I saw a French subtitle translate it as "on craint" but when I look in the dictionary I don't see any meanings in this context although the dictionary could be behind in updating...is that correct? Any other way of saying it? I'm interested in how the Parisians and Montrealers (that a word?) say it. Oh, the context of "we suck" is like we are bad etc. not sucking on a straw.

  • I'm a real beginner...does anyone mind translating the French comments?
    – verve
    Aug 12 '13 at 14:04
  • On craint is wrong. The idiomatic expression is: ça craint. But that is not "we" suck. But it does not mean we suck. What was the complete English dialogue? To translate, you often need the entire dialogue from a character....
    – Lambie
    Oct 28 '20 at 15:37

Very common multi-purpose expression to say that:

On est nuls.

You can also say:

On est [trop] mauvais. (We are [so] bad)

On est des mauvais. (We are bad, and it's in our nature)

On est minables.

On est des branques (branquignols). (slang)

On est des amateurs/touristes/bras cassés. (we barely have any skill to do that)

Since "we suck" is already quite vulgar, you can do the same in French.

On est des merdes/bouses.

If "we suck" at a game, you can say:

On joue comme des pieds/amateurs/branques/touristes..

"On craint." may be correct but very rarely used. To me, it sounds old (80s/90s).

  • Which dialect would these apply to?
    – verve
    Aug 12 '13 at 2:07
  • I am from Paris. I don't know about Montreal.
    – oli
    Aug 12 '13 at 2:28

It’s slang and it is correct. Le Petit Robert 1 (1993) has the following entry:

II V. intr. FAM. Être insuffisant, ne pas être à la hauteur (opposé à assurer).

Note that “ça craint” also is used to say “that sucks” (i.e. that situation in unpleasant), a usage which is not reported by my dictionary, but is in the 1990 edition (I’ll check the 1993 one once I get my hands on it once again).

5° Fam. Ça craint. c’est laid, désagréable.

  • Wow, what a disappointment my Larousse dictionary is!
    – verve
    Aug 11 '13 at 23:45
  • By the way, the verb is « craindre », and online version of Larousse show this meaning : larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/craindre/… (flagged « Populaire », so it is gentle slang)
    – Thibault
    Aug 13 '13 at 10:18

I'm not a Montrealer, but I do live in Quebec (near Ottawa) and around these parts we use:

On est [trop/vraiment] poches.

or even:

On suce.

This last one is obviously a direct translation of the English and may not be used everywhere in Quebec. I don't use it myself, so I'm not entirely sure if it can be used in every context, but I have heard it from younger persons.

"Poche" can be used in most contexts and can replace that meaning of "suck" in most situations, e.g.:

Mon cours est poche (My class sucks.)

C'est vraiment poche d'avoir manqué ça! (It really sucks to have missed it!)

T'es poche en conduite. (You suck at driving.)

  • 2
    Intéressant de voir que les expressions canadiennes sont incompréhensibles en France (bien que moche et poche soient proches), et qu'il doit en être de même dans d'autres espaces francophones.
    – Personne
    Aug 12 '13 at 12:14
  • Do note that "On suce" is also quite vulgar, not just slang. I've heard all of the above in Montreal and Quebec City (and neighbouring cities).
    – ApplePie
    Aug 18 '17 at 11:01

On craint is a good translation but you can also hear:

On est nazes.

  • So, "on craint" is used by people now in Paris?
    – verve
    Aug 12 '13 at 10:09
  • People can say it but Nous sommes nazes or On est nazes are more popular expressions.
    – Zistoloen
    Aug 12 '13 at 10:39
  • @verve on craint (conjugaison normale de craindre) est utilisée dans l'acception du mot craindre (linternaute.com/dictionnaire/fr/definition/craindre). ça craint est une expression argotique que l'on emploie surtout dans une situation lorsqu'il y a danger, risque pour sa renommée ; elle n'est pas réellement traduisible par we suck
    – Personne
    Aug 12 '13 at 12:22
  • 1
    @Zistoloen Nope. "Nous sommes nazes" mixes slang ("naze") with "nous sommes", which often sounds formal when used orally. "On est nazes" is much better!
    – G.J
    Apr 25 '16 at 15:38
  • 2
    On craint is an existing term even if it's not very common.
    – Zistoloen
    Apr 27 '16 at 13:55

IMHO the French verb "craindre" (to fear or be wary of) is not even a little bit equivalent to the English verb "suck". The translation should at least retain some of the nature of the English word. If in English it's vulgar, then the word in French should also be vulgar. I would use "c'est de la merde".

  • 4
    How does "we suck" translate to "c'est de la merde"? How is the pronoun "we" rendered?
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 27 '20 at 18:36

Sure you can say Montrealer (Montréalais). Inspired by another answer I would argue you can use in Montreal (Quebec):

On [ne] vaut pas d'la (de la) marde. [lit. "we're not worth shit" with the vulgar alternative to merde; in this localized spoken context, it's important not to use the negative particle ne like you would normally do i.e. on ne vaut as well as to drop the e in "de la" i.e d'la and to not pronounce mɛʁd but rather maʁd: On vaut pas d'la marde !]

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