Fingers Crossed: How to Say “Good Luck” in French
“Break a leg.”
“You’ll do great.”
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
What do these phrases all have in common?
They are all different ways to express good wishes for someone.
More precisely, they are variations of the phrase, “Good luck!”
Of course, they are used for very different situations. You would never say, “Break a leg” to a friend who is about to have surgery, for example. Nor would you say, “I’ll keep my fingers crossed” to someone who is about to play in their team’s soccer championship.
And in French, it is the same way.
But today is your lucky day. Because we are about to break down all the different ways that you can wish someone luck in French.
Fingers Crossed: How to Say “Good Luck” in French
This is by far the simplest and most direct translation of “Good luck.” It is the phrase you will find in most online translators and phrasebooks. And for most occasions, it will serve you well as a meaningful way to express your good wishes.
Here are just a few guidelines to help you use this phrase more effectively.
(If you need a refresher on how to use French prepositions like pour, avec and dans, take a look at our handy guide.)
Bonne chance pour…
Sometimes you want to add a bit more to your sentence to specify exactly what it is that you are wishing the person good luck on.
The phrase Bonne chance pour… can be used to wish someone luck with a particular event or experience.
Bonne chance pour ton entretien! — Good luck with your interview!
Bonne chance pour le match! — Good luck with the game!
Bonne chance pour la suite. — Good luck with what follows.
Bonne chance avec…
This is quite similar to Bonne chance pour. However, you generally use avec if you are referring to a concrete thing or person (as opposed to an event, which is a bit more abstract).
Here are some examples.
Bonne chance avec ta nouvelle maison. — Good luck with your new house.
Bonne chance avec la voiture. — Good luck with the car.
Bonne chance avec ta belle-mère. — Good luck with your mother-in-law.
Bonne chance dans…
Generally, bonne chance dans is used the same way as bonne chance pour.
There is one slight difference: bonne chance dans is more often applied to actions that are already going on or in progress.
Bonne chance dans ton travail. — Good luck with your work.
Bonne chance dans ce projet. — Good luck with this project.
So there you have a phrase for “Good luck” which can be used in a variety of settings.
If you want to see the phrase in use, check out this short film in French all about luck.
There are other ways to wish good fortune to someone. Here are a few.
The Verb Souhaiter
The verb souhaiter means “to wish.”
As with English, you can use the verb souhaiter to wish someone luck.
This verb is conjugated as a regular -er verb, like danser or aimer.
Je souhaite — I wish
Tu souhaites — You (singular, informal) wish
Il/Elle/On souhaite — He/She wishes
Nous souhaitons — We wish
Vous souhaitez — You (plural/formal) wish
Ils/Elles souhaitent — They wish
Another important note about using souhaiter: pay attention to pronoun placement. In French, indirect object pronouns (such as me, you, him, her, it or them) are placed before the verb that modifies them. This is different from English, in which these pronouns are placed after the verb.
Here’s how this looks in action:
Je vous souhaite bonne chance. — I wish you good luck.
Nous te souhaitons bonne chance. — We wish you good luck.
Ils me souhaitent bonne chance. — They wish me good luck.
Keep in mind, though, that this is a bit formal and may sound strange in more casual settings. When talking to close friends or family, you are better off just saying Bonne chance.
Using the Subjunctive
The subjunctive mood (as its name implies) is used to express subjective things like ideas, feelings or opinions.
As such, it is an ideal way to frame your good wishes for others. Check out the full rundown on how to use the subjunctive mood correctly.
Once you have mastered it, you are free to use it to express your wishes for luck, health and happiness to those around you.
Here are a few examples to help.
J’espère que tu aies de la bonne chance. — I hope you have good luck.
Je voudrais qu’elle réussisse. — I would like her to succeed.
Que votre famille ait de bon santé! — May your family have good health!
Be careful about where and when you use the subjunctive this way, as it too is quite formal and even a bit dramatic.
Other Ways to Say “Good Luck”
As in English, the French language has a rich collection of colorful metaphors to express good wishes for someone.
Here are a few of them.
This phrase, literally meaning “Best Wishes,” is a popular statement on greeting cards, especially during the winter holiday season.
However, it can be used for a multitude of other occasions too: birthdays and graduations, weddings, new houses, new babies and just about any exciting life event.
Meilleurs vœux pour votre nouveau bébé. — Best wishes for your new baby.
Meilleurs vœux pour ton nouveau travail. — Best wishes for your new job.
Yes, you read that right. This favorite French profanity is also a legitimate way to wish someone good luck!
As with the English expression “break a leg,” we have the theater community to thank for this colorful way of wishing someone “good luck.”
Historically in the theater, it is bad karma to wish someone good luck before a performance… (almost like tempting fate). That is where we started the tradition of wishing someone good luck by telling them to “break a leg.”
The French use the word merde (which means “cr*p” or “sh*t”) in exactly the same way.
This also harks back to the days when people came to theater performances in a horse and carriage. The more carriages there were, the more horse excrement could be found in the street near the theater. Weirdly, the amount of merde actually was a reliable indicator of the success of the performance.
Je croise les doigts.
There are some symbols of good luck that appear to transcend language and culture.
A four-leafed clover is universally recognized as such a symbol. So is an upside-down horseshoe hanging over the door. Conversely, a black cat is a traditional symbol of bad luck over most of the Western world. (Although black cats are also a popular mascot of French culture!)
The gesture of “crossing one’s fingers” is another of those universal, time-honored symbols of luck.
If a friend or loved one is going through a difficult time of which the outcome is uncertain, you can assure them with the statement, Je croise les doigts (“I’m crossing my fingers.”) This conveys to them that you are visualizing a positive outcome.
Je touche du bois.
If you are the slightest bit superstitious, you have probably made the remark, “Knock on wood.”
This is a popular saying when everything seems to be going well, and you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Traditionally, it is accompanied by the superstitious gesture of touching (or knocking on) a piece of wood.
This superstition is also well-known in France. So if something is going well and you want it to stay that way, go ahead and say Je touche du bois. And do not forget to put your hand on a nearby wooden shelf or table for emphasis.
There are times when saying something like Bonne chance or Je croise les doigts seems just a tiny bit heartless.
For these times, you need Bon courage.
Literally translated “good courage,” this is an ideal expression when you want to tell someone not to give up, to hang in there even if something is hard.
If your friend is afraid of losing their job, if your parent or sibling is facing some frightening medical news or if your significant other is about to take a really hard test at school… Bon courage is your go-to for offering a little luck with a lot of encouragement.
So there you have it, a way to say “good luck” in French for every situation. We hope you have lots of fun (and of course, lots of luck) using them.