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La difference entre "des patates" et "des pommes de terre"

Emily M.A1Kwiziq community member

La difference entre "des patates" et "des pommes de terre"

C'est quoi la difference entre "des patates" et "des pommes de terre"? 

Asked 3 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Emily,

To put it simply -

The word patate is the slang word for 'pomme de terre' .

Bonne Continuation!

CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Maarten,

I think you are loading your own interpretation of the word slang ( argot) to my use of the word.

There is nothing rude or unpleasant about the words 'patate' ( pomme de terre), clebs/cabot (chien), clope( cigarette) etc. but they are still slang.

For instance you won't find the word 'patate' for pomme de terre in a recipe unless it is the word for sweet potato/yam which is 'patate douce'.

This is one of the many identical definitions of 'slang' that I found on the internet -


I am not sure if you have occasion to speak with youth in France, but they speak a mixture of argot ( slang) and verlan ( back to front slang) which means that sometimes, I don't understand a word they are saying and I have to ask them to rephrase in a language I can understand.

If I am watching something like 'engrenages'  ( a police series) in France there is so much police slang in it,  that I have to wait until it is shown on BBC4 with subtitles to get the finer points of what is being said.

And I am not being pedantic here, many French people feel the same ...


Bonne Continuation !


Maarten K.C1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

« des patates » is a 'familiar' way of referring to « des pommes de terre ». « Lundi - des patates, mardi -des patates, mercredi - des patates, et jeudi - des patates aussi ! » (Spoken in a sing-song fashion)

Maarten K.C1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

"Slang" ? Des patates is the usual way in many French households to refer to potatoes. I will let my family in France know that they are speaking 'slang' everyday in the garden, and have been for the 45 years that they have been growing them ! 

Familiar register is not the same as slang (slang is translated as 'argot' by Larousse).


Alan G.C1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I would translate "familier" as "colloquial".

Maarten K.C1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I think that is much closer to the mark Alan - 'familier' considered as informal/casual/non-offensive is consistent with colloquial. It carries no implication of rudeness or being disrespectful. I think suggesting something is slang implies the need to be careful with the use of the word in normal social situations - while «des patates» may not be the expression used in a multi-starred Michelin restaurant, it is not a term to be wary of using among friends or family, at the markets, or among casual acquaintances.

Maarten K.C1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Cécile - this is a grammar site, and often very pedantic in its interpretations. Slang has a defined meaning in that context. But even if that is incorrect, yes, of course I would use my interpretation - the fact that you followed my comment that it was 'familiar' with a comment that it was 'slang' suggests you meant something quite different to what I meant. I am reasonably au fait with the younger French generation's speech, and programmes that contain unintelligible French that even my wife has difficulty understanding because it is so different to previous generation's language. As «des patates» crosses generations, and other social 'divides', I don't think it comes close to being in the same category as verlan or argot, or 'slang' register. We will, I think, just have to agree to disagree on the better phraseology.


La difference entre "des patates" et "des pommes de terre"

C'est quoi la difference entre "des patates" et "des pommes de terre"? 

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