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Anti Smoking Pub, Quiz 4: tous les coups

    Dive into a French language PSA and see how much you can follow. I love this episode as it goes from formal to colloquial. Hear this colloquial bit of French with “les gars:”, “ça marche à tous les coups”, “truc là”, “assez bien”, and “bah rien”. Oh yeah, and a swear, but you probably already…

    This audio clip is from a French Anti Smoking PSA. Listen and fill in what you hear below. Read more and find a translation below. Listen to the full PSA here.

    19 seconds, 65 words
    ,, ' ' ',. ? . ? ,.
    jeunes,marketing,gars ' qu'àsuggérer 'coolrebelle,coups.présenteraittruc ? pourrait.coûteraffaire ? ,merdes.
    jeunesparexemple,marketing,gars n'ont qu'àleursuggérerque c'estcoolrebelle,marchetouscoups.Maisçaseprésenteraitcommenttruc ? croisquevoisassezbiencommentpourraitêtre.Etçavanouscoûtercombienvotreaffaire ? Bahrien,jeunessontprêtsàpayeravalermerdes.

    The above audio sample and transcription is from the French PSA from an anti-smoking capaign. We do not own the content. See the full PSA here.

    every time

    Keep in mind, I cut this content to put the “advert” after this text, so it is a little out of order compared to the video clip below. The cut portion is at the * in the transcript below.

    Also note, gramattically it would be cette merde if singular. It seems to sound like the speaker says “ces” (as it cannot be “ce”) therefore I made it plural. What do you hear?

    What’s opening up for you with this clip?

    Here’s the full PSA for your reference, find more from this PSA in yesterday’s quiz and in tomorrow’s quiz!

    The snippet in English

    Find a translation of this snippet here, how much of this did you hear?

    Avec des jeunes par exemple, au marketing, les gars n’ont qu’à leur suggérer que c’est cool et rebelle, ça marche à tous les coups. Mais ça se présenterait comment votre truc là ? Je crois que je vois assez bien comment ça pourrait être.* Et ça va nous coûter combien votre affaire ? Bah rien, les jeunes sont prêts à payer pour avaler ces merdes.

    With young people, for example, in marketing, all the guys have to do is suggest that it’s cool and rebellious, and it works every time. But what would your thing look like? I think I can see how it might be.* And how much is this going to cost us? Nothing, young people are ready to pay to swallow this crap.

    The above translation from Deepl. Source

    What does “les gars” mean?

    “Les gars” is a French colloquial term that translates to “the guys” or “the lads” in English. It’s used informally to refer to a group of people, usually male, in a friendly or casual manner.

    • Example: “Salut les gars, comment ça va ?” (Hey guys, how’s it going?)


    The phrase is mainly used in informal, casual settings among friends or acquaintances. It’s not appropriate for formal or professional situations.


    • Les mecs
    • Les potes

    Idiomatic Usage:

    “Les gars” isn’t used in any idiomatic expressions specifically, but is a commonplace term in informal French discourse.

    Cultural Notes:

    In France, “les gars” is a friendly, laid-back way to address a group of people, typically males. It’s akin to saying “guys” or “fellas” in English and embodies a sense of camaraderie or casual familiarity. However, it’s important to note that its usage can be seen as gender-specific, similar to how the term “guys” is perceived in English. Some people are moving away from using such gender-specific terms in both languages to promote inclusivity.

    What does “c’est cool et rebelle” mean?

    The phrase “c’est cool et rebelle” translates to “it’s cool and rebellious” in English. Here, “cool” is used to denote something as trendy or appealing, while “rebelle” signifies a rebellious nature.

    • French example: “Porter des vêtements vintage, c’est cool et rebelle.” (Wearing vintage clothing is cool and rebellious.)


    Both “cool” and “rebelle” can be used in various contexts, informal being the most common. They may be used to describe fashion, attitudes, or behaviors, particularly among younger generations.

    Synonyms and Antonyms:

    • Synonyms:
      • branché (trendy) for cool
      • insoumis (non-conformist) for rebelle
    • Antonyms:
      • ringard (outdated) for cool
      • conformiste (conformist) for rebelle

    Cultural Notes:

    • “Cool” is borrowed from English and is widely used in French, especially among younger people. Its usage reflects the influence of English, particularly American culture, on contemporary French language and trends.
    • “Rebelle” has a more native French lineage, and its use can evoke a sense of resistance or non-conformity, which has historical and cultural resonance in France.
    • The pairing of “cool” and “rebelle” might be seen as a way to capture a blend of modern, global influences with more traditional French values or attitudes.

    What does “ça marche à tous les coups” mean?

    The phrase “ça marche à tous les coups” translates to “it works every time” in English. Here, “tous les coups” literally translates to “all the hits” or “all the shots,” but is understood to mean “every time” or “always” in this context.

    • French example: “Ce truc est infaillible, ça marche à tous les coups.” (This thing is foolproof, it works every time.)


    This phrase is used in both formal and informal contexts. It’s a way of expressing certainty or reliability concerning the success or effectiveness of something.

    Synonyms and Antonyms:

    • Synonyms:
      • à chaque fois (every time)
      • systématiquement (systematically)
    • Antonyms:
      • jamais (never)
      • rarement (rarely)


    The structure of the phrase can be used with other verbs to express a similar certainty or frequency, for example, “ça fonctionne à tous les coups” (it operates/works every time).

    Idiomatic Usage:

    The phrase “à tous les coups” is idiomatic as its literal translation doesn’t quite capture its actual meaning in context. It’s used to emphasize the regularity or reliability of an action’s outcome.

    Cultural Notes:

    • This phrase can reflect a sort of pragmatic or practical aspect of French culture, where proven reliability is valued.
    • It’s also reflective of the love for expressive phrases in French, where a simple idea (something working every time) is given a bit of flair by saying it works “at every hit/shot.”
    • While the phrase can be used straightforwardly, it can also be used ironically or humorously to point out the predictable or overly reliable nature of something, especially if the outcome is not necessarily positive or desirable.
    • It’s a colloquial phrase that’s easy to drop into conversation and can make one sound more fluent or at ease with the language when used appropriately.

    What does “truc là” mean?

    The phrase “truc là” is a colloquial expression in French, which can be translated to “that thing” or “that stuff” in English. “Truc” is a very informal way to refer to an object, thing, or even an idea when you either can’t remember its name, it doesn’t have a specific name, or you are being vague intentionally. The word “là” is a demonstrative meaning “there” or “that,” emphasizing the object or idea being referred to.

    • French example: “Tu vois le truc là sur la table ?” (Do you see that thing on the table?)


    This phrase is mostly used in informal or casual contexts. It’s not something you’d likely hear in formal or professional settings due to its vague and informal nature.

    Synonyms and Antonyms:

    • Synonyms:
      • chose là (that thing)
      • bidule là (that gadget/thingy)
    • Antonyms:
      • (Using the actual name or description of the object or idea instead of a vague term.)


    The variation could come from replacing “truc” with synonyms like “chose” or “bidule,” while keeping “là” to point to the object or idea in question.

    • French example: “Ce bidule là ne marche pas.” (This gadget thingy doesn’t work.)

    Idiomatic Usage:

    While “truc là” isn’t strictly idiomatic, it’s part of a casual, informal way of speech that often prioritizes ease and speed of communication over precision.

    Cultural Notes:

    • This phrase reflects a common tendency in everyday French conversation to use placeholder words for objects or concepts, especially in informal settings.
    • It may reflect a kind of linguistic efficiency or a preference for a relaxed, non-technical way of speaking in casual interactions.
    • Using such expressions can help non-native speakers blend into casual conversations more naturally, although they should be aware of the informal nature of such phrases and use them in appropriate settings.
    • The use of “là” in this phrase is typical of French conversation, where demonstratives are often used to add emphasis or clarity, even in situations where they might not be strictly necessary.

    What does “assez bien” mean?

    The phrase “assez bien” translates to “quite well” or “fairly well” in English. It is used to describe a moderate to a high degree of proficiency or adequacy in a certain task, quality, or characteristic.

    • French example: “Il parle anglais assez bien.” (He speaks English quite well.)


    “assez bien” can be utilized in both formal and informal contexts. It’s a way to express a certain level of competency or satisfaction without overstatement.

    Synonyms and Antonyms:

    • Synonyms:
      • plutôt bien (rather well)
      • bien (well)
    • Antonyms:
      • pas bien (not well)
      • mal (badly)


    There aren’t specific variations of “assez bien” but the degree of proficiency or adequacy can be modified by substituting “assez” (quite) with other adverbs such as “très” (very) or “extrêmement” (extremely).

    Idiomatic Usage:

    While “assez bien” isn’t part of an idiom, it’s a common adverbial phrase used to express moderate approval or competency.

    Cultural Notes:

    In the French language, moderation in expressions is often seen as a sign of humility or realism, which might reflect a cultural tendency to avoid overstatement or boastfulness. “Assez bien” aligns with this linguistic preference, allowing speakers to acknowledge capability or satisfactory conditions without appearing overly confident or satisfied. This subtle nuance in language can reflect broader cultural attitudes towards modesty and measured appraisal.

    What does “bah rien” mean?

    The phrase “bah rien” is colloquial in nature and translates to “well, nothing” or “uh, nothing” in English. Here, “bah” is an interjection often used in French to express hesitation, resignation, or to minimize what follows, while “rien” means nothing.

    • French example: “Qu’est-ce qui se passe ? Bah rien.” (What’s happening? Well, nothing.)


    This phrase is typically used in informal, casual conversation. It may be used when someone is asked a question but they prefer to downplay or dismiss the concern or issue at hand.

    Synonyms and Antonyms:

    • Synonyms:
      • ben rien (well, nothing)
    • Antonyms:
      • beaucoup (a lot)


    Not many variations exist for this phrase as it is quite straightforward. However, the interjection “bah” can be replaced with “ben” which is another informal interjection with a similar meaning.

    • French example: “Qu’est-ce qui se passe ? Ben rien.” (What’s happening? Uh, nothing.)

    Cultural Notes:

    • The use of interjections like “bah” or “ben” before responding is quite common in informal French communication. It adds a nuanced emotional tone to the response, which could be a slight annoyance, hesitation, or dismissal.
    • In some situations, “bah rien” can be used to signal that the speaker doesn’t want to talk about something or is downplaying what’s happening, which can be a subtle social cue to change the topic or not pry further.
    • This phrase is a good example of how casual conversational French often incorporates interjections to convey emotional nuance or to manage the flow of conversation.

    What does “ces merdes” mean?

    The phrase “cette merde” or “ces merdes” translates to “this shit” or “this crap” in English. It is a vulgar expression used to refer to a situation, object, or even a person in a very negative or derogatory way.

    • French example: “Je ne peux plus supporter cette merde.” (I can’t stand this shit anymore.)


    This phrase is informal and can be quite rude or offensive. It’s used in casual or heated conversations where someone is expressing strong disdain or frustration.

    Synonyms and Antonyms:

    • Synonyms:
      • cette connerie (this bullshit)
    • Antonyms:
      • cette merveille (this wonder)


    The determiner “cette” can be replaced with other determiners like “cet” (for masculine nouns starting with a vowel sound) or “ces” (plural) to agree with the noun it precedes.

    • French example: “Ces merdes ne fonctionnent jamais.” (This crap never works.)

    Idiomatic Usage:

    Though not idiomatic in itself, “merde” is a versatile swear word in French, akin to “shit” in English, and can be used in various idiomatic expressions, although “cette merde” is a straightforward derogatory term rather than an idiomatic expression.

    Cultural Notes:

    • The usage of swear words like “merde” is common in informal settings among friends or in moments of frustration, but it’s considered inappropriate in formal or polite company.
    • While French speakers can be quite expressive and emotive in their language usage, understanding the social contexts and relationships where swearing is acceptable is important to avoid offense.
    • This phrase also reflects a level of informality and emotional expressiveness that is often seen in casual French conversation, but like in many cultures, swearing can be seen as crude or lowbrow, and understanding when it’s acceptable to use such language is an important aspect of social fluency.

    What is opening up for you?

    Comment below with the words you thought you heard, where you struggled, where you surprised yourself, or what you thought about this clip. Every little bit inspires other learners, thank you for being that inspiration to others on their French fluency journey!

    Dive into a French language PSA and see how much you can follow. I love this episode as it goes from formal to colloquial. Hear this colloquial bit of French with “les gars:”, “ça marche à tous les coups”, “truc là”, “assez bien”, and “bah rien”. Oh yeah, and a swear, but you probably already…

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