One of the biggest things when learning another language is replying within context. Parisians have a reputation for being rude. A gallic shrug, a sigh and a “c’est comme ça Madame” and French people are ready to wash their hands of any situation, especially if a cultural taboo has been broken. To respond, you just need to roll your eyes and retort. And more often than not, you need to push back.
Here are a few angry French expressions and phrases that will come in handy every day. With just that right touch of Parisian passive-aggressiveness.
Note: I don’t go into French insults and curse words here, which you can read here, the following list is to respond without adding additional fuel to the fire. So, are you ready to give as good as you get? Use with caution!
1. C’est comme ça – This is how it is
You: “Why can’t I enter the post office from this entrance? I don’t want to walk all the way around!”
Security guard: “C’est comme ça, Madame!“
This can be used for all sorts of things: “Why is the sky blue?” Why is the store closed?” Etc. etc.
C’est comme ca!
2. Ça m’est égal – Whatever, I don’t mind
Interrupting waiter: “Do you want milk with your coffee?”
You: “Ça m’est égal.”
Another useful french phrase, that goes great with that gallic shrug if indifference.
3. Comme tu veux – As you want
You: “Do you want to go grocery shopping this morning or this afternoon?”
Kid: “Comme tu veux.” (with subtext “Je m’en fiche.)
In this context, “Comme tu veux” is used with the concept of “bouder“, meaning sulking in French.
4. Je m’en fiche – I don’t care
You: “You promised you were going to practice the piano!”
Your teen watching TV: “Je m’en fiche.”
Technically “fiche” means a card or a plug so this expression doesn’t really make any sense if you try to translate it to English. But remember, you don’t care, just use it as is 😉
5. Peu importe – It doesn’t matter
You at the airport: “What time is boarding?”
Flight attendant: “Peu importe. The flight is too full, you have been bumped from the flight.”
If this has happened to you, you may want to also consult my list of French insults below.
☞ READ MORE: French insults: The hardcore version
6. Tant pis pour toi – Too bad for you
The visa immigration official at the Police Prefecture: “Sorry, we are exceptionally closed today. It doesn’t matter if you took the day off to be here, tant pis pour toi!”
Anyone who has been in France for any period of time will tell you that this happens regularly. The prefecture, shops, boulangeries, etc. will be closed randomly when you are not expecting it.
It is just too bad, and basically “suck it up buttercup”. A few swear words from above will come in handy.
7. C’est n’importe quoi! – That’s nonsense!
You: “Why is the bakery closed for the full month of August!? C’est n’importe quoi!
You can also retort to #6, with a reply of “C’est n’importe quoi!” to make your frustration clear.
8. J’en ai marre – I’m fed up
You: “Why is there always such a long line here!? J’en ai marre!“
Sometimes you just need to swear (mildly). Or a lot. If you do need to swear a lot, you can read more about swearing like a Frenchie.
9. Laisse-moi tranquille – Leave me alone
You: “Can you please clean up your room?”
Your kid: “Laisse-moi tranquille!“
The ultimate cry of the teenager. Ahh they grow up so fast. For the three-nager version, you can check out the phrase below.
☞ READ MORE: Caca Boudin: Your French child’s first swear word
10. Laisse tomber – Let it go
Spouse: (driving and honking) “He tried to cut me off!
You: “Laisse tomber…“
In the words of Elsa from Frozen, let it go, let it go…
So let out your gallic frustrations, and become French! It is all about the attitude. If you need to more practice, you can download these expressions in flashcard pdf format below. You you can read more weird and funny French phrases here. A bientôt!