As you must already know, French people are known for complaining about almost everything. This is demonstrated in our frequent public strikes and student protests. However, this might not be so wrong… as a student, I myself participated in marches a couple of times. So, in honor of this French quality, I’ve made a list of the different ways, formal and informal, to complain in French. I have also written explanations for the different meanings that these verbs and expressions can have. Let’s take a look.


Complaining about or to someone


T’es chiant(e)


Because this adjective is informal (it means “you’re a pain”), more informal speech is used here. Thus, the tu and es are contracted. In other words, tu es becomes t’es.


Of course, you can also use different conjugations of the verb être in order to complain about someone else. Similarly, you can also use it with adverbs such as très, trop or even vraiment.




  • Camille est vraiment chiante; elle parle toujours de ses problèmes personnels quand on passe un bon moment. Camille is really annoying; she’s always talking about her personal problems when we’re having a good time.
  • Mes voisins sont trop chiants ; tous les soirs ils mettent la musique jusqu’à 2h du mat’.  My neighbors are so annoying; every night they play music until 2 o’clock in the morning.


Tu m’énerves (you’re getting on my nerves)


This is usually pronounced with an emphasis on the m and the initial e of énerves: tu m’énerves!


Tu me fatigues (I’m tired of you)




  • Les politiciens… Ils me fatiguent avec leurs mensonges! Politicians… I’m tired of their lies.


Tu me gonfles (you’re getting on my nerves)


The literal meaning of gonfler is to increase the volume of something. However, if you use it with a person as the object (gonfler quelqu’un) it means “to annoy, to get on someone’s nerves.”




  • Tu aurais une pompe pour gonfler mon vélo? (literal meaning) Do you have a pump to inflate my bike?
  • Tu commences à me gonfler avec ta jalousie maladive ! You’re starting to get on my nerves with your obsessive jealousy!


The verbs énerver, fatiguer and gonfler also have counterparts that are adjectives: énervant, fatigant and gonflant.




  • J’ai des problèmes de connexion Internet toutes les semaines. C’est très énervant. I have problems with my Internet connection every week. That’s very annoying.
  • Je fais 60 kilomètres tous les jours pour aller travailler ; c’est fatigant! I drive 60 kilometers everyday to go to work; it’s tiring!
  • Elle est un peu gonflante avec ses histoires de cœur. She is a little irritating with all her love stories.


Expressions with ça and c’est


Ca m’ennuie / Ca m’embête


These two expressions are formal and do not necessarily express anger. They are actually used when someone is annoyed, concerned or worried about something.




  • Cinq de mes employés ne sont pas venus au travail aujourd’hui; ça m’ennuie parce que nous avons un projet à terminer. Five of my employees didn’t come to work today; that concerns me because we have a project to finish.
  • Je dois annuler ma réservation d’hôtel. Ca m’embête car j’avais payé 20% en avance. I have to cancel my hotel reservation. That bothers me because I paid 20% in advance.


Attention ! Ennuyer et embêter can also be used as pronominal verbs: s’ennuyer et s’embêter. In this case, they mean “to be bored.”




  • Je m’ennuie en cours; c’est trop facile. I am bored in class; it’s too easy.
  • Si tu pars en vacances dans ce village, je te conseille de prendre de la lecture sinon tu vas t’embêter. If you go on vacation to this village, I recommend that you take some reading material with you, otherwise you will get bored.


Ca m’énerve


This is a little stronger than ça m'ennuie and ça m’embête. It literally means “it’s getting on my nerves” as in tu m’énerves (you’re getting on my nerves).




  • Ca m’énerve! A cause des grèves de la SNCF, je dois me lever deux heures plus tôt pour aller travailler. This is getting on my nerves. Because of the SNCF strikes, I have to wake up two hours earlier to go to work.


C’est chiant


Attention ! The adjective chiant can have two meanings: “boring” and “annoying.” C’est chiant is used more in the sense of “it’s irritating.”




  • C’est chiant; je viens tout juste de rentrer du boulot et je dois déjà faire le ménage! That’s annoying/irritating; I just came back from work and I must already do the housework.


Ca me gonfle


Same as tu me gonfles, ça me gonfle means “that annoys me / that’s getting on my nerves.”


Ca me prend la tête : that bothers me


Like ça me gonfle, ça me prend la tête is very informal.


In this case, se prendre la tête is a reflexive and pronominal verb. It can also be reciprocal if you use it to mean “to have words” or “to have an argument with someone.”




  • Hier, je me suis pris la tête avec mon patron. Yesterday, I had an argument with my boss!
  • Hier, mon patron m’a pris la tête. Yesterday, my boss really annoyed me / got me riled up.


C’est incroyable ! C’est pas possible ! C’est pas vrai !


These can be used both for surprise and annoyance. Note that ce n’est pas becomes c’est pas in this informal sentence.




  • C’est incroyable! Elle a réussi ses examens et elle est première de sa promotion (surprise). That’s unbelievable! She passed her exams and she’s first in her class.
  • C’est pas possible: j’ai attendu ce rendez-vous pendant trois mois et aujourd’hui, ça m’est sorti de la tête (annoyance). It can’t be: I’ve been waiting three months for this appointment and today it completely slipped my mind.
  • J’ai gagné un voyage dans la mer des Caraïbes ! I won a trip to the Caribbean Sea!
  • C’est pas vrai ? (surprise). Really?
  • C’est incroyable comme tu peux être têtu ! (annoyance, complaint) It’s unbelievable how stubborn you can be!
  • La compagnie aérienne a encore perdu ma valise ! C’est pas possible d’être aussi peu professionnels ! (annoyance, complaint) The airline lost my luggage again! How is it possible that they are so unprofessional?
  • C’est pas vrai ! T’es encore devant la télé ? T’as pas vu toute la vaisselle qu’il y a à faire ! (annoyance, complaint) Really? You’re still watching TV? You haven’t you seen all the dishes that have to be done, have you?


You will notice more contractions here with t’es (tu es) and t’as (tu as) due to the informal context.


Expressions with je


J’en ai assez (de) : I’ve had enough (of)




  • J’en ai assez de travailler 50 heures par semaine pour un salaire de misère; je crois que je vais chercher un autre travail. I’ve had enough of working fifty hours a week for a pittance; I think I’m going to look for another job.


J’en ai marre (de) : I’m fed up (with)




  • J’en ai vraiment marre de mon copain et de ses soirées foot; j’aimerais qu’on passe plus de temps ensemble. I’m fed up with my boyfriend and his football evenings; I’d like us to spend more time together.


J’en ai ras le bol / ras la casquette (de) : I’m totally fed up (with)




  • J’en ai ras le bol des kilos en trop; aucun régime ne marche! I’m totally fed up with being overweight; none of the diets work!


Je n’en peux plus / J’en peux plus : I can’t take it anymore


Note that the contraction of je n’en into j’en in j’en peux plus is more informal.




  • J’en peux plus de ces rencards ratés; je veux rencontrer l’amour, le vrai! I can’t take these unsuccessful dates anymore; I want to find love, true love!


C’est tout pour aujourd’hui ! Now, it’s your turn to complain! How about you try to include one of these expressions in your next conversation with your French teacher or tutor? T’en as marre des verbes irréguliers? Les prépositions t’énervent? I would love to hear from you and about how you have used this vocabulary.


A bientôt pour un autre article !


Image Sources


Hero Image by Robert Tortorelli (Public Domain)