions that often come in handy during conversation.

J’étais à deux doigts de m'acheter une glace, puis je me suis dit qu’il fallait garder de l’appétit pour notre dîner. – I was so close to getting an ice-cream, but then I thought I should probably save my appetite for our dinner.

Faut qu’il arrête avec sa musique parce que je suis à deux doigts de péter un plomb – He needs to stop that music because I am this close from freaking out..

Il a raté le but de rien de tout, c’était vraiment à deux doigts – He missed the shot by a hair's breadth, it was really close.


Très proche de – very close too

Sur le point de – on the point of


Member comments

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


French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Though this phrase has a close English equivalent, it's just so much more poetic in French

French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Why do I need to know les grands esprits se rencontrent?

Because you might want to use this phrase the next time you and a friend have the same idea for how to spend vacation.

What does it mean?

Les grands esprits se rencontrent – usually pronounced lay grand eh-spreets suh rahn-cahn-truh – literally translates to “the great minds meet each other” or “the great spirits meet each other.” More appropriately, the very poetic phrase in French translates to the English expression “great minds think alike.” 

For the French phrase, it actually finds its origins with Voltaire. In 1760, he wrote a letter to another well-known French writer at the time and included the phrase: “Les beaux esprits se rencontrent” (the beautiful minds meet each other) to emphasise the fact that both expressed the same idea at the same time.

Over time, the phrase switched from ‘beautiful’ minds to ‘great’ minds, but the meaning remains the same. The phrase is usually said ironically in French, and can be used more or less interchangeably with the English version of this expression (which curiously has different origins altogether). However, sadly, the French version does not include the snarky reply: “and fools seldom differ” 

Use it like this

J’avais envie de pizza pour le dîner mais je lui ai demandé ce qu’il voulait quand même et il a dit pizza. Les grands esprits se rencontrent ! – I was wanting pizza for dinner, but I asked him what he wanted anyways, and he said pizza. Great minds think alike!

Nous pensons tous deux que la vue de Paris depuis le Belvédère de Belleville est la meilleure de la ville. Les grands esprits se rencontrent. – We both think that the view of Paris from Belvédère de Belleville is the best of the city. Great minds think alike.