The French sentence "Pas mal" explained

Get prepared to find out everything you need to know about the basic French sentence “Pas mal”.

This include a detailed guide of what it is and how you can use it in a normal conversation with an audio example. And because learning a new language is important, we also added some useful things like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio, synonym and more!

Oh and if you are interested, you can find more of these sentences tutorials on this page and the complete directory of all our French words content on this page. Ready to learn? C’est parti ! (Let’s go!)

Table of Contents

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Translation in English

Pronunciation guide

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

Pas mal meaning

Definition

It literally means:

  • Pas → Not
  • Mal → Bad

“Pas mal” is the French way to say “Not bad“, typically after someone ask you ”Ça va ?” (How are you?). But it can be used in many other cases and can also mean “Nice job / Way to go” or even “Quite a bit” depending on the context.

How to use it

The typical usage is to express “Not bad“:

  • Comment ça va aujourd’hui ? → How are you today?
  • Pas mal, et toi ? → Not bad and you?

But it can also mean “Way to go” or “Nice job“:

  • J’ai couru un marathon en 3 heures → I ran a marathon in 3 hours
  • Pas mal ! → Way to go! / Nice job!

Finally, it can be used as an adverb of quantity, similar to “quite a lot“, “quite a bit” or “quite a few“:

  • Tu as l’air en pleine forme → You seem to be in great shape
  • Merci, je fais pas mal de sport → Thanks, I do quite a lot of sport

  • Tu as assez de tomates pour cuisiner une pizza ? → Do you have enough tomatoes to cook a pizza?
  • Oui, j’ai acheté pas mal de tomates → Yes, I bought quite a few tomatoes
  • or…
  • Oui, j’en ai acheté pas mal → Yes, I bought quite a few of them

Synonyms and similarities

  • C’est pas mal → It’s / That’s not bad
  • Pas trop mal → Not too bad
  • C’est pas trop mal → It’s / That’s not too bad

Dialogue example

Audio dialogue by French natives

Dialogue audio

Dialogue transcription

” Ton premier rendez-vous s’est bien passé ? “
” Did your first date went well? “
” Pas mal “
” Not bad “
” Raconte ! “
” Tell me! “
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