Please stop saying “couci couça”!


I’m not sure where you learn “couci couça” but every (!) FSL student seems to have retained that one expression. Many times, that’s all that’s left from several years of French lessons. Please allow me to say this, at the risk of schocking many of you: no one really says that in France anymore. You might have heard it but that doesn’t make it common, or cool 🙂

Okay, that’s enough, I got it out of my system, now let’s move on to what you should actually say. And it’s simpler than couci couça or comme ci comme ça, which is also seldom used.

Salut/bonjour, comment ça va? (Hi, hello, how are you?)
1) ça va, et toi? / bien, et toi? (I’m fine, and you?)
2) ça peut aller/ on fait aller / pas trop mal (couci couça, alright but not super great)
3) super!
4) pas terrible ( not great at all)
5) ça va pas du tout (I’m not good at all)
6) pas mal (not bad)

There you have it. A collection of simple words that will make you sound like someone who actually lived in France.


photo credit: <a

A collection of common expressions

On this page, I will share some expressions that can be used by French Immersion students and others to add colour to their French.

First expression, to get this page started:

“On n’est pas sorti de l’auberge!” Translating to “we’re not out of the woods”. The only difference is that “woods” is replaced by “inn” in the French version. As is often the case, there is no definite answer to how the expression originated. It is a very common expression in (Parisian as they say) French.

French expressions involving colours

Faire une nuit blanche: literally, to have a white night. It means to not sleep at all during the night. The origin of that expression is thought to have come from a tradition from the Middle Ages. The night before their knighting ceremony, squires had to spend a sleepless night to confess and pray. They spent their night all dressed in white.

He loves me, he loves me not

FleurEver wonder what “he loves me, he loves me not” was in the language of love? Well, probably not but today I will share with you the slightly more sophisticated French version. See, we like to have some nuances in our lives, it’s not all black and white so we added some grey to the flower-ripping ritual. It goes like this: il/elle m’aime: un peu, beaucoup, à la folie, pas du tout. Which translates to: he/she loves me: a bit, a lot, like crazy, not at all. The result? better odds to loved, at least a little…


The words you won’t learn in French Immersion

When attending a French Immersion or similar program for several years, you are bound to get teachers who speak various versions of the French language. Having grown up in France, I will share mostly words and expressions that come from what I know. However, I will also discuss what I have learned while talking to other francophones. Pretty much all of the language below will be considered slang, so informal, but none of it is rude. So go ahead, puzzle your teachers!


Emberlificoté: I just love that word. I hadn’t used it for a long time but it somehow came to my mind recently. I taught it to my daugthers who mentioned it to their respective French teachers, none of whom had heard of it before! It’s a cool sounding word but has a literal and a figurative meaning. Literally, it means tangled up, referring to something like your ipod earphones (!). Figuratively, it means confused.

“Ah la vache!“: that’s the French cousin of “Holy cow!”, it can be used instead of the iconic “Oh la la!”.

Carotter: une carotte means a carrot, that’s an easy one. However, carotter means to cheat. Don’t ask me why though…

Un pépin: every student will learn that the word refers to a seed found in fruit that you eat. That’s one meaning. I’m not sure that your teacher knows that it has two other meanings. It also means an incident of some kind, something not overly serious like a flat tire or a plan that fell through at the last minute. The third meaning is… an umbrella. I know, why?  There you are, learn one word, use it in three completely different context. That’s efficient!