Dire ses quatre vérités

Dire ses quatre vérités
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French Expression

Meaning to give (someone) a piece of your mind
Literally to tell (someone) his / her four truths
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Pronunciation [deer say kahtr(eu) vay ree tay]
IPA   [diʁ se katʁə ve ʁi te]

Usage notes: The French expression dire ses quatre vérités means to be perfectly blunt and honest, telling another person negative things that are potentially hurtful. It doesn’t necessarily involve an argument, but it’s uncomfortable at the very least – and could well lead to the other person telling some hard truths as well.

Par exemple…

Ma sœur m’a dit mes quatre vérités.   My sister gave me a piece of her mind.
Si ton ami te fait vraiment tant de peine, tu dois lui dire ses quatre vérités.   If your friend is really hurting you that much, you need to be honest with him.
Paul dit leurs quatre vérités à Chantal et Ana.   Paul is giving Chantal and Ana a piece of his mind.

 French vs English

The possessive adjectives (mes, ses, leurs) indicate that the quatre vérités belong to the listeners (the people hearing the truths), rather than the speaker (the person telling the truths). In the third example, Paul thinks that Chantal and Ana are selfish and rude, so he’s telling them those truths about themselves. In contrast, the English equivalent “to give someone a piece of one’s mind” is talking about the speaker’s mind: Paul is giving Chantal and Ana a piece of his mind. The end result is the same – Chantal and Ana are hearing some bad stuff – but it’s an interesting distinction.

 Related lessons

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Dire ses quatre vérités

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