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Être à côté de la plaque

French expressions analyzed and explained

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A côté de la plaque
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Expression: Être à côté de la plaque

Pronunciation: [eh tra ko tay deu la plahk]

Meaning: to not have a clue, to be way off the mark

Literal translation: to be next to the target/goal

Register: informal

Notes: The French word plaque has all kinds of meanings, but in general it refers to some kind of sheet, plate, slab, or chunk of material (ice, metal, food, money, etc). It can also mean a target (literal or figurative). In the expression être à côté de la plaque, it's referring to some sort of target of comprehension that you're aiming for - and missing.

Example

   Tu ne comprendras jamais - tu es à côté de la plaque.
   You'll never understand - you're way off the mark.

Synonym: mettre à côté de la plaque - literally, "to put next to the target/goal"

Variations:
   être complètement à côté de la plaque - to be completely off the mark
   être un peu à côté de la plaque - to be a little lost, to not quite follow/understand


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