Avoir mal (à) = To be in pain, to hurt somewhere

Avoir mal

To express physical pain in French, you will use the expression avoir mal (literally "to have pain")

J'ai très mal!
It really hurts!  

Elle n'a pas mal.
She's not hurt.
She's not in pain.

Avoir mal à + [partie du corps]

When the pain is localised, you use avoir mal à + le/la/l'/les followed by the part of the body that hurts.

Remember that à + le and à + les contract in au and aux .

J'ai mal à la gorge.
My throat is sore.
I have a sore throat.

Sophie a mal à l'oreille.
Sophie's ear aches. 
Sophie has an earache.

J'ai mal aux dents.
My teeth hurt.
I have a toothache.

ATTENTION:

The expression avoir mal au cœur  does not mean you're having a heartache or a heart attack, but that you're feeling sick, like you want to throw up. 

Mon frère a mal au cœur en voiture.
My brother is car sick.

Case of œil and yeux :

Maurice a mal à l'œil.
Maurice's eye hurts.

Roxane a mal aux yeux.
Roxane's eyes hurt.

Note that the irregular plural of œil is yeux.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Roxane a mal aux yeux.
Roxane's eyes hurt.


Maurice a mal à l'œil.
Maurice's eye hurts.


Mon frère a mal au cœur en voiture.
My brother is car sick.



avoir mal


Elle n'a pas mal.
She's not hurt.
She's not in pain.


J'ai très mal!
It really hurts!  


avoir mal à + body part


Tu as mal au ventre.
Your stomach aches.
You have a stomach ache.


Il a mal à la tête.
His head hurts.
He has a headache.


J'ai mal à la gorge.
My throat is sore.
I have a sore throat.


Tu as mal au genou.
Your knee hurts.


Sophie a mal à l'oreille.
Sophie's ear aches. 
Sophie has an earache.


J'ai mal aux dents.
My teeth hurt.
I have a toothache.


Q&A

Jamie

Kwiziq community member

17 July 2018

1 reply

Small typo

You wrote My throat is sore / I have a sorethroat, but "sore throat" is always written as two words in English, unlike "toothache" or similar words

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 July 2018

18/07/18

Bonjour Jamie !

Indeed, thanks for letting us know :)

It's now been fixed!

Merci et bonne journée !

Ian

Kwiziq community member

21 June 2018

2 replies

How does one say "He has a bad knee" in French?

ie, a chronically bad knee, as opposed to one that it is in pain right now?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

21 June 2018

21/06/18

Hi Ian,

You would probably say : "J'ai un problème ( chronique) de genou" ( I have a knee condition /problem) rather than "j'ai mal au genou".

Hope this helps!

Ian

Kwiziq community member

21 June 2018

21/06/18

Thanks Cėcile, much appreciated.

Stuart

Kwiziq community member

22 December 2017

1 reply

How can you be more specific with pain?

E.g., with knee pain it’s usually the left or the right knee rather than both. What do I add to say the right knee, or left eye, or front tooth etc. I guess the latter involves prepositions ...

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

22 December 2017

22/12/17

Bonjour Stuart !

In these cases, you will use the singular and add the adjectives for left (gauche) or right (droit/droite):

J'ai mal au genou gauche.
Tu as mal à l'oreille droite.
Il a mal à l'œil gauche.
Elle a mal à la dent de devant / aux dents de devant.
 (front teeth, more colloquial here)
Bonne journée !

Daniel

Kwiziq community member

12 July 2017

1 reply

heartache

"ATTENTION: The expression "avoir mal au cœur" does NOT mean you're having a heartache or a heart attack, but that you're feeling sick, like you want to throw up." how do you say "my heart hurts" then?

Rant

Kwiziq community member

6 May 2018

6/05/18

Thanks for the answer!

But it still leaves unanswered how you say that you are having a heart attack!

Hoyt

Kwiziq community member

19 September 2016

2 replies

Recorded volume on video much too low.

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

21 September 2016

21/09/16

Bonjour Hoyt, Thanks for letting us know, we'll get that fixed.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

21 September 2016

21/09/16

Bonjour Hoyt ! Our videos come from third parties, so unfortunately we have no editing control over them. We will look for a better recorded video :) Merci beaucoup !

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