As a French learner, which would you rather hear?
“Your French is so good!”
“You sound so French!”
If you’re like most people, we’re guessing that it’s the latter.
To help you get there, we’ve racked our brains and put together a list of 70 informal, everyday French phrases and expressions.
- How to Learn French Phrases
- 70 Everyday French Phrases for Sounding Truly French
- Everyday French Greetings and Introductions
- Asking for Help
- Everyday French Phrases for Getting Information and Directions
- Everyday French Phrases for Shopping
- Common French Restaurant Phrases
- Common Conversational Phrases
- Natural French Expressions
- Common, Everyday French Phrases for Saying Goodbye
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.
The more vivid you can make your mental picture of the real-world context, the better your chances are of remembering the phrases you’re studying.
- Read and repeat each phrase aloud. Do this several times, slowly and clearly.
Always start slow when you’re learning. As you become more familiar with these phrases, your rate of speech will naturally pick up, until you’re at normal conversational speed. For right now, just focus on the words and how they sound.
- 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.
- Look and listen for these phrases. To really perfect your pronunciation—and to truly understand all the nuances and context of these phrases—you’ll want to expose yourself to plenty of native-speaker audio (such as radio and podcasts) and video.
Look for courses or programs that focus on using content from native speakers. For example, FluentU uses authentic French videos and speaking exercises to help you improve your pronunciation while you learn.
70 Everyday French Phrases for Sounding Truly French
Without further ado, let’s get to learning all the common French phrases you’ll need to navigate life Francophone life, in Paris and beyond—and easily understand those native French videos!
Everyday French Greetings and Introductions
1. Bonjour — Hello, Good day.
This phrase is a little formal. You can use it with friends, but they might wonder why you’re being so proper.
2. Bonsoir — Good evening.
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)
Asking for Help
10. J’ai besoin d’aide. — I need help.
11. Pourriez-vous m’aider ? / Pourrais-tu m’aider ? — Could you help me? (formal / informal)
12. Je me sens mal. — I don’t feel well.
13. J’ai besoin d’un médecin. — I need a doctor.
14. Au secours ! — Help! (urgent)
Everyday French Phrases for Getting Information and Directions
15. Je ne comprends pas. — I don’t understand.
16. Je ne parle pas beaucoup le français. — I don’t speak a lot of French.
17. Je ne parle qu’un peu français. — I only speak a little French.
18. 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!)
19. 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.
20. Plus lentement, s’il vous plaît. / Plus lentement, s’il te plaît. — Slower, please. (formal / informal)
21. Où se trouve la banque ? — Where is the bank?
The important part of this phrase is où se trouve (where is). Just add the name of whatever you’re looking for after that.
For instance, you can end the sentence with le musée (the museum), l’hôtel (the hotel) or la gare (the train station).
22. 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!
Everyday French Phrases for Shopping
23. Je cherche des chaussures.— I’m looking for shoes.
Je cherche (I’m looking for) is the essential part of this phrase. Once you have that down, you can ask for anything you can name.
For example, if you’re shopping for clothes, you can replace des chaussures with any other article of clothing that you’re looking for, like un manteau (a coat), une robe (a dress) un pantalon (a pair of pants), etc.
24. Je ne connais pas ma taille. — I don’t know my size.
25. Combien ça coûte ? — How much does that cost?
26. Puis-je payer avec une carte de crédit ? — May I pay with a credit card?
27. Puis-je avoir un sac ? — May I have a bag?
Common French Restaurant Phrases
28. J’aimerais voir le menu. — I would like to see the menu.
29. 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).
30. Je voudrais de la soupe. — I would like to have soup.
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.
You can also say, je vais prendre… or je prendrai… (I’ll take…) in place of je voudrais (I would like).
31. 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.
Common Conversational Phrases
32. Merci bien. — Thanks a lot.
33. De rien. — You’re welcome. / It’s nothing.
34. Comment va le travail ? — How’s work going?
You can substitute le boulot for le travail to make this more casual.
35. Tu veux prendre un verre ? — Do you want to get a drink? (informal)
36. Comment va votre famille ? / Comment va ta famille ? — How’s your family? (formal / informal)
37. Passe-moi un coup de fil plus tard. — Give me a call later. (informal)
38. Tu peux me donner ton numéro ? — Can you give me your number? (informal)
39. J’aimerais te revoir. — I’d like to see you again. (informal)
Natural French Expressions
40. “Ça roule ?” “Comme d’hab !” — “How’s it going?” “Same as always!”
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? Good?” It’s used in a similar way as Ça va ?
The response to this 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.
41. N’importe quoi ! — Whatever!
For all those who tend to have a dissenting opinion, this casual French phrase is a must. It 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.
“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!)
42. 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!”
Le président a bien fait d’augmenter les impôts. (The president was right to increase taxes.)
—C’est n’importe quoi ! (That’s nonsense!)
43. 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.
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!)
44. 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?”
So, whenever you get a marvelous idea for a Saturday afternoon or evening, tack this on at the end as a way of politely asking your friends if they’re interested.
Use the first version (with vous) when addressing several friends, and the latter (Ça te dit ?) when hanging out with just one friend.
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?)
45. 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.
The response to this phrase would be “Ouais, t’inquiète pas, je te tiens au courant.” (Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll keep you up to date).
46. 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.
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!)
47. 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.
It’s an easy little word to recall, due to the fact that the English equivalent is almost the same: in brief. Other synonyms would be “all in all” or “in short.”
Elle m’a appelé hier et m’a dit qu’elle n’avait pas les mêmes sentiments pour moi, et qu’au final, elle veut qu’on reste amis. Bref, elle m’a largué. (She called me yesterday and told me that she didn’t have the same feelings for me, and that in the end, she wants to remain friends. In short, she dumped me.)
48. 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.
Non, mais j’en ai marre, t’sais? (No, but I am sick of it, ya know?)
49. 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!)
50. 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!)
51. 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!” or “that’s terrible!” The general implication is that whatever is being discussed is either a total bore or totally ridiculous.
Ça, c’est marrant! Par contre, ce cours est nul ! (Now that’s funny! This class, however, sucks!)
52. 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.”
53. 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.
Allez ! Tu ne peux pas rester enfermé dans ta chambre ! Viens avec moi au ciné! Ça te changera les idées ! (C’mon! You can’t stay cooped up in your room! Come with me to the movie theater! That’ll take your mind off things!)
54. 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!”
This little gem actually derives from French literature, from a tale called la Farce du Maître Pathelin, written by François Rabelais in the 16th century.
Obviously, this little phrase was catchy enough to stick, because it’s still used today.
Next time your friend starts rambling about something entirely unrelated, toss out this little phrase, and wow them with your excellent knowledge of both French vernacular and literature!
55. 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!
56. 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?”
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…)
57. 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.
Believe it or not, this little phrase originates from the Middle Ages!
58. 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.
59. 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.
Without knowing that it’s informal, it can look like a strange sentence, literally meaning “You’re doing what?” Yet it commonly replaces “Qu’est-ce que tu fais?” or “Que fais-tu?” in day-to-day situations.
This phrase is highly informal, and not recommended that you use it with anyone other than family or close friends.
Common, Everyday French Phrases for Saying Goodbye
60. Au revoir — Goodbye (somewhat formal)
61. Salut — Goodbye (informal)
62. Ciao — Goodbye (informal)
As in a lot of European countries, France has borrowed the Italian word ciao to say a casual goodbye.
63. À demain — See you tomorrow
64. Bonne journée — Have a nice day
65. Bonne soirée — Have a good evening
66. À ce soir — See you tonight
67. À tout à l’heure / À plus tard — See you later
68. À bientôt — See you soon
69. À la prochaine — Until next time
The longer version of this expression is, à la prochaine fois, with fois meaning “time.”
70. 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!
So, there you have it, 70 different French phrases for saying hello, goodbye and virtually everything in between.
Use the tips we discussed to practice these often. Try them out in conversation. Use them in your emails. Slip them into your social media posts.
Listen up for them in French songs, radio broadcasts, podcasts and videos.
Even as you progress in your French learning journey, you’ll find yourself using these go-to phrases again and again.
Bon apprentissage ! (Happy learning!)
Michelle Baumgartner is a language nerd who has formally studied seven languages and informally dabbled in several others. In addition to geeking out over slender vowels, interrogative particles, and phonemes, Michelle is an education blogger specializing in language learning topics. Find out more at StellaWriting.com.