Updated: Jun 19
Des faux amis - the false friendships between English and French words
As your French host offers you yet another helping of what has been a delicious meal, you might want to say: “I’m full.” Google Translate suggests “Je suis plein”, but saying this to your host will raise eyebrows. If a man says it, it means “I’m drunk.” The feminine version (Je suis pleine) means “I’m pregnant.”
Image source: Unsplash/Mohau Mannathoko
So, you go back to your semi-trusted online dictionary and try it another way. “I’ve had enough” comes back as “J’en ai assez.” This is true, but only in the exasperated sense: “I’m at the end of my tether!”
You revert, therefore, to the simplest way possible, and decide to go with the French for “I’ve finished.” In a moment of insight, you recall that some verbs take être instead of avoir in the past tense. That moment of panic! Is finir one of them? Your earlier faux pas have lightened the mood, so you go for it and exclaim “Je suis fini.” Now your host looks concerned, as you have announced that you are on the point of death.
Et alors, what is the most polite way to tell your host or the waiter that you have eaten enough and require no more?
« C’était délicieux, mais j’ai assez mangé. »
« Merci, je n’ai plus faim. »