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  5. "Je suis en eau profonde."

"Je suis en eau profonde."

Translation:I am in deep water.

March 4, 2013



Do the French use this phrase as a common metaphor to mean "My situation is very serious."?


It can be literal if you are a diver, of course, but figuratively, it may mean that you are in a situation you don't control for lack of visibility, and the form would rather be in plural : en eaux profondes. Yet, as Aurélien says, it is not very common.

Other close expressions like "entre deux eaux" are much more usual (= managing to not chose between two opposite parties/opinions).


Yes, you're right, « entre deux eaux » is far better! With water, I can also think of « en eaux troubles », literally “in murky water”, to express the fact you don't really know the situation you are dealing with.


Thanks, interesting responses!


être pris entre deux eaux = stuck in the middle


Better than being in deep doodoo.


je suis en merde profonde.


I am in deep ... = je suis dans la ... jusqu'au cou (= up to my neck)


Thank you for this expressive sentence.


The words I am given to choose from (translating French to English) force me to use the English translation, "I am into deep water." I'm not aware of any English dialect in which this is correct. "I am in deep water" works, but "into" requires another verb: "I am getting into deep water." Furthermore, this is not how an American would typically express this apparently metaphorical statement. As someone else pointed out, "I'm in over my head" would be far more common.


What do you mean by words you were given to choose from? Do you mean the hints?


No, if his was like mine, we were given word tiles to click on to build the sentence. Instead of "in" it gave us "into".


The expression is really not idiomatic (natural) English with "into". If you see "into deep water" again, please report it.


Can you say "Je suis dans eau profonde" and does it carry the same meaning as "je suis en eau profonde"?


"en eau profonde" is kind of idiomatic.

if you want to use dans, you need an article (as usual) : dans l'eau profonde


So in some stuff like countries you wouldn't use any articles after en?


That's right, preposition "en" kind of contains the article, except in literary phrases.


Could it mean something as to "I am in hot water"?


No, it means "deep water", i.e., to be in a difficult situation.


The English phrase "in hot water" usually refers to the specific category of difficult situation wherein one has run into trouble with some sort of authority (one's boss, the police, a parent or teacher, a regulatory agency, etc.).

Not wholly dissimilar, perhaps, but not quite the same either.


Right. It's one thing to be "in deep water" (a difficult situation) and another thing to be "in hot water" (in trouble)!


We also say in English 'you are treading in deep water'.


That doesn't sound very natural to me (British). It sounds like a combination of "in deep water" (in trouble, or in a difficult situation) and "treading water" (literally: swimming on the spot, or figuratively: doing things in a routine and boring way, not making any improvements, putting in the minimum effort to just get by). If you wanted to combine the two idioms, there's a third that contains aspects of both: "keeping your head above water", which implies both the risk of drowning and the lack of progress.


keeping your head above water = garder la tête hors de l'eau

nager en eau trouble = in trouble, definitely (always figurative)

nager en eau profonde = in deep water (rarely figurative)

nager sur place = treating water (figurative)

nager entre deux eaux = between two worlds (figurative)


This has sort of been answered, but not quite fully in my mind, so I'm going to ask the question.

I understand that if we were to use dans, it would need to be followed by the definite article, at least in this particular case (or some other article in other cases), but I feel a chicken and egg problem coming along.

Do we use en because we use eau OR do we use eau because we use en? Also, why doesn't en need the article afterwards? Is there a historical linguistic reason for it? I'm very curious about this.


Usually "en" is a substitute for "dans le/la/les", which explains why it goes without an article. The preposition "en" is often used in fixed phrases which behave with their own grammar, and most often with immaterial things, like time (en novembre, en hiver, en 2017) and places (en France, en Europe).

"En eau profonde" is fixed and has figurative meaning, whereas "dans de l'eau profonde" has a concrete meaning.

Please take a look at other fixed expressions with "en": "en effet" (in effect), "en outre" (furthermore), "en revanche (however), "en cours" (in progress), "en aucun cas" (in no way), "en avance" (ahead of time), "en retard" (late), "en bonne santé" (healthy)... there are hundreds!


To clarify, when you say 'fixed' you mean that these are established phrases, not just things someone can just make up? And most (if not all) of these phrases that have nothing to do with time often are idiomatic in nature, or convey more than just the literal meaning?

I'm starting to like French. Ç'est trés bon!


When I say "fixed", I mean "set". And yes, many set phrases using "en" have nothing to do with time or space, and this is why they do not all translate to English phrases using "in".


Merci pour la clarté Sitesurf!


You're welcome!


lol So I can't say "I'm in deep shit" ?


Je suis en merde profonde?


You can, but you have to promise to wash your mouth out with soap afterward....and be sure to use the Lifebuoy. But seriously, Matthias, to be "in deep water" just means you're in a difficult situation, not that you are necessarily "in trouble". Bonne courage !


Profonde = Profound


There is not a guaranteed word-for-word single answer for French words. Profond(e) has a number of meanings: deep, overwhelming, heavy, profound.


This does not make sense to a native English speaker. There must be an easier way to translate this or a more relevant phrase to use in French.


The expression is common enough but you may not have heard it. The literal expression "to be in deep water" is a metaphor for being in a difficult situation.


your posts are always very helpful. I have another question I was marked wrong because I wrote profond instead of profonde. Is it profonde because eau is fem. ?


That's right. It can be tricky with the nouns that start with vowels because we don't see them as "le" or "la". Bon courage !


Merci beaucoup


This is what I find most difficult thing when seeing a noun starting with a vowel whether it uses le or la


Yes, "une eau" is countable as well.

All French nouns can be learned with their indefinite article "un" or "une".


C'est une eau pure et claire

Voici la ligne de partage des eaux.

Les eaux du fleuve sont polluées.

J'aime mieux l'eau gazeuse que l'eau plate.


I don't understand when to use (en) or (dans). May someone help me?


In many cases, "en" can mean "in" in a figurative, non-concrete way, whereas "dans" is used with physical and material things.


Look at the reply to my question above you.


When does one use "en" and "dans" when both meaning in?


Both words can be used to mean in a location, but "dans" is used before nouns that require an article:

  • Je suis en eau profonde. = I am in deep water.
  • Je suis dans l'eau profonde. = I am in the deep water.
  • Elle est en classe. = She is in class.
  • Elle est dans la maison. = She is in the house.

The two words can also be used to talk about things happening in time, and there are rules that determine which one to use. Here is a link: dans vs. en


Thank you for the very clear explanation :)


Really helped, thanks...


I tried "I am in trouble" but it wasnt accepted. Too profonde of a stretch I guess!


I have always heard it said "deep waters". Should be accepted. I can't report it cuz I'm on the Android app.


Why isn't it "Je suis en l'eau profonde"?


As already said several times, we Can't use an article after en.


Duolingo confuses me with the liasons. It is not connecting the last 's' is "suis to the 'e' in "en".

Is there a lesson explaining when to use a liason and when not?


would "je suis dans eau profonde" be incorrect? I'm not sure when to use "en" and when to sue "dans".


Sitesurf explains a few comments above:

"In many cases, "en" can mean "in" in a figurative, non-concrete way, whereas "dans" is used with physical and material things." I think this is a solid way of knowing when to use it. I'm in deep water is not talking in this sense about literal water, but in the figurative sense. A bit like "I'm in deep shit".


See replies to Shamshoomi and Suchiththa, above.


When you use "dans", you need an article: dans un/une, dans du/de la, dans le/la/les

When you use "en", you don't need an article: en février, en 2018, en colère (= angry), en eau profonde

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So in French "profond" means both a "deep thought" and literally depth (as in water)?

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