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Je suis plein - French Mistake

French mistakes analyzed and explained


Mistakes will always be made in French, and now you can learn from them.

Wrong: Je suis plein

Right: J'ai trop mangé, Je suis rassasié

Explanation: The French translation of "full" is plein, except when it comes to your stomach. It's natural to want to say "je suis plein" to mean "I'm full," but in fact in France, it means "I'm pregnant" - and it's not a very nice way to say it, since être pleine is used to talk about pregnant animals, not people. Correct ways to say "I'm full" include j'ai trop mangé (literally, I ate too much), je suis rassasié (I'm satisfied), and je n'en peux plus (I can't [take] any more).

Many of us have anecdotes involving the misuse of this expression. What's interesting is that if a woman actually says "je suis pleine" to a native French speaker, he or she will probably understand that to mean she's pregnant - I've had this experience, and I've heard similar stories from dozens of other non-native French speakers. And yet if you talk about this expression in the abstract with a native speaker, s/he's likely to tell you that no one would ever take it to mean you're pregnant, because it's only used for animals.

If you have an embarrassing story about je suis plein, please post it on my French blog - just hit "comments" at the bottom of the post.

Notes: Je suis plein is also a familiar way of saying "I'm drunk." And apparently in Quebec and Belgium, unlike France, it's perfectly acceptable to say je suis plein to mean "I'm full."
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