French expression of the day: Eh bé

French expression of the day: Eh bé
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
If you think French people make weird sounds when they speak, read on.

Why do I need to know eh bé?

Because you may have noticed French people saying this when they’re surprised.

What does it mean?

This expression comes from the south, specifically from the Occitan expression e ben (eh bien in standard French) but is used all over France. Wiktionnaire has recordings of different pronunciations from different regions you can listen to here.

Eh bé is similar to filler words like hein, enfin or quoi that make you sound more French.

It’s used to express surprise or to draw attention to a remark, and may be translated as “well, well” or “I say”.

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See also on The Local:

You may also see it spelled in various different ways: hé bé, é bé, eh ben, or even eh bhe like Aya Nakamura in this Twitter post:

Use it like this

Eh ben dis donc! – Well, well, well!

Eh bé, on aurait pas cru! – Well, well, who would have thought!

Synonyms

ça alors! – my goodness!

tiens donc – fancy that


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