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‘Cos you’re hot and you’re cold

As my friend Anne put it, we are immersed in pleine tempête sibérienne today. Despite it being mid-March, we woke up in the morning to snowfall and it has been non-stop since. Public transport system is thrown in a loop, flights were cancelled, many northern France-bound train services (including Eurostar) had been halted.

Snowy Paris

Yet, it was mere 3 days ago when we had a wonderful spring day (yes, sadly, just one day). The sun was out, the mercury recorded some 18°C, we were out cycling, walking in the park (no coat, no scarf!) – how wonderful! When we arrived home, I made a passing remark to F: “je suis chaude” to which he raised his eyebrows and started laughing at the same time.

Ah, yes, welcome to my amusing world of French faux pas. Again.

J’ai chaud vs je suis chaud(e)

Effectively, I was trying to convey that I felt warm after all the outdoor activities. However, I shouldn’t have used the regular term for “I am” which is “je suis”. In French language structure, to talk about how one feels in term of warmth(/cold), it is always “avoir chaud(/froid)” and never “être chaud(/froid)”.

As pointed out by F, what I should have said was “j’ai chaud” (lit. “I have warm/hot”). When I carelessly announced “je suis chaude” I was effectively declaring I was *hot*, you know, like I-could-seriously-do-with-a-man’s-attention hot. Or bunny-rabbit-orgy hot.

Good thing: I wasn’t saying that to any random guy! Bad thing: I believe I may have made similar mistake in the past… (and whomever I was conversing with didn’t correct me?)

In the same vein of usage, it is NOT a compliment to say a girl is hot/attractive by saying “elle est chaude” – the phrase is quite vulgar. On the other hand, if the girl is keeping her distant and being cold, it is correct to say that “elle est froide”.

So, when else is it acceptable to say “je suis chaud(e)”? When you’re not talking about your actual perception of warmth and cold. Sort of. If you are running a fever, using this phrase makes complete sense. Another common use of the phrase is to show support or being keen or being a fan of something, e.g. “je suis chaud(e) pour cette solution” – “I am in favour of this solution”.

Il fait chaud/froid

Since we’re talking about hot (and cold), and the weather, let’s get to another language faux pas I often make.

It has been drilled into me a long time ago that in describing the weather, the sentence structure is always “il fait” followed by “chaud” or “froid” to say if it’s hot or a cold. It never changes and yet, somehow, I’d get them wrong.

For reasons unknown, I like to say “ça fait chaud” or “ça fait froid”. Systematically. It doesn’t even make sense to say these in French but they just roll off my tongue so smoothly that I don’t even think about it. F is working hard to corret this by reminding me each and every time I say this incorrectly (he has been very patient) so I guess it is up to me now to really work at getting them right!

* * *

I do question myself everyday – when am I going to actually speak French properly and correctly?

Category: Local lingo, Ma vie en France

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4 scribbles & notes

  1. Sarah says:

    Oh yeah I used to get caught out by the “Je suis chaude” mistake: red face!

  2. med says:

    hahaha…u sure u didnt intentionally said that for F ;)

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