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Sauf – Meaning & Translation – Except in French

Sauf – Meaning & Translation – Except in French

Today we’ll have a look at a word which comes up all the time in conversation but often gets overlooked in lessons: Sauf (except). J’aime toutes les leçons sauf cette leçon (I like all the lessons except for this lesson). Let’s jump right in!



French lesson covering  the word "sauf" (except).

Word origin

The French word sauf comes from the Latin salvo (except for).

Example sentences

In these first two example sentences, the grammatical structure is very straight forward: sauf + noun (except + noun).

J’aime tous les films de Star Wars sauf le dernier.

I like all the Star Wars movies except the last one.

This next example sentence uses tout le monde (everybody), which we covered in this lesson.

Tout le monde m’a téléphoné sauf Charles.

Everybody called except for Charles.

In this next exmple, the translation of sauf si + verb is “unless“.

On partira demain, sauf s’il neige.

We’ll leave tomorrow, unless it snows.

For this next example, sauf que translates to “except that”. When the the verb passer (to pass) appears in the reflexive form of se passer, the meaning changes to “to happen” or “to occur”. This lesson on our site explains how reflexive verbs work.

Tout s’est bien passé, sauf qu’il à commencé à pleuvoir.

Everything went well, except that it started raining.

For this last example, the verb rentrer means “to return”. Sauf in French also means “safe”. Hence, the expression sain et sauf (safe and sound).

Nous sommes rentrés chez nous sain et sauf.

We got home safe and sound.


Et voilà ! Now you know how to use sauf in French! Now check our our lesson covering pourtant (yet, however).

Example of how to use "sauf" (excpet) in French: J'aime tous les légumes sauf le chou-fleur. = I like all vegetables except for cauliflower.
J’aime tous les légumes sauf le chou-fleur. = I like all vegetables except for cauliflower.

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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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