Quand les poules auront des dents

Quand les poules auronts des dents
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French Expression

Meaning when pigs fly
Literally when hens have teeth
Register normal
Pronunciation [ka(n) lay pool (z)o ro(n) day da(n)]
IPA   [kã le pul (z)o rɔ̃ de dã]
    (optional liaison between poules and auront)

Usage notes: The French expression quand les poules auront des dents is a colorful way of saying “not a chance!” or “it’ll never happen!” The equivalent English barnyard expression is “when pigs fly,” but there are other possible translations, including “when hell freezes over” and “never in a month of Sundays.”

Par exemple…

Il m’a demandé s’il pouvait emprunter mon mobile, et j’ai répondu : « Oui, bien sûr … quand les poules auront des dents ! »   He asked if he could borrow my cellphone, and I responded, "Yes, of course… when pigs fly!"
– Quand vas-tu venir avec nous à l’opéra ?
– Quand les poules auront des dents !
  – When are you going to come with us to the opera?
– When hell freezes over!

 Grammar question: Why isn’t avoir in the present tense? See the note "Futuristic conjunctions" in my French future lesson.

Synonymous, informal expressions

  • à la Saint-Glinglin
  • ce n’est pas demain la veille

 Despite a couple of similarities, this expression isn’t the same thing as "rare as hen’s teeth," which describes something that is very difficult to find – but not impossible. Quand les poules auront des dents means something is impossible.

 Related lessons

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Quand les poules auront des dents

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