Why have we chosen 'grave'?
This is a word that youll hear used in formal and colloquial French but the meaning can change depending on the context and the speaker.
Confused already? Ce nest pas grave, read on…
So what exactly does 'grave' mean?
Grave comes from the Latin gravis meaning heavy, and in official French means serious. You might read about “une faute grave” (serious misconduct) or “un blessé grave” (seriously injured person) in the news.
Youve probably also heard plenty of French people say ce nest pas grave, meaning "it doesnt matter" or "its not a problem" in conversations.
However in spoken French, particularly among young people, the word grave on its own has started to pepper conversations as a kind of intensifier used to show agreement.
It can be used as a response (meaning something like “indeed” or “seriously”), to confirm an opinion for example, Tu te trouves pas que c'est bon? (It's good, don't you think) To which you could respond: Grave! (Absolutely!)
It could also confirm a fact like, Vous avez perdu le match? (Did you lose the match?) Grave!. (Totally!)
Similarly, grave can also be used in a sentence to emphasize a point being made, such as the very familiar ça claque grave! (It's so awesome!)
Throwing grave into conversations as an adverb in this way isnt technically correct usage, but it certainly is very common.
So how can I use grave in spoken French?
Cautiously! This is colloquial French, mostly used among young people so be aware of the context youre in before you use it. Here are some different ways you might hear it spoken French:
Jai faim grave.
Im so hungry.
Cest un peu loin, hein? – Grave!
Its a bit far isnt it? – Seriously!