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Having “La Flemme” Is Not What You Think

Avoir La Flemme, Ça Veut Dire Quoi ?

No you haven’t stumbled on to a post about colds, flus and other illnesses. It’s Friday and that means it’s time for your weekly dose of French picked up from living in France. Avoir la flemme is a widely used oral expression meaning to feel lazy, to not be bothered, to be unable to care enough to do something. In the UK we’d say I can’t be arsed, or I can’t be bothered, or even (**bad language alert*) I can’t be fucked.

In France the level to which they can be bothered to do something depends on the amount of flemme they have. Maybe it’s childish but it’s one of my favourite expressions. Everyone uses it and it’s easy to stick in your head. Perhaps because of the consistency of phlegm? Ok, sorry, I’ll stop. If you’re interested in the origins the third comment on this Word Reference thread is interesting.

Some examples of La Flemme

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Je (ne) veux pas sortir, j’ai la flemme – I don’t want to go out, I can’t be bothered.
  • Il m’a dit qu’il (ne) voulait pas cuisiner un repas parce qu’il a la flemme. – He told me didn’t want to cook a meal because he’s feeling lazy.
  • Les enfants ont la flemme d’aller au parc, ils ont dit qu’il est trop loin. – The kids can’t be bothered to go the park, they said it’s too far away.

You can also use modifiers like un peu, trop etc to emphasise how much you are against doing something. They would go before la flemme in the sentence.

That’s it for this week. Remember, quand tu as la flemme d’apprendre une langue, get right back on the next day!

Bon weekend à tous et à toutes ! (Yes, weekend can now be used instead of week-end since the language reform that was put in place in September 2016).

Published inColloquial FrenchFrenchFrench FridayLanguage Learning