French phrase of the day: T’en fais pas

French phrase of the day: T’en fais pas
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
For when people in France just need to chill out.

Why do I need to know t’en fais pas?

Because it can be very confusing when you’re hearing it for the first time, but it can be used in a number of different ways.

What does it mean?

T’en fais pas is an informal expression, short for ne t’en fais pas, which means “don’t worry”.

It’s the negative, imperative form of the phrase s’en faire, because you’re instructing someone not to do something. But it can also be used in the positive – Ma mère s’en fait pour moi means, “My mother worries about me”.

Tracing the phrase even further back in its etymology, it comes from the expression se faire du souci (to worry). In s’en faire, the en refers to du souci, so telling someone ne t’en fais pas is the same as saying, ne te fais pas du souci – don’t worry.

It’s one of many expressions the French have in their arsenal for saying something isn’t worth the hassle.

Just like “don’t worry” in English, t’en fais pas is useful in a wide variety of situations – when somebody is stressed, when you want to reassure them, when you don’t want them to go to any extra hassle…

Or, like any good expression, it can also be used passive-aggressively, like T’en fais pas je m’en occuperai (Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it).

If you’re speaking to several people, or want to be extra polite, you can say, Ne vous en faites pas.

Use it like this

T’en fais pas, tu vas y arriver. Aie confiance en toi ! – Don’t worry, you’ll get there. Believe in yourself!

Ne t’en fais pas pour moi, je suis grand – Don’t worry about me, I’m a grown up

“Tu as besoin d’aide ?” “T’en fais pas, j’ai bientôt fini” – “Do you need help?” “Don’t go to the trouble, I’m almost finished”

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