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mettre la main à la pâte

“Mettre la main à la pâte” is a lovely French expression that translates literally to “to put the hand at the dough”. The English meaning is:

  • to lend a hand
  • to lend a helping hand
  • to chip in
  • pitch in
  • to muck in (UK)

The idea is that by helping to knead the dough you’re offering a helping hand. gives a great French definition: to participate in work, in what needs to be one.

Here’s an example sentence:

Tous ce qui assistent à la fete mettent la main à la pate: Jacques prépare la salade, Marie prépare la pizza et Jean prépare le dessert. Everybody who’s attending the party is lending a hand: Jacques is making the salad, Marie is making the pizza and Jean is making the dessert.

more French expressions

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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