Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 79): le verbe – dire (l’usage et les expressions)


Dire is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in conjugation, means “to say” or “to tell,” and is found in a number of idiomatic expressions.

Using dire

Dire means “to say” or “to tell”:

Je n’ai rien dit
I didn’t say anything

Dis-moi la vérité
Tell me the truth

Comment dit-on “furthermore” en français ?
How do you say “furthermore” in French?

Dire que means “to say that”:

J’ai dit que j’avais froid
I said that I was cold

Je vais lui dire qu’il doit nous aider
I’m going to tell him that he has to help us

Dire de can either mean “to think” in the sense of having an opinion on or “to feel like”:

Qu’est-ce que tu dis de mon idée ?
What do you think of my idea?

Que dites-vous de la maison ?
What do you think about the house?

Ça te dit de sortir ?
Do you feel like going out?

Ça ne me dit rien
I don’t feel like it at all, That doesn’t do anything for me

Se dire

Se dire can be a pronominal or passive voice construction.

1. Pronominal

Reflexive – to say to oneself

Je me suis dit de ne pas pleurer
I told myself not to cry

Il s’est dit, bon, il faut essayer encore une fois
He said to himself, well, I have to try again

(figurative) – to claim (to be)

Il se dit avocat
He claims to be a lawyer

Elle se dit prête
She claims she’s ready

Reciprocal – to say to each other

Nous devons nous dire au revoir
We have to say good-bye (to each other)

Ils se sont enfin dit qu’ils s’aiment
They finally told each other that they love each other

2. Passive

to be said

Ça ne se dit pas
That isn’t said

Ça ne se dit plus
That isn’t said anymore

Comment ça se dit en espagnol ?
How is that said in Spanish?

Expressions with dire

The French verb dire literally means “to say” or “to tell” and is also used in many idiomatic expressions. Learn how to tell someone off, talk nonsense, be a yes-man, and more with this list of expressions with dire.

dire à quelqu’un ses quatre vérités
to give someone a piece of one’s mind

dire à quelqu’un son fait, dire son fait à quelqu’un
to tell someone off

dire ce qu’on a sur le cœur
to get something off one’s chest

dire des sottises / bêtises
to talk nonsense

dire que
to say, think that

dire toujours amen
to be a yes-man

à ce qu’il dit
according to him

à qui le dis-tu ?
you’re telling me!

à vrai dire
to tell you the truth

Aussitôt dit, aussitôt fait
No sooner said than done

autrement dit
in other words

Ça ne me dit pas grand-chose.
I don’t think much of that.

Ça ne me dit rien.
That does nothing for me, I don’t feel like doing that.
That means nothing to me, I don’t remember that.

Ça me dit quelque chose.
That rings a bell.

Ça te dit ?
Do you feel like doing that? Does that sound good to you?

Ceci/Cela dit
That said, Having said that

Cela va sans dire.
It goes without saying.

that is, in other words

C’est beaucoup dire.
That’s saying a lot.

C’est moi qui te le dis.
Take my word for it.

C’est peu dire.
That’s an understatement.

C’est plus facile à dire qu’à faire.
Easier said than done.

C’est toi qui le dis.
That’s what you say.

Comment dirais-je ?
How shall I put it? What can I say?

comme on dit
so to speak, as they say

Dis donc !
By the way! Hey! Say! How about that!

entendre dire que
to hear (it said) that

Est-ce à dire que…?
Does this mean that…?

Il n’y a pas à dire
There’s no doubt about it.

Je ne dis pas non.
I won’t say no.

Je ne te le fais pas dire !
I’m not putting words in your mouth!

Je te l’avais dit.
I told you so.

ne pas se le faire dire deux fois
not to have to be told twice

on dirait que…
you’d think that

ou pour mieux dire
to put it another way, in other words

pour ainsi dire
so to speak

pour tout dire
in fact

Que dites-vous ?
I beg your pardon? What did you say?

Tu as beau dire, je ne te crois pas.
It doesn’t matter what you say, I don’t believe you

vouloir dire
to mean

se dire
to say to oneself, to think, to claim to be, to be said

Cela ne se dit pas.
That (just) isn’t said.

Cela te dit de (sortir, manger)?
How does (going out, eating) grab you? What do you think of (going out, eating)?

On se dirait en France.
You’d think you were in France.


Present tense

je dis
tu dis
il dit
nous disons
vous dites
ils disent


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