Comme il Faut

man with a bib that has a tie drawn on it
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Expression: Comme il faut

Pronunciation: [kuh meel fo]

Meaning: properly, correctly, respectably

Literal translation: as it must

Register: normal


The French expression comme il faut comes from the impersonal verb falloir. Il faut means "it is necessary," so comme il faut means "as (it) is necessary" or, more idiomatically, "properly, respectably." Comme il faut can be used in reference to any sort of situation in which etiquette demands a certain type of behavior.


   Habille-toi comme il faut.

   Dress properly.

   Qui peut faire ce travail comme il faut ?

   Who can do this work correctly?

   Des clients vont dîner avec nous ce soir, alors conduisez-vous comme il faut.

   Clients are going to eat with us tonight, so behave/be on your best behavior.

   Je ne sais pas répondre comme il faut.

   I don't know how to respond properly, I don't know the right way to respond.

It can even be used as an adjectival phrase:

   des enfants très comme il faut

   well-behaved children

Comme il faut can also be used in reference to things with a meaning more along the lines of "as it should" or "like it's supposed to":

   Mon ordinateur ne marche pas comme il faut.

   My computer doesn't work/run like it should.

When comme il faut is used in English, it tends to have a somewhat snobbish nuance that is not necessarily present in the original French expression.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Comme il Faut." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Comme il Faut. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Comme il Faut." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).