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How to Pass for a Frog


If you want to pass for a Frog ,you have got to say what the Frogs say – what they really say! … that is, not what you have been taught to believe they say.

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If you want to pass for a Frog ,you have got to say what the Frogs say – what they really say! … that is, not what you have been taught to believe they say.Based on my forty-five years’ experience of travelling, working and living in France, this book contains 201 words and phrases that you will hear every day in France’s streets, shops, restaurants and bars. It is the real French. Much of it is colloquial – and some of it borders on the vulgar. But there is nothing here to shock you – just the ordinary words and phrases used by the Frogs as they go about their daily lives. Pepper your conversations with some of these words and phrases and, very soon, you will hear the Frogs saying: “vraiment monsieur / madame, vous parlez très bien le français”. That moment
could come more quickly that you think!


 195            Bien

Bien” is normally used as an adverb, that is to say a word that is used to qualify a verb or an adjective as in, for example, “she is truly beautiful” or “he is really handsome”.

However, when you want to say “thanks very much”, you will be tempted, I suspect to say “merci beaucoup”, which is perfectly correct, of course.  The problem with this word, though, is that coming from the lips of a Brit whose pronunciation is less than perfect, it may sound to French ears as if you are saying “beau cul” which means “beautiful arse!”  So, to be on the safe side and to avoid embarrassing gales of Frog laughter, use “bien” instead: “merci bien” is not only equally correct but also more authentically French, I feel.

194            Peu

Peu” is also an adverb and which generally means “not much”, “a small amount” or “little”.  For example:

“Mon mari mange très peu de nos jours”

ie My husband eats very little these days or …

“Mon fils gagne très peu à cause de son âge”

ie My son earns very little because of his age.


But now consider this example:

“Une poêle est un ustensile avec des bords très peu hauts

ie A frying pan is a utensil with very low sides.

You can see here that I have used “peu hauts” which literally means “not very high” for our word “low”.  Again:

“Les menus dans ce restaurant sont très peu chers

ie The menus in this restaurant are not very expensive.  But we might prefer to say “cheap” or “reasonably priced”, even.

So, you can see that “peu” can be used to convey the opposite meaning without using – or knowing! – the opposite word.  Now, the correct French opposite of “cher” is “bon marché”; and the correct opposite of “haut” in our previous example is “bas”.  However, if you do not know the opposite of such adjectives as “high” and “cheap” in French, use “peu”.  It works just as well!

193            Chez

Chez” is a preposition which is normally used instead of “to” or “at”.  For example:

“Je vais chez le dentiste cet aprèm”.

ie I am going to the dentist this afternoon.

(Incidentally, note that “aprèm” is short for “après-midi”.  The Frogs love to abbreviate wherever possible.  You will see many more examples throughout the text.  See also the Appendix, The Axe-Man Cometh).  Or …

“Ma fille va chez la coiffeuse ce matin”.

ie My daughter is going to the hairdressers this morning.

Additional information

Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 25 × 10 × 1 cm