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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French phrase of the day: Ca se fait pas

If somebody tells you this, it’s probably best to apologise.

French phrase of the day: Ca se fait pas
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know ça se fait pas?

There are many rules of etiquette in France that differ from other cultures, and learning to recognise this phrase will help you to know when you’ve got something wrong.

What does it mean?

Technically it should be ça ne se fait pas, but since this expression is mostly used in spoken conversation, the ne is usually omitted.

Literally “that isn’t done”, ça se fait pas can be translated as “it isn’t the done thing”. It’s used when referring to an action that goes against how the speaker feels people ought to act or when you are being scolded for getting a piece of French etiquette wrong.

It can be a lot stronger than the direct English translation, however, referring to something that’s deemed unacceptable or incredibly rude. Think of someone incredulously saying, “You can’t do that!”, or “That’s not on.”

While ça se fait pas is the negative form, it can also be used in the positive by dropping the final word. For example, in the sentence, ça se fait de moins en moins (It’s less and less common).

Or in the expression, Comment ça se fait ? (How come?)

Use it like this

On ne peut pas juste partir sans payer, ça se fait pas – We can’t just leave without paying, it’s not right.

Mon coloc a mangé mes céréales sans me le demander. Ca se fait pas, quoi ! – My flatmate ate my cereal without asking. I mean, that’s unacceptable!

Qui compare sa meuf à son ex ? Ca se fait pas ! – Who compares their girl to their ex? That’s not on!

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Being patronised by a Frenchman? Roll out this phrase.

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Why do I need to know ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines?

Because someone might be trying to take you for a fool.

What does it mean?

Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines – pronounced ne me pren pah pour un lapan de see sem-enn – translates as ‘don’t take me for a six-week-old rabbit’, and is a go-to phrase to warn people not to mistake you for a fool, someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

The podcast Hit West from French regional newspaper Ouest-France suggests that the ‘six weeks’ comes from the age a rabbit is weaned at, and must therefore be ready to survive on its own.

And why a rabbit at all? Well no-one really seems very sure. Rabbits don’t get a good rap in the French language though, to stand someone up is poser un lapin in French.

English-language metaphor equivalents may be, “I didn’t come down in the last shower”, “I wasn’t born yesterday”, or, as Line of Duty’s DCI Hastings might say, “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble”.

Use it like this

Honestly, keep it simple. If someone’s speaking to you in a patronising manner, simply say: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines.

Ouest France suggests that this is the ‘more elegant’ way to request that people don’t take you for a fool. It’s not offensive, but it might be a little old-fashioned. 

Alternatives

You can use the more basic version of this phrase – Ne me prends pas pour une idiote (don’t take me for a fool) or the slightly more punchy Ne me prends pas pour un con (don’t take me for a moron).

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