Popular French Abbreviations You Need to Know!

Popular French Abbreviations You Need to Know!

by Audrey Sivadier

Updated November 9, 2022

« Tu travailles à EDF comme DRH en CDD ou en CDI ? »

 No matter what profession they work in, the French are confronted with this language every day! We love abbreviations, whether by sms or in our daily lives, they are also present in our jobs.

 French abbreviations at school

But before you get a job, you have to train, right? In France, abbreviations start in childhood! When the French go to school from 3 years old, they start with PS, then MS then GS (Petite, Moyenne and Grande Section). Primary classes are all abbreviations too: CP, CE1, CE2, CM1 and CM2! (Cours Préparatoire, Cours Élémentaire 1 et 2, Cours Moyen 1 et 2)

And it doesn’t get any better after the secondary school diploma (the Bac! Again, another abbreviation). You can go to “fac” (the university), to an IUT (Institut Universitaire Technologique), or to prestigious grandes écoles such as ENS, ENA or HEC!

Abbreviations for companies

You are now trained and ready to apply. But where? You can consider different French industries known for their abbreviations: LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), EDF (Electricity of France), SNCF (French National Railway Company) or PTT (Post, Telegraph and Telephone) or BTP (Building and Public Works).

You naturally go to the dedicated department: RH (Ressources Humaines). In France, jobs offered are generally in two possible forms: CDD or CDI. CDD, which stands for Contrat à Durée Déterminée (fixed-term contract), which means that you will be hired for a period of time that will end on a date determined in advance. CDI, which stands for Contrat à Durée Indéterminée (permanent contract), is what everyone is looking for, the Eldorado! Nothing better than a permanent contract to have a stable situation!

Don’t forget to negotiate your salary to be above the SMIC (minimum interprofessional growth wage). The SMIC corresponds to the legal minimum hourly wage below which the employee cannot be paid. In France, it is currently 10.15€ per hour gross. (8.03€ net)

And if you’re lucky you might meet the PDG, le Président Directeur Général (CEO in English).

 French abbreviations for holidays and strikes

Now that you are in office, with your newly signed CDI, you need to think about your holidays! In France, they are called CP (congés payés = paid holidays), and all French people know the history of them, acquired in 1936 by the strikes of the Popular Front.

Ah strikes… It’s the French national sport! Here is indeed a sport where we are world champions (well, it depends on the polling institutes). It’s also a time when you can read a lot of abbreviations in the streets, those of the many unions: CFDT, CGT, SNUIPP, FO…

« Du beurre dans les épinards » (Butter in the spinach)

If you want to improve your situation (that’s what this culinary expression means), you can appeal to the CE (Comité d’Entreprise = Works Council) of your work. Depending on your company, you will have the possibility to get free or reduced tickets for the cinema or concerts, activities for employees’ children… It also depends on the size of the company.

And if you want to learn a language with Lingoda, you can use your CPF (personal training account). As an employee of any company, you have the right to be trained in new knowledge and skills. So why not learn a new language? You will be paid during your training, which will be paid by your employer!

 Abbreviations for work

 To communicate at work, of course you write emails. Well, there again you’ll find abbreviations. If in English you see Bc and Bcc in the recipient field, in French you will find Cc (Copie Carbonne) and Cci (Copie Carbonne Invisible), which most French people don’t know the meaning of.

And then, at the end of the month, if you have worked well, you will receive your pay slip. So, here, watch out! To understand your payslip, you will need at least ten dictionaries: CGS, CRDS, PAS… Each contribution has its own abbreviation, and they can change according to the job you do. A real puzzle!

Want to avoid a headache? Then avoid spending time with teachers, they often express themselves with acronyms: I’m a FLE teacher (Français Langue Étrangère)! Doctors also speak their own language in the operating room, but the worst, I think, are the military: R.A.S. (Rien à signaler = nothing to report), Q.G. (Quartier Général = Headquarters) Opex (Opérations Extérieures = External Operations)… My brother is one of them, so imagine my family dinners!

If you’d like to practise your French skills with our native speaking teachers, visit the Lingoda website adn sign up for your free 7-day trial today!

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