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French Expression of the Day: Dernière ligne droit

This common French expression is widely used in many areas of French life - but especially in politics.

French Expression of the Day: Dernière ligne droite
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know dernière ligne droite? 

Because the final hurdle is often the hardest. 

What does it mean?

Dernière ligne droite, pronounced dern-ee-yay lean dwat, literally translates as last straight line. 

But this is expression is more commonly used to mean: the final hurdle, the home straight, last phase, final push or final stretch. 

It is often used in a political context:

À quelques jours du scrutin, c’est la dernière ligne droite – With just a few days until the final vote, we’re into the home straight  

Tout le monde doit tout donner dans cette dernière ligne – Everyone must give everything in this final push 

C’est la dernière ligne droite. Il peut gagner ! – It is the final hurdle. He can win! 

It is thought that the expression comes from the world of sport. Athletes running around the track will generally finish the race running in a straight line, or ligne droite, towards the finishing point. 

Ils tentent de dépasser les autres concurrents dans la dernière ligne droite – They try to overtake other competitors on the home stretch 

Other expressions with ligne

The French language has multiple expressions with the word ligne.

Here is a selection:

Garder la ligne – To stay in shape 

Ligne politique – Political line/programme/ideology 

La ligne de vie – Lifeline [used by climbers] or the lines on your hand interpreted by palm readers

Tirer des lignes – Deliberately writing in long complex sentences [used by writers who are paid per line of text]

En première ligne – At the forefront/on the frontline 

Faire bouger les lignes – To shift or shake up a situation [often used in politics]

Lire entre les lignes – To read between the lines 

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

The long-range forecast suggests that this will be a handy phrase this summer.

French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

Why do I need to know ça tape?

Because you might want a way to describe the feeling of walking down a long boulevard with no shade in sight…or a techno concert.

What does it mean?

Ça tape usually pronounced sah tap – literally translates to ‘it taps’ or ‘it hits.’ The verb being used is taper, which means to hit or slap, and colloquially can be used to seek monetary support from someone. It is also the verb for ‘to type.’ But when spoken, this phrase does not involve violence, financial assistance, or note-taking.

Ça tape is a way to say ‘it’s scorching’ and complain about the hot weather or the search for shade. If someone uses it under a hot sun, and they say “ça tape”  or “ça tape fort” they’re referring to the particularly violent, piercing heat.

It can also be used to say something is intense, particularly in relation to music. It bears a similar colloquial meaning to the English informal phrase “it hits” or “it’s banging.” For example, you might be at a loud concert listening to a particularly passionate DJ – this might be a good scenario to employ ‘ça tape.’

The first meaning, which refers to the heat, is more commonly used across generations, whereas the second might be heard more from a younger audience. 

 Use it like this

Dès que je suis sortie de l’appartement et que je suis entrée dans la rue, j’ai dit “Ça tape !” car le soleil était si fort.– As soon as I stepped out of the apartment and into the street, I said to myself “it’s blazing!” because the sun was so strong.

Ce festival est incroyable, tout le monde est dans le même esprit. Ouh t’entends cette basse ? Ça tape !  – This festival is amazing, everyone is really in the same mood. Do you hear that bass? It’s banging.