Fais gaffe

Fais gaffe!
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Informal French Expression

Meaning Be careful! Watch out!
Literally Make mistake!
Register informal
Pronunciation French sound files [feh gahf]
IPA   [fɛ gaf]

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."

Par exemple…

Il a vraiment fait gaffe hier.   He really messed up yesterday.
J’espère ne pas faire gaffe.   I hope I don’t mess up.

But fais gaffe means just the opposite: it implores you to be careful, to not make a mistake.

Par exemple…

Il y a beaucoup de vent, fais gaffe !   It’s very windy, 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 – Watch yourself
  • Faites gaffe à vous – Watch yourselves

Synonyms

  • Attention – Pay attention, Be careful
  • 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

 * There are two other expressions with "missing" negation: t’inquiète and t’occupe.

 Related lessons

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Fais gaffe !
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