Basic French Phrases
- Bonjour (bohn-jor): hello or good day
- Bon matin (bohn-ma-tahn): good morning
- Bonne journée (bunn-jor-nay): have a good day
- Au revoir (o-re-vwahr): goodbye
- À bientôt (a-bee-yen-toe): see you later
- À la prochaine fois(a-la-pro-shen fwah): see you next time
Other basic phrases are polite questions and answers about who you are and how you are doing.
- Ça va? (sa-va): How it going?
- Comment vous appelez vous? (co-mohn-voos-ap-lay-voo): What is your name?
- Je m'appelle Marie. (jeh-ma-pel-ma-ree): My name is Marie
- Je suis américain(e). (jeh-sweez-a-mayr-ee-kahnn): I am American.
- J'ai faim. (jay-fah): I am hungry.
- Où est le restaurant? (oo-ay-la-rest-o-rahn-te): Where is the restaurant?
- Merci beaucoup (mer-see-bo-koo): Thank you very much
- S'il vous plaît? (seel-voo-play): Please?
How to Say It: French Basics Resources
For more help on how to say common words and phrases, see the following resources:
- French Language Helpers Basics: How to say basic phrases.
- Smart Phrase French: Common greeting, question, and etiquette phrases.
- French at a Touch: Basics and helpful travel phrases.
Listen and watch the pronunciation of common helpful phrases to know how to say them correctly with this Expert Village French Tutorial on useful phrases.
Saying French Love Phrases
If you want to use French to help improve your love life or even just to tell your family or friends how much they mean to you, it is important to know exactly how to say French phrases. The better they sound, the better the sentiments will be received.
- Je t'aime (jeh-tem): I love you
- Tu es mon amour (too-ay-mon-a-more): You are my love
- Je veux être avec toi (jeh-ver-et-tra-a-vek-twa): I want to be with you
These phrases are all appropriate for expressing your emotion to a person you care deeply for. Instead of just saying "I love you," speaking you sentiments in French can make a special impact on your loved one's heart.
Sometimes the best love phrases come from famous writers and philosophers.
Everyone speculates and wonders about finding the love of their life, but there is often the fear that the one you love won't return your feelings. The following phrase from Paul Gérald sums this up nicely:
- Si tu m'aimais, et si je t'aimais, comme je t'aimerais! (see-too-mem-ay-ay-see-jeh-tem-ay-kom-jeh-tem-er-ay)
- If you loved me, and if I loved you, how I would love you!
Another common usage of French love quotes is in novels, essays, poems, speeches, or other thoughtful writings. George Sand says it best here, with a lovely phrase for the power of love:
- Il n'y a qu'un bonheur dans la vie, c'est d'aimer et d'être aimer. (eeyl-nya-kuhn-bon-ur-dahn-sa-vee, say-dem-ay-ay-de-tra-em-ay)
- There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.
Pronouncing Famous Phrases in FrenchThere are many famous phrases that it would be great to know how to say exactly as they were intended. In the case of old proverbs and phrases by famous writers, saying them correctly only makes the thought more emphatic.
Here are a couple of well known proverbs that English speakers probably didn't realize orginated in French.How often do do humans yearn for more than what they have? Many times, it's better to be thankful for what we already have than constantly daydreaming for more! How to say this thought in French? An old French proverb does the trick:
- Un tien vaut mieux que deux tu l'auras (uhn-tyen-voe-myer-ker-dehr-too-lor-ah)
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This can refer to the advantage or "playing it safe" and not taking risks, as well as appreciating your current blessings.On the flip side, you can't play it safe all the time if you are going to accomplish great things. The following saying breaks this concept out well:
- On ne fait pas d'omelettes sans casser des oeufs (on-neh-fay-pas-dom-let-sohn-ca-say-days-oof)
You cannot make omelettes without breaking the eggs. Sometimes getting somewhere in life or achieving something big takes a bit of sacrifice or some bumps and bruises along the way.
A Few Writerly Phrases
Some of the most famous writers came up with phrases worth learning how to say properly.
- Tout arrive en France (toot-ah-reev on-frans)
Everything happens in France, François de La Rochefoucauld
- Tout pour un, un pour tout (too-por-uhn-uhn-por-too)
All for one, one for all, Alexandre Dumas
How to Say French Phrases That Are Funny
It is also useful to know how to laugh and make others laugh in whatever language you are speaking. Below is a sampling of some Funny French Phrases and how to say them.
Not fun and silly, learning how to say tongue twisters like this phrase can help you master pronunciation skills:
- La pipe au papa du Pape Pie pue (la-peep-o-pa-pa-doo-pap-pee-poo)
Pope Pius' dad's pipe stinks.Wondering how to say what you're feeling in French? You can easily use French idioms to get your feelings across in a whole new way! For example, if you're feeling exasperated, instead of blowing up, simply let them know:
- Les carottes sont cuites.(lay-ka-ruht-sohn-kyit)
The literal meaning of this saying is "The carrots are cooked", but it means "I've had it!" or "everything's over".
Say It Well
How to say French sayings, words, and phrases depends on a number of factors. Be sure to consider the situation and what specific phrases are appropriate for that circumstance. Pronunciation is also important, so practice your French alphabet along with words and phrases to say it well.
Start with the basics and then put it all together and you will be able to say almost any French phrase and meet the situation with understanding, a sweet sentiment, or a laugh.