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D'habitude, elle n'est pas aussi féminine, tant s'en faut ! Elle est en train de porter la peau de chat !

I sometimes place "tant s'en faut" like this at the end of a sentence as a replacement for "loin de là". I have always used whichever comes to mind first on the spot in conversation, even if "loin de là" does take up the lion's share.

I've just heard that "tant s'en faut" is actually not used in France at all, although I've first hand heard some French speakers around me (one of them originally from St-Étienne) use it on several separate occasions in the past. That's how the phrase slipped into my active vocabulary in the first place.

Is "tant s'en faut" a regional thing, an old-fashioned variant of "loin de là" or something?

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My guess would be: old-fashioned though it doesn't seem to be marked as such in dictionaries.

~Loin s'en faut~

is probably more used these days in colloquial French but the Académie française crosses it off as incorrect.

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Selon Ngram viewer, « Tant s'en faut » est moins utilisé que « Loin de là » depuis ~1800, bien qu'ils aient tout deux le même sens.
La tendance était inverse avant 1800.

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  • What about your personal experience? Do you use it yourself? Do you hear it a lot in conversations? – Teleporting Goat Jul 25 '18 at 15:27
  • @TeleportingGoat Same here. I'm curious about French speakers' first-hand experience of using and hearing the phrase themselves, or the lack thereof. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jul 25 '18 at 15:45
  • @TeleportingGoat: Me concernant, je n'ai pas souvenir d'avoir utilisé « Tant s'en faut », par contre, je peux utiliser « Loin de là » et je l'ai souvent entendu lors de conversations. – Toto Jul 25 '18 at 15:48
  • @TeleportingGoat I've just heard from my girldfriend that she doesn't know "tant s'en faut" either. Though she has lived near Paris for nearly 10 years. As for one of my colleagues originally from Marseille, he says he knows the phrase but seems to have heard it used only occasionally. Hmm, the plot thickens... You raised an interesting point, bro. :) – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Jul 26 '18 at 16:16

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