After you get tuned into French a little, you may suddenly hear people use very French phrases expressions that seem to just sort of slip out at any given occasion. You may even have heard some of these already; now it’s time to casually use these French phrases yourself.
Once you’ve mastered phrases to never say in French and laughed as some hilarious French expressions, try adding these common 10 French phrases to your repertoire. Who knows, you may even be taken for a native!
1. À mon avis
If you want to express your opinion in French, you use this handy phrase. À mon avis (ah mohN-nah-vee) means ‘in my opinion’. You can use the expression before or after you state your opinion.
2. C’est pas vrai
If you hear something that is hard to believe, you say C’est pas vrai (seh pah vreh) (No way!, You don’t say!) This expression’s literal meaning is ‘It is not true’. Note that, grammatically, this expression should be Ce n’est pas vrai (suh neh pah vreh); however, in oral French, the ne is often omitted, and you only hear the pas.
3. Avec plaisir
Avec plaisir (ah-vehk pleh-zeer) means ‘with pleasure’, and it’s a great way to accept an invitation to lunch or to see a film, for example. You can also use this expression to show that you are willing and happy to do a favour for someone.
4. Bon appétit!
Bon appétit! (bohN-nah-pey-tee!) literally means Good appetite! However, it certainly is not commenting on anyone’s good or bad appetite. You use this phrase when you begin to eat or when you see someone eating and want to express your desire that that person enjoy the meal. Bon appétit! is much like the English ‘Enjoy!’ except that the French say Bon appétit! much more freely.
5. C’est génial
Use C’est génial (seh jey-nyahl) to convey excitement about something. It means ‘It’s fantastic!’ or ‘It’s great!’. It can also suggest that something is really clever or, as the British say, ‘It’s brilliant’.
6. À votre santé
When the French raise their glasses, they say À votre santé (ah vohh-truh sahN-tey) in the singular formal or plural, or À ta santé (ah tah sahN-tey) in the familiar form. These phrases literally mean ‘to your health’, but their general meaning is the same as their English counterpart: ‘Cheers!’.
7. À vos souhaits
When someone sneezes, in English you say ‘Bless you’. In French, you say À vos souhaits (ah voh sweh) (to your wishes), which is more formal, or À tes souhaits (ah tey sweh), which is more familiar or informal. Both expressions mean that you hope the sneezer’s wishes come true.
8. Quelle horreur!
Quelle horreur! (kehl oh-ruhr!) means ‘What a horror!’. You use it not only for real horrors but also to express any kind of disgust, as in these expressions: ‘What a terrible thought!’ ‘How nasty!’ and ‘I can’t believe it!’. You also use this expression when something looks, sounds, or smells terrible.
9. À bientôt
The literal translation of À bientôt (ah byaN-toh) is ‘Until soon’. You use this expression when you expect to see the departing person within a reasonable time frame.
10. Pas mal
Use pas mal (pah mahl) (not bad) when you want to express that something isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either; instead it’s in-between. Generally, you use this phrase in response to someone asking you how you are feeling or how things are going.
Don’t miss these French posts
- Top 10 Phrases to Never Say in French [Cheat-Sheet]
- Survival French Travel Phrase Guide with Pronunciation
- How a ‘potato’ improved my French pronunciation
- 25 Funny French Idioms Translated Literally
Want to improve your French? Visit my handy language resource guide.
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Sources: French All-in-one For Dummies
Over to you!
Have you ever used any of these phrases? What others have you heard the French use? What would you add to this list?
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