Il ne manquait plus que ça.

Il ne manquait plus que ça.

eel nuh mah-kay PLEWK sah.  Click below to hear this pronounced.

That’s all we needed!

Put on your sarcasm hat! This sounds so nice and bouncy-positive, as if it would only take this one more thing to make everything perfect. In reality, it took only this one more thing to make everything about as miserable as it could possibly be.

In English, we stress the ALL in the sentence. That’s what makes it sound so cross-patchy. There’s not much to the sentence, so we need to use intonation to convey the sarcasm.

The French sentence structure is a little more complicated. Remember that ne…plus means no longer, not any more, no more—a negative, time-related expression. Ne…que, however, is not a genuine negative. It translates into English as only, or but or except—a quantity-related expression. Je n’ai mangé que ça means That’s all I ate, or All I ate was that, or I ate only that. In English, think of expressions like Two minds with but a single thought (only one thought), a survivor of a more old-fashioned use of but.

When you put the whole thing together in French, you get today’s phrase: Literally (or as literally as we can get!), it says, We were no longer lacking anything except that.

In other words, everything possible has gone wrong, and this thing is the last straw. See also this post for another way to express your frustration. But I hope you don’t need either one anytime soon!

(Note: The PRINT button is now hiding under the SHARE THIS button. Click to expand the list of options.)

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