Do you sometimes hear sentences you should understand, because you know all the words, but don’t? The Everyday French Idioms series is designed to help you understand and learn the most common French idioms.
As a result, you’ll not only better understand French, but also speak it more naturally.
Today, you’ll discover common idioms built with the verb “prendre” (to take).
Literal translation : to take one’s head
Meaning: to give yourself a headache, to bother someone
Mon voisin me prend la tête
My neighbor bothers me
Ce livre explique comment apprendre le français sans se prendre la tête
This book explains how to learn French without giving yourself a headache
Literal translation: to hit a rake
Meaning: to get knocked back
Nathan est triste, parce qu’il s’est pris un râteau
Nathan is sad, because he got knocked back
Literal translation: to take the bull by the horns
Meaning; to make a decision
Après plusieurs mois au chômage, il a décidé de prendre le taureau par les cornes et de chercher un boulot.
After several months of unemployment, he has decided to take the bull by the horns and look for a job.
Literal translation: to take the seed from it
Meaning: to take the page from someone’s book, to follow an example
Ton frère a des bons résultats à l’école, j’espère que tu vas en prendre de la graine
Your brother has good results at school, I hope you will follow his example
Literal translation: to take your shoes and your legs
Meaning: to pack up and go, to leave suddenly
Nowadays “une claque” is “a slap”. But it used to have another meaning. This makes this idiom hard to translate, because nobody is sure about the meaning of “clique” and “claque”.
Prends tes cliques et tes claques, je ne veux plus te voir
Pack up and go, I don’t want to see you anymore
Literal translation: to take something to the letter
Meaning: to take something literally
Elle a pris tes instructions au pied de la lettre
She took your instructions literally
Literal translation; to take one’s legs to one’s neck
Meaning: to run for one’s life
Quand il a vu le chien, il a pris ses jambes à son cou
When he saw the dog, he started running for his life
Literal translation; to take one’s courage with two hands
Meaning: to gather your courage
Elle a pris son courage a deux mains et a demandé une augmentation
She gathered her courage and asked for a raise
Literal translation: to take the fly
Meaning: to go ballistic
Il a pris la mouche quand il a appris la nouvelle
He went ballistic when learned the news
Literal translation: to catch someone with the hand in the bag
Meaning: to catch red-handed
On l’a pris la main dans le sac alors qu’il était sur le point de partir
We caught him red-handed as he was about to leave