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Different ways to say “I don’t care” in French

Different ways to say “I don’t care” in French

Sometimes you want to show that you’re fine with whatever options are on the table, sometimes you want to say you couldn’t give a toss. In English “I don’t mind” or “I don’t care” can be used in different contexts. In French it’s no different. You just need to be careful that what you’re saying is used correctly. You will see that there are 3 main ways of saying “I don’t mind” or “I don’t care”, but each have subtle differences. If in doubt about which to use, use the first one.

Ça m’est égal – I don’t mind (which one)

Literally: It’s equal to me.

This would be used if you are saying that you don’t mind which option out of a possible 2 or more is chosen. It’s polite, and in no way informal, nor formal. Though if you wanted to make it more formal you could say “cela m’est égal” but I’ve never heard anyone say that.

Contexts in which to use:

  • When you have a choice of 2 or more options and you don’t mind which is chosen.

Note on pronuncation: remember the liaison between the t in est at the égal. The t is pronounced.

Je m’en fiche – I don’t mind

Literally: I’m not sure of the literal translation.

Example: “Il (ne) reste plus de sucre. Désolé.” “Je m’en fiche, je prends du thé sans sucre”.

Translation of example: “We’re out of sugar. Sorry”. “I don’t mind, I take my tea without sugar”.

This is an informal, perhaps slang way of saying “I don’t mind“. Say it between friends. If in a formal situation such as at a café I would say “ça (ne) me dérange pas, ce n’est pas grave” – “it doesn’t bother me, no problem”.

Contexts in which to use:

  • When you have been given options to choose from.
  • When something doesn’t matter to you.
  • Among friends or in a more traditionally formal scenario where you are comfortable with the other person.
  • Anywhere you would say “I don’t mind” in English.

Note on pronunciation: If you’re not sure how to pronounce fiche, pretend you’re saying the English word fish in a stereotypical French accent. It should sound like feesh.

Je m’en fous (vulgar, informal) – I don’t care

Literally: Again, I’m not sure of the literal translation.

Example: “Je m’en fou du genre de musique qui te plaît”.

Translation of example: “I don’t care about the type of music you like”.

This is an informal, thought of as vulgar, way to say “I don’t care“. You’d only use it between friends and never in a formal situation. Whereas “je m’en fiche” you could judge a situation on instinct and choose to say it, “je m’en fou” is stronger and should be used carefully. Don’t be scared off all together though, I use it with friends all the time! Know your audience. Imagine being at a bar and saying this among friends.

Contexts in which to use:

  • When you want to make sure someone knows you don’t care about something.
  • When you’re trying to be more French with your friends, perhaps when drinking.
  • When you’re so relaxed about all the options, you want people to know. Je m’en fiche just doesn’t cut it for you.

Note on pronunciation: Like with a lot of French words, the s at the end of fous is silent. The ou is pronounced like the sound a gorilla makes. If that’s not a great tip, I don’t know what is.

Others

Je m’en moque (strong, polite) – I don’t care

Translation: I don’t care.

Example: “Tant que je suis libre, je m’en moque” – “As long as I’m free, I don’t care.”

In no way vulgar, “je m’en moque” is a strong way to get your point across that you simply don’t care.

Contexts in which to use:

  • When you want to put your strong opinion across but in a correct manner, perhaps when talking to a child, or in a professional situation.
  • Anytime you’d be using “vous” with someone. Use the same level of manners.

Peu m’importe – I don’t care

Translation: I don’t care.

Example: “Pour être franche, peu m’importe qui est responsable” – “But to be honest, I don’t care whose fault this is.”

As above, peu m’importe is a strong but non-rude way of saying I don’t care.

Contexts in which to use:

  • Same as “je m’en moque”, from what I gather.

So there you have it. 5 ways of saying you’re either easy and happy for someone else to choose or that you don’t care about someone’s opinion, with help to guide you regarding which to use and with whom.

Have any others? Please comment below!

1 Comment

  • Frédéric

    Good list of essentials. Though there is other ways to say it, quite informal like “je m’en tape”, “je m’en contre fous” (to exagerate je m’en fous) and so on. But you don’t hear those quite often indeed.

    21st October 2016 at 21:42

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