Dinner is a big deal in my host family; it’s a time for everyone to gather together and it’s not unusual that we spend an hour or an hour and a half at the dinner table eating and talking. The meals are usually delicious and languid. However, one night at dinner, I scarfed down three crepes without even noticing and I hardly managed to slow down to savor my fourth crepe. By the time my host mom turned to offer me a fifth crepe I was stuffed… and I was also stuck, I realized that I did not know how to refuse her offer of more food.
One of my favorite experiences living in a homestay here in Nice has been the mini French lessons my host family shares with me over dinner often as a result of a faux pas made by me or my American roommate. So, I decided to take this opportunity to ask them how to say that I was full in French. My question was met with a full ten seconds of silence and blank stares. My host brother shook his head and said there simply wasn’t a good way to say that you were full in French. Finally, my host mom suggested a few phrases to use when I was full. Since you are likely going to need this phrase as it is easy to stuff yourself with all the delicious food here, I thought I would share the best ways I learned to say I am full when in France.
The absolute best way to tell your French host that you are full is to simply not say it at all. The French take their food and their ability to prepare, serve, and pair it well very seriously. Being able to prepare the perfect taste and portion for a dish is often a point of pride for them. But your French hosts can understand that you are only human and can only eat so much, so when you have passed the point of full and are bordering on stuffed, here are a few phrases to respectfully decline French cooking.
You could always use “c’est bon” meaning “it’s okay” (implying that you do not want more) or simply say “non, merci” (no, thank you) when offered more food. These phrases are short and sweet and will get you out of a fifth crepe. However, there is perhaps an even better way to say that you are full and that is “Je n‘ai plus faim” which literally translates to “I no longer have hunger.” This is about as close as you are going to get to "I am full" in French. This phrase provides a softer way to decline food, but do not forget your smile and to give a lot of compliments when declining food this way, and throwing a “merci” in there wouldn’t hurt!
Though they take their food seriously here in Nice, mealtimes with my host family have always been rather relaxed and joyous occasions – we spend most of the time laughing about phrases like “I am full” that have been lost in translation as we try to communicate with each other, and of course eating.
Insider tip: every French language beginner has been there: you have translated “I am full” literally with your limited vocabulary and come up with the phrase “je suis plein.” DO NOT SAY THIS. Je suis plein literally translates to I am full, but it is actually another way to say you are pregnant, as in you are full with a baby, and not just that! Je suis plein means that you got pregnant in a, well…, not so nice way let’s just say.
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<p>Hello! I am a junior at the College of William and Mary studying global studies and data science, but my true loves are language learning and map-making. I enjoy reading and playing soccer, and I also love to bake, though I more resemble a candidate for Nailed It! then an actual baker. I am excited to go to France this fall so that I can practice my French with locals and eat some good food. For my next adventure abroad, I would love to go to China as I have recently begun to study Chinese and fallen in love with the Netflix show Wild China.</p>