6 Ultra Short French Idioms (To Sound Just Like A Native!)

Forget about the infamous « VOULEZ-VOUS COUCHER AVEC MOI? » and by all means do not add « CE SOIR ». Why not? Because it would only make the question sound even more bizarre than it already does. Really.
Also, French people are usually pretty straightforward. Why make long sentences when there are shorter ways to express oneself?

French up your game with the six ultra short idioms below.

Good news: the question and the answer are the same! It’s all a matter of tone 😉

① ÇA VA?

This might be the most useful one.
« ÇA VA? » literally means « Is it going? »
It is the equivalent of the American « (HI) HOW ARE YOU? »
The answer is simple; just repeat the words of the question:
ÇA VA? -> Ça va.

② ÇA GAZE?

Yup, this has something to do with gas. Gas as a source of energy.
« ÇA GAZE? » is basically an alternative for « ÇA VA? »
Caution: many people believe this idiom refers to one’s gut health.
This might explain why its use is generally considered as inelegant.

③ ÇA MARCHE?

Literally: « Is it walking? »
In reality: « IS IT WORKING? » or « DOES THAT WORK FOR YOU? »
To someone asking if a device is « walking », a common sarcastic reply would be:
« No, it is running. » (« Ça court. »)
which makes sense in English but sounds funny in French.

④ ÇA IRA?

Can you guess what this means?
No, it is not about asking if that man is called Ira.
It is actually « ÇA VA? » in the FUTURE tense.
The meaning is « WILL YOU BE OKAY? »
Say this to show moral support to someone you care about,
or to a complete stranger who’s obviously struggling
(but you don’t feel like helping).

⑤ ÇA A ÉTÉ?

This one is « ÇA VA? » in the PAST tense.
It literally means « DID IT GO? »
You can say this to inquire about a result.
Say this to someone who’s had an exam
or to someone who went through a stressful situation
(Could be a job interview, or a date.)

⑥ ÇA ROULE?

Literally: « Is it rolling? »
In fact: this is a just another way of saying « ÇA GAZE? »
or the more common and acceptable « ÇA VA? »
Yup, French people like variety!
(France is not called the country with 300 cheeses for no reason.)

ÇA = CELA

You might have heard and even used the idiom « C’est la vie. »
Another way to downplay your disappointment is to say:

« C’est comme ça. » or « C’est comme cela. »

NOTE: « ça » is the short form of « cela ».
In writing, always use « cela « .
When speaking, we recommend that you use « ça » to blend in.

P.S.: We hope you liked our first article 🙂
Which one of the 6 idioms above is your favorite? Tell us in the comment section!
(As for us, our current go-to phrase is « Ça roule ma poule? »
The small rhyme is enough to lighten up the mood and it does make up for a good laugh!)

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