You just received your first instant message from your new French pal!
Excitedly, you take a look.
That excitement quickly turns into perplexed frustration once you read the first line:
Cc cv twa?
Before you can even begin to decipher it, a second line pops up:
TLM x ke tu es choouu!
You’ve studied a great deal of French grammar, everyday slang and even idioms, “So why don’t I know what the heck this means?” you ask yourself.
The French tend to shorten many words down to the bare minimum when chatting online or sending a text message – even down to just one letter!
In fact, some internet slang words are actually spoken slang words that get shortened digitally. Talk about double-time slang! A number of these shortened slang words are those that are used everyday in spoken conversations such as the ones explained in this video from FluentU’s YouTube channel.
Check out videos about learning the French that real native speakers use on FluentU’s YouTube channel!
This shortening can make for a few headaches and choice expletives when trying to communicate, which is why this guide will be so helpful in making sense of it all.
Here are some handy tips and common internet slang that you would encounter in an honest-to-goodness French casual online conversation. By the end, you’ll know the meaning of your French friends’ messages and texts tout de suite (straightaway) like a true French mec or meuf (guy or girl)!
French Internet Slang Basics
- Abbreviations: DSL = desolée (sorry), PDP = pas de problème (no problem).
- Apostrophes are almost never used: j’ai = jai.
- Accents such as cedillas (ç) and circumflexes (â) are ignored.
- Using letters that are pronounced the same but look completely different: o = au.
- Silent letters are cut off completely: hier = ier, parle = parl.
French Internet Slang: How to Chat Online Like a Native
This may just look like a simple, innocent letter, but in French internet slang it takes on many forms. “C” can mean ça, c’est or ce.
Example: C la vi = C’est la vie (That’s life), Cv = ça va (How’s it going?).
When this comes at the start of a message it means Coucou!, a very informal way to say “hey!” to family and friends. For those who have brushed up on their French greetings on FluentU, recognizing this at the start of a message will be a piece of cake.
This can mean either et (and) or est (is, from the verb être, “to be”).
In French internet slang, the “qu” is often replaced with “k” to shorten the word. The above example is qui (who), and this is seen with other commonly used words, like ke =que (what), parcek = parceque (because), kand = quand (when).
If you know how “G” is pronounced in the French alphabet, then this should come relatively easily. It is used to replace j’ai (I have), while the letter “j” is used to replace je (I).
Another common practice is to replace the sound “oi” or “uoi” with “wa”. Twa = toi (you), Kwa = quoi (what).
For example: Cc, cv twa? = coucou, ça va toi? (Hey you, how’s it going?)
Nope, not short for that brilliant invention we know as air conditioning! “Ac” means avec (with), shortened to just the first and last letter. This is also seen with similar words like Dc = donc (so/therefore) and Vla = voilà.
Bisous, the French version of giving kisses or love at the end of a message, is often seen as biz. You would never see bisous followed by “xoxo” or “xx,” as they both mean the same thing! It is also often used in conversation at the end of a phone call, “Biz, ciao”.
This is a perfect example of an abbreviation in French online chat: s’il te plaît (please). Another example is TLM = tout le monde (everyone).
As a French translation of the English “lol” and used in exactly the same way, mdr or mort de rire means to be dying of laughter. You know you’re chatting like a true native if you add a casual mdrrr to an online conversation.
In the context of internet slang, “X” signifies the verb croire (to believe). For example j x ke would mean “je crois que” (I believe that…). You can also see here how the word “cross” in English relates to the French.
Chou is slang for “cute”, very different to its original counterpart mignon(ne), which would not often be seen when chatting online. Make sure not to confuse this one with the French chou-fleur (cauliflower)! So if someone says to you “Tu es choouu!”, it is not a bizarre insult relating to the aforementioned vegetable, but rather a sign of affection.
Short for aujourd’hui (today), auj is quite recognizable from the first three letters, and is one of the few abbreviations that you could likely figure out right away on your own. Bon anniv = bon anniversaire (happy birthday) is another abbreviation with a very clear meaning.
14. A tt
And one final classic example that sums up the “short and sweet” approach to French internet slang.
Drum roll please….
À toute à l’heure! (see you soon !). This is also often heard in conversation as “A toute!”
With this guide to French internet slang, you’re ready to shoot of a snappy response to that French pal of yours without a second thought!
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.