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French expression of the day: On verra

If you want to convey a slight air of mystery when gazing into the future.

French expression of the day: On verra
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know on verra?

It's very commonly used, and it has nothing to do with regular verres (glasses).

What does it mean?

On verra is the French way of saying 'we'll see'.

On means 'we' or 'one' and verra is the future tense of voir, which means 'to see'.

On voit is the present tense, which means 'we see'.

French people use it all the time to signal uncertainty about a future event.

On verra bien ! literally translates to 'we'll see good', but really is more or less the equivalent of the English term 'we will just have to wait and see'.

Use it like this

Tu crois que la France va gagner contre l'Angleterre ce soir ? Difficile à dire, on verra bien ! – Do you think France will win against England tonight? Hard to say, we'll just have to wait and see!

Disons qu'on prevoit une balade dimanche et puis on verra s'il fait beau ou pas ? – Let's aim for a walk on Sunday and then we'll just see if the weather is nice or not? 

Oui, vas-y, il me parle bien ce resto. Dommage qu'il n'y a pas de menu en ligne, mais on y va et puis on verra s'ils ont des tarte tatins. Sinon, tant pis. – Yes, let's do it, I like the look of that restaurant. Shame that there's no online menu, but let's head over and then we'll just see if they have apple tarts. If not, never mind.

Or use it like this

You can also use on verra as a way of saying 'so that we can see' something (literally).

Mets une robe, comme ça on verra comme tes jambes sont bronzées ! – Put on a dress, that way we'll see how tanned your legs are.


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For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire la java

This expression is one to use if you see someone looking a bit worse for wear.

French Expression of the Day: Faire la java

Why do I need to know faire la java?

Because you might be looking for a different way to describe the fun times you had last weekend.

What does it mean?

Faire la java usually pronounced fair lah jah-vah – translates literally as ‘to do the java,’ which refers to a popular dance from the early 1900s in France. However, these days, the phrase is a synonym for the more popular phrase ‘faire la fête’ which means to party, usually involving alcoholic beverages and minimal amounts of sleep.   

In the 1910s to 1920s, when the java dance was popular, it was typically performed at big parties. It’s unclear where the term ‘java’ came from, as it has no connection with the island of Java. The dance itself was quite scandalous at the time, and it was seen as overly sensual and risqué. Though the dance fell out of practice in the 1950s, the phrase remained in use, which is why you’ll probably still hear French people, especially those of the older generation, talking about their wild times ‘faisant la fava.’ 

If you’re curious what the dance was like, here is a clip:

Use it like this

J’étais tellement épuisée quand je me suis réveillée ce matin parce que hier soir on a fait la java. – I was so exhausted when I woke up this morning because last night we partied.

Mes voisins aiment faire la java, ce qui serait bien, mais ils font tellement de bruit les soirs de semaine. – My neighbours love to party, which would be fine, but they make so much noise on weeknights.