French phrases

80+ Everyday French Phrases for Sounding Truly French

As a French learner, which would you rather hear?

“Your French is so good!”

Or…

“You sound so French!”

If you’re like most people, I’m guessing that it’s the latter.

To help you get there, I’ve put together a list of over 80 informal, everyday French phrases and expressions.

Contents

Greetings and Introductions

french phrases

1. Bonjour — Hello, Good day

This phrase is probably the most common greeting you will hear and can be used in formal and informal situations (although it’s more common in formal situations).

2. Bonsoir — Good evening

This phrase is used once people start to leave school and work to go home.

You’ll typically hear it start being used around 5PM, but if you’re in doubt you can listen to those around you to see which greeting they’re using.

3. Ravi(e) de faire votre connaissance. — Happy to make your acquaintance.

This is a formal expression you can use when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

Notice the letter e in parentheses here? You’ll want to add it in writing if you’re a lady. (You won’t hear the difference when it’s spoken.)

4. Enchanté(e) — Charmed

This one’s short and sweet, and much more informal than the previous expression. The same note about the extra e applies here. 

5. Comment allez-vous?/Comment ça va ? — How are you? (formal/informal)

Both of these basically mean, How’s it going? but the first option is much more formal. Use Comment ça va with your friends and peer groups.

6. Je vais bien, merci. — I’m doing well, thanks.

7. Comment vous appelez-vous ?/Comment t’appelles-tu ? — What’s your name? (formal/informal)

The informal version uses tu for you, instead of vous. This also means that the verb will be conjugated differently.

8. Je m’appelle… — I am called…/My name is…

9. D’où venez-vous ?/D’où viens-tu ? — Where are you from? (formal/informal)

10. Excusez-moi — Excuse me

11. Pardon — Excuse me

12. Desolé(e) — Sorry

Asking for Help

13. J’ai besoin d’aide. — I need help.

14. Pourriez-vous m’aider ?/Pourrais-tu m’aider ? — Could you help me? (formal/informal)

15. Je me sens mal. — I don’t feel well.

16. J’ai une douleur ici. I have a pain here.

17. J’ai besoin d’un médecin. — I need a doctor.

18. Au secours ! — Help! (urgent)

Getting Information and Directions

french phrases

19. Je ne comprends pas. — I don’t understand.

20. Je ne parle pas beaucoup le français. — I don’t speak a lot of French.

21. Je ne parle qu’un peu français. — I only speak a little French.

22. Comment on appelle ça ? — What is that called?

Just point at what you want, and ask this to find out its French name. Voilà! (There you go!)

23. Comment dire _____ en français ? — How do I say _____ in French?

If you’re working with someone who speaks English or another language you know well, you can ask them directly for a translation of a word you don’t know in French.

24. Plus lentement, s’il vous plaît./Plus lentement, s’il te plaît. — Slower, please. (formal/informal)

25. Où se trouve… ? — Where is…?

The important part of this phrase is où se trouve (where is).

Just add the name of whatever you’re looking for after that whether it’s le musée (the museum), l’hôtel (the hotel) or la gare (the train station).

26. Où est… ? — Where is…?

This is a slightly less formal/polite version of the last phrase. 

27. Je dois aller à ___. — I need to go to ___.

28. Pourriez-vous l’écrire ?/Pourrais-tu l’écrire ? — Could you write it down? (formal/informal)

Especially when you’re just learning French, it can be difficult to understand what you’re hearing.

Asking someone to write down the information you need can be an enormous help!

29. Quelle ligne va à ___ ? — Which line goes to___?

30. Un billet, s’il vous plaît. — One ticket, please

31. C’est à gauche. — It’s to the left.

32. C’est à droite. — It’s to the right.

33. C’est à côté de ___. — It’s next to ___.

34. C’est près de ___. — It’s close to ___.

35. C’est loin de ___. — It’s far from ___.

Shopping

french phrases

36. Je cherche… — I’m looking for..

If you’re shopping for clothes, you can tack on any article of clothing that you’re looking for, like un manteau (a coat), une robe (a dress) un pantalon (a pair of pants), etc.

37. Je ne connais pas ma taille. — I don’t know my size.

38. Combien ça coûte ? — How much does that cost?

39. Puis-je payer avec une carte de crédit ? — May I pay with a credit card?

40. Puis-je avoir un sac ? — May I have a bag?

Eating Out

french phrases

41. J’aimerais voir le menu. — I would like to see the menu.

42. Est-ce qu’il y a des plats végétariens ? — Are there vegetarian dishes?

You can substitute in other preferences, such as sans gluten (gluten free), after plats (dishes).

43. Qu’est-ce que vous conseillez ? — What do you recommend?

44.  Nous voudrions commander maintenant. — We would like to order now.

45. Je voudrais… — I would like…

Simply remember je voudrais (I would like) and just plug in anything you want off the menu after this phrase!

For example, you can ask for du pain (the bread), un steak (a steak), une tarte (pie) and so on.

46. Je vais prendre… — I’ll take…

This is another way you can order, once again just inserting what you want from the menu after. 

47. L’addition, s’il vous plaît. — The bill, please.

If you happen to be at a restaurant in Québec, where French is a little different than in Europe, you’ll want to ask for la facture instead of l’addition.

48. Sur place ou à emporter? — For here or to go?

Conversational Phrases

french phrases

49. Merci bien. — Thanks a lot.

50. De rien. You’re welcome./It’s nothing.

51. Comment va le travail ? — How’s work going?

You can substitute le boulot for le travail to make this more casual.

52. Tu veux prendre un verre ? — Do you want to get a drink? (informal)

53. Comment va votre famille ?/Comment va ta famille ? — How’s your family? (formal/informal)

54. Passe-moi un coup de fil plus tard. — Give me a call later. (informal)

55. Tu peux me donner ton numéro ? — Can you give me your number? (informal)

56. J’aimerais te revoir. — I’d like to see you again. (informal)

Colloquialisms 

French phrases

57. Ça roule ? — How’s it going?

This is a very colloquial statement, meaning that everything’s great and life’s going well.

Therefore, in the form of a question, it simply means how’s life? It’s used in a similar way as Ça va ? 

58. Comme d’hab. — Same as always.

The response to the last question is merely an abbreviation of the phrase comme d’habitude, meaning as usual.

A common expression, comme d’hab can be used in place of the standard comme d’habitude in virtually any informal setting.

59. N’importe quoi ! — Whatever!

This simply means whatever, and is commonly used in French when someone is exasperated and wishes to openly display their disagreement in a simple, informal way.

For example:

Je te jure ! Je n’ai rien fait ! (I swear, I didn’t do anything!)

N’importe quoi… (Whatever…)

Similarly, in some other contexts, n’importe quoi can mean anything, like in this example:

J’aurais donné tout et n’importe quoi ! (I would have given anything and everything!)

60. C’est n’importe quoi ! — That’s nonsense!

This informal French phrase is similar to n’importe quoi. However, there’s a slight nuance in the meaning of this particular expression.

It still portrays the idea of exasperation, but it means That’s nonsense!

For example:

Le président a bien fait d’augmenter les impôts. (The president was right to increase taxes.)

C’est n’importe quoi ! (That’s nonsense!)

61. Laisse tomber… — Just forget it!/Never mind!

This phrase literally means drop it, but doesn’t have quite the same snappy tone behind it as just drop it! does in English.

For example:

Et alors ? Est-ce que tu as eu ton augmentation de salaire ? (So? Did you get your raise?)

Laisse tomber… L’entreprise a fait faillite ! (Forget it… The company went bankrupt!)

62. Ça vous dit ?/Ça te dit ? — Are you up for it? (formal/informal)

This casual French expression is great for suggesting outings with friends or restaurant choices. It can also mean Sound good?

Use the first version (with vous) when addressing several friends, and the latter (Ça te dit ?) when hanging out with just one friend.

For example:

Il y a un petit resto chinois pas loin de chez moi… ça te dit ? (There’s a little Chinese restaurant not far from my place…sound good?)

63. Tiens-moi au courant ! — Keep me up to date!

This is the perfect French phrase to use as you’re waiting to see how things play out in a friend’s life. Perhaps they just started a new job, or moved to a new city, and you want to know how things are evolving.

End your emails or conversations with this little phrase to ensure they give you all their latest updates.

64. Allez savoir pourquoi !/Va savoir pourquoi ! — Your guess is as good as mine! (formal/informal)

This is a useful little French phrase that perfectly expresses one’s befuddled state of mind.

Notice that it can be used for both the formal and informal version of the word you, the first being formal or speaking to several people, and the latter informal and to one person.

For example:

Elle a donné sa démission, et ne répond plus à mes textos ! Va savoir pourquoi ! (She quit her job, and isn’t responding to my texts anymore! God knows why!)

65. Bref — In short/To make a long story short

Bref is only ever used to summarize something or to give one’s final impression of something after a lengthy story’s been told.

For example:

Bref, elle m’a largué. (In short, she dumped me.)

66. T’sais ? — Ya know? 

This casual French phrase is used so commonly in casual settings that it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with friends without hearing it.

It simply means Ya know? and is oftentimes tacked onto the end of a sentence to emphasize whatever the speaker is saying.

For example:

Non, mais j’en ai marre, t’sais ? (No, but I am sick of it, ya know?)

67. Ouais, enfin… — Yeah, well…

Like English, French has its share of filler words, and enfin is commonly used as such. Meaning well, it’s slightly more refined than eeuuuh (uhhhh). Like most filler words, it doesn’t necessarily change the meaning of the sentence.

Here’s an example:

Ouais, enfin… faut vivre avec! (Yeah, well…gotta live with it!)

68. Allez ! — Oh, c’mon!

This interjection is the best way to communicate impatience with someone.

Trying to get out the door but your friend is holding you up, dillydallying with their phone? Let out a little, exasperated allez ! to get your point across.

Note that this is technically the vous (you [formal/plural] conjugation of the verb aller–to go). However, it can also mean, Let’s go! So, when you’re getting restless, you can just say, Allez !

It’s also common to hear this word in the bleachers of a sports event: Allez, allez ! (C’mon! Let’s go!)

69. C’est naze/c’est nul/c’est pourri ! — That stinks!

These are all lovely little French phrases to use to say that sucks! or that’s stupid/terrible! The general implication is that whatever is being discussed is either a total bore or totally ridiculous.

For example:

Ça, c’est marrant ! Par contre, ce cours est nul ! (Now that’s funny! This class, however, sucks!)

70. J’ai le cafard… — I’m feeling a little down…

This is an informal way of expressing your sadness. It literally means, I have the cockroach, but to use the verb phrase avoir le cafard simply means to be depressed or to feel down. 

You can also say Ça me donne le cafard, which means that depresses me.

71. Ça te changera les idées… — It’ll take your mind off things…

Use this French phrase when consoling a friend who’s down. Offer to go with them to a movie or to a café to grab a cappuccino. Make your proposition, then use this argument to get them out of their funk.

For example:

Viens avec moi au ciné ! Ça te changera les idées ! (Come with me to the movie theater! That’ll take your mind off things!)

72. Revenons à nos moutons ! — Let’s get back to the point!

This is a perfect little expression to use after the conversation has strayed from the original topic, and literally means let’s get back to our sheep!

It actually means Let’s get back to the subject at hand! or Let’s get back to the point!

73. Je n’en crois pas mes yeux ! — I can’t believe my eyes! 

Let this one loose when you’re pleasantly surprised or dumbfounded by something you are witnessing.

The translation is more or less literal on this expression, and you can do no wrong in using it when dazzled or surprised!

74. Tu t’en sors ? — Are you managing okay?

This is a common French phrase to use while observing a friend who appears to be having difficulty doing something. It’s the equivalent of asking Doing okay there? You managing there?

For example:

Tu t’en sors ? (You managing there?)

Pas trop, non. Je ne sais pas comment faire un créneau… (No, not really. I don’t know how to parallel park…)

75. J’en mettrais ma main au feu ! — I’d bet my life on it!

The French version of this expression is a bit more colorful than the English, literally meaning I’d put my hand in the fire!

It simply expresses that you’re certain of something—and it’s usually used to try to convince others that you are right.

76. Il ne faut pas mettre tout dans le même sac ! — You can’t just group it all into the same category!

This is your go-to casual French expression for when one of your friends is generalizing, and it literally means, you can’t put everything in the same bag!

If you find yourself with a friend who does like to lump everything together, then remind him or her of this with this simple phrase.

77. Tu fais quoi ?  — What are you up to?

The phrase Whatcha doin’? might be the best way to portray the laid-back style of this French phrase.

This phrase is highly informal, and not recommended that you use it with anyone other than family or close friends.

Saying Goodbye

french phrases

78. Au revoir — Goodbye (somewhat formal)

79. Salut — Goodbye (informal)

80. CiaoGoodbye (informal)

As in a lot of European countries, France has borrowed the Italian word ciao to say a casual goodbye.

81. À demain. — See you tomorrow.

82. Bonne journée. — Have a nice day.

83. Bonne soirée. — Have a good evening.

84. À ce soir. — See you tonight.

85. À tout à l’heure/À plus tard. — See you later.

86. À bientôt. — See you soon.

87. À la prochaine. — Until next time.

The longer version of this expression is, à la prochaine fois, with fois meaning time

88. Adieu — Goodbye (forever)

This essentially means, until we meet our maker. So please, unless you’re singing a certain song from “The Sound of Music,” refrain from using this unless you know you’ll never be seeing that person again!

How to Learn French Phrases

Having an enormous, comprehensive list of casual French phrases is a great starting point. However, if you’re not sure about the best ways to actually learn all these phrases, it can also be a stumbling block.

Here are a few tips that can help you get the most out of this French phrase list. You can apply these tips to any kind of French words or phrases you want to learn.

  • Imagine using these phrases in real life. When you look at a group of French phrases, whether they’re simple greetings or terms used for ordering at a restaurant, picture yourself using them in some everyday setting. Think about who you’d be talking to.
  • Read and repeat each phrase aloud. Do this several times, slowly and clearly. As you become more familiar with these phrases, your rate of speech will naturally pick up, until you’re at a normal conversational speed. 
  • Try these phrases out for yourself. Write these phrases in a language journal. Incorporate them into simple sentences. Use them in imaginary dialogues, or try them out with a French-speaking friend or conversation partner.
  • Expose yourself to plenty of native-speaker audio and video. You can look for them on YouTube or you can also try FluentU, where you can search for specific words and phrases and find authentic videos such as movie clips, talks, etc. that use them naturally. Videos also come with learning tools like interactive subtitles, transcripts, personalized quizzes, multimedia flashcards and more.
  • Reading in French will also teach you how to use these phrases like a native. (And they’ll even help you learn their proper spelling!)

So, there you have it, over 80 different French phrases for saying hello, goodbye and virtually everything in between.

Even as you progress in your French learning journey, you’ll find yourself using these go-to phrases again and again.

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