De chez

As a combination of the prepositions de and chez, de chez simply means “from someone’s place” and is neither colloquial, neither formal.

Je reviens de chez mon frère.
I’m coming back from my brother’s place.

A little more colloquially, it can mean “from” in the meaning of a product coming from a company, a store, a restaurant, etc.

Ton lit, il vient de chez Ikea ?
Is your bed from Ikea?

T’as goûté le dernier burger de chez McDo ?
Did you try McDonald’s latest burger?

The most colloquial expression is “adjective + de chez + same adjective”. It basically means “extremely”, “completely”.

Mon dessin est raté de chez raté.
My drawing is a complete failure.

J’ai une question bête de chez bête…
I have a really stupid question…

This expression (e.g. bête de chez bête) probably originated because it can be understood as “stupid as if it were made by a specialist of stupid things, i.e. you can’t have something more stupid”.

Listen to the examples:

Dalle

If you look in a dictionary, it will tell you that dalle means “slab”. However, I can think of two colloquial phrases where this word has a completely different meaning.

The first one is avoir la dalle, which means avoir faim, i.e. “to be hungry”.

J’ai la dalle, on bouffe quand ?
I’ve got the munchies, when do we eat?

You can also say crever la dalle (as well as crever de faim or the non-colloquial mourir de faim, “to starve”) if you are very hungry.

Je crève la dalle et y a plus rien dans le frigo.
I’m starving and there’s nothing left in the fridge.

The other phrase is que dalle, which means “nothing”.

Je pige que dalle à la politique.
I understand jack shit about politics.

Note that unlike rien, que dalle does not come after a past participe: you would say J’ai rien compris but J’ai compris que dalle.

Listen to the examples:

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Se taper

You may think that se taper means “to hit oneself”. Theoretically, it can have this meaning, but very often it is an expression that can mean several things. The most common meaning is “to undergo”, “to do something difficult or unpleasant”, “to do a chore”.

L’ascenseur est en panne, je suis obligé de me taper les quatre étages à pied.
The elevator is out of order, I have to walk all four flights of stair by foot.

J’ai un livre à lire pour demain, faut encore que je me tape cent cinquante pages.
I have a book to read until tomorrow, I still have 150 pages to endure.

C’est à ton tour de te taper la lessive !
It’s your turn to do the laundry!

It can also mean “to have sex with someone”.

T’es au courant que Pierre s’est tapé Julie ?
Do you know that Pierre did Julie?

The similar-sounding expression s’en taper (note the en) is one of the many ways to say you don’t care about something.

Arrête de me saouler, je m’en tape de ta vie !
Stop annoying me, I don’t give a damn about your life!

Listen to the examples:

Si ça se trouve

Today’s phrase, si ça se trouve, is used to express a possibility. Basically, it means “maybe”, “it may be possible that”, “who knows”. Don’t try to think about the meaning of the words — literally “if it finds itself” — just learn it as a fixed expression.

Si ça se trouve, il est encore au travail.
Maybe he’s still at work.

Si ça se trouve, ce bouquin date d’avant la guerre.
Who knows, maybe this book dates from before the war.

Dans dix ans, si ça se trouve, je serai peut-être millionnaire.
In ten years, who knows, maybe I’ll be a millionaire.

Listen to the examples:

Gueule: derived words

Last time we learned the word engueuler. Today we are going to learn a few other words derived from gueule. (Please note that all these words are very colloquial or even moderately vulgar, se be careful when using them).

Gueuler is a verb that means “to yell”, usually to give orders or express anger.

Arrêtez de gueuler, y en a qui voudraient dormir!
Stop yelling, some people would like to sleep!

Ses parents lui ont gueulé dessus quand ils ont appris ce qu’il avait fait.
His parents yelled at him when they found out what he had done.

The adjective gueulard, “loudmouthed”, can be used to describe someone who tends to yell a lot.

The humorist Jean-Marie Bigard once remarked that, surprisingly, the opposite of boire (to drink) is not déboire, but dégueuler, which is not the opposite of gueuler. Dégueuler indeed means “to throw up”.

Faut que je sorte de la voiture, je vais dégueuler.
I gotta get out of the car, I’m going to throw up.

A related word is dégueulasse, “disgusting”. If you want to be polite, you should rather use its synonym dégoûtant.

La cuisine est dégueulasse, faut vraiment faire le ménage.
The kitchen is disgusting, someone really should clean up.

The verb dégueulasser means “to dirty”, but it is not as common. The polite synonym (that you can use even in colloquial conversations) is salir.

T’as dégueulassé tout le couloir avec tes chaussures pleines de boue !
You made the whole corridor dirty with your mud-covered shoes!

We already learned the expression se casser la gueule, literally “to break one’s face”, which means “to fall”. From this expression, there is an adjective, casse-gueule, which means “dangerous” (mostly used with things like stairs or acrobatics, that is, things that can make you fall).

Fais gaffe, les escaliers sont casse-gueules !
Be careful, the stairs are dangerous!

Listen to the examples:

Engueuler

Engueuler is an informal (almost vulgar) word that means “to scold”. It is derived from the word gueule. Non-colloquial synonyms include gronder, réprimander and disputer.

Il faut que je rentre, sinon mon père va m’engueuler.
I have to go home or else my father is going to scold me.

A colloquial synonym is enguirlander, which, unlike engueuler, is not vulgar at all.

Je me suis fait enguirlander parce que j’ai oublié de faire mes devoirs.
I got told off because I forgot to do my homework.

Let’s go back to engueuler: the reflexive version, s’engueuler, means “to argue”, “to have a row”.

Les voisins sont encore en train de s’engueuler.
The neighbors are having a row again.

The derived noun, une engueulade, can mean both “argument” or “telling off”.

Listen to the examples:

Trouille

La trouille is a very common colloquial synonym of la peur: “fear”. Note that “to be afraid” is normally avoir peur, but colloquially avoir la trouille.

Ça me fait pas rire, tu sais bien que j’ai la trouille des araignées !
It’s not funny, you know I’m afraid of spiders!

Ah, c’est toi ? Tu m’as fichu la trouille !
Oh, it’s you? You scared me!

A derived word is un trouillard: a coward. Other colloquial expressions for “to be afraid” include avoir les jetons and avoir les pétoches. Jeton normally means “token”, don’t ask me where this expression comes from.

Another word, used mostly by young people, is flipper: “to freak out”. A derived word is flippant, scary.

Y a un bruit bizarre, ça me fait flipper.
There’s a weird sound, it scares me.

Listen to the examples:

En cloque

En cloque is a slang expression that means “pregnant”. It is not that common, but you may still hear it. It is also the title of a song by Renaud. The usual word, enceinte, can be used in colloquial conversations.

Note that this expression is not extremely elegant: une cloque means “blister”.

You can say mettre enceinte or mettre en cloque to say “impregnate”. The slang word engrosser is the equivalent of “to knock up”. It’s not elegant either: I’d avoid using this verb in front of the concerned people. This word actually comes from grosse, an older word for “pregnant” (but nowadays you shouldn’t use it to talk about a woman, you’d just call her fat).

I like the expression (colloquial but not very common) avoir un polichinelle dans le tiroir, literally “to have a Pulcinella in the drawer”, which is the equivalent of “to have a bun in the oven”.

Copain, pote

You probably learned that the French word for “friend” is ami. In my opinion, this word is quite strong (except when talking about “Facebook friends”) and I wouldn’t use it as often as the English word “friend”.

Instead you are likely to hear words such as copain (feminine: copine), which is more colloquial and less strong.

J’ai aidé un copain à déménager hier.
I helped a friend move out yesterday.

Ma sœur a ramené ses copines à la maison.
My sister brought her girlfriends home.

Note that the expressions petit copain and petite copine don’t mean “little friend”, but “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. And when you hear people saying ma copine ou mon copain, they are usually referring to their girlfriend or boyfriend.

Another very common word is pote (masculine or feminine). It is especially popular among young people and it is less strong than ami or copain. You can use it to refer to people who are not close friends.

J’ai traîné avec des potes hier soir.
I hung out with my mates yesterday.

Pote is actually short for un poteau (“post”, “pole”), which is a little old-fashioned in the meaning of “buddy”. Today you will rather hear its verlan version, tepo.

Listen to the examples: