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Avoir du pain sur la planche

French expressions analyzed and explained

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Expression: Avoir du pain sur la planche

Pronunciation: [a vwar du peh(n) sur la pla(n)sh]

Meaning: to have a lot to do, have a lot on one's plate, have one's work cut out

Literal translation: to have bread on the (bread)board

Register: informal

Notes: The French expression avoir du pain sur la planche is much like "to have a lot on one's plate" in English. I find this equating of food to be eaten and work to be dealt with very interesting, as one doesn't normally think of eating as a chore, especially in France. Cooking maybe, but not eating.

Related expression: Il reste du pain sur la planche - There's still a lot to do, a lot of work to be done

Example
   On ne peut pas aller au ciné cet après-midi ; on a du pain sur la planche.
   We can't go to the movies this afternoon; we have a lot (of work) to do.


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