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passer un savon à quelqu’un

The French expression “passer un savon à quelqu’un” translates literally to “to pass a bar of soap to somebody”. English meanings include:

  • to give somebody a talking-to
  • to give somebody an earful
  • to haul somebody over the coals.

A French synonym is simply the verb réprimander (to reprimand, tell off). Another French synonymous verb is gronder (to tell off). Here’s an example sentence:

  • L’institutrice passe un savon à Johnny quand il se comporte mal en cours. The teacher gives Johnny an earful when he misbehaves in class.

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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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