Common French Phrases You Need To Know

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Are you planning a trip to France? Want to impress your friends with your knowledge of the French language? Look no further!

In this article, we will introduce you to a variety of common French phrases that you need to know.

From greetings and basic expressions to ordering food and drinks, asking for directions, and making reservations, we’ve got you covered.

We will also provide you with useful phrases for emergency situations and safety, as well as tips on talking about family and relationships, discussing hobbies and interests, and understanding cultural etiquette.

By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the essential French phrases to navigate your way through France with confidence.

So, get ready to immerse yourself in the French language and culture as we take you on a language journey that will enhance your travel experience.

Greetings and Basic Expressions

When you’re learning French, it’s essential to know the basic greetings and expressions. These phrases will help you navigate conversations and make a good first impression.

One of the most common greetings is ‘Bonjour,’ which means ‘hello’ or ‘good day.’ It’s polite to say ‘Bonjour’ when entering a shop or greeting someone for the first time.

Another useful phrase is ‘Comment ça va?’ which means ‘How are you?’ You can respond with ‘Ça va bien’ for ‘I’m fine’ or ‘Ça va mal’ for ‘I’m not doing well.’

Additionally, learning how to say ‘S’il vous plaît’ which means ‘please’, and ‘Merci’ for ‘thank you’ will show your manners.

Mastering these basic greetings and expressions will make your conversations in French more enjoyable and engaging.

Introducing Yourself

Introducing yourself in French is a great way to blend into a conversation with native speakers. Here are some essential expressions to help you get started:

  • Bonjour (Hello)
  • Je m’appelle… (My name is…) followed by your name.

To ask someone’s name, you can say:

  • Comment tu t’appelles? (What’s your name?) for a more informal tone.
  • Comment vous appelez-vous? (What’s your name?) if you want to be more formal.

To respond, you can use:

  • Enchanté(e) (Nice to meet you)
  • Ravi(e) de faire votre connaissance (Pleased to make your acquaintance).

If you want to ask how someone is doing, you can say:

  • Comment ça va? (How are you?)

And to respond, you can say:

  • Ça va bien, merci (I’m doing well, thank you).

These simple expressions will help you make a good impression and start a conversation with ease.

Ordering Food and Drinks

Indulge in the flavors of France by effortlessly ordering delicious food and drinks using these essential expressions.

When you step into a French café or restaurant, it’s important to know how to ask for what you want. Start by saying ‘Bonjour’ to greet the waiter.

To order food, simply say ‘Je voudrais’ followed by the name of the dish.

If you’re in the mood for a drink, say ‘Je prendrais’ followed by the name of the beverage.

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To ask for the bill, say ‘L’addition, s’il vous plaît.’

Don’t forget to use ‘s’il vous plaît’ (please) and ‘merci’ (thank you) to show your politeness.

With these phrases in your arsenal, you’ll be able to savor the incredible cuisine of France with ease. Bon appétit!

Asking for Directions

Navigate the streets of France like a seasoned local by effortlessly asking for directions using these essential expressions.

When approaching a stranger, begin by politely saying, ‘Excusez-moi, pouvez-vous m’indiquer le chemin vers…?’ which translates to ‘Excuse me, can you tell me the way to…?’ This respectful greeting will help establish a positive interaction.

To ask for a specific landmark or address, simply replace ‘le chemin vers’ with the name of the place you are looking for.

If you need more detailed instructions, you can ask, ‘Pouvez-vous me montrer sur la carte?’ meaning ‘Can you show me on the map?’ Having a map handy will make it easier for the person to guide you accurately.

Remember to thank them by saying, ‘Merci beaucoup’ or ‘Je vous remercie’ to show your gratitude.

With these phrases in your arsenal, finding your way around France will be a breeze.

Making Reservations

Mastering the art of making reservations in France will open up a world of unforgettable experiences and ensure a seamless travel journey.

When making reservations, it is important to remember a few key phrases. Start by saying ‘Bonsoir, je voudrais réserver une chambre’ (Good evening, I would like to book a room).

Specify the type of room you want by saying ‘Je préfère une chambre simple’ (I prefer a single room) or ‘Je préfère une chambre double’ (I prefer a double room).

You can also mention any specific requirements like ‘Est-ce que la chambre a une salle de bain privée?’ (Does the room have a private bathroom?).

Finally, ask about the price by saying ‘Combien ça coûte par nuit?’ (How much does it cost per night?).

With these phrases in your repertoire, you’ll be well-equipped to make reservations and enjoy your stay in France.

Shopping and Bargaining

Immerse yourself in the vibrant shopping culture of France, where haggling for the best deals is a thrilling adventure.

French locals take great pride in their bargaining skills, and it is common practice to negotiate prices at markets and small shops. When entering a store, greet the shopkeeper with a friendly ‘Bonjour’ and maintain a polite and respectful demeanor throughout the interaction.

Before attempting to haggle, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the item’s value and market price. Start by asking for a lower price, using phrases such as ‘C’est trop cher’ (It’s too expensive) or ‘Vous pouvez faire un rabais?’ (Can you give me a discount?).

Be prepared for back-and-forth negotiations, and remember that a successful bargain is a win-win situation for both parties involved.

So, go ahead and embrace the art of bargaining while exploring the shops of France.

Talking about Time and Dates

Learning to talk about time and dates in French will make you feel more connected to the culture and help you plan your activities with ease.

When discussing time, it’s important to note that the French use a 24-hour clock system. To say the time, simply state the hour followed by ‘heures’ (for example, 3:00 is ‘trois heures’).

When discussing dates, the French typically follow the day-month-year format. For example, if you want to say ‘May 5th,’ you would say ‘le cinq mai.’

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Additionally, it’s important to know the days of the week (les jours de la semaine) and the months of the year (les mois de l’année).

By mastering these phrases, you’ll be able to navigate French conversations effortlessly and effectively plan your schedule.

Expressing Gratitude and Apologies

Embrace the art of expressing gratitude and apologies in French by incorporating these essential phrases into your conversations.

When you want to show appreciation, a simple ‘Merci’ (Thank you) goes a long way. To express heartfelt gratitude, you can say ‘Je vous suis très reconnaissant(e)’ (I am very grateful to you) or ‘Je vous remercie du fond du cœur’ (I thank you from the bottom of my heart).

If you need to apologize, use ‘Je suis désolé(e)’ (I am sorry) or ‘Je m’excuse’ (I apologize). To express a more sincere apology, you can say ‘Je vous présente mes excuses les plus sincères’ (I offer you my most sincere apologies).

Remember, using these phrases will not only show your manners but also help you connect with others in a meaningful way.

Making Small Talk

Engage in casual conversations by mastering the art of making small talk in French. Use everyday expressions that effortlessly connect you with others. Small talk serves as a social lubricant, allowing you to establish rapport and build relationships with native French speakers.

To initiate a conversation, start with simple questions like ‘Comment ça va?’ (How are you?) or ‘Qu’est-ce que tu fais ce weekend?’ (What are you doing this weekend?).

To keep the conversation flowing, use phrases like ‘C’est sympa!’ (That’s nice!), ‘Quel temps fait-il aujourd’hui?’ (What’s the weather like today?), or ‘Tu as des projets pour cet été?’ (Do you have any plans for this summer?).

By mastering these common phrases, you will be able to effortlessly engage in small talk and create meaningful connections in French-speaking environments.

Transportation and Travel Phrases

Discover the secrets to effortlessly navigating through French-speaking countries by mastering essential transportation and travel phrases.

Whether you’re traveling by train, bus, or taxi, knowing these common French phrases will make your journey smoother.

When asking for directions, simply say ‘Où est la gare?’ (Where is the train station?) or ‘Comment aller à l’aéroport?’ (How to get to the airport?).

If you need to catch a taxi, say ‘Je voudrais prendre un taxi, s’il vous plaît’ (I would like to take a taxi, please) or ‘Pouvez-vous m’emmener à cet hôtel?’ (Can you take me to this hotel?).

Additionally, it’s useful to know phrases such as ‘Je voudrais un billet aller-retour’ (I would like a round-trip ticket) or ‘À quelle heure part le prochain bus?’ (What time does the next bus leave?).

By familiarizing yourself with these phrases, you’ll be able to navigate French transportation with ease.

Emergency Situations and Safety

Stay safe and be prepared for any emergency situation while traveling by familiarizing yourself with important safety protocols and knowing how to ask for help in French-speaking countries.

In case of an emergency, it is crucial to know how to ask for help. The phrase ‘Au secours!’ is used to call for help or shout for assistance. If you need to report a crime, say ‘Je veux signaler un crime’ to notify the authorities. To ask for an ambulance, say ‘J’ai besoin d’une ambulance’ or ‘Appelez une ambulance, s’il vous plaît.’

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It is also important to know basic safety phrases such as ‘Où est la sortie?’ (Where is the exit?) and ‘Est-ce que c’est sûr?’ (Is it safe?).

By learning these phrases and being aware of your surroundings, you can better handle any emergency situation that may arise while traveling in a French-speaking country.

Talking about Family and Relationships

When traveling in a French-speaking country, it’s always heartwarming to chat about our loved ones and the special bonds we share. French culture places great importance on family and relationships, so being able to express yourself in this area is essential.

To talk about your family, you can use phrases like ‘J’ai une grande famille’ (I have a big family) or ‘Je suis marié(e)’ (I am married). If you want to ask someone about their family, you can say ‘As-tu des frères et sœurs ?’ (Do you have any brothers or sisters?) or ‘Est-ce que tu es célibataire ?’ (Are you single?).

Additionally, it’s helpful to know terms of endearment such as ‘mon amour’ (my love) or ‘ma chérie’ (my dear) to express affection towards your loved ones. Embracing these phrases will allow you to connect on a deeper level with the locals and enhance your cultural experience.

Discussing Hobbies and Interests

Explore the vibrant world of hobbies and interests by delving into your passions and discovering new ones.

In French, discussing hobbies and interests is a great way to connect with others and expand your cultural knowledge.

Whether you enjoy sports, music, or art, there are plenty of phrases that can help you express your interests.

For example, if you love playing soccer, you can say ‘J’adore jouer au football.’

If you are passionate about music, you can say ‘La musique est ma passion.’

If you enjoy painting or drawing, you can say ‘J’aime peindre/dessiner.’

Remember to use these phrases in conversations to share your hobbies and interests with others.

By doing so, you can create meaningful connections and have engaging conversations in French.

Cultural Etiquette and Polite Phrases

Now that you’ve learned how to discuss your hobbies and interests in French, it’s important to understand the cultural etiquette and polite phrases used in France.

Politeness is highly valued in French culture, so it’s essential to know the proper ways to greet people, say thank you, and ask for assistance. For example, when entering a shop or restaurant, it is customary to greet the staff with a polite ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Bonsoir.’

Saying ‘S’il vous plaît’ (please) and ‘Merci’ (thank you) are also crucial phrases to use when making requests or expressing gratitude. Additionally, addressing people with ‘Madame’ or ‘Monsieur’ shows respect.

By familiarizing yourself with these cultural norms and using the appropriate polite phrases, you’ll be able to navigate social interactions in France with ease and make a positive impression.


In conclusion, mastering these common French phrases will greatly enhance your communication skills while visiting French-speaking countries.

Whether you’re greeting locals, ordering delicious cuisine, or navigating your way through unfamiliar streets, these phrases will come in handy.

Additionally, understanding cultural etiquette and using polite phrases will show respect and help you make meaningful connections.

So, take the time to practice and familiarize yourself with these phrases, and you’ll be well-prepared for your next adventure in a French-speaking country. Bon voyage!

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