Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (French is complicated)

Let’s be honest for two minutes: the French language is still sometimes well perched. No matter how much we practice it since we were kids, we always manage to get it wrong, we always make the same common spelling mistakes and, with that, we don’t even understand the expressions we hear every day. And we’re sure that you too are like us, unless you didn’t miss any Culture Broth with Bernard Pivot when you were young, but we doubt that. So here are some explanations on the expressions to set the record straight and the dots on the i’s.

1. Provide room and board

A priori, we all know that this means: “Come on man, get dressed, you can daycare at my house for free and I’ll take you to peck”. Yes, but there is still a small thing that is misunderstood. The “cover”, nowadays, is the “food” part of the expression, whereas before it was rather the “you can sleep at my house” part. Because before, we said “offer food and board”: food was food, and board was a roof, because a roof provides cover. Over time, the term evolved, and the word “cover” came to mean the table laid for the meal, or what one eats with. So you can always say “bed and board” but now you will know why you say it.

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

2. Tell through the menu

“Telling through the menu” means explaining in great detail. That, we know, even if we never use this expression except to tell it a little. What we know less is that the “menu” has nothing to do with a menu like you can see in restaurants. No no, stop thinking about food. The “menu”, in the expression, is in relation to the “menu detail”, to the smallest detail. Suddenly, the guy who tells something from the menu, he will integrate all the little details into his story, and it will be very annoying because you have something else to do than hear him talk for 5 hours of how he spent his weekend fixing his coffee maker.

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

3. Be fresh and alert

Yes yes, “disposed” with an “s” at the end. The expression means that one is in good shape and ready to act, so the “disposed” is based on the same root as “disposed”, and not at all on that of “available”. Moreover, in the feminine, we will say: “I am fresh and ready”, but there the problem is that everyone will answer: “ah yeah the girl she has an impossible boulard she says she’s fresh without pressure, she looked in a mirror at least? » That’s the downside of using the French language correctly when you’re surrounded by stupid people.

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

4. Bayer with crows

As the expression means “to daydream”, or “to stare at something stupidly, with your mouth open”, we want to write the verb “to yawn”. It goes well with the “I have my mouth open like an idiot” side. But nevertheless it is necessary to write “bayer”, because it is an old verb which means precisely “to be speechless”. As for the crows, before we said “bayer aux grues” (which are also birds), but in the end we don’t care: the purpose of the expression is to say that we are speechless in front of something insignificant, like birds. Not very nice for birds, we agree, but that’s how it is.

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

5. Make good food

Today, “to eat well” means “to eat well, to honor the meal”, and that is why we tend to make mistakes when writing “to eat well”. To understand where the error comes from, we have to go back quite far. In the old sense of the expression, “dear” came from the Latin “cara” which designated the figure, the face. “To make good cheer” therefore meant “to put on a good face”, to be friendly when welcoming guests. And when we were friendly with the guests we received, we all ate well together. This is why from the 17th century, the expression derived to mean “to eat well”. Of course, it seems a little twisted when you sum it all up in one fell swoop, but you have to say that it took centuries to evolve in our language. This is also the beauty of a living language. We swear we weren’t paid by your French teacher to write this.

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

6. For the sake of conscience

No, we didn’t make a mistake: we write “acquit” with a “t”, and not with an “s”. Why ? Well, because the verb of the expression is “acquit”, and not “acquire”. When we do something out of conscience, it’s to be sure of our conscience, we “acquit” our conscience to avoid accusing ourselves later of having made a big mistake. It’s actually quite logical. No, don’t you think?

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

7. On one level

We don’t know why, but everyone fails trying to write “on one level”, whereas a house on one level is a house where everything is on the level of the plain. Well ok, maybe not the ceiling, which is a little higher than the plain, but please don’t start playing smart with us.

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

8. Fizzle out

Honestly, this one is the hottest (no pun intended lol) of the top. So let’s try to explain all this CALMLY:

Today, when we say “I won’t last long”, it means we won’t last very long. As a result, we mistakenly believe that “to last a long time” means “to last a long time. » WELL NO. It means “to fail”. The expression comes from old weapons where you had to set fire to the barrel yourself for the shot to go off. From time to time, instead of exploding, the powder would burn too slowly (it would misfire) and the shot would not go off. It was a failure. This is why “to fizzle” means “to fail”. Finally it was not so complicated.

But as the French language is rarely simple, “faire long feu” also sometimes means “to last a long time”, or longer than expected. Yes we had said the opposite a little higher but it was just to play the lesson givers. We like it.

Top 10 expressions that we do not understand correctly (french is complicated)

9. Faced with

Even if it is a minority, some think that the expression speaks of a “goal” to be reached, and yet it speaks well of the “mound”, of the small mound, of the small hill what. When one is “in the face of criticism”, one is “exposed to criticism”, like someone who would be on top of a hill and who would be exposed to enemy fire. A position that we will qualify as “not pleasant at all”, if you want our opinion.

10. Time for Me

No, we’re kidding, we have to stop pissing people off with this expression: write it how you want, who cares. The only people who still pick up on people who say “as much for me” are the same ones who are troubling us right now by saying “uh you have to say LA Covid, it’s the Académie Française who said it”. Big dorks, if you want our opinion.

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