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French word of the Day: Congé

French word of the Day: Congé
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
It's what most of France is on right now.

Why do I need to know congé?

Because it’s the most common answer to anything in August in France.

What does it mean?

It means being away from work.

Most French learners will know the more common word for holidays – les vacances.

This is used in les grandes vacances (summer holidays) les vacances scolaires (school holidays) and projets de vacances (holiday plans).

READ ALSO The 8 signs that August has arrived in France

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But le congé or les congés is also widely used.

It’s a slightly more formal word that better translates as ‘leave of absence from work’ and is used in official contexts such as le congé annuel (annual leave), le congé de maternité (maternity leave), le congé de paternité (paternity leave) or le congé parental (parental leave).  

However people also use it frequently in everyday conversation to say they will be off work, and in August you will often see signs up on closed shops and bars announcing that the owners are away for their summer holidays.

The ‘g’ is soft, so it is pronounced con-shay not con-gay. 

Use it like this

Je suis en congé annuel et je reviendrai pour la rentrée – I am out of the office on annual leave and will be back in September

Fermé pour congé annuel – closed for annual leave

Emmanuel Macron a doublé le congé de paternité – Emmanuel Macron has doubled paternity leave


Member comments

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  1. With reference to your article on the Maiden Name Conundrum, my girlfriend lives in Paris and was vaccinated there and her vaccination certificate has both her married name and her maiden name.
    Vincent

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