For members


French Expression of the Day: En temps voulu

French President Emmanuel Macron uses this expression all the time and you can too if you want to develop a slightly mysterious, teasing air . . .

French Expression of the Day: En temps voulu
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know en temps voulu?

Because this phrase doesn’t translate literally, but is very versatile and can be used to buy yourself some time if necessary. 

What does it mean? 

En temps voulu, pronounced “on tom vol-oo”, literally translates as “in wanted time”. 

But its real meanings are more along the lines of “in due course”, “when necessary” or “at the right moment”. 

You could use it like this:

Elle répondra en temps voulu – She will reply when necessary

Ces graines germeront en temps voulu – These grains will germinate at the right moment

The expression has also been used extensively by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has yet to officially announce his bid for reelection. 

When asked by a student whether he would compete in the electoral race, Macron replied, enigmatically: J‘annoncerai ma décision en temps voulu – I will announce my decision in due course


There are a couple of phrases that are similar to en temps voulu

En temps utile – at the appropriate/correct time 

Au moment opportun – at the opportune moment

En temps et lieu – in due course 

We have also put together a useful guide to other time-related expressions in French

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

A brand new coinage in the French language that reflects the changing times.

French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

Why do I need to know la Première ministre?

Because France has one now.

What does it mean?

La Première ministre – usually pronounced lah prem-ee-air mean-east-ruh– translates as “the prime minister,” but this spelling is different from what you might be used to seeing.

This title is feminised, indicating that the prime minister in question is a woman. Under former PMs such as Jean Castex, the masculine title Le Premier ministre was used.

Élisabeth Borne made headlines on May 16th not only because she was appointed as France’s second female prime minister, but also because she will be the first to use the feminisation of the work title: Madame la Première ministre. The female prime minister who held the position before her, Edith Cresson, used the masculine version of the title.

Feminising work titles has been controversial in France, and most titles like “le Premier ministre” have been automatically put in masculine form.

But in 2019, France’s infamous Academie Francaise, which polices the French language and typically resists any sweeping changes to it, changed their stance and said there was “no obstacle in principle” to the wholesale feminisation of job titles. 

Use it like this

Le Président Emmanuel Macron a fait une annonce importante. Élisabeth Borne est la Première ministre. – President Emmanuel Macron made an important announcement: Élisabeth Borne is the prime minister.

“Madame la Première ministre, qui avez-vous choisi pour diriger votre nouveau gouvernement ?” a demandé le journaliste. – “Madame Prime Minister, who have you chosen to lead your new government?” asked the journalist.