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Passerelles ep. 1, Quiz 48: en décalage

Listen closely for “et donc”, “parfois”, “en décalage”, & “d’état civil”. Can you hear all these phrases in today’s quiz? Follow along with our fill-in-the-blanks quiz while you listen and improve your listening comprehension. My favorite new phrase is “en décalage”.

This clip is from Passerelles Episode 1. Listen and fill in what you hear below. Read more and find a translation below. Listen to the full episode here.

10 seconds, 24 words

This audio sample and transcription is from Passerelles ep. 1. We do not own the content. Listen to the entire episode

,, ' ' '.
discutéfait,passé,parfois l'impression 'décalage d'étatcivil.
doncadiscutéfaitque,passécertainâge,aparfois l'impression d'êtredécalageâge d'étatcivil.

(being) out of step

What’s opening up for you with this clip?

The snippet in English

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

Et donc on a discuté du fait que, passé un certain âge, on a parfois l’impression d’être en décalage avec son âge d’état civil.

And so we discussed the fact that, after a certain age, we sometimes feel out of step with our civil status age.

The above translation from Deepl. Source

What does “et donc” mean?

“Et donc” is a French expression that plays a pivotal role in both spoken and written forms of the language.

  • Meaning and Usage: “Et donc” translates to “and therefore” or “and so” in English. It serves as a bridge between related ideas, signaling the culmination or result of a preceding thought.
    • Example: “Elle n’a pas répondu à mon message, et donc je ne sais pas si elle vient ce soir.” (She didn’t reply to my message, and so I don’t know if she’s coming tonight.)
  • Function in a Sentence: “Et donc” acts as a lubricant for the flow of ideas, easing the listener or reader from one thought into its subsequent conclusion.
    • Example: “J’ai oublié mon parapluie à la maison. Et donc, je suis trempé.” (I forgot my umbrella at home. And so, I’m soaked.)
  • Enhancing Logical Progression: Using “et donc” helps elucidate your line of thought, guiding the audience through the steps of your reasoning.
    • Example: “La réunion se termine à 18 heures. Et donc, je serai chez moi vers 19 heures.” (The meeting ends at 6 pm. And therefore, I’ll be home around 7 pm.)
  • Informal vs. Formal: Predominantly found in colloquial speech and informal contexts, “et donc” exudes a casual flair. For formal discussions or writings, alternatives such as “par conséquent” or “ainsi” might be a better fit.
    • Example: “Le musée ferme à 17 heures. Et donc, nous devrions partir maintenant.” (The museum closes at 5 pm. And so, we should leave now.)
  • Variations and Siblings: Depending on context, one might stumble upon variations like “et c’est pour cela” (and that’s why) or “et de ce fait” (and due to this).
    • Example: “Elle n’aime pas les chats, et c’est pour cela qu’elle a un chien.” (She doesn’t like cats, and that’s why she has a dog.)
  • French may use so many linking words because it’s a testament to the love for flow and continuity in the language. “Et donc” is just one of many connectors that French speakers deploy to maintain the harmony and rhythm in their sentences.
  • Antonyms: While “et donc” establishes a cause-and-effect relationship, you might use “mais” (but) or “cependant” (however) to introduce contrasting or opposing ideas.
    • Example: “Il adore le chocolat, mais il n’en mange pas souvent.” (He loves chocolate, but he doesn’t eat it often.)

In essence, “et donc” is more than just a conjunction; it’s a linguistic tool that streamlines conversations and writings, ensuring a seamless journey from one idea to its consequential end.

What does “parfois” mean?

“Parfois” is a versatile French adverb that dances between moments of certainty and uncertainty, reflecting the occasional nature of life’s events.

In English, “parfois” is neatly captured by the word “sometimes”. Think of those moments when you’re neither committing to a frequent event nor negating its occurrence altogether; that’s where “parfois” comes in. It’s the gray area, the occasional chocolate treat, the sometimes-missed morning alarm.

For instance, when a French speaker says, “Parfois, je bois du thé le soir” (Sometimes, I drink tea in the evening), they’re implying that while they might often prefer coffee or nothing at all, tea does make an occasional evening appearance.

The beauty of “parfois” lies in its flexibility within sentences. It can comfortably sit at the beginning, as in “Parfois, je vais à la bibliothèque” (Sometimes, I go to the library), or find a cozy spot towards the end, like “Je mange végétarien parfois” (I eat vegetarian sometimes).

While “parfois” is a popular choice for denoting occasional occurrences, it does have a few synonyms that can add variety to your French conversations. “Quelquefois” offers a similar vibe, while “de temps en temps” brings forth the imagery of events spaced out in time, translating to “from time to time”.

However, life isn’t always about the occasional. If you want to swing to the other end of frequency, “toujours” (always) stands firm. For those moments that never see the light of day? “Jamais” (never) has got you covered.

Did you know? The word itself, “parfois”, is a combination of “par” (by) and “fois” (times). A literal translation would be “by times”, a quaint way to think of those sporadic events in life.

In the rich tapestry of the French language, “parfois” represents those moments that aren’t constant but have their own special place. It’s a reminder that not everything is black or white; sometimes, there’s a delightful shade of gray in between.

What does “en décalage” mean?

“En décalage” is a French phrase that perfectly embodies those moments when things don’t quite align or sync up, whether in time, space, or even perception. Let’s take a closer look.

The term “décalage” primarily revolves around the idea of “shift” or “lag.” When used in the context of “en décalage”, it paints a picture of being out of step or not in sync with something else. This could be as tangible as time zones or as abstract as personal perspectives.

For instance, if someone has just traveled from Paris to New York, they might mention being “en décalage horaire”, which translates to “jet-lagged”. Here, the phrase specifically refers to the time difference between the two locations.

  • “Avec le décalage horaire, je me sens toujours fatigué après un long vol.” (With the jet lag, I always feel tired after a long flight.)

But beyond the realm of travel, “en décalage” can also reflect discrepancies in viewpoints or expectations. Imagine a scenario where an old school teacher is trying to employ traditional teaching methods in a tech-savvy classroom. The methods would be “en décalage” with contemporary educational norms, indicating a misalignment with current trends.

Yet, “en décalage” isn’t just limited to disparities; it can also be a statement on uniqueness. If someone’s fashion sense or taste in music is “en décalage” with their peers, it might mean they stand out from the crowd, marching to the beat of their own drum.


  • “Ses idées sont toujours en décalage avec celles du groupe.” (His ideas are always out of step with those of the group.)
  • “Son style vestimentaire est vraiment en décalage avec les tendances actuelles.” Translation: “Her fashion style is really out of sync with current trends.”

Here’s an interesting tidbit: “Décalage” stems from the French verb “décaler”, which means “to move” or “to shift”, emphasizing the idea of movement from a standard or expected position.

In the grand spectrum of the French language, “en décalage” serves as a subtle reminder of life’s inherent mismatches and the beauty of diversity and uniqueness. Whether you’re trying to express a time lag, a unique perspective, or a distinct approach, “en décalage” has got you covered. It’s all about celebrating the gaps and differences that make every experience unique.

What does “(l’âge) d’état civil” mean?

“D’état civil” is a French term that speaks to official or legal documentation and records, especially when it comes to a person’s identity. Let’s delve deeper into its meaning and usage.

At its core, “état civil” refers to one’s civil status, encompassing aspects such as birth, marriage, divorce, and death. When you hear “état civil”, think of the information you’d find in official documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, or death certificates.

When you come across “son âge d’état civil”, it refers to the person’s age as recorded in official documentation, akin to the “actual age” or “legal age” in English. The expression underscores the distinction between one’s true age as opposed to any other age they might claim or be perceived as.


  • “Elle semble plus jeune, mais son âge d’état civil est 40 ans.” (She looks younger, but her actual age is 40.)
  • “Sur sa carte d’identité, son nom d’état civil est différent.” (On her ID card, her legal name is different.)

Besides age, “d’état civil” is frequently used in other contexts, especially in administrative settings:

  • “Nom d’état civil” (Legal name)
  • “Statut d’état civil” (Marital status)
  • “Changement d’état civil” (Change in civil status, like after a marriage or divorce)

It’s crucial to understand that in French, “d’état civil” brings with it an air of formality and officialdom. It’s not something typically used in casual chats, but rather in situations where precision about legal or official details is crucial.

The French do use “d’état civil” fairly frequently, but mostly in formal, administrative, or legal contexts. It’s a clear marker of the difference between what’s casually said or perceived and what’s officially recorded.

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Listen closely for “et donc”, “parfois”, “en décalage”, & “d’état civil”. Can you hear all these phrases in today’s quiz? Follow along with our fill-in-the-blanks quiz while you listen and improve your listening comprehension. My favorite new phrase is “en décalage”.

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