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Polite French Expression
|Meaning||bless you (after a sneeze)|
|Literally||to your wishes|
|Pronunciation||[ah tay sweh]|
|IPA||[a tɛ swɛ]|
Usage notes: When someone sneezes, it may be polite* to say à tes souhaits (to someone you tutoie) or à vos souhaits (to someone you vouvoie). The English equivalents are "bless you" and, oddly, "Gesundheit" (which means "health" in German but is commonly used in English). While "bless you" clearly has a religious connotation, à tes souhaits (like Gesundheit) does not, though they’re all used in response to the same trigger.
When someone sneezes more than once, the potential responses get more elaborate:
À tes souhaits / À vos souhaits – "To your health"
À tes amours / À vos amours – "To your loves"
3rd sneeze (several options)
– et qu’elles durent toujours – "and may they last forever"
– que les tiennes / vôtres durent toujours – "may yours last forever"
– avec un grand A et beaucoup de s – "with a capital A and many an s"
– et à tes enfants / et à vos enfants – "and to your children"
– et à ton argent / et à votre argent – "and to your money"
* There’s some debate about how polite it really is to respond to a sneeze with one of these phrases as it interrupts whatever is being said at that moment, so do be a bit careful with it. It’s probably ok while sitting in a restaurant (if no one is talking right then) but probably not during a class or business meeting.
The noun un souhait comes from the verb souhaiter (to wish).
- * Verb conjugations: tutoyer | vouvoyer
- Tu vs vous
- Tes, ton, vos, votre: possessive adjectives
- Les tiennes, les vôtres: possessive pronouns
- At the doctor’s office
- Social niceties
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