For members


French phrase of the Day: Etre à la traîne

If you know someone who needs to catch up and get with the programme, this is the phrase for them.

French phrase of the Day: Etre à la traîne

Why do I need to know être à la traîne?

Because the French often use it to describe someone who is lagging behind, and you’ll hear it a lot in the upcoming elections. 

What does it mean? 

Etre à la traîne is the French phrase for to ‘be behind.’

It can be used to speak of someone who is literally lagging behind, when a group is walking for example.

But it can also be used in the figurative sense for someone who is behind the times. 

During elections, this phrase is typically used to describe a candidate who is behind in the polls, but it can also be used for something that is behind in terms of progress. 

Use it like this

Dépêche toi, tu es encore à la traîne ! – Hurry up, you’re behind again!

Tu es à la traîne, ces lunettes ne sont plus du tout tendance ! – You’re behind the times, these glasses are no longer trendy!

Dans la région Paca, ce candidat est à la traîne dans les sondages – In the PACA [Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur], this candidate is lagging behind in the opinion polls. 

Ce pays est à la traîne en terme de développement durable  – This country is behind in terms of sustainable development


Rester derrière – To stay behind

Être en retardTo be late

Être dépasséTo be outdated 

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.