10 French Idioms Essential for Boosting your Speaking Skills

This is a guest post written by Benjamin Houy from French Together

Have you ever read sentences you couldn’t understand despite knowing all the words? These sentences probably contained french idioms, and today I’d like to show you how to use 10 essential idioms.

1. En avoir marre

J’en ai marre ! Le train est toujours en retard ! | I’m tired of it, the train is always late!

“En avoir marre” is an idiom you can frequently hear in the French subway. It means you’re tired of something, you’re fed up with it.
Literal translation: to be fed up with something or someone

2. Pleuvoir des cordes

Wow! Il pleut des cordes aujourd’hui ! |Wow! It’s raining cats and dogs today!

It it’s raining heavily, you can say that “il pleut des cordes”. In this case, the term “rope” is simply used because when it rains heavily, it looks like ropes are falling from the sky.
Literal translation: To be raining ropes
English counterpart: to be raining cats and dogs, to be pouring

3. Avoir la flemme

Je devrais réviser, mais j’ai la flemme ! | I should study but I’m lazy

This is a casual way of saying you’re lazy. Most of the time, you use it to say you should really be doing something, but won’t, because well…you’re lazy.

Literal translation: To have the laziness

4. Tomber dans les pommes

Il est tombé dans les pommes à cause de la châleur | He fainted because of the heat

When someone faints, you can say that the person “fell in the apples”.

Literal translation: To fall in the apples

5. Tourner la page

Il est temps de tourner la page | It’s time to move on

When you turn the page of a book, you say goodbye to what happened previously and move on to the rest of the story. And that’s precisely what “tourner la page” means in the context of someone’s life.

If you say you want to “turn the page”, it means you are ready to move on with your life. That’s an idiom you could use after an important change in your life to say you’re ready to put something behind you and make a fresh start.

Literal translation: To turn the page


6. S’envoyer en l’air

Les français aiment s’envoyer en l’air, c’est bien connu. | The French like to get laid, it’s a well-known fact

“S’envoyer en l’air” is a slang term that would perfectly find its place in Mosalingua’s post about 10 essential French slang expressions.

While it literally means “to throw oneself in the air”, it’s mostly used as a casual way of saying “to get laid”.

Literal translation: To throw oneself in the air

English counterpart: to get laid

7. Avoir la gueule de bois

Je dois aller bosser dans trois heures, mais j’ai encore la gueule de bois. | I’m supposed to go to work in three hours, but I still have a hangover

Ever woken up after drinking a little bit too much? Then you know what “having the wooden face” is all about.

This is an idiom you can use to say you have a hangover.

P.S: if you wonder how to use “bosser”, check out this article.

Literal translation: To have the wooden face

English counterpart: to have a hangover

8. S’occuper de ses oignons

Occupe-toi de tes oignons ! | Mind your own business!

We all know someone who enjoys meddling in other people’s business a little bit too much. In French, you can ask such a person to “take care of his onions”.

Literal translation: To take care of one’s onions

English counterpart: to mind one’s own business

9. Avoir un QI d’huitre

Il faut vraiment avoir un QI d’huitre pour rater cet examen ! | One really has to be stupid to fail this exam !

If you want to say someone is stupid, you could say “stupide”, or you could say that the person has the IQ of an oyster. In both cases, be ready to run 🙂

Literal translation: To have the IQ of an oyster

10. Avoir la pêche

T’as la pêche aujourd’hui ! ça fait plaisir ! | You look energetic today! It’s good to see

What do peaches, bananas and potatoes have in common? They can all be used to describe someone who is full of energy.

All you need to do is say “avoir la…” and add either “pêche”, “banane” or “patate”.

Literal translation: To have the peach, banana, potato


About the author : This guest post was written by Benjamin Houy from French Together. You can download his free ebook 10 Idioms Every French Learner Should Know and discover 10 other useful idioms.



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