by Clare Jones
Bonne année! I hope you are all raring to improve your French in the new year!
You probably already know the expression faire le ménage (to do the housework) and faire du ménage (to do some housework) but let’s explore a little! You can also use faire le ménage as a euphemism to mean ‘to get rid of the deadwood’ (i.e. to sack people). If you ask someone what job they do and they reply, “Je fais des ménages”, that means that they work as a cleaner. Une femme de ménage is a cleaning lady who cleans in someone’s home. For an office or school cleaner this would be different: une femme / un homme de service and for a hospital un agent d’entretien.
Un ménage is the word for a household and ‘to set up house with somebody’ is se mettre en ménage avec quelqu’un. The French term un ménage à trois means ‘a household where three people are in a romantic and / or sexual relationship’. As the English language doesn’t have an equivalent term, we borrow the French expression. If your love life is less complicated, you might want to say, “Je suis heureux / heureuse en ménage” – I am happily married (or happy with my partner). If, on the other hand, things are not going too well, you might say, “Ça ne va pas dans notre ménage”.
Faire bon ménage is ‘to go together well; to work well with; to be compatible’ and is used in many contexts. Here are some examples:
L’homme doit faire bon ménage avec la nature – mankind must work well with nature.
La coriandre et le curry font bon ménage – coriander and curry go well together.
Can you think of some more? Please leave a comment.
There is much to learn about the verbs déménager, emménager and aménager but that will be for another blog post.
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