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Et c'est parti!

Partir normally means “to leave,” as in nous sommes partis (we left). However, c’est parti is an idiomatic expression that has little to do with its literal meaning, "it left." So, without further ado, let’s explore the various shades of meaning of this very popular catchphrase. C’est parti! (Here we go!)

 

When it’s clear from the context that we’re talking in the past tense, c’est parti has a fairly straightforward meaning: “it started." In the video below, the speaker discusses how the Belleville upcycling center began: 

 

Et puis voilà. C'est comme ça que c'est parti.

And there you are. That's how it started.

Caption 117, Actu Vingtième Le bleu dans les yeux, recyclerie de Belleville

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So far so good. However, c’est parti doesn't always refer to something in the past, despite its verb being in the past tense. In fact, c’est parti usually describes an event that hasn’t happened yet. It tells us that something is about to start. Moreover, c’est parti is often accompanied with an exclamation mark to reflect the enthusiasm of the person starting an activity:

 

Et nous, on goûte. Allez, c'est parti! Fourchettes! Bon appétit!

And we're going to taste it. OK, here we go! Forks out! Bon appétit!

Caption 116, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

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You can even add a little color to the expression by saying, Cest parti, mon kiki! Kiki is a colloquial term for "throat," but it only appears here for the rhyme:

 

C’est parti, mon kiki! 

Let’s get cracking!

 

In any case, c’est parti used on its own is something people say when they want to get started, like Amal setting off on a bike ride in the following video:

 

Voilà! C'est parti.

There! Let's go.

Caption 46, Amal Vélib

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Later in the same video, you will find another variation in the English translation of c’est parti:

 

Voilà. C'est bon. Le vélo... Et c'est parti!

There. It's good. The bike... And off you go!

Caption 50, Amal Vélib

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Similarly, c’est parti can also mean “we’re off”:

 

C'est parti, on y va.

And we're off, here we go.

Caption 44, Delphine et Automne Le gâteau au yaourt - Part 2

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Saying c’est parti is a perfect way to announce the start of a race. It's equivalent to on y va (let’s go/here we go):

 

Bon ben c'est parti. -Top chrono, c'est parti.

Good, well, here we go. -Starting now, here we go.

Caption 37, Joanna La course à pied: Conseils

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Another variation of c’est parti is c’est parti pour (for) in combination with a time period, to indicate duration: 

 

C'est donc parti pour trois jours de concert. Au programme, musique classique et jazz

So it's off for a three-day concert. On the program: classical music and jazz

Caption 2, Grand Lille TV Un piano dans le métro!

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C’est parti pour can also introduce what’s coming, as in “it’s time for” something: 

 

Huit heures, le suspense prend fin. C'est parti pour quatre heures de réflexion.

Eight o'clock, the suspense is over. Time for four hours of recollection.

Caption 4, Le Journal Le bac

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You can also use c’est parti pour to discuss what you might expect. In the video below, Sophie and Patrice speculate about the weather. Sophie thinks “they are in for" some rain:

 

Ah mais là, on est parti pour une semaine, hein?

Ah but here, we'll be in it for a week, huh?

Caption 9, Sophie et Patrice La pluie

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Here Sophie replaces c'est with on est. Note, however, that on est parti is usually not an idiomatic expression, but retains its literal meaning (we left):

 

On est parti de Rome...

We left Rome...

Caption 48, Lionel et Automne Lionel retourne à l'école

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In addition to the phrase c’est parti pour, you can qualify c’est parti with an adverb like bien (well) or mal (badly) to indicate whether things are going to turn out well or badly. So, the expression t’es bien parti means “you’re off to a good start/on the right track”:

 

Je pense que t'es bien parti.

I think that you're on the right track.

Caption 109, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

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And of course, c’est mal parti means the opposite, “to be off to a bad start," like Amal's awful singing:

 

C'est très mal parti quand tu... -J'ai fait cinq ans de conservatoire.

It's off to a very bad start when you... -I did five years of conservatory.

Caption 52, Amal et Caroline Je n'aime pas quand tu chantes

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Note that Caroline could have put it another way and said:

 

T’es très mal partie. 

You’re off to a very bad start.

 

Finally, you can add the suffix re- and say c’est reparti (here we go again) to indicate repetition, which can be meant as a good thing or a bad thing. In the video below, Nico expresses his frustration with Sam and says:

 

C'est reparti!

Here we go again!

Caption 19, Extr@ Ep. 4 - Sam trouve du travail - Part 7

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And Barbara is also frustrated with her mother, who does the same annoying thing over and over:

 

Et voilà, c'était reparti pour l'interrogatoire de police.

And then she went off again with the police interrogation.

Captions 39-40, Mère & Fille La soirée

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As you can see, there are many ways of interpreting c’est parti. In general, it's an idiomatic expression that marks the beginning of an action. With a little practice, you'll be able get a sense of its nuances in context. Keep watching Yabla videos, dear readers, and vous serez bien partis (you’ll be off to a great start)! Thank you for reading!

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