For members


French word of the Day: Mon copain

For when you're starting to get friendly.

French word of the Day: Mon copain
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know mon copain?

Because if you spend long enough in France you are going to start getting friendly with people, perhaps very friendly.

What does it mean?


Un copain, or une copine in the female version, has two meanings, it can mean either a friend or a lover.

It's a casual term, slightly slangy, but it's certainly not rude.

It can mean a mate, a pal, a chum and is often used by children and young people

Mon copain George et moi sommes allés au zoo – My pal George and I went to the zoo

The female version is la copine

Emily est ma copine parce que nous aimons faire du cheval – Emily is my friend because we both enjoy horse riding

But it has a second meaning which is perhaps more common among adults – although they too use it to mean friend – that of a partner or boyfriend/girlfriend. It is generally used among people who are in a long-term relationship but are not married.

Mon copain et moi avons acheté une maison, mais elle est un peu en ruine et a besoin de beaucoup de travaux – My partner and I have bought a house together but it's a bit of a ruin so it needs a lot of work.

Ma copine aime cuisiner pour moi le vendredi – My girlfriend likes to cook for me on Fridays.

Unfortunately there isn't a grammar rules that explains whether someone's copain is their boyfriend or just a friend, so you will have to rely on context.


There are lots of alternatives for a friend, from the formal ami/amie to the more casual mec or pote while for a girlfriend you could use meuf or nana as an alternative to petite amie.




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For members


French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard

About one in five people of a certain French generation can be described using this term.

French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard

Why do I need to know soixante-huitard?

Because it references a very important part of French history and culture.

What does it mean?

Soixante-huitard – pronounced swah-sahnt wheat arr – literally means sixty-eighter. While its translation might sound a bit like a sports team (ex. Forty-niners),  this term in French has an important political and social context behind it. 

A soixante-huitard is someone who participated in the famous May 1968 protests in France. With the backdrop of the Prague Spring and the American Civil Rights Movement and anti-war protests, French students and striking workers demanded a more egalitarian world in May 1968. 

This period of civil unrest lasted seven weeks and even forced then-President Charles de Gaulle to temporarily flee to West Germany. The events of this time have had a profound effect on French culture and politics. 

Around 11 million people – 22 percent of the population at the time – was involved in some way or another, and these days, those people are referred to as un soixante-huitard or une soixante-huitarde (for a woman). 

Though the term is typically reserved to refer to those actually involved in the protest movement, it can occasionally be used as a way to describe someone who has held onto the far-left ideas or sentiments from the 1968 movement.

Use it like this

Il a gardé ses convictions d’extrême-gauche longtemps après 1968. C’est un vrai soixante-huitard. – He held onto his far-left beliefs long after 1968. He is a true sixty-eighter. 

Tu pourrais être surpris que ta tante ait une soixante-huitarde. Ses opinions ont certainement changé avec le temps. Tu ne l’aurais jamais deviné ! – You might be surprised that your aunt participated in May 68. Her opinions have really changed with time, you would never have guessed it.