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Faire cadeau

French expressions analyzed and explained


Expression: Faire cadeau

Pronunciation: [fehr ka do]

Meaning: to give (something), to let off easily

Literal translation: to make gift

Register: normal

Notes: Literally, the French expression faire cadeau means "to give (something) as a present," as in Mon copain m'a fait cadeau d'une voiture - "My boyfriend gave me a car (as a gift)." But there are also a couple of more idiomatic and interesting uses.

Ne pas faire de cadeau(x) can mean "to not let off lightly/easily, to give a run for one's money, to make it difficult for you" as when talking about police, parents, proctors, enemies:

   Quand j'ai cassé la fenêtre, mes parents ne m'ont pas fait de cadeau.
   When I broke the window, my parents didn't let me off lightly.

Faire cadeau des détails means "to spare (someone) the details, to make a long story short":

   Je ne peux pas sortir ce soir - je te fais cadeau des détails.
   I can't go out tonight - I'll spare you the details (I'll skip the long story about why I can't go).

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