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The French idiom "J'ai du pain sur la planche" explained

You are going to learn all the things you want to know about the basic expression "J'ai du pain sur la planche". This include a complete explanation of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. But wait, we also added some useful things like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, literal meaning and more!

English translation

  • Translation : I have a lot to do

  • Literal meaning : I have bread on the board

  • Register : Informal - Basic

Audio pronunciation



  • IPA : / ʒe dy pɛ̃ syʁ la plɑ̃ːʃ /

aesthetic french quote avoir pain sur planche

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What does it mean exactly?


Finally! A French idiom with bread! But where is it coming from and why does it mean: "To have a lot of work"?

Few centuries ago, it meant "To have a lot of resources" and it was a sign of prosperity/capacity to survive.

But weirdly, with time it became a way to say "I have a lot to do". Just like every morning, the baker sees all the uncooked bread on the board as a sign of the hard work he still has to accomplish.

How to use it

Whenever someone asks you if you are available for something, but you can't because you have a lot of things to do. You can say: "Je ne peux pas, j'ai du pain sur la planche". (I can't, I have some bread on the board)

Funny stuff

No, you can't say "J'ai des baguettes sur la planche" sorry.

↓ Example in a story with French audio ↓

Finally, let's see an example in a parallel story with slow audio.

Invité à une soirée

Invited to a party

MarcLéa, tu es libre ce vendredi soir ?
Léa, are you free this Friday night?
LéaEuh, pas vraiment... pourquoi ?
Hmm, not really... why?
MarcAh... pour rien, je demandais juste.
Ah... nothing, I was just asking.
LéaAllez ! Je sais que tu as quelque chose en tête !
Come one! I know you have something in mind!
MarcPeu importe.
It doesn't matter.
LéaS'il te plait, dis-moi !
Please, tell me!
MarcOk... je voulais t'inviter à une fête.
Ok... I wanted to invite you to a party.
LéaC'est gentil ! Mais tu sais,
j'ai du pain sur la plancheLiterally: I have bread on the board
That's nice! But you know, I've a lot to do...
MarcOui, je sais. Mais je pensais que tu aurais peut-être un peu de temps libre après le travail...
Yes, I know. But I thought you might have some free time after work...


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J'ai une dent contre lui


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Merci mille fois

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