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À tes souhaits

French expressions analyzed and explained

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À tes souhaits !
Zachary Scott / Getty Images
Expression: À tes souhaits

Pronunciation: [a tay sweh]

Meaning: bless you

Literal translation: to your wishes

Register: informal

Notes: You can and should use the French expression à tes souhaits any time a friend sneezes (as long as you're not interrupting a speech or something).

Unlike its English equivalent "bless you," à tes souhaits has no religious connotation whatsover, instead offering the sneezer your hopes that his or her wishes will come true.

If the person sneezes more than once, there's a more elaborate saying: After the first sneeze - A tes souhaits, 2nd sneeze - à tes amours, 3rd sneeze - one of the following:
   avec un grand "A" et beaucoup de "s"
   et à tes enfants
   et à ton argent
   et qu'elles durent toujours
   que les tiennes durent toujours

(Elles and tiennes in the last two variations refer to amours.)

The formal equivalent à vos souhaits can be addressed to a complete stranger with no risk of offense, but again, consider the context. On the bus: yes. During a business meeting: probably not.

Souhaits is the plural of un souhait (wish), from the verb souhaiter (to wish).


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