Useful word and phrases in French to get you started
Learning a foreign language and being able to speak it and react to what people say to you is what we’re all searching for when we’re trying to communicate in a foreign language. However, this takes time. You don’t learn a foreign language overnight and you’re not going to be able to have conversations right away. But what you can do is learn some super useful phrases to get you started off.
The following phrases and words should be enough to get you started with your French. We’ve included greeting, getting about, at the doctors, numbers and being polite. But if you think there are any more categories that we should consider including then just let us know.
Getting started – greetings
To get you started off here are some greetings and some things you might say when you meet up with a French person or meet them for the first time. It’s also common for French people to kiss each other on the cheek when they being greeted so if someone does this to you, try not to be taken aback and just go with it.
Hello – Bonjour
How are you? – Comment vas-tu?
I’m fine thank you – Je vais bien merci
What is your name? – Comment t’appelles-tu?
My name is – Je m’appelle (and your name)
Nice to meet you – Enchanté
Many people think of the French as rude (a stereotype we think is unfair), but they just have a very specific set of etiquette rules that are often different to other countries. Manners are very important in French society and if you do things that they deem as rude you’re probably not going to get the best reaction. So make sure you learn how to say please and thank you at a minimum but obviously the more polite you are the better.
Please – S’il vous plaît
Thank you- Merci
You’re welcome – De rien
Thank you very much – Merci beaucoup
No thank you – Non, merci
Excuse me – Excusez-moi
I am sorry – Je suis désolé
Yes – Oui
No – Non
Could you please speak slowly? – Pourriez-vous parler lentement s’il vous plaît?
Do you speak English – Parlez-vous anglais?
Out and about – shops and restaurants
These are the kind of phrases that are going to be most useful for getting around France, finding hotels or shops, buying things and ordering food in a restaurant. These phrases may not give you the skills to live in France full time but they will definitely give you a good start and they’ll help you get through a holiday as well. And they’ll help you out if you get lost in France; being able to ask someone for directions is incredibly useful, you just need to make sure you can understand them, or that they use lots of gestures to explain where things are.
I want – Je veux
I’m looking for – Je cherche
Where is the….. – Où est le….
Hotel – l’hôtel
Bus station – La gare de bus
Train station – La Gare
Bank – la Banque
Hospital – l’hôpital
Supermarket – Le supermarché
The toilet – Les toilettes
How much is this? – Combien ça coûte?
I would like…. – Je voudrais…..
The bill – Le cheque
Can I have a receipt please – Puis-je avoir un reçu s’il vous plaît?
I would like two tickets – Je voudrais deux billets s’il vous plait
I would like two croissants and a cup of coffee – Je voudrais deux croissants et une tasse de café
If you can’t conjugate well yet then don’t worry, you can just say je veux + the infinitive of the verb: I want to go, I want to eat, I want to drink etc. Learning these verbs can help you communicate a lot even if you can’t conjugate them just yet.
To eat – manger
To drink – boire
To go – aller
To see – Voir
To want – vouloir
To do – faire
Numbers come in useful for everything, but especially for buying things. If you learn the phrase how much is this and when the shopkeeper replies you can’t understand them, then you’re in for a rough time. Learning the basic numbers is something we would highly recommend for your trip to France.
One – un
Two – deux
Three – trois
Four – quatre
Five – cinq
Six – six
Seven – sept
Eight – huit
Nine – neuf
Ten – dix
Eleven – onze
Twelve – douze
Thirteen – treize
Fourteen – quatorze
Fifteen – quinze
Sixteen – seize
Seventeen – dix-sept
Eighteen – dix-huit
Nineteen – dix-neuf
Twenty – vingt
Twenty one – vingt et un
Twenty two – vingt-deux
Thirty – trente
Forty – quarante
Fifty – cinquante
Sixty – soixante
Seventy – soixante-dix
Seventy one – soixante et onze
Seventy two – soixante-douze
Eighty – quatre-vingts
Eighty-one – quatre-vingt-un
Ninety – quatre-vingt-dix
Ninety-one – quatre-vingt-onze
One hundred – Cente
At the doctors
Hopefully these are phrases that you won’t have to use but it’s better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.
If you do find yourself feeling sick or needing medical attention in France then hopefully these phrases will be able to help you.
I would like an appointment – Je voudrais un rendez-vous
I have a headache – J’ai mal à la tête
My stomach hurts – J’ai mal au ventre
I have a cold – J’ai attrapé froid.
I’m in pain – J’ai mal
I have a sore throat – J’ai mal à la gorge
Call an ambulance – Appelle une ambulance
I’m sick – Je suis malade
I have tooth ache – J’ai mal à la dent.
Help – Aidez-moi!
It’s an emergency – C’est une urgence
He’s having a heart attack – Il a une crise cardiaque
We hope you’ve found our phrases in French to get you started useful. Obviously being able to speak properly and react to what someone else is saying is the ideal situation, but we hope this is a good way to get you started speaking in French and to build your confidence.
Are there are any other useful phrases that you think we’ve missed out that would be a must for a trip to France?
What other languages would you be interested in learning useful phrases for? Let us know in the comments underneath.