Test Yourself with Everyday French Phrases

Valorie Delp
Two people talking in a cafe

Test Yourself on These Common Phrases

Are you familiar with the most commonly used phrases in French? To be truly bilingual, you'll not only have to be familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the French language, you'll have to learn to use these common phrases and expressions in everyday speech.

To test yourself, click 'next' to see the next slide with the translation.

A person sneezing

À tes souhaits

A tes souhait!

(ah tay sweh)

Woman offering medicine

Bless You

While in English, one says, 'Bless you,' this is the phrase to use if someone sneezes in your presence in France. If they are a complete stranger, you may use the more formal 'À vos souhaits.' It literally means, 'to your wishes.'

angsty teen

Bien dans sa peau

Bien dans sa peau

(bee ehn dahn sah poe)

Girl looking depressed

Angsty and Awkward

Bien dans sa peau literally means, 'fine in one's skin.' It can be used in the positive: Moi? Je suis Bien dans ma peau. (Me? I'm comfortable in my own skin.) However, it is almost always used in the negative sense to describe that period of teenage angst and awkwardness. Elle est jeune; elle ne se sent pas Bien dans sa peau. (She's young, she's just angsty.)

The implication is that literally, the person feels so awkward about who they are, their skin doesn't fit quite right.

Birthday cupcake

Bon anniversaire!

Bon anniversaire!

(bohn ahn-ee-vair-sair)

Birthday party

Happy Birthday!

Contrary to what it looks like, the phrase, 'Bon anniversaire' means 'Happy Birthday!' and not 'Happy anniversary.' You can also wish someone a 'Joyeux anniversaire.'

equal scales

Ça m'est égal

Ça m'est égal.

(Sah met ay-gahl)

Girl holding two apples

It's All the Same to Me

'Ça m'est égal' is the polite equivalent of 'I don't care.' It literally means 'it is equal to me.' The idea behind the phrase is that if you weighed all your options, they'd all weigh the same.

Woman looking off to the side

Un coup d'œil

Un coup d'œil

(uhn koo deuy)

checking in on the baby

A Quick Glance

The expression 'un coup d'œil' is most often used with the verb 'jeter,' and it means to cast a quick glance. For example, you could say, 'Je jette un coup d'œil au bébé.' (I looked in on the baby.)

Business meeting

Être en train de

Être en train de. . .

(eh truh ehn trehn duh. . .)

Family cleaning

To Be in the Middle Of

'Être en train de' means to be in the middle of doing something. You'll usually hear it used in the present tense. For example, 'Je suis en train de nettoyer.' (I am in the middle of cleaning.) However, you can also use it in the past tense to talk about what you were doing when something else happened. For example, 'J'étais en train de nettoyer, quand j'ai entendu en bruit fort.' (I was in the middle of cleaning when I heard a loud noise.)

woman shrugging

On sait jamais

On sait jamais

(ohn say jah may)

woman with money

You never know

On sais jamais means 'You never know.' For example, 'Je ai acheté un billet de loterie, parce qu'on sais jamais.' (I bought a lottery ticket because you never know.)

Technically, the expression is 'on ne sais jamais.' However, in spoken French, people almost always drop the 'ne' in a negative.

two people talking

Pas de problème

Pas de problème

(pah duh proh blem)

two people talking

No problem

'Pas de problème' is the general response to an apology. It's the equivalent of saying, 'No worries,' or literally, 'no problem.' The more formal expression, 'il n'y a pas de problème,' is acceptable in any situation, whereas 'pas de problème' is used in informal situations only.

surprised woman

Tout à coup

Tout à coup

(toot ah coo)

surprised woman

Suddenly

Tout à coup literally means 'all at a blow,' which doesn't make a lot of sense in English. However, in French, it's a very common expression used to talk about something that happened abruptly or suddenly. For example, 'Tout à coup, j'ai oublié ce que je disais.' (I suddenly forgot what I was saying.)

Eiffel tower

À la française

À la française

(ah lah frahn sehz)

Woman at a cafe

The French Way

No doubt, the French have a certain flair and this expression is for describing just that. While the translation is a little awkward in English, it means 'in the French manner' and is used to describe those things that are quintessentially. . .French. For example, 'J'aime le petit déjeuner à la française.' (I like French style breakfasts.)

Whether you are a beginning student or an advanced student, learning common expressions that the French use daily is one key to becoming fluent. Keep practicing until you memorize these and then go back and learn some more.

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Test Yourself with Everyday French Phrases