Confusing French!

The debate about “régulairement” - meaning “regularly” AND also “officially/legally” has reminded me…

After 14 years here I still struggle with “ici” and “là”

Taught French in school, i was under the impression that “ici” meant “here” and “là” meant “there” - easy, straightforward.
Until you hear “Je suis là”, meaning “I am here”. It’s only 50:50 I will remember and instead say “Mme J… ici” on the phone to someone!
So if “Je suis là” means “I am here” how does one say “I am there”?
And if “là” is here, then what is “ici”?
Oh I’m confused!

Anyone else got “favourite” confusions?

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I would suggest, Je suis là-bas.

But you could say it is neither here nor there. (Joke)


My neighbour confuses me when she’s calling to her husband … who is hiding from her, at the bottom of the garden, having a crafty smoke…

She bellows… “es-te-là” and I prick up my ears and start to reply… :rofl: :rofl:

She bellows “Stéllà” (not much difference) … when she’s putting something delicious for OH and me… on the shared garden wall… so I’m always hopeful… :hugs:


I have long ago got used to la and ici, and know almost always to use la, but there are exceptions. If, as yesterday when my neighbour, who has kindly been arranging rdvs for my wife with a foot doctor who we had previously thought we would have to visit at his surgery, rang to give me time and date, and I said ‘a Nontron?’ ‘Non’ she said ‘chez toi’. To which I replied because I wasn’t expecting it ‘ici’, with emphasis. Of course she understood perfectly and that is the point.

Coincidentally, I had to break off from writing this because the nurse arrived to make sure Fran takes her medicines. On seeing her out, and knowing the gate was open, I said to Jules, the dog, ‘reste ici, reste la’ and, on our way to the gate we had a little discussion about it and she said both are correct but la is more correct. :laughing:

But accent is important, local ones I mean. Many years ago I went to that same neighbour to ask if her water was on, as ours wasn’t. She said ‘oui, elle arrive, mais non’. Puzzled, I walked back home and finally realised that what she had really said was ‘oui, elle arrive, maintenant’. I always say ‘manom’ now and have been better understood elsewhere in France than if I allow my English accent to interfere. :rofl:

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one hears what one hopes to hear…

One hard lesson, in the early days…
I heard “pas mal de chose” and thought it meant “nothing bad/nothing much”
In fact it’s quite the reverse… which can be disastrous when applied to the car one is buying…
Thinking you’ve bought a little gem and then finding you’ve actually bought a money-pit, might wipe the smile of anyone’s face… :rofl: :roll_eyes:


My Francophone Belgian secretary, perfectly fluent in English, except she always said ‘there’ instead of ‘here’

So am I :crazy_face:

I realised some while ago when hearing a parent say to a child: “Viens là”.

I’ve worked out là and ici. Voici and voilà are similar.
On the subject of not quite understanding because of accent, years ago our dog ruptured his achilles tendon and the vet arranged for an operation, to be carried out in Donzenac, in Corrèze. We both wondered why the vet then told us he must go to Agen…, nowhere near! It took a while for us to realise that he had to be “à jeun”. Doh.


:rofl: That is exactly what my French/Spanish dog, Jules, obeys when I want to recall him, he also responds to ‘here’ but only if close by though. :joy:

@Fleur I first came across that when told to get a blood test, took me a while to work it out too. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


My French partner has the same problem in English with this one/that one

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Yesterday, when double checking a number of sites about the normal uses of different grades of flour, I came across one which, amonhst a number of other details, said that T45 was more refined than other numbers (which I knew) and therefore had less ash??? Am I reading this wrongly?
Plus le type est bas, plus la farine est blanche car elle a été plus raffinée. Elle contient moins de son et de germe des grains de blé et donc moins de cendres.

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Its from the millers having a crafty fag🤣

It’s actually the amount of minerals in the flour (IIRC🤔)

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Just checked my “plain flour” it’s T55 and simply says that the flour is French and it might contain traces of soya, sesame and egg…

As there is insufficient for a sausage toad… the dregs will be mixed with self-raising… the results will be just as delicious…

Resurrecting this thread…

I just got email from Colissimo - “Plus que quelques jours pour retirer votre Colissimo”

OK thanks to Deepl I know this means “not many days” - but how do you get from the literal translation of “more than some days” to that?

On a more mundane note I need to phone and ask if la Poste will hang onto this for an extra 10 days, Orange sent out a new TV decoder informing me after the fact so, naturally, I wasn’t at home in France to accept the parcel and the only option was to direct it to the local post office. Chances of success in this venture are…?

You have to imagine “Il n’y a” before the"plus que", then it makes sense.


If I was feeling alert I could probably rustle up an explanation but my instinct is that this is a negative and they have not included the “ne” which is now common. So if you think of it as “ne plus que quelques jours”.

As for your parcel, send a friend to post office with a letter of authorisation from you to collect it. You can do a permanent procuration form, but a small post office will prob accept a letter.

Not sure a letter will do - if being collected by someone else they must present not just a copy of their own ID, but mine as well.

Given that the only bit of UK ID that tends to be accepted in France for anything official is a passport that’s a non-starter.

Do it on line

We’ve done this before, with a faxed copy of the person’s passport and their signed authority… as well as passport of the person collecting…

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