Aggravation is often part of daily life. We all get angry once in a while, whether at home, in the street, at work, at a store, driving, with family ... The list is endless.
Of course, these kinds of situations may also happen while travelling or living in a French speaking environment.
When I'm learning a new language, I try to avoid conflicts as much as possible, even more so than in my home country, just because I don't feel confident that I'll be able to express my anger correctly.
Saying the wrong words or phrases in the foreign language will weaken my position and strengthen my adversary's, and so will prevent me from defending my interests the way I should.
For example, I once got into a strong argument with someone in a French speaking country after the person reversed up a narrow one-way street and nearly hit my car.
Noticing I was a foreign visitor, he burst out of his car and started screaming at me, accusing me of not letting him park and reminding me I was in his city.
Since I had limited mastery of spoken French at the time, I would have been unable to adequately express anger, and so I chose to let him have it his way. I was basically lacking the right tools to express and defend myself.
When at home, I know just what to do and say when someone crosses the line, and as result these situations don't happen that often. In a foreign speaking environment, it's a different ball game.
Don't be like me ! Be prepared.
You'll feel more confident that you can defend yourself verbally in any situation. In fact, your resulting confident attitude may help prevent such everyday conflicts.
In spoken French as in most languages, the phrases and expressions for expressing anger are diverse. In this article, we'll explore 20 common ways to show you're pissed off !
I'll try to stick to polite, non vulgar colloquial expressions you can use in everyday situations without insulting anyone - except for two phrases which are very common and which you should know about.
Express anger in French : quoi !
"Désolé mais je ne peux pas te rembourser aujourd'hui..."
"Quoi !! Mais j'ai besoin de l'argent !"
Here "Quoi !" shows that the lender is angry because the borrower is not paying back the money as s/he agreed to do. The lender kind of loses his temper as he needs the money and realizes the borrower will not fulfil his/her promise today.
There are many situations in which you may use "quoi !!" to show frustration and anger :
"Le voyage a été annulé." (the trip was canceled)
"Quoi !! Mais ca fait des semaines que j'attends ce voyage !"
Express anger in French : ça va pas non !
Imagine you're in crowded place and someone pushes you to the side so they can walk past you. You may react saying :
"Ca va pas non !"
or : "non mais ça va pas !"
This colloquial, spoken French phrase expresses exasperation and irritation. In this case, what's causing the anger is rudeness, lack of manners.
Here's another example : at the beach, a guy throws sand at you while playing around with his friends. Now you have sand all over your face and hair ! You may lose your temper and say :
"Ça va pas non !! Vous ne pouvez pas faire attention !"
If the man is courteous, he may respond :
"Oh excusez-moi, je ne l'ai pas exprès ..."
Express anger in French : fait chier !
This one is more vulgar, as it contains the slang word "chier". Nevertheless, it is used daily by native French speakers when they get angry or frustrated :
Oh j'ai oublié de mettre la glace au frigo ! (I forgot to put the ice cream in the fridge)
Fait chier ! A cause de toi elle est toute fondue ! (Damn ! Because of you it's all melted !)
Many expressions containing the word "chier" are used to express annoyance, anger or frustration. Click here for more on that topic (funny video included)
"Fait chier" literally means "makes me sh**!" You may wonder exactly who this is addressed to.
Well, if you're having a fit and are really angry at someone, you may say "tu me fais chier!". But a softer way is to just say "fait chier", referring to the situation in general as opposed to a specific person.
So as you can see, expressing anger in French can sometimes involve below the belt activities.
Express anger in French : ça c'est la meilleure !
When you find out about something that makes you mad, you may say :
"Ça c'est la meilleure !"
It can probably translate to something like "well that's something else !"
This expression has a milder feel to it than the previous ones. For example :
"J'ai rencontré un type pas mal hier soir, je lui ai donné ton numéro de téléphone ! "
(I met a hot guy last night, but I gave him your number)
Quoi ?? Alors ça c'est la meilleure !
Another example :
Tu peux me prêter 20 dollars ? J'ai dépensé tout mon argent hier soir.
(can you lend me $20 ? I spent all my money last night)
Alors ça c'est la meilleure ! Il n'en est pas question ! (no way !)
Express anger in French : je suis furieux(se)
A more classic way in French to let someone know you're angry is to just state so :
"Je suis furieux / furieuse !"
Depending on the situation that triggered your rage, you might say it in a loud, possibly violent tone.
"Je suis furieuse ! Vous avez cassé ma vitre !" (you broke my window !)
For a less serious offense, you may just say "je (ne) suis pas content(e) !"
An alternative to "furieux (se)" is "furax", a colloquial version of it :
"je suis furax !!"
Another word frequently used by lower class youth from disfavored suburban areas is "venère".
This is an inverted version of the word "énervé", which means upset, pissed off in verlan, France's own guetto talk. Click here to read more about verlan.
Express anger in French : c'est une honte !
This is typically used when someone has done something that can generally considered as inacceptable, not only to you, but to most people.
For example, a neighbor dumps his trash right out in the street instead of putting it in a container. That makes you really angry and you say :
"C'est une honte ! Jeter ses ordures comme ça dans la rue !"
The closest equivalent is "shame on you !"
This French phrase is a controlled way of expressing anger, conveying more indignation than sheer rage.
Express anger in French : c'est inacceptable !
You can use this phase in the same way you use "c'est une honte", in situations in which most people would get upset as a result of a person's behavior.
For example, is someone double parks in the streets blocking your car, when the driver comes back you may say to him :
"Vous êtes vraiment gonflé ! Stationner comme ça en double file ! C'est inacceptable !"
"You really have some nerve ! Double parking like this ! That's unacceptable !"
An equivalent alternative to "inacceptable" is "inadmissible" :
"C'est inadmissible !"
Express anger in French : qu'est-ce-que c'est que ces manières !
A somewhat equivalent phrase to "c'est un honte" is "qu'est-ce-que c'est que ces manières !" Literally, this translates to "what kind of manners are those !".
So just like in the preceding expression, you're indicating you're upset because the person isn't respecting common good behavior, courtesy, manners.
It's a way to show indignation and to put the shame on the person referring to inacceptable social behavior.
For example, if someone cuts in front of you while waiting in line, you might lose your temper and say :
"qu'est-ce-que c'est que ces manières !"
Some common variants of the above phrase that you can alternatively use to express anger and indignation :
"Qu'est-ce-que c'est que ça !" (what is that !)
"En voilà des manières !", "en voilà des façons !" (what kind of manners are these !)
"C'est pas des manières !" (these aren't manners !)
Express anger in French : vous vous prenez pour qui !
If someone is showing blatant disregard towards other people, including you, you might say :
"vous vous prenez pour qui !" or "tu te prends pour qui !"
Another common way to phrase it is "pour qui vous vous prenez !" or "pour qui tu te prends !"
This directly translates to "who do you think you are !"
In both English and French that's a very common way to express anger and resentment towards a person who totally lacks respect for others.
For example, once again suppose you're waiting in line at the movies, and a person walks up straight up to the counter and asks for a ticket, arguing she's in a rush.
People waiting in line are likely to get mad and shout to her :
"Mais vous vous prenez pour qui !! Faites la queue comme tout le monde !"
(Who do you think you are ! Get in the line like everyone else !)
Express anger in French : et puis quoi encore !
This is a typical French expression, very often used by natives for expressing exasperation. "Et puis quoi encore !" could translate to something like "yeah, and what else !"
You're basically saying "oh you want that ? and what more do you want !", suggesting the person is already stretching it and there's no way they're going to get more.
For example, your ex-spouse asks you if s/he may take the kids on a trip for 3 weeks, even though it's your turn to have them during that time.
You may reply "non mais, et puis quoi encore !", meaning, now you're really pushing it.
Here's another example : you've parked your car on the street in a free parking area, but as you're ready to leave someone comes up to you and asks for parking money.
You might say "et puis quoi encore !" and just drive off.
Express anger in French : il ne manquait plus que ça !
This roughly translates to "just what I needed !"
While "et puis quoi encore !" shows exasperation while refusing to do something, "il ne manquait plus que ça !" is used in reaction to something that's already been done and causes anger.
For example you open your mailbox and find you've been summoned to court. You get really upset and say "Ah il ne manquait plus que ça !"
This phrase is often used in situation when there are already causes for aggravation, and one more cause just came up ("the last straw").
In the above example, you may already have a lot of things to worry about these days : you car has broken, you short on money to pay the bills, your boss is giving you a hard time ... And now you're being sued.
Another example : you trip on a sidewalk and fall to the floor. After getting x-rays, you find out you broke your wrist.
When the doctor breaks the news to you, you get angry and say "il ne manquait plus ça !"
Express anger in French : vous êtes fou/folle ou quoi !
In many languages, a traditional way to express anger is to you say the equivalent of "what are you crazy !" In French, that's what "vous êtes fou / folle ou quoi !" is.
Again, driving is a gold mine when it comes to examples of anger situations. Suppose a driver hits you in the back, you pop out of your car, lose your temper and say "Non mais ça va pas ! vous êtes folle ou quoi !"
A variant is to use the mild slang world "dingue" :
"Mais vous êtes dingue ou quoi !"
In general, although clearly an expression of anger, this phrase does not come across as a true insult. Adding "ou quoi" to "vous êtes dingue" actually indicate you're not actually saying the person is nuts, but rather that they're acting nuts.
Here again, if the driver who hit you has done so unwillingly through lack of attention, they may apologize and settle that peacefully, e.g. :
"je suis vraiment désolé(e), je regardais ailleurs ... Je vais vous rembourser les dégâts."
I'm really sorry, I was looking in the other direction. I'll pay for the damage.
Express anger in French : ça ne va pas se passer comme ça !
Now you're really mad ! Someone did something that really gets you worked up. "Ça ne va pas se passer comme ça ! " means "I'm not going to let it go !", "I'm going to do something about this."
So this French expression of anger has a threat nuance to it.
For example, you made a reservation at a nice hotel for the week-end, but when you get there you're told the room is not available and the hotel is full.
You get mad and say :
"C'est inadmissible ! Ça ne va pas se passer comme ça ! Je veux parler au directeur !" (I want to speak to the manager)
Express anger in French : vous allez avoir affaire à moi !
This is another anger expression with a threatening componant : "vous allez affaire à moi" literally means "you're going to have to deal with me". It may also translate to "you're going to hear about me !"
For example, your kid got keeps getting beaten up by a bully at school. You've had it, so you decide to go talk to the bully's parents. They're not receptive at all, saying it's kid stuff and that they won't interfere.
So you say "Je vous préviens, si votre fils frappe encore le mien, vous allez avoir affaire à moi !"
I'm warning you, if your son hits mine again, it's me you'll have to deal with !
Another similar expression you can use in place of this is "vous allez voir de quel bois je me chauffe !". This literally means "you're going to find out what kind of wood I heat myself with".
It might translate to "you're going to see the stuff I'm made off !", as in, "get ready for some serious fuss on my part".
Express anger in French : merde alors !
We'll end this list with a more slangy expression that contains the famous "merde" (shit) word.
"Merde" in itself can be the subject of an entire post as native speakers use it so often and in so many different situations.
"Merde alors !" is something you may say when you're really angry, or even furious about something.
For example, you're at the airport waiting to board your flight, when an announcement informs passengers the flight just got canceled, without further explanations.
You get up in anger, look at the boarding staff and scream "merde alors !"
In such a situation, staff members would probably expect you to say something like that. It adequately reflects the level of frustration and indignation such an announcement provokes.
Note that using the phrase does not involve cursing anyone, you're just cursing at the situation itself and expressing your rage.
Test yourself !
Now for our little final quiz. Look at the situations below and pick what you think is the best answer.
Just write your anwers in the comments section below. After a while the correct answers will be published.
1) You bought a small lamp from a store, but after 2 days it stopped working. You take it back to the store, but the storekeeper tells you there's nothing he can do, he won't take it back. You get angry and say :
A. "Alors ça c'est la meilleure !"
B. "Vous êtes fou ou quoi !"
C. "Et puis quoi encore !"
2) Your neighbor parked her car in front of your garage. You're late for work and need to leave now, but she's blocking you. You ring her doorbell and say :
A. Fait chier !
B. Ça va pas non !
C. Qu'est-ce-que c'est que ces manières !
3) You're late at a meeting, and so your colleague picks up the presentation you've prepared from your desk and uses it to present your project to your boss, without your permission. When you find out you say :
A. Merde alors !
B. Pour qui tu te prends !
C. C'est une honte !