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French phrase of the day: Pas con

It sounds like an insult, but this is actually quite a pat on the back.

French phrase of the day: Pas con
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know c'est pas con?

Because it's useful when someone deserves acknowledgement, but you don't want to go overboard either.

What does it mean?

Con is a widely used insult, similar to 'idiot', 'prick' or 'arsehole', but it can also be a way to characterise something as 'dumb' or 'stupid'.

Pas con translates as 'not dumb', and is a somewhat odd way to acknowledge something or someone is clever.

Though it doesn't exactly sound like the compliment of the year, it is confidence stamp, albeit a slightly tepid one.

When something is pas con, it is similar to saying 'smart move', 'good shout' or 'nice' in English. If you say someone is pas con, it means they are quite intelligent.

It's colloquial, con is the less formal way of saying stupide (stupid), but widely used.

If your friend is telling you about how they invested in a company specialising in home office equipment, seeing as remote working is the new norm, you could figuratively pat them on the back by saying:

C'est pas con ça ! – Nice move!

But you could also say:

T'es pas con toi ! – You're quite clever aren't you!

C'est pas con means 'that's not dumb', although if you were to correctly spell it, you would write ce n'est pas con. But as with much French slang expression you strike the ne orally.

Similarly, t'es pas con is really spelled tu n'es pas con.

Use it like this

Pas con ton idée. – Not a bad idea of yours.

On prend le Métro au lieu de la voiture ? Comme ça on peut boire des verres après si on veut. / Pas con, allez. – Let's take the Metro instead of the car? That way we can have drinks after if we want. / Smart, let's do it.

J'ai ramené un parapluie au cas où il pleuvrait. Pas con, il y a des nuages un peu chelou là-bas. – I brought an umbrella in case it rains. Good shout, there are some sketchy-looking clouds over there.

Il n'est pas con, ce petit. – He's quite smart, that kid.

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French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener