Do you have plans to travel to France lately? Then, you should consider learning a couple of basic French slangs to ensure the best experience for your trip. Although you may not sound like native French, you can at least start a basic conversation with confidence.
Moreover, knowing a few basic French words or some common French slangs can help you to mix with locals, who are not very comfortable with English. Most people in Paris would treat you like a special guest in their country if you show your effort in speaking in French.
Learning a new language is always fun. So, if you are enthusiastic about learning French, you can make efforts to become an advanced-level French speaker. This article will not make you an expert in French language although our French online courses would, but this article introduce you to some basic French words to streamline your journey in France.
Basic French Words for Beginners
Note that it takes time to master French. However, learning some basic French words won’t call for much time and effort on your part.
How to greet people in French?
The most basic part is greeting words when it comes to learning a new language. These words would help you to interact with French people for a brief period.
Say “Hello” in French
Use “Bonjour” to greet a person regardless of the time in a day. If you want to add a formal touch, add madame (to address a French-speaking woman) or monsieur (to address a French-speaking man). However, you can say “bonsoir” if you want to greet a French person good evening.
Note that “Bonjour” is used in a formal setting.
Say “Hi” in French
Do you want to get into an informal conversation? Then, you can say “salut”, which means “hi” in French.
Note that you should not use “salut” in a formal situation (such as talking to an unknown person or a shopkeeper). Nonetheless, you can use this expression while talking to a child.
On the other hand, using “bonjour” in an informal setting may sound distant and detached to someone. Hence, you should not use this expression in your friend circle.
What is the takeaway?
Use bonjour with unknown people and formal situations.
Use salut with people you are well familiar with.
If it seems confusing which one to use, play a safe game- use bonjour.
Say “nice to meet you” in French
Once you are done with the greeting, you may want to express your happiness by interacting with the opposite person. It is time to say “nice to meet you”, which is “enchanté(e)” in French.
However, if you are interacting with a man, use “enchanté.” And if the opposite person is a woman, use “enchantée.” Note that the difference in the spelling (with the extra “e”) is only for writing, as it does not affect the pronunciation.
It is time to say “Goodbye”
It is essential to know how to end a conversation in any language. The most common way is to say “goodbye”. Use “Au revoir” to bid adieu to the person or group and wrap up the conversation. This expression can be used with anyone irrespective of the situation.
If you are conversing with familiar people (friends or family), consider using “salut” for both “hi” and “bye.”
You don’t speak French: How to convey it to French People?
Suppose, you are on a tour in France, and a local person walks up to you and asks you something. What would you do?
You may be familiar with a couple of basic French words, but it is not enough to become a fluent French speaker.
To ease the situation, you can leverage one of the following expressions to let him/her know that you do not speak French:
Sorry, I don’t speak French: Désolé(e), Je ne parle pas français
I speak a little French: Je parle un peu français
I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas
Convey “Thanks” & “You’re Welcome”: How to say in French?
Use “Merci” to convey thanks to someone in French regardless of the situation. Nonetheless, you can make the expression more articulate by saying “Merci beaucoup”, which means “thank you very much.”
Suppose, a native French speaker thanked you for some reason, how would you reciprocate? Say “de rien,” which means “you are welcome” in English.
Apart from “thank you,” another commonly used word is “sorry.” Are you about to visit France? Do not forget to memorize a few French expressions about seeking an apology from someone.
Use “désolé(e)”, which is “sorry” in English.
You can also use “Pardon” if you accidentally bump into somebody. “Pardon” can also be used if you want the opposite person to repeat what he/she just said.
Use “excusez-moi”, which is “excuse me” in English if you gain someone’s attention.
Say “Please” in French
One of the most common expressions in English is “Please”, which we tend to use almost daily. Moreover, “Please” gets more significant if it comes to traveling to a place for the first time, as we need to take help from the locals.
Hence, whether you are planning to visit France for traveling or academic purposes, you must know how to say “Please” in French.
Use “S’il vous plait” in any situation and with anyone if you want to say “please.”
If you are talking to a very familiar person, you can use the informal version of “S’il vous plait”, which is “s’il te plait.”
A Few Expressions to start a Basic Conversation with a French Person
Suppose you have just bumped into a Frenchman or woman and you would like to start a conversation, what can it be done?
Comment allez-vous? It is a formal version of “how are you?”
Don’t you want to be very formal? Then, use “Ça va?” It is an informal version of “how are you?”
If you want to reply “very good, thanks”, use “Très bien, merci”
Now, you can keep the conversation going by saying your name “Je m’appelle [Your Name]”, which means “My name is…”
Note that “Oui” means “Yes” and “Non“ means “no” in French.
Keep practicing the basic French expressions mentioned in this post. You would gradually gain confidence to start a basic conversation with a French person. Moreover, it would no longer be inconvenient for you to seek help from the local French people. If you want, you can continue your French learning journey through online French courses to boost your vocabulary and improve your fluency.