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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Ce n’est pas très catholique

Driving with your non-French driver’s licence after the one year limit probably falls into this category

French Expression of the Day: Ce n’est pas très catholique
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know ce n’est pas très catholique?

Because you might have experienced things that would fall into this category when moving out of a rented flat in France.

What does it mean?

Ce n’est pas très catholique – pronounced suh nay pah tray cah-toe-leek – is the equivalent of the English term “not very kosher” or “not very Orthodox.” It refers to doing something that is morally questionable – an activity that might fall into a legal or ethical grey area.

The expression in French dates back to the 18th century, and – as you guessed – refers to the moral values promoted by the Catholic Church. 

Originally, the French used the expression “ce n’est pas très orthodoxe” which referenced anything that was not ‘by the book’ – the book being the Bible and the related religious dogma.

It can also refer to something that is simply questionable.

Use it like this

Ce n’est pas très catholique, mais au minimum c’est efficace. – It is not very kosher, but at least it’s effective.

Je sais que ce n’est pas très catholique, mais je n’ai pas payé mon dernier mois de loyer parce que je voulais être sûre de recevoir l’argent pour mon dépôt de garantie –  I know it is not exactly kosher, but I did not pay the last month of rent because I wanted to be sure I would get the money for my security deposit.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: T’inquiète

This is a good example of something you won't find in your French textbook, but will nonetheless hear all the time in France.

French Word of the Day: T’inquiète

Why do I need to know t’inquiète?

Because you might be wondering why people keep telling you to worry all the time.

What does it mean?

T’inquiète – usually pronounced tan-kee-ett – literally means ‘you worry’ but in actuality it means ‘don’t worry.’

It’s a good example of the difference between spoken and written French.

It is the ‘tu’ conjugation of the verb ‘S’inquieter’ which means to worry.

The command “don’t worry,” which is reflexive in French, should actually be written as “ne t’inquiète pas” (do not worry yourself).

But in colloquial speech this is often shortened it to t’inquiète pas or simply t’inquiète.

It’s one of many examples where the ne of the ne . . pas negative form disappears in spoken French. 

This is in the ‘tu’ form, meaning it is informal, it’s not rude but you might not want to tell your boss to t’inquiete.

Use it like this

Vous vous en sortirez bien à l’examen de langue, votre français est excellent. T’inquiète. – You will do fine on the language exam, your French is great. Don’t worry.

Non, non, t’inquiète ! Tout le monde a adoré ton idée. – No, no don’t worry! Everyone loved your idea.

Alternatives

If you want the more formal version of telling someone not to worry it’s Ne vous inquiétez pas

If you want a ‘no problem/don’t worry about it’ type response, especially if someone has apologised for something, you could say Ce n’est pas grave (it’s not serious)

While you can also use Pas de soucis to say ‘no worries’, although that is slightly controversial and more often used by younger people.

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