Author: Philippe Bermann
French language and French expressions have had great influence over the English language and including French expressions into English language has become a fashion for many of its speakers.
Languages have mostly gone through mitosis of their grammar during war times and Norman occupation is considered to be the final changing point for the language of English. During the Norman era an evolution of English language started in which around 10,000 French expressions, words and phrases seeped into the English language. These French expressions are now used in different aspects of English life including communication, art, law, politics and literature. These French expressions have become more of a fashion statement in today’s world and mostly carry only an expressive meaning for the speaker and listener.
French is a Romance language spoken by the people of France but the famous French expressions are used by people all around the world whether they are fluent in the French language or not. Even after the Normandy era, English language kept on borrowing words, idioms, phrases and expressions from the French language which is used in daily life by English people. These are famously known as French expressions. French expressions are now so much used in daily communication that many people have forgotten their original dialect or grammar.
The sphere of the current article revolves around those French expressions that have entered the English language much after the Normandy era. Although many of them have not lost their dialect and origin but most of these French expressions are now used more in English due to much absorption by the latter’s culture and language.
Phrases given below are French expressions that might not be familiar to a French speaker but will seem correct, perfect French to an English speaker. Maybe these French expressions now have different meaning in the French dictionary but mostly these French expressions are such phrases that have become defunct in French language. A language rule followed by Englishmen is that if a French expression is written in italics with French inscriptions on its letters then it has been retained by the French dictionary as their own.
Most of the French expressions are used in common conversations by English speakers but many are still not known in the English world. Certain French expressions are such that they are usually written in the English language as compared to being spoken but there are certain others that form part of both the written and spoken vocabulary of English speakers. Listed below are some French expressions, words or phrases that are used by English speakers in certain conversations. English meaning for the French expressions are also given along with the explanation of each of these French expressions.
1. Adieu: means ‘until God’ and this French expression is used as a farewell note when it is expected that you might not meet that person again until God i.e. if he dies.
2. À la carte: means ‘on the menu’ and this French expression is used in French restaurants where a menu is given with list of food options to choose from along with their prices. This system of restaurants has now also been adopted internationally.
3. En avant: means ‘forward.’ This French expression is best described by the following sentence: « En avant, comrades. Fortune awaits us through that door. »
4. En ami: means ‘as a friend’ and this French expression is used for a friend. Its usage can be best described by the following sentence. « I confide in you en ami. »
5. En bloc: means ‘in a mass.’ This French expression is used for a group of people as in the following sentence. « We can depend on them to vote en bloc in support of the proposal. »
6. En grande: means ‘full size.’ This French expression is usually spoken to express size. It can be best described by the following sentence. « The bouncer approached and, with a scowl, reared up en grande. »
7. En masse: means ‘all together.’ This French expression is used as in the following sentence. « The members of the basketball team arrived en masse at the party. »
8. En queue: means ‘after.’ This French expression is used for the English impression of next as in the following sentence. « I bided my time and followed en queue. »
9. En tout: means ‘in all.’ This French expression is also used to express size in terms of numbers. « We’d like to use your banquet room, please — we are a score or more en tout. »
French expressions can also translate rather comically in the English language as they sound quite illogical. For instance, the French expression Ah, la vache! has the literal translation of « Oh, the cow. » Although for French this expression is used more for surprise but English speakers take it as an expression for grief.
French language is no doubt a very difficult language to learn but if you are really passionate about French then learning to speak these French expressions and phrases is a great start. By greater use of these universal French expressions, you can get a sound base for speaking more complex French language.
About the Author
Philippe Bermann, 41 | Lover of life | Webmaster | Multipurpose
Human since 1971. Dad of Kylian (12) & Lucas (8).
Love human contact | Marketing network | Artistic soul | Nature and the universe | Cooking for her family
His favorite saying: Le monde appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt!
(The early bird catches the worm!)