French Expression of the Day: Pas pour ma pomme

This French expression has little to do with selecting apples

French Expression of the Day: Pas pour ma pomme
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know pas pour ma pomme?

Because you might have heard the French president use this expression when discussing something completely unrelated to fruit.

What does it mean?

Pas pour ma pomme – roughly pronounced “pah poor mah pomm” –  is a French expression that is translated precisely as “not for my apple.” 

The closest English equivalent might be “not on my watch.” 

Nonsensical as it may seem, the phrase “ma pomme” is actually a way to refer to oneself. The slang expression dates back to 1924, when it was used in a famous song by Maurice Chevalier. 

The round fruit can sometimes resemble a head, and therefore the pomme is meant to refer to one’s face, and by extension their whole person.

Over time, it went on to refer to something that would fall under an individual’s purview –  a task or job that falls on you. The phrase “pour ma pomme” can be used in both a positive and negative context. 

If one says it in a positive sense, they might be saying “I’ve got this!” or “this one is on me.” This version of the phrase would likely be used at a restaurant or bar, when someone might offer to pick up another person’s tab, saying “C’est pour ma pomme.” 

But in a negative way, the expression might mean that the task or job is laborious – in the sense that it always falls on you. For instance, “c’est toujours ma pomme de faire la vaisselle” (its always on me to do the dishes).

However, the full expression “pas pour ma pomme” came back into the public discourse after President Emmanuel Macron used it during a video discussing climate change. The president sought to defend himself from criticism by stating that the climate inaction he was referring to was prior to his tenure – “not on his watch” or “not on him.”

Use it like this

Il m’a accusé d’avoir oublié de finir de dresser les tables avant l’arrivée des clients. Mais j’ai dit que ce n’était pas pour ma pomme car j’ai commencé à travailler le service du soir. – He accused me of forgetting to finish setting the tables before customers arrived. But I said that was not on my watch because I started working during the evening shift.

Laisse-moi t’inviter à dîner ce soir pour te remercier. C’est pour ma pomme. – Let me buy you dinner tonight to thank you. It’s on me.

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French phrase of the Day: Etre en PLS

This one can actually save someone's life.

French phrase of the Day: Etre en PLS

Why do I need to know être en PLS? 

Because it’s not quite as life-threatening as it sounds.

What does it mean 

Être en PLS or je suis en PLS – roughly pronounced zhe swee en pay el ess – literally means ‘I am in the PLS (Position Latérale de Sécurité)’, which is the medical position you put an unconscious victim in. In English you would usually say ‘the recovery position’.

However it’s real meaning is ‘I am tired’ or ‘I am disappointed in a situation’ or sometimes ‘I have a terrible hangover’ – it’s roughly equivalent to saying in English ‘I’m knackered’, ‘I’m broken’ or ‘I’m destroyed’ – but crucially it’s not used for really serious situations that might genuinely destroy your life. It’s an exaggerated complaint. 

This is a phrase common among young people. ‘En PLS‘ is used in its original form by rescue teams trying to save lives, but has recently entered Gen Z’s vocabulary to emphasise a complaint.

Use it like this 

Après cette réunion, je suis en PLS – I’m knackered [British English] after that meeting

J’ai trop bu hier soir, je suis en PLS – I drank too much last night, I’m broken

J’ai perdu mes clés de voiture, je suis en PLS – I lost my car keys, I’m so pissed off. 

You can also say 

Je suis au fond du gouffre – I am at the bottom of the abyss (another dramatic one, it means being disappointed)

Je suis dans le mal – I’m in trouble

Je ne me sens pas bien – I don’t feel good

Je suis KO – I’m exhausted [from the English sporting term KO – knock out]