Ce n’est pas la mer à boire!
snay pas lah MAY rah bwaar! Click below to hear this pronounced.
It’s not asking the impossible!
Only it doesn’t say any of that…no ask, no impossible. Once again, real language is more fun than what the dictionaries say!
It’s not the ocean to drink…which is awkward English, but that’s the literal translation. In easy, casual (and correct) English, we might say something like I’m not asking you to drink the ocean! And that certainly does qualify as an impossible task, regardless of the occasional legend that has an ancient superhero doing just that.
The grammatical construction of today’s French phrase is the same as yesterday’s. You could omit the ne, making the ce and the est collide with each other: c’est pas, and you’d definitely sound more French. In fact, here’s a brief article about that very phenomenon, posted on the French Today blog just today.