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That doesn't make sense

I have seen the translation for this sentence in French before but now I can't find it. Would you please how do I say "That doesn't make sense" in French?

Also, how to say "I want to call in sick" meaning I want to call my boss to say that I'm not well and won't be coming in to work.

Merci beaucoup.

July 28, 2017



Two sentences that cannot be translated into French. We have to rephrase, adapt, be creative.

For the first one, we could say 'Ça ne veut rien dire', depending on context.

For the second one, 'J'ai envie d'appeler pour dire que je suis malade' (it does sound like it is a lie).


How about Cela n'a pas de sens? That is what Google says. (But Google is usually wrong...)


Yes, actually 'Ça n'a pas de sens' is also correct ('Cela' is formal and 'n'a pas de sens' is not much formal, so it is better to use 'Ça', in my opinion). I think it is more common to say 'Ça n'a aucun sens' ('It does not make any sense'), though.


In 19th-century books on Google Books:

  • Cela n'a pas de sens: 2910
  • Ça n'a pas de sens: 339
  • Cela n'a aucun sens: 9
  • Ça n'a aucun sens: 329

I suspect 'Cela n'a pas de sens' was an attempt to formalise the informal expression 'Ça n'a pas de sens'. Nowadays, you cannot use 'cela' in informal conversations.

In 20th-century books:

  • Ça n'a pas de sens: 3220
  • Ça n'a aucun sens: 1140
  • Ça ne veut rien dire: 4700

Well, I guess I do not like the phrase 'Ça n'a pas de sens'. It can be used, no problem.


Thanks, Marc. I thought it might be 'Ça ne veut rien dire,' but you said depending on context. What are other ways to say it?

A friend told me arrête maladie. So can I say J'ai envie d'appeler pour un arrête maladie?


'Ça ne veut rien dire' means 'It does not mean anything'. In some cases, we could also say: 'Ça n'a aucune logique, ça n'a aucun sens, ça ne tient pas la route, ça ne tient pas debout, c'est n'importe quoi, tu racontes des âneries', etc. ;-)

The correct (informal) term is 'arrêt maladie': https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arr%C3%AAt_maladie

'J'ai envie d'appeler pour prendre un arrêt maladie', but it does not sound natural enough. The simplest solution was my previous version, 'pour dire que je suis malade'. At this stage, the administrative aspect has not started. And we do not really 'take' a sick leave, we have to obtain it from our doctor.


"Taking a sick leave" is just a phrase that isn't supposed to be perceived as literal. Though, I guess that's why one cannot translate the statement word-by-word in French. Very interesting to know!


Merci, merci beaucoup, Marc. You're always thorough. I appreciate the hard work.

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