Learn how to say ‘Hello' in French and other useful phrases

Posted: April 14 2021

Useful French phrases - Memrise

Imagine this: COVID is a long-distant memory; a thing of the past. You’ve just booked a holiday to the beautiful French coastline and you’re picturing yourself laying on the beach, eating delicious food, and hopefully making some new friends while you’re there... But something snaps you back to reality. You suddenly realise you don’t know any useful French words! You start frantically googling “How do you say ‘I come from England’ in French?” or, even more essential “How do you say “a beer, please” in French?”. This is starting to stress you out. TAKE A BREATH - we’ve got your back. Sure, conversing in French can be a challenge when you’re just starting out. But to help you out, we’ve put together a French Language survival kit with the most useful words and phrases that you’ll need!

 

relief

 

Conversing in French

Below, we’ve listed some of the most common phrases in general conversation, along with words that we think should be added to your very own survival kit! Why not start a new document or note in your phone with a handful of these, and try and start learning? You’ll master them before you know it. Plus, for loads more useful French phrases after you’ve mastered these, head to our French Video phrasebook!

 

How to say: Greetings and ending a conversation in French

Greetings are useful to know in French, whether you’re saying good morning, good evening, a formal ‘hello’ or a more casual ‘hey’. There are a few different ways to say hello and greet people. If you’re a French beginner, you can use these words and phrases to get someone’s attention easily if you need a little help with the language. And just as greeting someone politely is super important, knowing how to say goodbye (and knowing what variations to use at different times) in French is also useful knowledge.

 

Hi

Salut

salut1

 

Goodnight

Au revoir

au_revoir1

 

Hello / Good morning (more formal)

  Bonjour

bonjour_1

 

See you soon

À  bientôt

À  bientôt

 

Good evenings

Bonsoir

Good night

Bonne nuit

Good afternoon

Bon après-midi

Hi (casual)

Coucou

Welcome

Bienvenue

See you later

À  plus tard

 

How to say: Polite phrases in French

Politeness is key when you’re learning a new language! If you’re struggling or need help finishing a sentence, it’s likely that a native speaker will help you if you’re polite. Learning phrases like thank you, sorry and you’re welcome in French is a useful skill that can serve you well in many situations.

Please

S’il vous plaît

S’il vous plaît

I'm sorry

Je suis désolé(e)

Je suis désolé-1
 

 

Sorry (apology)

Pardon

Thanks you

Merci

Thank you very much 

Merci beaucoup

You’re welcome

Je vous en prie

 

How to say: Names and open-ended questions in French

Once you’re feeling a little more comfortable with the language, these phrases can help start and steer a conversation. You can also find out a lot about someone by asking simple questions! Checking in to see how someone is doing is another useful set of French phrases that you can learn. 


What is your name?

Comment tu t'appelles ?

comment tu tappelles ?2

My name is?

Je m’appelle

Je m’appelle

 

How are you doing?

Comment ça va ?

Comment_cava

What's up?

Quoi de neuf ?

Quoi_deneuf

Where are you?

Où êtes-vous ?

Where do you live?

Vous habitez où ?

How are you?

Ça va ?

Where are you from?

Vous venez d'où ?

 

How to: Celebrate in French!

Merry Christmas?

 Joyeux Noël 

Joyeux Noël 

Happy Anniversary

Bon Anniversaire

bon anniversaire !1

 

Cheers

Santé

sante

 

Happy new year

Bonne Année

bonne_anne

 

Happy birthday

Joyeux Anniversaire

Happy Easter

Joyeuses Pâques

All the best

Tout le meilleur !

Best wishes

Meilleurs vœux 

Good luck?

Bonne chance ! 

Have fun!

Amuse-toi !

Have a good trip!

Bon voyage ! 

Enjoy your meal!

Bon Appétit ! 

 

Other useful French phrases

To help your conversation flow nicely, we’ve included a few ‘miscellaneous’ phrases we think you should add to your French Language survival kit! 

Okay

D’accord

D’accord-1

Why not?

Pourquoi pas ?

Pourquoi pas ?

Nice to meet you

Enchanté(e)

I like...

J’aime…

I don’t like...

J’aime pas...

I love!

J’adore ! 

I hate...

Je déteste…

So what?

Et alors ?

Let’s do it!

C’est parti !

Let’s go!

On y va !

That’s a shame

C’est dommage !

Don’t worry

T’inquiète pas

It’s perfect!

C’est parfait !

No problem

Pas de problème

 

More top tips for when you’re just starting out with learning conversational French: Keep an eye out for faux amis (or false friends)

No, we don’t mean being betrayed by someone you thought was a pal. We’re talking about French vocabulary that sounds like one thing, but means something else. French and English share a complicated linguistic history, and these false friends can easily cause you to make a mistake and get the wrong idea (or to say something embarrassing that you definitely don’t mean!) For example, words like librarie, sensible and journee sound very similar to their English counterparts, but mean something quite different. 

 

FR: Librairie | EN: Library

A little confusingly, the word for library in French isn’t actually librarie. It’s bibliothèque. Librarie actually means bookshop (so if you don’t want to part with your hard-earned cash, head to the bibliothèque instead!) 

 

FR: Sensible | EN: Sensible

Although these words are spelled exactly the same, sensible in French means sensitive. If you’re looking for a French alternative for the English word sensible, you could try ‘raisonnable’ instead.

 

FR: Journée | EN: Journey

This is another common faux ami. Une journée translates to ‘a day’, and in English, a journey is ‘un voyage’ in French. So if somebody wishes you “bonne journée,” they’re saying “have a nice day” (rather than bon voyage - which means ‘have a good trip’!)

 

Don’t worry (too much) about grammar. 

We know, it's weird to hear from someone that claims to know their stuff about languages! In fact, studies have shown that diving into grammar (and as such, the theories and reasoning behind why words and sentences are formed in the way that they are) too early can actually slow down your progress. 

It might seem counterintuitive, but when you’re just starting out, the most important thing is to get out of your comfort zone. If that means throwing yourself head-first into language learning, then go for it! Fine-tuning the grammar can come later - connections with people are more beneficial.  

Our French Content expert Chloé even says “There’s basically no need to worry about genders for nouns, which are completely random and super hard to memorise. At the end of the day, French speakers will understand you even if you reverse feminine and masculine pronouns.”

 

Laugh at your mistakes

If your gaffe gives someone the giggles, then seeing the funny side together might just help you make a new friend. Also, laughing releases dopamine, which some studies say can improve your ability to remember stuff (which probably explains why you can quote The Simpsons by heart. Or Friends. Or Monty Python).

The memory of the time you accidentally asked an Italian colleague to “passare il pene” (pass the penis) instead of “passare il pane” (pass the bread) is definitely going to stick around more easily than an uneventful dinner (and you definitely won’t make that mistake twice!).

 

Miley Cyrus

 

So there we have it! A clear and comprehensive start to your ultimate French Survival Kit of phrases. Head to our social media and let us know if there’s any phrases we’ve missed, or your favourite word or sentence from this list. If you found this page useful, check out our other resources for learning French!

 

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