French 'mot' du moment

Plein vs. Repu After a Nice French Meal

by Erica Berman
repu1

Photo & Text by Erica Berman

Words of wisdom after a nice French meal

At the end of a nice French meal (repas), when you are asked if you would like another serving, you may be inclined to say, “non merci, je suis plein.” This is the standard reply in English . . . “no thanks, I’m full.” N’est ce pas?  After this seemingly banal declaration you may notice the Frenchies looking at you just a bit askance. They will have reason. In French to say ‘plein’ in reference to your stomach, usually relates to pregnant, and an animal (for humans it is ‘je suis enceinte’). Thus, by thinking you are telling them you are full and finished eating, they may think you are providing them with way too much information! So, what DO you say to let the French know your tummy is happy and that you no longer need another helping of that wonderful tarte tatin?

The proper expression to express your satiation would be, “non merci, je suis repu.”  Not many of us Anglophones know this, and many make this easy error. Another simple phrase would be ‘non, merci j’en ai eu assez.” This works; “no thanks, I’ve had enough,” but it is lacking any sophistication whatsoever. The French will most likely be forgiving of the ‘plein’, and tolerant of the ‘assez’, but they will be downright tickled with the ‘repu’. Take it from one who knows!

 

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Written By

Erica Berman

Erica Berman grew up in Lexington, Mass. After graduating from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Journalism and an intensive summer at Middlebury College (Vermont), Erica went to Paris with hopes of submerging herself in French culture and perfecting her French -- and she stayed 20 years. Erica is the founder of the HiP Paris Blog and Haven In her former company. She now splits her time between Paris (Montmartre) and Maine (Midcoast). She recently started a non-profit growing organic produce for the food insecure in Maine called Veggies to Table (https://veggiestotable.org). In her all-too-rare free time, Erica likes to travel off the beaten track, explore Paris and Maine, read, take photos, cook, kayak, hike and enjoy long Sunday brunches with her friends. View Erica Berman's Website

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