J’ai les mains propres. J’ai les mains nettes.

J’ai les mains propres. J’ai les mains nettes.

zhay lay maa PROH-pruh. zhay lay maa NET.

My hands are clean. My hands are clean.

I beg your pardon?

We introduced these two adjectives in yesterday’s post (click here to see it).

Same translation, different connotations. J’ai les mains propres implies I washed my hands, while J’ai les mains nettes implies My conscience is clear–like Pilate washing his hands (les mains propres) in order to relieve his guilt in the conviction of Jesus (les mains nettes, or so he hoped).

The adjective net (feminine nette) is interesting, by the way. Both forms are pronounced the same way: NETT. Also, notice that when you talk about a part of your own body, you say I have clean hands, rather than My hands are clean. There’s no possessive in the French version. If you say J’ai les mains propres, who else’s hands could they be, if not your own?


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