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Common French Phrases

Common French Phrases


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To keep up a conversation in any foreign language, it's important to familiarize yourself with common phrases and expressions. Odds are that they'll come up more often than not. In French, some of the most common phrases like pas de problème ("no problem") are similar if not identical to their English equivalent. These expressions are usually taught in class and tend to be relatively easy for students to grasp and recall.

Not all common French phrases are simple. A good example of a more confusing expression is revenons à nos moutons, which directly translates to "let's get back to our sheep" but actually means "let's get back to the subject at hand." Expressions like these are often used conversationally among native French speakers but are often neglected in classrooms. Whether you're planning your first trip to a French-speaking country or you just want to improve your speaking skills, here is a list of common phrases (both simple and more elaborate) that are essential to keeping the conversation going.

Affirmatives and Agreements

  • en effet: indeed, that's right
  • pas de problème: no problem
  • tant mieux: it's just as well, even better
  • tout à fait: absolutely, exactly
  • bien entendu: of course, obviously
  • bien sûr: of course
  • ça marche: that works
  • ça m'est égal: it's all the same to me

Courtesies and Salutations

  • à la vôtre!: cheers!
  • à tes souhaits: bless you
  • Bon anniversaire!: Happy birthday!
  • Bon appétit!: Enjoy your meal!
  • ça va (?): how's it going?, I'm fine
  • de rien: you're welcome
  • grâce à: thanks to
  • si ce n'est pas indiscret: if it's not too personal a question
  • si tu veux: if you will
  • tiens: here you go, there you are

Causality, Comparison, and Condition

  • à cause de: because of, due to
  • à la fois: at the same time
  • au fur et à mesure: as, while
  • au lieu de: instead of, rather than
  • avoir l'air (de): to look (like)
  • du coup: as a result
  • à la limite: at most, in a pinch
  • à la rigueur: or even, if need be
  • à peine: hardly
  • au cas où: just in case
  • au fait: by the way
  • vis-à-vis (de): facing, in relation to

Debate and Discussion

  • à mon avis: in my opinion
  • ah bon (?): oh really? I see
  • au contraire: on the contrary
  • d'ailleurs: moreover, might I add
  • a priori: at first glance, in principle
  • en fait: in fact
  • entendre dire que: to hear (it said) that
  • entendre parler de: to hear (someone talk) about
  • par contre: whereas, on the other hand
  • par exemple: for example, such as; oh my, well really!
  • revenons à nos moutons: let's get back to the subject at hand

Duration and Time

  • à peu près: about, approximately, nearly
  • du jour au lendemain: overnight
  • en retard: late
  • entre chien et loup: at dusk, twilight
  • faire le pont: to make it a long weekend
  • tout à l'heure: in a moment, a moment ago
  • tout à coup: all of a sudden
  • tout de suite: right away, immediately

Exclamations and Expressions

  • allons-y!: let's go!
  • à la française: in the French style or manner
  • à la une: front-page news
  • ça alors: how about that, my goodness
  • c'est-à-dire: that is, i.e., I mean
  • c'est parti: here we go, and we're off
  • ce n'est pas grave: it doesn't matter, no problem
  • dis donc / dites donc: wow, by the way
  • enfin: well, I mean
  • et j'en passe: and that's not all
  • et patati et patata: and so on and so forth
  • fais gaffe: watch out, be careful
  • fais voir: let me see
  • figure-toi: guess what, get this
  • 'fin: well, I mean
  • il y a quelque chose qui cloche: something's amiss
  • J'arrive!: I'm on my way!
  • je t'aime: I love you
  • on ne sait jamais: you never know
  • Vive la France!: Long live France!
  • plus ça change… : the more things change…
  • métro, boulot, dodo: the rat race
  • tu connais la musique: you know the routine
  • tu m'étonnes: tell me something I don't know
  • du loup: speak of the devil
  • voilà: there is, that's it

Negatives and Disagreements

  • ça ne fait rien: never mind, it doesn't matter
  • c'est pas vrai!: no way!
  • J'en peux plus: I can't take (it) anymore
  • Je n'en reviens pas: I can't believe it
  • Je n'y peux rien: There's nothing I can do about it.
  • Je n'y suis pour rien: It's got nothing to do with me
  • n'importe quoi: whatever
  • oh là là: oh dear, oh no
  • pas du tout: not at all
  • pas terrible: not that great, nothing special
  • rien à voir: nothing to do with
  • tant pis: oh well, too bad, tough
  • tu connais la musique: you know the routine
  • tu m'étonnes: tell me something I don't know

Quantity/Amount

  • de trop: too much/many
  • du tout: not/none at all
  • il y a: there is, there are

Questions

  • n'est-ce pas?: right? isn't that so?
  • On y va?: Shall we go? Ready?
  • tu te rends compte?: can you imagine?
  • ah bon?: oh really?
  • ça va?: how's it going?



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