Je suis Plein - Common French Mistake

Avoid This Embarrassing Mistake

woman touching stomach
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Mistakes will always be made in French, and now you can learn from them. Many people have made the mistake of saying Je suis plein at the end of a French meal and then found themselves in an embarrassing situation.

Explanation of Je suis Plein

The French translation of "full" is plein, except when it comes to your stomach. It's natural to want to say "je suis plein" to mean "I'm full," but in fact in France, it means "I'm pregnant," and it's not a very nice way to say it, since être pleine is used to talk about pregnant animals, not people.

Correct ways to say "I'm full" include j'ai trop mangé (literally, I ate too much), je suis rassasié (I'm satisfied), and je n'en peux plus (I can't [take] anymore).

Many of us have anecdotes involving the misuse of this expression. What's interesting is that if a woman actually says "je suis pleine" to a native French speaker, he or she will probably understand that to mean she's pregnant. I've had this experience, and I've heard similar stories from dozens of other non-native French speakers. And yet if you talk about this expression in the abstract with a native speaker, s/he's likely to tell you that no one would ever take it to mean you're pregnant because it's only used for animals.

Notes: Je suis plein is also a familiar way of saying "I'm drunk." And apparently in Quebec and Belgium, unlike France, it's perfectly acceptable to say je suis plein to mean "I'm full."

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ThoughtCo. "Je suis Plein - Common French Mistake." ThoughtCo, Feb. 26, 2018, ThoughtCo. (2018, February 26). Je suis Plein - Common French Mistake. Retrieved from ThoughtCo. "Je suis Plein - Common French Mistake." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2018).