For members


French Word of the Day: Causer

This word is for those who enjoy a good chit-chat, chinwag or natter.

French Word of the Day: Causer
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know causer? 

Because it is not always what it sounds like.

What does it mean?

Causer, pronounced “cause-ey”, has multiple meanings in French. 

The first, most obvious meaning to English-speakers, is “to cause”.

In this sense, you would use it like this. 

Les grosses précipitations ont causé une inondation – Heavy rainfall caused a flood

Je ne veux pas causer des problèmes – I don’t want to cause problems

But a second meaning of causer is “to chat” or “converse informally” with someone. It is a really familiar or slang way of using the word and is something you would generally say aloud rather than write down. 

You can use causer in this sense like this: 

J’ai causé avec mon ami en prenant un café – I chatted with my friend over a coffee

Elles ont causé pendant une heure – They chatted for an hour

Est-ce qu’on peut causer deux minutes? – Can I chat with you for two minutes?

Good to know 

A nifty little expression in French is à cause de, which means because of – when you want to talk about a negative consequence of an action. 

For example:

À cause de la circulation sur la route, j’ai raté mon avion – Because of traffic, I missed my plane

À cause de la pénalité, l’équipe a perdu – Because of the penalty, the team lost

If you want to say “because of” to talk about a positive or fortunate event, you should use grace à, which better translates as “thanks to”. 

Grace à mon bon niveau de français, je cause avec pas mal de personnes – Thanks to my good level of French, I speak with a fair number of people

Grace à ses bonnes notes, elle a pu étudié à l’université – Thanks to her good grades, she could study at university

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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.