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Illnesses, aches and pains

  • 1 Illnesses, aches and pains

    Where does it hurt?
    where does it hurt?
    = où est-ce que ça vous fait mal? or (more formally) où avez-vous mal?
    his leg hurts
    = sa jambe lui fait mal
    ( Do not confuse faire mal à qn with the phrase faire du mal à qn, which means to harm sb.)
    he has a pain in his leg
    = il a mal à la jambe
    Note that with avoir mal à French uses the definite article (la) with the part of the body, where English has a possessive (his), hence:
    his head was aching
    = il avait mal à la tête
    English has other ways of expressing this idea, but avoir mal à fits them too:
    he had toothache
    = il avait mal aux dents
    his ears hurt
    = il avait mal aux oreilles
    she broke her leg
    = elle s’est cassé la jambe
    Elle s’est cassé la jambe means literally she broke to herself the leg ; because the se is an indirect object, the past participle cassé does not agree. This is true of all such constructions:
    she sprained her ankle
    = elle s’est foulé la cheville
    they burned their hands
    = ils se sont brûlé les mains
    Chronic conditions
    Note that the French often use fragile (weak) to express a chronic condition:
    he has a weak heart
    = il a le cœur fragile
    he has kidney trouble
    = il a les reins fragiles
    he has a bad back
    = il a le dos fragile
    Being ill
    Mostly French uses the definite article with the name of an illness:
    to have flu
    = avoir la grippe
    to have measles
    = avoir la rougeole
    to have malaria
    = avoir la malaria
    This applies to most infectious diseases, including childhood illnesses. However, note the exceptions ending in -ite (e.g. une hépatite, une méningite) below.
    When the illness affects a specific part of the body, French uses the indefinite article:
    to have cancer
    = avoir un cancer
    to have cancer of the liver
    = avoir un cancer du foie
    to have pneumonia
    = avoir une pneumonie
    to have cirrhosis
    = avoir une cirrhose
    to have a stomach ulcer
    = avoir un ulcère à l’estomac
    Most words in -ite ( English -itis) work like this:
    to have bronchitis
    = avoir une bronchite
    to have hepatitis
    = avoir une hépatite
    When the illness is a generalized condition, French tends to use du, de l’, de la or des:
    to have rheumatism
    = avoir des rhumatismes
    to have emphysema
    = avoir de l’emphysème
    to have asthma
    = avoir de l’asthme
    to have arthritis
    = avoir de l’arthrite
    One exception here is:
    to have hay fever
    = avoir le rhume des foins
    When there is an adjective for such conditions, this is often preferred in French:
    to have asthma
    = être asthmatique
    to have epilepsy
    = être épileptique
    Such adjectives can be used as nouns to denote the person with the illness, e.g. un/une asthmatique and un/une épileptique etc.
    French has other specific words for people with certain illnesses:
    someone with cancer
    = un cancéreux/une cancéreuse
    If in doubt check in the dictionary.
    English with is translated by qui a or qui ont, and this is always safe:
    someone with malaria
    = quelqu’un qui a la malaria
    people with Aids
    = les gens qui ont le Sida
    Falling ill
    The above guidelines about the use of the definite and indefinite articles in French hold good for talking about the onset of illnesses.
    French has no general equivalent of to get. However, where English can use catch, French can use attraper:
    to catch mumps
    = attraper les oreillons
    to catch malaria
    = attraper la malaria
    to catch bronchitis
    = attraper une bronchite
    to catch a cold
    = attraper un rhume
    Similarly where English uses contract, French uses contracter:
    to contract Aids
    = contracter le Sida
    to contract pneumonia
    = contracter une pneumonie
    to contract hepatitis
    = contracter une hépatite
    For attacks of chronic illnesses, French uses faire une crise de:
    to have a bout of malaria
    = faire une crise de malaria
    to have an asthma attack
    = faire une crise d’asthme
    to have an epileptic fit
    = faire une crise d’épilepsie
    to be treated for polio
    = se faire soigner contre la polio
    to take something for hay fever
    = prendre quelque chose contre le rhume des foins
    he’s taking something for his cough
    = il prend quelque chose contre la toux
    to prescribe something for a cough
    = prescrire un médicament contre la toux
    malaria tablets
    = des cachets contre la malaria
    to have a cholera vaccination
    = se faire vacciner contre le choléra
    to be vaccinated against smallpox
    = se faire vacciner contre la variole
    to be immunized against smallpox
    = se faire immuniser contre la variole
    to have a tetanus injection
    = se faire vacciner contre le tétanos
    to give sb a tetanus injection
    = vacciner qn contre le tétanos
    to be operated on for cancer
    = être opéré d’un cancer
    to operate on sb for appendicitis
    = opérer qn de l’appendicite

    Big English-French dictionary > Illnesses, aches and pains

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