Avoir Idioms I French (levels 3-7)



Avoir Idioms I French (levels 3-7)
Avoir Idioms I
French (levels 3-7)
In French there are very many expressions and idioms using the verb avoir whose equivalents in English do
not use the verb to have, or, if they do, they mean something quite different. There follow many of the
most useful, the most interesting and the most unusual.
Avoir affaire à:
Avoir beau +
infinitive :
Avoir du mal à +
infinitive :
Avoir mal à :
Avoir le mal du
pays :
Avoir le sens
de… :
Avoir lieu :
Avoir quelque
chose :
Avoir tout de… :
Avoir toute sa
raison :
“To be facing/dealing with” something or someone. It can mean “to have to do with”
or “deal with”. This can be used in a variety of ways. Take for example « nous avons
affaire à un dangereux criminel » « ils ont affaire au public » and « tu auras affaire à
moi ». The latter can be translated, “you’ll be hearing from me”. Refuser d’avoir
affaire à which can mean simply, “to refuse to deal with” someone, or “to have no
truck with” someone/something. A special variant is avoir affaire à forte partie (avec
qn) which can mean, “to meet one’s match” or “to be up against heavy odds”.
“However (much)” or, “no matter how (much)” is the usual way of translating this but
other interpretations are possible, for example “il a beau se plaindre, je ne change
rien” which could be translated, “he can complain till he’s blue in the face, I’m not
changing anything”.
“To have a hard time/trouble/difficulty doing” something. This expression is used very
frequently. Frank in Some Mothers might have used it had he been speaking French.
“To have a sore…” or, “to have a ……ache” are two common translations. This is a
schoolboy French phrase but watch out for avoir mal au coeur.
“To miss home”, “to be homesick”, “to long for one’s own country” are all ways of
translating this verbal phrase.
Like in English, this can be used with « l’humeur » to mean “to have a sense of
humour”, but it often goes with other words and is usually translated, “to be ……..
minded”. For example, « avoir le sens de la famille » “to be family-minded” or, « avoir
le sens des affaires » “to be commercially-minded.”
Very simply, “to take place”, “to occur”.
This common phrase is mainly used to ask, “what’s the matter?” (qu’est-ce que tu as)
and to reply, “I’ll tell you what the matter is…” (j’ai que…). « Tu n’as rien? » is used to
mean, “are you alright?”
To look just like… to be every inch… to be obviously… to be nothing less than… These
are the most common translations of the phrase. For example, elle a tout d’une star.
To be distinguished from avoir raison, this phrase means “to be in one’s right
mind”, “to be compos mentis”, and by extension, when negated…
Activity: match up the common avoir expression with the common to be expression…
Avoir faim
Avoir soif
Avoir chaud
Avoir froid
Avoir peur
Avoir (de la) chance
Avoir raison
Avoir tort
Avoir hâte de
Avoir [numero] ans
to be afraid
to be right
to be hungry
to be eager to
to be wrong
to be ……… (years old)
to be thirsty
to be lucky
to be cold
to be hot
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