The surprising meanings of Mais non and Non mais

A very fat, perhaps pregnant lemur stares at something off-camera open-mouthed, perhaps in surprise.

If you speak even a little French, you’ve probably learned that the word mais means “but”. But with this in mind, you may have come upon some phrases with mais that surprised you, including Mais non and Non mais. Let’s learn about the meanings of mais non and non mais! What does Mais non mean? Taken apart and …


How to say “happy birthday” in French (and the mistakes to avoid)

happy birthday

There are some cultural details we take for granted. If you’ve ever celebrated classmates’ birthdays in your French class, or seen a French movie or TV show where there was a birthday (un anniversaire), you might think you’ve got French birthday traditions down pat. Then there may come a day when you’re invited to a …


Everything you need to know about “Qu’est-ce que c’est”

A little boy, seen from behind, points at something in the shallow lake in front of him.

Qu’est-ce que c’est means “What (is it)” in French. Despite being a mouthful, it’s an extremely common phrase in both everyday and formal French, and also has several somewhat subtle variants. What’s the deal with qu’est-ce que c’est?   Let’s look into this inquisitive phrase! What does Qu’est-ce que c’est mean? Qu’est-ce que c’est means “What (is it)”. …


12 Polite and Not So Polite Ways to Say “You’re Welcome” in French

you are welcome in French

When it comes to politeness, on a basic level French and English are very similar. Both languages have words and phrases  for “please”, “thank you”, “hello”, “goodbye”, and “you’re welcome.” But as may have discovered already, not all of these words have a single, simple equivalent. This is probably most apparent when it comes to …