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Easter with its rabbits and our overdose of chocolate is on its way; the 1st of April with its foolish jokes is behind us and daffodils are blooming. There we are: spring is in the air, with its sunny (and still not so warm) days. Children are allowed to wear the summer school uniform, but is it wise? In France kids are told that en avril ne te découvre pas d’un fil (in April, do not remove a single thread of your clothing). It is actually true that one still feels that little nip in the air and that sunglasses don’t really protect from getting a cold. However, May is right around the corner and en mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît (in May, do as you please).

Those two proverbs are usually combined:
en avril ne te découvre pas d’un fil; en mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît.

 

It may correspond (correspondre! in French) to the English one: Ne’er cast a clout till May be out.
Clout
is an old word to designate a fragment of cloth or clothing and so the phrase says: never discard you (warm) clothing until May is ended.

We can only conclude that the French language is more optimistic concerning the weather in May than the English one.

Grrr… grammar:

En avril ne te découvre pas d’un fil; en mai, fais ce qu’il te plaît.
Both verbs are used in impératif (mode) présent (temps) and refer to the same person (you). One then wonders why découvre doesn’t have a ‘s’, whereas fais has one.

First group verbs (infinitif ending by -er), aller, and a restricted list of -ir’ verbs (ouvrir, cueillir, souffrir, offrir, couvrir♥) don’t have an ‘s’ in impératif présent ‘tu’; chante, danse, va, cueille,  ouvre… and découvre!
Découvrir
is indeed a composed form of couvrir.

All the other verbs do have that ‘s’: finis, prends, pars…

185 thoughts on “En avril ne te découvre pas d’un fil; en mai fais ce qu’il te plaît!

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