The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the French Culture
Are you planning to travel to France? Maybe you have a crush on a French cutie?
Do you have a passion for one of the most romantic languages?
Or perhaps you are planning to travel to France and would like to impress the locals?
The reason is not so important.
The important thing is that now you have these French phrases to help you survive your first conversations with native speakers.
We’ve given you the 70 most common French phrases that can be very helpful in any situation.
Thanks to these expressions, you'll learn French with ease.
Before we get started, you should be aware that French pronunciation is different from English, Spanish, Italian, etc.
The most effective way to learn how to pronounce well is by finding a French tutor on Justlearn.
They are true professionals, with years of teaching experience, and with them, you surely won’t get bored, and you’ll learn to talk like a native in no time.
Now, let’s not waste our time anymore and let’s start learning.
As you already might know, greetings are the base of every language. First, let’s expand your French vocabulary with salutations:
It is the standard, basic greeting in French.
It can be used both formally and informally.
If you are a beginner, this is a straightforward phrase for you to learn and pronounce. It is considered very impolite not to greet someone.
Bonsoir- Good evening
It is the same as the phrase above.
The only difference is that you use it at night.
Here, you see the phrase for informally saying hello to your friends.
Don’t use it to greet older people, or on business occasions.
Note that the letter ‘t’ at the end of the word is silent; therefore, you don’t pronounce it.
The general rule is that if a word’s final consonant isn’t followed by vowels, then it is not pronounced.
French people have a tradition of kissing on the cheek when they greet someone.
This can be surprising for other countries and tourists, but it is a crucial part of French culture.
Enchanté(e)! – Nice to meet you!
The Literal translation of this phrase is ‘delighted, enjoyed,’ but also ‘enchanted, bewitched.’ There’s no need to be afraid; you will not bewitch anyone by saying this.
This expression is used both formally and informally, though formally much more often.
S’il vous plait- Please
This phrase can also be translated as ‘if you please.’
While this phrase is used formally as a polite greeting, it can also be used for plural.
The informal, adequate expression is ‘S’il te plait,’ which, just like the previous one, can be used for singular.
This expression is short from the ‘Je vous souhaite la bienvenue,’ which means ‘I wish you the welcome. You can use it for anyone.
However, have in mind that if you say ‘Tu es le/ la bienvenu(e),’ you use it for one person (singular), where ‘le bienvenu’ is for the masculine, and ‘la bienvenue’ for feminine..
The ‘Vous etes les bienvenu(e)s’ phrase is ideal to use for one person (plural), masculine, ‘bienvenus,’ or feminine, ‘bienvenues.’.
Ça va? – How are you?
The standard way to ask someone how they are. Translated, it means ‘it goes.’
It is the most commonly used expression.
Have in mind that this phrase isn’t recommended to use with strangers or at work to your boss. So, use it only informally, among friends and family members.
It is a short version of ‘Comment ca va?’
Comment allez-vous?- How are you?
It is one formal phrase to ask someone how they are, as well as one of the most commonly used ones. Note that your answer to this question always has to be combined with the phrase ‘Ça va,’ or with the added adjective ‘bien;’ ‘Ça va, bien.’
Comment vas-tu/comment tu vas? – How are you?
One more ‘How are you?’ combination.
Just like in the previous one, you can respond to this phrase with the ‘‘Ça va,’ phrase.
Ça va/je vais bien – I’m well
Here, we have the answer to either of the questions from this part.
This expression can be used both as a question and an answer.
As an answer, it is used informally, among family members and friends.
It is interesting to mention that the answer ‘Ça va’ is the same as the question.
The only difference is in intonation.
Et toi? – And you?
The obvious question that follows after your speaker answers.
If you are asked this way, it means that your speaker is satisfied with your answer and that the conversation goes in the right direction.
Ça roule? – How’s it going?
Similar to the ‘Ça va’ phrase, this one is used quite informally.
When used in conversations, it means ‘All good!, I’m good! or That’s works!’
It would be ideal if you could memorize this phrase and give your conversation with French friends a native note.
One of the most common answers to this question is ‘Comme d’hab,’ which means ‘As usual.’
A little bit of politeness is required in every language.
Merci – Thank you
Merci bien – Thank you
The meaning of this phrase is the same as the classic, previous one.
However, if you want to add some more politeness and a friendly note, then this is the perfect expression to say ‘thank you.’
Merci beaucoup – Thank you very much
For expressing extra gratitude, use this phrase.
De rien – It’s nothing
It is a standard reply to all the above expressions.
Il n’y a pas de quoi – It’s nothing/don’t mention it
If you want to reply to ‘Thank you’ with something more than just ‘De rien,’ then use this phrase. It has a more definite note.
Excusez-moi/pardon – Excuse me, sorry
Use this phrase to say you are sorry or if you want to get past someone.
Je suis desolé(e) – I’m sorry
This phrase is a bit stronger than the previous one, and, therefore, has a stronger connotation.
Excusez-moi?/Comment? – Sorry? Excuse me? Pardon?
When you, for example, haven’t heard what the speaker said, you can use this phrase, any of its forms.
Vas-y, Allez-y – Go on, go-ahead
Question words can be constructive in situations when you don’t know much, or you don’t know the proper word. But with these questions, you can somehow explain more precisely what you need.
Quoi? – What?
Quand? – When?
Qui? – Who?
Quel/ Quelle? – Which?
Note that the first form of the phrase is used for masculine and the second for feminine.
Où? – Where
Comment? – How?
Combien? – How many?
Pourquoi? – Why?
For someone who is limited in phrases and words in French, but wants to be able to communicate at least in some beginner’s level with natives, numbers are a must.
In the following several lines, you may find numbers from zero to ten.
Zero- Zero (0)
Un- One (1)
Deux- Two (2)
Trois- Three (3)
Quatre- Four (4)
Cinq- Five (5)
Six/ Six (6)
Sept- Seven (7)
Neuf- Nine (9)
Dix- Ten (10)
Learn more here: French Numbers 1-100
After you succeed greeting someone, some common questions and answers are necessary to start and continue a conversation.
In the following lines, find some very common questions and answers to them.
Comment tu t’appelles? – What’s your name?
Translated, it means ‘How do you call yourself?’ It is used informally when speaking to one person.
In everyday conversations, a commonly used phrase is ‘Tu t’appelles comment?’
Je m’apelle...- My name is...
This is an answer to the previous question.
Je suis...- I am...
You can use this phrase to say your name, but also your nationality, profession, etc.
Parlez-vous anglais?- Do you speak English?
According to many, everyone should know this phrase, no matter their level of proficiency.
It isn’t hard to remember, so make sure not to forget it.
This phrase is used formally.
Tu parlez anglais?- Do you speak English?
This is the same expression as the previous one with one slight difference; you can use it informally.
Je parle français.- I speak French.
Je ne parle pas français.- I don’t speak French.
We hope that you won’t need the second expression, but only the first one. However, negation is presented with ne-verb-pas, so make sure you say it exactly like it’s written.
Quel âge as-tu?/ T’as quel âge? – How old are you?
There is no difference between the two forms; the second one is more likely to be heard in everyday conversations.
J’ai 30 ans – I’m 30
It literally means ‘I have ...years.’
Note that you must say the ‘ans’ word, or the phrase will be understood in different contexts.
Tu viens d’où?/t’es d’où? – Where do you come from?/where are you from?
Je viens de l’.../je suis de l’... – I come from .../I am from ...
Quelle heure est-il?/ Il est quelle heure? – What time is it?
One prevalent phrase that every speaker should know.
Although both forms are used equally, the second one is more informal.
C’est combien?- How much is it?
Ça coûte combien?- How much does that cost?
Now, you need to know these two expressions, especially if you intend to go to France.
There is even no difference in translation from French to English phrases, as you can see, so you can choose which one you want to use.
If you are having a hard time with French pronunciation, you should try practicing with tongue twisters.
These short, quick answers will help you in almost every situation.
What is even better, they are pretty easy to memorize, and learners usually don't’ forget them.
Peut-être – Maybe
Parfois, des fois – sometimes
Jamais – Never
Tout le temps/tous les jours – All the time/every day
Bien sûr – Of course
In French, just like in many other languages, saying goodbye is possible in various ways and with many forms of expressions. Below you may find some phrases.
Au revoir!- Goodbye!
Just like the standard greeting ‘Bonjour,’ this is the standard phrase for saying goodbye.
And just like ‘Bonjour,’ it is considered impolite if you don’t say goodbye to people.
No, it is not a mistake.
The phrase can be used both for greetings and for saying goodbye.
It is used mainly informally.
À tout à l’heure!- See you soon/ in a while!
When you know that you will see someone, friends, for example, by the end of the day, then you can use this phrase.
À bientôt! – See you soon!
À plus tard!- See you later!
When you know that you will see someone, but aren’t sure when exactly, you should use this phrase.
You can use the short version of the phrase; ‘À plus,’ or ‘See you.’
However, if you choose to use the short version of the phrase, note that the pronunciation is a bit different than the longer one.
The letter ‘s’ at the end of the word IS pronounced since this is the exception of the rule.
À demain! – See you tomorrow!
Saying goodbye with this phrase is used when you know you will see that person the day after.
Bonne journée! – Good day!
Bonne soirée! – Good evening!
These two phrases are used in situations when the day is over (the first phrase) and when the night is over (the second phrase).
Please note that when the day and night are over, the French use the feminine form.
For salutations, the masculine is used.
Bonne nuit! – Good night!
After these common phrases, you are prepared for the world.
Well, you are ready for the French world.
So, you can take a step and try these out with native speakers.
If you are a bit afraid, try with native French speakers, tutors, on Justlearn.
You have to remember that if you make a mistake, it’s not scary.
It is a perfectly normal situation, especially for someone who just got started.
By practicing with French tutors, you will improve your French in no time.
Please, tell us, which of the phrases was easy for you to memorize?
Which one is still difficult?
Share your experience with us in the comments below.
Are you planning to travel to France? Maybe you have a crush on a French cutie?
Whats the best way to master your French accent and improve your pronunciation? French tongue twisters, of course.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word culture?
Do you have a passion for one of the most romantic languages? Or perhaps you are planning to travel to France and would like to impress the locals?
Do you speak Spanish? Or in Spanish, ¿Hablas Español? If you dont, why do you want to learn it?
Learning a new language is not always easy and smooth, but when you have the right resources, it can be a piece of cake.