Idiomatic phrases for French Leaving Cert

Idiomatic phrases are fluent phrases that often can’t be literally translated to English. Using these in your Leaving Cert written and oral work will enhance your work as it increases fluency and language skills. Don’t overuse them however- but be sure to use one whenever suitable. Here are a few to learn and use:


Après la pluie, le beau temps : Every cloud has a silver lining.
Avoir du pain sur la planche: To have a lot on your plate
Avoir la puce à l’oreille: To have doubts
Avoir le front : To have the courage
Avoir les dents longues: To be ambitious
Avoir une faim de loup : To be starving
Boire comme un trou: To drink like a fish
Brûler la mèche de deux cotés: To burn the candle at both ends
C’est une aubaine : It’s a godsend.
Chacun pour soi:Everyone for himself/herself.
Être au sommet de son art: To be on top of one’s game
Être dans le pétrin: To be in trouble/ a mess
Garder la tête froide: To keep one’s cool
Il faut que tout le monde vive : Live and let live.
Il n’y a pas de petit chez soi : There’s no place like home
L’espoir fait vivre : Hope springs eternal
Les actes valent mieux que les paroles : Actions speak louder than words
Les apparences sont souvent trompeuses: Appearances can be deceiving
On doit se retrousser les manches: We have to roll up our sleeves
Passer une nuit blanche: To have a sleepless night
Un clou chasse l’autre: Life goes on
Un malheur n’arrive jamais seul : It never rains but it pours

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