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WORD OF DAY

French phrase of the Day: Laisse tomber

This phrase quite often goes with a shrug or a sweep of the hand and seems particularly French.

French phrase of the Day: Laisse tomber
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why do I need to know laisse tomber? 
 
It's a useful and straightforward expression that's easy to understand and that makes you feel you've got the hang of French conversation once you know how to use it.
 
So, what does it mean?
 
Laisse tomber translates literally as 'leave fall' but it really means 'leave it', 'forget it' or 'let it go' or to drop something as in give it up.
 
It can also mean to let someone down, or to fail someone. 
 
It's somewhat slangy, but certainly not offensive and very widely used, making its way into films and song titles.
 
Although if you're a fan of Frozen (La Reine des neiges in France) don't be tempted to translate the famous Let It Go song as laisse tomber, the French version of the karaoke classic is in fact Libérée, Déliverée).
 
Some examples:
 
Je suis sûr d'avoir vu le voisin violer le couvre-feu hier. –  Oh laissez tomber! Nous avons de plus gros problèmes en ce moment – I'm sure I saw the neighbour break curfew yesterday. – Oh, let it go! We've got bigger problems right now.
 
Le travail ne m'intéressait plus, alors j'ai laissé tomber – The job didn't interest me any more, and so I dropped it. 
 
Tu n'as plus le temps d'aller à tes cours de dance le soir? Alors, laissez tomber! – You don't have time to go to your dance lessons in the evening anymore? So drop them!
 
Mes amis m'ont laissé tomber hier soir, ils ne sont pas venus au cinéma – My friends let me down last night, they didn't make it to the cinema.
 
For pronunciation, check out the song below, one of many in the French musical canon to include the phrase.
 
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

A brand new coinage in the French language that reflects the changing times.

French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

Why do I need to know la Première ministre?

Because France has one now.

What does it mean?

La Première ministre – usually pronounced lah prem-ee-air mean-east-ruh– translates as “the prime minister,” but this spelling is different from what you might be used to seeing.

This title is feminised, indicating that the prime minister in question is a woman. Under former PMs such as Jean Castex, the masculine title Le Premier ministre was used.

Élisabeth Borne made headlines on May 16th not only because she was appointed as France’s second female prime minister, but also because she will be the first to use the feminisation of the work title: Madame la Première ministre. The female prime minister who held the position before her, Edith Cresson, used the masculine version of the title.

Feminising work titles has been controversial in France, and most titles like “le Premier ministre” have been automatically put in masculine form.

But in 2019, France’s infamous Academie Francaise, which polices the French language and typically resists any sweeping changes to it, changed their stance and said there was “no obstacle in principle” to the wholesale feminisation of job titles. 

Use it like this

Le Président Emmanuel Macron a fait une annonce importante. Élisabeth Borne est la Première ministre. – President Emmanuel Macron made an important announcement: Élisabeth Borne is the prime minister.

“Madame la Première ministre, qui avez-vous choisi pour diriger votre nouveau gouvernement ?” a demandé le journaliste. – “Madame Prime Minister, who have you chosen to lead your new government?” asked the journalist.

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