Fais gaffe

Fais gaffe !
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Informal French Expression

Meaning Be careful! Watch out!
Literally Make mistake!
Register informal
Pronunciation [feh gahf]

Usage notes: The informal French expression fais gaffe is very minimal, as the negation is only implied. Une gaffe is a blunder or mistake, so literally fais gaffe means "make [a] mistake" – indeed, if you use the expression faire une gaffe in anything other than the imperative, it means "to make a mistake." But fais gaffe means just the opposite: it implores you to be careful, to not make a mistake.

Par exemple…

J’ai peur que tu tombes, fais gaffe !   I’m afraid you’ll fall, be careful!
L’échelle a l’air branlante – fais gaffe !   The ladder looks rickety – be careful!
Fais gaffe en traversant la rue.   Pay attention while crossing the street.

 You can use faites gaffe when talking to more than one person in an informal situation.

Variations: Fais gaffe à toi / Faites gaffe à vous – Watch yourself / yourselves


  • Fais / Faites attention – Pay attention
  • Méfie-toi / Méfiez-vous – Look out, Be careful
  • Mets-toi sur tes gardes / Mettez-vous sur vos gardes – Put yourself on guard
  • Sois sur tes gardes / Soyez sur vos gardes – Be on your guard
  • Reste sur tes gardes / Restez sur vos gardes – Stay on your guard
  • Tiens-toi sur tes gardes / Tenez-vous sur vos gardes – Stay on your guard

 Related lessons

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1 Response

  1. Faux Frenchie 17 May 2015 / 5:45

    I hadn’t thought about this as being an implied negation before, but that makes a lot of sense! Reminds me of when the French say “T’inquète !” which literally means “Worry (yourself)!” but is only ever used to mean DON’T worry.