A small French lesson : you didn’t learn it at school

Have you ever had that feeling when after learning a language you can’t understand native speakers because they use different words, shortenings or slang? I’m sure you have. The same this is happening to me being in France (Check out my recent article: My first impressions of living abroad). Sometimes I can’t get some words and it makes me frustrated.

In this article I’ll give you some words that I’ve learned being a couple of month in France.

Let’s get started!

The first word is bosser, for example: “Tu vas bosser?” It means “to work/ travailler

Now, I sure that in every language the word “car” has synonyms. In French the word “voiture” has such synonyms as “bagnole” and “caisse”.

Another word is funny. When someone drinks alcohol, they use the word “picoler”.

When you go to a supermarket, you should take with you “cabas” that means “shopping bags”

Instead of “homme” you can hear “mec, gus, gugus” and instead of “femme” you can also hear “nana”.

For the “fête” French people can say “teuf”, it is an irregular tongue twister, when you pronounce a word vice versa.

And the last but not least, instead of “se coucher” they can say “se pieuter

And now some expressions!

The interesting one is “couper les cheveux en quatre”. It means explain something too precisely. The synonym of it is “enculer les mouches”, but attention, this is vulgar expression, don’t use it on a public!

When something is very good, perfect they say “nickel”.

French people LIKE doing shortenings. If there are long words, they don’t hesitate to cut it, like the word “restaurant” becomes “resto”.

à toute à l’heure – a toute

à plus tard – à plus (A+)

à 7 heure du matin – a 7 heure du mat’

bon appétit – bon ap’

petit déjeuner – p’tit dej’

impeccable – impec’

apéritif – apero

This list of shortenings can be very, very long…

Maybe you can share with me some interesting words?

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7 Comments

  1. Hi there ! I just want to point out that more than synonyms, these words are from a different language register. Maybe it’ll be interesting to mention it as you’re not going to say “je vais bosser en bagnole et après j’irai picoler avec un mec et faire la teuf” to someone you’re not acquainted with or to your boss, for example 🙂

    1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment. No, it’s better not to use these synonyms in your official language. In this article I gave the words that I can hear every day, speaking with French people (une langue quotidienne). That’s why I named my article like that. It is something that we don’t learn at school but if we want to communicate with native speakers we should know slang, shortenings colloquial expressions…

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