Home Education Language Learning French phrases you need to know
Last update on July 20, 2021
Written by Morgane Croissant 

If you’re told to ‘mind you own onions’ or ‘go cook yourself an egg’, you’ve clearly made a French person get ‘mustard up their nose’. Here’s a few French phrases that you should know.

The French food obsession goes beyond aged cheeses, hearty recipes and bodied wines – it infuses every part of French culture right down to the phrases. If you want to fit in like a French local, there’s no better way than turning to the nation’s top obsessions: language and food.


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1. Les carottes sont cuites

The French don’t say, “There’s no hope of changing it.” Rather, they say, “the carrots are cooked.”

2. En faire tout un fromage

The French don’t ‘make a big deal of something’, they ‘make a whole cheese about it’.

3. Couper la poire en deux

The French don’t ‘split the bill’, they ‘cut the pear in half’.

4. Pour une bouchée de pain

The French don’t ‘buy something for cheap’ – they buy something for ‘a mouthful of bread’.

5. Occupe-toi de tes oignons

The French won’t tell you to ‘mind your own business’, but they will tell you to ‘mind you own onions’.

6. Va te faire cuire un œuf

The French don’t say ‘get lost’ – they ask you to ‘go and cook yourself an egg’.

7. Mettre de l’eau dans son vin

The French don’t ‘tone it down’, they ‘water down their wine’.

8. Cracher dans la soupe

The French are not ‘ungrateful’, they ‘spit in the soup’.

9. Y mettre son grain de sel

The French won’t ‘stick their nose in your business’, but they will ‘put their grain of salt’ in it.

10. Être soupe au lait

The French don’t have ‘thin skin’, they are “milk soup”

11. Raconter des salades

The French don’t ‘tell lies’, they ‘tell salads’.

12. Être trempé comme une soupe

The French don’t get ‘soaked’, they get ‘drenched like a soup’.

13. Ne pas avoir inventé le fil à couper le beurre

The French won’t call you ‘dumb’ but they will say, “You did not invent the thread that cuts the butter.”

14. Mettre du beurre dans les épinards

The French don’t ‘improve their financial situation’, they ‘put butter in the spinach’.

15. La moutarde me monte au nez

The French don’t ‘get annoyed’, they have ‘mustard coming up their nose’.

16. Être beurré

The French are not ‘drunk’ – they are “buttered’.