French expression of the day: Tu blagues

French expression of the day: Tu blagues
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This simple expression is a canny gateway into the complexities of French humour and seriousness.

Why do I need to know tu blagues?

Because it’s a basic French expression that opens up the door for a lot of similar ones.

What does it mean?

Tu blagues means ‘you’re joking’ or ‘you’re kidding’ and is a useful expression to have at hand whenever you’re unsure of whether your French friend is being serious.

It can be a question – tu blagues ? – or a statement – tu blagues ! –  depending on how you pronounce it.

Une blague is French for ‘a joke’ and blaguer is a verb that means ‘to joke’, similar to rigoler (to joke/kid).

You can use tu blagues and tu rigoles interchangeably.

French people will often say, c’est une blague (it’s a joke), if they want to emphasise that they aren’t being serious. 

Likewise, sans blague ! (no joke!) stresses that someone is being very serious and is not joking at all.

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There’s also c’est une blague ou quoi ! (it’s a joke or what!), which is a canny expression to mutter, yell or sigh when the line in the supermarket is extremely long, if you’re stuck in traffic jam or someone is acting unreasonably.

Tu blagues employs the informal tu rather than vous, so it is an expression you use with friends – not the person at the boulangerie, your boss (unless you’re on jokey terms) or your French in-laws (unless they’re the kind of people you get to tutoyer).

Use it like this

Tu veux qu’on y aille maintenant ? Tu blagues ? – You want to go there now? You’re kidding?

Oui, c’est ça ! Tu blagues. – Yes, sure! You’re kidding.

En plus tu ne blagues même pas. Je suis choqué ! – And you’re not even kidding. I’m shocked!


Tu rigoles – you’re kidding

Tu n’es pas sérieux – you’re not serious 

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