En Fait - French Expression Explained

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The French expression en fait (pronounced [a(n) feht]) is a statement of contradiction, used when you want to set the record straight. It's the equivalent of saying something like "in fact," "as a matter of fact" or "actually" in English. Its register is normal.

Examples

   -As-tu faim ? -Non, en fait, j'ai déjà mangé.
   -Are you hungry? -No, actually, I've already eaten.

   -J'avais pensé que nous allions le faire ensemble, mais en fait j'étais tout seul.


   -I'd thought we were going to do it together, but, in fact, I was by myself.
 

Confusions

There are two potential confusions with the expression en fait:

  1. It's really only used to contradict something. In English, there's another meaning of "in fact," where you agree with what was just said and want to add some more information, as in "Yes, in fact, that's a good idea." In this case, a better translation of "in fact" is en effet, effectivement, or possibly justement.
  2. Though it may sound similar, the expression au fait means something very different.