French idioms that you might place in the conversation! Useful for French GCSE or A Level French!

As a French teacher, I sometimes struggle to teach my students useful idioms that they might remember to add in speaking or writing during their French examinations. This might be particularly useful during A level French revision or GCSE French speaking exam as using French idioms or 'creative languages' can bring you added marks.

Here is a list of 20 French idioms, which I think might be easily remembered and might come handy in your French conversations or writing.

French Idiom N°1:

Faire semblant / to pretend

Faire semblant / to pretend

e.g: Je fais semblant d'être heureuse/ I pretend to be happy

French Idiom N°2:

sur le champ / immediately

sur le champ/ immediately

e.g. Je le fais sur le champ. = I do it immediately!

French Idiom N°3:

faire grève / go on strike

faire grève / go on strike

That one might be particularly useful in today's climate! 😀

e.g. Les ouvriers font grève. = Workers go on strike

French Idiom N°4:

c'est kif kif!

C'est kif-kif! / It is the same!

e.g. Donne moi deux pommes ou deux poires, c’est kif-kif. = Give me two apples or two pears it is the same.

French Idiom N°5:

Now let's have a look at some body part idioms!

par coeur

par coeur / by heart

e.g. Apprenez ce poème par coeur. = Learn this poem by heart.

French Idiom N°6:

un coup de main

Un coup de main / a helping hand

e.g. Je peux te donner un coup de main. = I can help you.

French Idiom N°7:

avoir le bras long

avoir le bras long / to have a lot of influence

e.g. L’accusé n’a pas été condamné pour son délit, il a le bras long. = The accused wasn’t condemned for his mischief, he has a lot of influence.

French Idiom N°8:

au pied levé

au pied levé / without any time to prepare, without any notice

e.g. L’instituteur est parti et j’ai du reprendre sa classe au pied levé. = The teacher left and I had to take over his class without any notice.

French Idiom N°9:

This one might sound a bit gross but it is not so perceived in French. 😯

les doigts dans le nez

les doigts dans le nez / easily, without any effort

e.g. Comment as-tu réussi ton examen? les doigts dans le nez. = How did you pass your exam? Easily.

French idiom N°10:

c’est nickel

c’est nickel / it is perfect.

e.g. Ton travail est impeccable, c’est nickel. = Your work is impeccable, it is perfect.

French idiom N°11:

This one might be repulsive, I think it illustrates well the mood one must feel when seeing one. 👀

avoir le cafard

avoir le cafard / to be depressed

e.g. Aujourd’hui, j’ai le cafard. = Today, I feel depressed.

French Idiom N°12:

être en train de

être en train de / to be in the middle of something

e.g. Je suis en train de faire le ménage. = I’m in the middle of housework.

French Idiom N°13:

être de bon/ de mauvais poil

être de bon/ de mauvais poil / to be in a good/ bad mood

e.g. Je suis de bon poil. = I’m in a good mood.

French Idiom N°14:

en avoir marre

en avoir marre / to be fed up

e.g. J’en ai marre de la circulation. = I’m fed up with traffic.

French Idiom N°15:

être au courant

être au courant/ to be aware of

e.g. Es-tu au courant des nouvelles dispositions? = Are you aware of the new instructions?

French Idiom N°16:

être au taquet

être au taquet / to be at the limit of / to be busy / to be on form

e.g. J’ai beaucoup de boulot, je suis au taquet = I have a lot of work, I’m very busy.

French Idiom N°17:

Another gruesome one, sorry, to be as bored as a dead rat, literally! 😩

s’ennuyer comme un rat mort

s’ennuyer comme un rat mort / to be really bored

e.g. Je suis allée à une soirée mais je me suis ennuyée comme un rat mort = I went to a party but I was really bored.

French Idiom N°18:

Just imagine a pump pumping energy out of you, you would feel exhausted!

avoir un coup de pompe

avoir un coup de pompe / to feel exhausted

e.g. Hier, je ne sais pas ce qui m’a pris, j’ai eu un coup de pompe. = I don’t know what happened yesterday, I felt exhausted.

French Idiom N°19:

Exactly as in English, what a joy!

tuer le temps

tuer le temps / to kill time

e.g. Je viens te voir car j’ai deux heures à tuer. = I came to see you because I have two hours to kill.

French Idiom N°20:

Not quite the one you are thinking about, I am sure!

un cordon bleu

un cordon bleu / a good cook

e.g. Viens manger à la maison, ma femme est un véritable cordon bleu. = Come and eat with us, my wife is a really good cook.

There are plenty more, I will post more here and there. I you want to be very good in French, please use them, it's a must. You can from now on learn these ones by heart and use them. Obviously they need to be relevant. Just don't add French idioms in any order just for the sake of it. It has to add something to your speaking of writing in French. If used well it will be really impressive for your teacher. Good luck with your exam!

Now I couldn't help myself, I translated the above paragraph in French, using some more idioms. Did you get them? You can look them up in the dictionary!

Il y en a bien plus, j'en rajouterai par ci par là. Si vous voulez avoir la bosse du français, utilisez les, c'est un must. Vous pouvez d'ores et déjà les apprendre par coeur et les utiliser. Cela tombe sous le sens qu'ils doivent avoir du sens. Ne rajoutez pas des expressions françaises pêle-mêle juste pour faire joli. Cela doit ajouter un plus à votre oral ou écrit en Français. Si vous les utilisez à bon escient, votre prof tombera des nues! Je croise les doigts pour votre examen! Bonne merde!

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