Pas mal

Pas mal
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Essential French Expression

Meaning not bad, nice job; quite a bit
Literally not bad
Register normal
Pronunciation [pah mahl]
IPA   [pa mal]

Usage notes: The French expression pas mal means "not bad" in response to "how are you?"

Par exemple…

– Salut Angélique ! Ça va ?
– Pas mal.
  – Hi Angélique! How’s it going?
– Not bad.
– Bonjour Michel. Comment vas-tu ?
– Pas mal, et toi?
  – Hello Michel, how are you?
– Not bad, you? 

Pas mal can also be an understatement, to mean "good job!" or "way to go!"

Par exemple…

– J’ai eu 19/20 en espagnol au bac.
– Pas mal !
  – I got 19/20 in Spanish on the baccalauréat.
– Nice job! 
Tu as déjà fini ? Pas mal !   You’re done already? Way to go!

Pas mal (with verbs) and pas mal de (with nouns) are adverbs of quantity meaning "quite a bit" or "a fair amount."

Par exemple…

Elle travaille pas mal le week-end.   She works quite a bit on the weekend.
On peut épargner pas mal avec un peu d’effort.   You can save a fair amount of money with a little effort.
Je fais pas mal de cuisine.   I cook quite a bit, I do a fair amount of cooking.
Nous avons acheté pas mal de livres.   We bought quite a few books.

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Pas mal

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2 Responses

  1. Robert 14 June 2014 / 11:14

    Je peux apprendre pas mal de choses ici. Merci!

  2. Hugh South 10 June 2014 / 12:06

    One of the best compliments I received in France was being told that my French was “pas mal”.