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French word of the day: Pourboire

French word of the day: Pourboire
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Don't be fooled by this expression, which - when used in a sentence - it can sound like someone is offering you a drink.

Why do I need to know pourboire? 

Because you'll probably think it's something different than it really is the first time you hear this expression.

What does it mean?

If you divide pourboire in two, you get pour and boire, which means 'to' and 'drink'.

Tu as ce qu'il faut pour le pourboire ? sounds a lot like 'have you got what you need to drink?'.

You would be forgiven to think that the person asking you this is offering to pay the next round.

But it really means something very different.

Pourboire is really the French word for 'tip', what you give your waitress if you're happy with your food or your barman if you found his cocktail-making skills particularly impressive.

The expression is similar to when some in the UK will say 'have a drink for yourself'.
 
Originally, the expression pourboire was used to signify exactly that – giving the receiver enough money so that they could treat themselves to a drink in return for their services. 
 
In general tipping is not such a big deal in France as in some other countries, particularly the USA, and the amount tipped generally reflects the phrase's original meaning – enough to buy a drink.
 
 
Use it like this
 
If you're unsure about how much to tip, ask;
 
Quel pourboire faut-il laisser ? – How much should we tip?
 
Quand donner un pourboire en France ? – When should you give a tip in France?
 
Le pourboire est-il inclus en France ? – Is the tip included in France?

 

 


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