Outer Harbour, Adelaide

Outer Harbour, Adelaide - Photography by Kevin Tang 1975-2007.

I never gave it much thought but it’s turned out that my favourite French phrase is ‘Ça va’. It translates directly to ‘It/That goes’. It’s probably the French equivalent to ‘OK’. I only noticed this the other day during my lesson when my tutor pointed it out to me. As part of my lessons, we work on my conversation skills in French by talking about our week, just random conversations you would have with a friend. Turns out I answer most of her questions with ‘Ça va.’ LOL.

This was one of the first phrases I learnt in French. Why? B’coz back then I did not have the vocabulary or the grammer to express myself. (Guess I still don’t.) This was a great phrase. It is so ambiguous. It denotes neither like nor dislike. It is neither ‘bon’ or ‘mauvais’. It just is… It sits very well with another phrase like ‘Pas mal’, which translated to English means ‘not bad’ but in actual fact, when used in the French context, ‘pas mal’ actually means ‘quite good’. I like this reserved, almost pessimistic French approach to self-expression. But then, people who know me will probably tell you that I am a bit of a pessimist.

When to use ‘Ça va’:
– Comment passé ta semaine?
– Comment vas-tu?
– Comment allez-vous?
– Est-ce que tu aimes (quelqu’un/quelque chose)?
– Est-ce qu’il me va bien?
– C’est bon, non?
– Il faut… (When someone says you have to do something)