You might have learnt some common French phrases at school. But if you’ve ever traveled abroad or know some French speakers, chances are that you’ll experience a very different type of French.
We’ve compiled some common French expressions you’ll be able to use in everyday life. Whether you’re traveling to France or simply want to fancy your speech up with some foreign “je ne sais pas quoi” phrases!
Basic French Words and Expressions Anyone Can Use
1. Oui (Yes)
2. Non (No)
3. Merci (Thank you)
4. Enchanté (Charmed to meet you)
4. Je m’appelle (My name is…)
5. J’adore! (I love it!)
6. Je ne comprends pas (I don’t understand)
7. Excusez moi (Excuse me)
8. Je voudrais (I want, or I would like)
9. Une (One … beer, croissant, baguette)
9. Quelle heure est-il? (What time is it?)
5. C’est la vie! (Life goes on…)
6. T’inquiète! (Don’t worry!)
7. Bon Voyage! (Good wishes on your trip or journey)
8. Voilà (That’s it!)
9. Sacrebleu (Damn it or Damn!)
10. Bon appetit! (Enjoy your meal)
Polite Essential French Words and Phrases
1. Bonjour Hello / Salut!
Both of these words are used to greet people. “Bonjour” is a bit more formal than “Salut”. This last one, is the informal way to greet someone, which should be used in a familiar context.
Common reply: Bonjour! / Salut! / ça va? (Good morning!/Hey!/How are you?)
2. Comment ça va?
It is most commonly used in France to ask how a friend or family member is doing. This phrase literally means “How are you?”.
Common response: ça va bien, ça va mal (I am fine/not so good).
This expression can be used to excuse yourself or to call out for attention. Common examples include when bumping into someone or accidentally spilling food all over someone’s shirt.
Common reply: C’est pas grave! (no worries)
4. S’il vous plaît / Je vous prie
Both French phrases mean “please.” Common examples include when you want to ask for more information or another serving of food. You are in France after all.
5. Merci beaucoup!
It is used to express gratitude or appreciation. It means “Thank you very much!” in English.
Common reply: De rien, Je t’en prie (you are welcome).
6. Je suis désolé(e).
This is used when you are apologizing to someone.
Common reply: Ce n’est rien! / Ce n’est pas grave! (It’s fine! / Don’t worry about it!)
7. Au revoir!
Good-bye – used for when you are leaving or departing. Commonly taught in French textbooks and in school.
Common reply: À bientôt! / À la prochaine! (See you soon!) or À tout à l’heure (goodbye for now)
This is commonly used for when you are greeting someone and it’s already late in the day or to say goodbye to someone at night.
Common reply: Bonsoir! / À demain! (Good night! / See you tomorrow!)
Basic Phrases and Words for Travelers
9. Je ne parle pas Français.
This means “I don’t speak French.” You can use this French phrase to express the fact that you don’t speak French. Or you can say “I speak a little French”, “Je parle un peu français”
10. Parlez-vous Anglais?
Use this phrase if you have to switch the conversation to English. Parlez-vous Anglais means “Do you speak English?”.
11. Combien ça coûte
Looking for that perfect souvenir to take home? Then “combien ça coûte”, “how much does it cost” may come in handy.
12. Je ne comprends pas.
This is used when you don’t understand something or if you didn’t catch a person’s words due to accent, speed or mumbling (even if the person was speaking loudly). Commonly taught in French notebooks.
13. Pourriez-vous parler plus lentement s’il-vous plaît?
If you do know a bit of French but cannot understand what someone is saying, you can use this French phrase. It literally means “Could you speak more slowly please?”.
14. Pourriez-vous répéter s’il-vous plaît?
Because we don’t always understand the first time – you’re still in the process of learning French after all! – you can use this French sentence to ask a person to repeat themselves.
15. Pouvez-vous m’aider?
If you need any help, you can use this French phrase that means “Can you help me?”. This is a generic phrase, but you can complete the sentence by adding something more specific to the end depending on the situation you are in.
16. Quel est le chemin pour…? / Pourriez-vous me dire où se trouve…?
This French question is a way to ask for directions when lost. It means “What is the way to…?”.
For instance, you might have to use “Quel est le chemin pour aller à la Tour Eiffel?” – or “How do I get to the Eiffel Tower from here?”
17. Pourrais-je avoir l’addition s’il-vous plaît?
Believe us, you might have to use this one a lot during your trip to France, if you are as much of a foodie as we are!
This sentence means: “May I have the bill please?”
Casual and Common French Questions
18. Ça te dirait d’aller au ciné ? – Wanna go to the movies?
19. C’est quoi le programme pour demain soir ? – What are we doing tomorrow night?
20. Tu pars quand pour Paris ? – When are you leaving for Paris?
21. Ça roule? – How’s it going?
22. On se voit ce week-end ? – Do you wanna meet up this weekend?
23. Où est…?
This phrase means “Where is…” Commonly taught in French textbooks. Où sont les toilettes? “Where are the toilets?” Also a handy phrase to know when travelling throughout France.
Fore more basic French sayings check out 70+ informal and formal phrases here. Everything from “qu’est ce que” to “allez savoir pourquoi!” – you’re guess is as good as mine.
Common Conversational Phrases
24. Faut que j’y aille, bonne soirée ! – I gotta go now, nice evening!
25. Je n’ai pas de regret / J’assume – I don’t regret it/I don’t care
26. Ça me va ! – Alright! It suits me!
27. Tu m’impressionnes ! – I’m impressed!
28. Qu’est-ce qu’il fait chaud aujourd’hui ! – It sure is hot today!
29. J’ai mal à la tête / au coeur / à l’estomac – I have a headache/heartache/stomach ache.
30. J’aimerais pas être à ta place – I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes!
31. C’est nul! – there’s no way to soften this one, but it means “it sucks!”
32. On y va! = Let’s go! – an interesting way to say ” let’s go” in the French language. It also implies to whatever plans you have, “on y va”. And is typically used in conversation when someone is hesitating to do something fun, or tough.
What are some cool French phrases?
5 cool words and phrases that will make you sound like you know your Français!
- Mauvais quart d’heure
Translation: a really bad 15 minutes. Or “how embarrassing!”
A really chic way to say “kisses”
No real direct translation into English, but means to stroll aimlessly without a destination or purpose.
4. C’est simple comme bonjour!
The common French way to say “easy peasy.”
5. Il (ne) faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties!
Don’t push grandma off the train – or don’t push grandmother into the nettles. Essentially, don’t over exaggerate.
Learning French may seem hard at times but learning some common French phrases can make your travels more enjoyable!
To learn more sayings and to take your French language studies to another level, visit Common French Phrases to know for your everyday life and travels.
At Woyago, we are passionate about travel and culture and believe that immersion, connection, laughter and fun! is the best way to learn more about a country, place or city.
Find out how you can become a little more French with one of our in-person or virtual tour experiences today!