French is considered one of the world’s most romantic languages. Besides boosting your romantic prospects, French conversation could do wonders for your job opportunities as well, and knowing the language makes it much easier to travel through French-speaking countries.
It can be daunting to learn a new language but you might be surprised how easy it is for native English speakers to learn French. Getting a good grasp on some basic conversational phrases is a good place to begin. You will also need to brush up on your listening skills, as French words seem to blend into each other. Begin with small phrases you use every day and build yourself up from this point. For instance, in France, saying: “Si’l vous plait j’aimerais une tasse de café avec le sucre et la crème” is something you might say when someone asks you, “Vous aimeriez une tasse de café?” For more words that could boost your French conversation skills, here is a course that teaches you how to speak, read and learn French vocabulary.
These every day simple comments are easy enough to learn and speak in a short time period. The first phrase means: “I would love a cup of coffee with sugar and cream,” and is something you might say to someone who asks if you “Would like a cup of coffee?” which is the second phrase mentioned above. Going on a voyage to France anytime in the near future? Here is a course called “Le Voyage” that you will love learning as it gives truly practical phrases you can use as you travel.
It’s okay to get yourself a phrasebook from the airport or the local book store in case of emergency. But how would these help you learn pronunciation or assist you in having a real French conversation? In the event you had the chance to take a trip to Quebec or Paris, wouldn’t you love to be able to go through all the less-well known attractions and spots that are accessible only to the locals? Once you learn to understand and speak French, you could ask the above question and enjoy going through something that other tourists usually miss out on. This article about French adjectives and sentences that could further broaden your conversational skills.
When receiving or asking for directions in countries that speak French, the following words are used:
- The next street: La prochaine rue
- Over there: la-bas
- Next to: A cote de
- Street: Rue
- Downtown: Le centre-ville
- In front of: Devant
- In back of: Derriere
- Center: Centre
- At the corner of: Au coin de
- Map: Une carte
- On the left: A gauche
- On the right: A droite
- Straight: Tout droit
- Turn left: Tournez a gauche
- Turn right: Tournez a droite
- East: Est
- West: Ouest
- South: Sud
- North: Nord
First impressions can set the tone for interacting with others and can begin a friendship. This is why it is important to make a good first impression:
Begin by greeting the other person. The simplest form of a greeting in France is Good Morning or Hello which, in French is: Bonjour!
The next thing you need to do is to introduce yourself. The most common way of doing this in France is to say:
I’m (name): Je suis (name)
My name is (name): Je m’appelle (name)
Since this is a first time meeting, it is better to use the formal ‘you’ form, which is ‘vous.’ When speaking to children, you can always use the form ‘tu’ even if it is a first time meeting. Here are questions in both the ‘vous’ and the ‘tu’ forms.
- What’s your name? Comment vous appelez-vous? (formal)
- What’s your name? Comment t’appeles-tu? (informal)
Next, you should respond after they tell you their name. It is the custom to make an acknowledgement of the introduction by making an expression of appreciation. You can do this by saying:
- Delighted to make your acquaintance: Enchante de faire votre connaissance
- It’s a pleasure to meet you: C’est un plaisir de vous recontrer
- Delighted: Enchante
Anywhere you go, whether in your own country or abroad, it is important to practice good manners and show respect. After all, showing respect for other people and their cultures is always appropriate. In countries that speak French, most of the people have learned some of the English language. When traveling to their country, they would expect you to have done the same with their native tongue. Here are phrases and words that cover many polite conversation pleasantries: After all, it is just good manners to learn common courtesy and the right expressions to use.
- Excuse me: Excusez-moi
- It’s nothing-Il n’y a pas de quoi
- Welcome (formal): Je vous en prie
- Welcome (informal): Je t’en prie
- Thank you: Merci
- Please (formal): S’il vous plait
- Please (informal): S’il te plait
- No: non
- Yes: oui
Referring politely to people is the next important thing to learn after you have mastered the common pleasantries. When you meet folks in countries that speak French, be sure to use the right formal titles. A young lady is called Mademoiselle, a married woman is called Madame and a man would be Monsieur.
International travelers would find certain phrases particularly helpful. Here are a few that could come in handy during your stay in a country that speaks French:
- I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas
- Can you repeat that? Repetez, s’il vous plait
- I’m lost: Je suis perdu
- I would like some coffee: Je voudrais du cafe
- With pleasure: Avec plaisir
- What’s the weather like? Quel temps fait-il?
- It’s hot: Il fait chaud
- I’m going home: Je rentre
- The restroom is on your right: Les toilettes sont a votre droite
- Those seats are taken: Ces places’la sont prises
- I need some information: J’ai besoin de renseignements
- What do you need? De quoi avez-vous besoin?
- This is my father and my mother: C’est mon pere et ma mere
- See you tomorrow: A demain
- See you later/soon: A tout a l’heure
- Yes, thank you: Oui, merci
- May I help you? Est-ce que je peux vous aider?
- Yes, I speak English: Oui, je parle anglais
- I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas.
- Do you understand? Est-c que tu me comprends?
- In context, what does that mean? Qu’est que ca veut dire dans ce context?
- Can you explain in English to me? Peux-tu m’expliquer en anglais?
- What does that mean? Qu’est-ce que ca veut dire?
- I am only a beginner, but I am learning French: J’apprends le francais mais je ne suis qu’un debutant
- I only speak a little French: Je ne parle qu’un peu le francais
- I don’t speak French very well: Je ne parle pas bien francais
- Could you speak slower? Pouves-vous parler plus lentement?
- I don’t know: Je ne sais pas
Now that you have made basic introductions, don’t stop now. You could introduce someone else or talk about where each of you is from:
- My friend, John: Voici John, mon ami
- Let me introduce my wife, Anna: Je vous presente Anna, ma femme
- What country are you from? De quel pays etes-vous? (formal)
- What country are you from? De quel pays es-tu?
- I’m from the United States: Je suis des Etats-Unis
On the other hand, if you want to converse about where you both live, you can use verbs that mean ‘to live’ which are ‘vivre’ or ‘habiter”:
- I live in Chicago: J’habite a Chicago
- I live in Chicago: Je vis a Chicago
When traveling, you gain a new experience culturally when you develop your French shopping vocabulary. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs, food or clothes, you can use the following French phrases to help you find the perfect item.
- Are these pants on sale? Est-ce que ce pantalon est en solde?
- I’m looking for a red skirt: Je cherche une jupe rouge
- How much is this shirt? Combien coute cette chemise?
- I would like to buy these shoes: Je voudrais acheter ce chaussures
- These watches are expensive: Ces montres sont cheres
- Let’s pay at the cash register: Payons a la caisse
- How much? Combien?
- He can’t decide what to buy: Il n’arrive pas a se decider a ce qu’il va acheter.
- No thank you, I’m just looking: Merci, je ne fais que regarder.
- I like that one: J’aime celui-la
Knowing where to shop is the first step to shopping expedition success. In many countries that speak French, there are open air markets in the streets where you can buy anything from collectibles and antiques to vegetables and fruits. Of course, if you are looking for a specific type of store, knowing a few word can help:
- Supermarket: Supermarche
- Pastry Shop: Patisserie
- General Store: Epicerie
- Bakery: Boulangerie
- Butcher Shop: Boucherie
Here are a few words that could come in handy as you shop as well:
- Bag: Sac
- Wallet: Porte-monnaie
- Short or small: Petit
- Vendor: Marchand
- Large: Large
- Expensive: Cher
- Credit card: Carte de credit
- Cash register: Caisse
- Money: Argent
At the Restaurant
Whether you are planning to live in France or are just on a short visit, knowing how to order food is essential. When you eat out at French cafes and restaurants, this can be a lot of fun particularly if you know some basic restaurant vocabulary.
- I’d like some bread, please: Je voudrais du pain, s’il vous plait
- What is the special of the day? Quel est le plat du jour?
- What kind of vegetables do you have? Quelle sorte de legumes avez-vous?
- What kind of fish is on the menu? Quelle sorte de poissons avez-vous au menu?
- Do you serve orange juice? Servez-vous du jus d’Orange?
- I would like some water: Je voudrais de l’eau
Here are some food items on the menu you could order:
- Potatoes: Pommes de terre
- Apple: Pomme
- Pepper: Poivre
- Fish: Poisson
- Peas: Petits pois
- Bread: Pain
- Vegetables: Legumes
- Ice Cream: Glace
- Cheese: Fromage
- Strawberry: Fraise
- Raw vegetables: crudités Banana: Banane
To develop extreme fluency in French, it is important that you keep speaking it. To gain fluency, the fastest way is through immersion in the French language. You might want to travel to France or join a French conversation group for this purpose. Learning a few words every day and actually using them constantly will soon get you talking like a native. Soon, you will feel your confidence get a boost along with your sense of accomplishment, as you would have mastered a completely new language. Did this help? You might want to check out this course about learning French for beginners called “At the Café” and includes useful, fun grammar and vocabulary.