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French word of the Day: Passe sanitaire

French word of the Day: Passe sanitaire
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Is it a pass or a passe? Now the answer is official.

Why do I need to know passe sanitaire?

Because if you’re in France and you fancy a drink, you’re highly likely to be asked for one.

What does it mean?

It means health passport. The passport itself has been in use for several weeks, but the spelling has been a matter of debate.

Enter a bar, restaurant, café, museum, tourist site or long-distance train in France and you’re likely to be asked Puis-je voir votre passe sanitaire? or more simply passe sanitaire, si’il vous plaît?

The passport, showing either proof of vaccination, recent recovery from Covid or a negative test, is required for entry to a range of everyday venues in France.

But exactly how the passport is spelled has been a matter of some debate.

Introducing the measure, government communications – including tweets from the president and his ministers – referred to it as le pass sanitaire.

In the below tweet, referring to it as un pass sanitaire, health minister Olivier Véran says that the combination of one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, the health passport and a capacity to test widely even over the summer has enabled France to avoid another lockdown, despite a strong wave of cases caused by the delta variant.

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However, the French language guardians Academie française have officially ruled that it is femininela passe sanitaire.

Which version will win out remains to be seen, but in good news the pronunciation is the same.

Use it like this

En France, pour manger ou boire en terrasse, il faut une passe sanitaire – In France, to eat or drink on outdoor terraces, you need a health passport

Les manifestations contre la passe sanitaire entrent dans leur sixième semaine – Demonstrations against the health passport enter their sixth week

Putain ! J’ai oublié mon portable avec ma passe sanitaire ! Je ne peux pas aller au bar – Fuck! I forgot my phone with my health passport on it! I can’t go to the bar 


Member comments

  1. Agreed, perhaps this was for emphasis or to give us the often used French word under the circumstances

  2. I don’t think it is necessary to use the word Fuck in order to illustrate how to use la passe. I would rather learn a more polite expletive.

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