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The French National Anthem: La Marseillaise


Have you ever heard La Marseillaise, the French national anthem? The music is beautiful, but the lyrics are not easy to decipher, full of old-fashioned words and unusual turns of phrases. 

Play it in front of a French audience, and suddenly, everybody starts singing along. We all know the lyrics, and there is something strangely captivating in its ferocity. I’ve seen the most reserved people start to raise their voices like there was no tomorrow just from hearing the first notes of our national anthem.

Moving and emotional for some, thrilling and vibrant for others, the Marseillaise was also called racist and xenophobic, anachronistic and obsolete, a bloodthirsty call to arms. Opinions vary, and this is also what makes it such an interesting piece of French history and a fascinating object of study.

In this article, we will begin by discussing the history and creation of the French national anthem. We’ll then talk about its lyrics, contemporary uses, and the criticisms it has received.

La Marseillaise

“La Marseillaise”, by François Rude, on the Arc de Triomphe.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. From Military Song to National Anthem
  2. Lyrics of La Marseillaise
  3. When is it Played?
  4. Should France Find a New National Anthem?
  5. Le mot de la fin

1. From Military Song to National Anthem

Contrary to what is often believed, the Marseillaise was not born in the city of Marseille but in the region of Alsace, during the war against Austria.

As the king saw his power slipping away, Louis XVI hoped that a French military defeat would allow him to restore his authority. He declared war on the king of Bohemia and Hungary on April 20, 1792. Little did he know that it would be fatal to him, nor that it would generate the rallying song of the French for generations to come. 

After two months of chaotic skirmishes, the Baron de Dietrich, mayor of Strasbourg, realized that the French troops lacked a unifying song. He turned to his friend, the officer Rouget de Lisle, a musician and poet in his spare time. Rouget de Lisle was inspired by a propaganda poster, and composed an energetic tune by drawing from other known marches and hymns.

He worked on it during the night of June 25, 1792, and the next day, Le Chant de guerre pour l’armée du Rhin (“War song for the army of the Rhin”) was born.

Rouget de Lisle, Singing La Marseillaise

Rouget de Lisle, singing La Marseillaise

At the end of July, the French troops were forced to retreat in front of Prussia, who had come to the aid of Austria. French volunteers were called in from all over France to reinforce the ranks. In August, the federates from Marseille landed in Paris, taking with them this now revolutionary song. It was only later that it was renamed La Marseillaise

It was a pivotal moment for the country and the genesis of the Republic, since on August 10 the federates invaded the Tuileries and locked up the king and his family, thus putting an end to almost a thousand years of absolute monarchy. On July 14, 1795, the Marseillaise was recognized as one of the “airs and civic songs that have contributed to the success of the Revolution.”

Then came Napoleon, and – Plot twist! – he banned the song in 1815, because of its Revolutionary association. It remained banned for nearly thirty years. The second revolution of 1830 put it back in the spotlight, before it was decreed national anthem under the Third Republic (1879).

The French Revolution

The French Revolution

2. Lyrics of La Marseillaise

For the longest time, there was no official version of La Marseillaise, which regularly provoked some awkward musical disturbances during its performance. The original manuscript has 6 verses. A 7th verse, often called le couplet des enfants (“The children’s verse”), was added later.

Additional lesser-known verses have been omitted from the national anthem. It brings the total number of verses to a whopping 15. But as you’re not likely to ever hear these added verses, let’s stick to the official 7.

Verse 1

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L’étendard sanglant est levé ! (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Égorger nos fils et nos compagnes !
Let us go, children of the fatherland,
Our day of glory has arrived!
Against us, the bloody flag of tyranny
is raised!
Can you hear in the countryside
The roar of these savage soldiers?
They come right into our arms
To slit the throat of our sons and our wives.


Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons ! Marchons !
Qu’un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May their impure blood
Water our furrows!

Verse 2

Que veut cette horde d’esclaves,
De traîtres, de rois conjurés ?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves,
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés ? (bis)
Français, pour nous, ah ! Quel outrage !
Quels transports il doit exciter !
C’est nous qu’on ose méditer
De rendre à l’antique esclavage !
What does this horde of slaves
traitors and conspiring kings want?
For whom these vile chains,
These long prepared irons?
French, for us, ah! What outrage!
What strong emotions it must arouse!
It is to use they dare to scheme
A return to antique slavery!

Verse 3

Quoi ! Ces cohortes étrangères
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers !
Quoi ! Ces phalanges mercenaires
Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers ! (bis)
Grand Dieu ! Par des mains enchaînées
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient !
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maîtres de nos destinées !
What! Foreign cohorts
would rule in our homes!
What! Those mercenary phalanxes
Would strike down our proud warriors!
Great God! By chained hands
Our heads under the yoke would bend!
Vile despots would become
The masters of our destinies!

Verse 4

Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides,
L’opprobre de tous les partis,
Tremblez ! Vos projets parricides
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix ! (bis)
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre,
S’ils tombent, nos jeunes héros,
La terre en produit de nouveaux,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre !
Tremble, tyrants and perfidious ones,
The shame of all parties,
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will finally receive their prices!
Everyone is a soldier to fight you,
If they fall, our young heroes,
New ones will rise from the earth,
Ready to fight against you!

Verse 5

Français, en guerriers magnanimes,
Portez ou retenez vos coups !
Épargnez ces tristes victimes,
À regret s’armant contre nous. (bis)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,
Mais ces complices de Bouillé,
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié,
Déchirent le sein de leur mère !
French, as magnanimous warriors,
Strike or hold your blows!
Spare these sad victims,
Regretfully arming against us.
But these bloodthirsty despots,
But these accomplices of Bouillé,
All these tigers who, without mercy,
Tear apart their mother’s breast!

Verse 6

Amour sacré de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs !
Liberté, Liberté chérie,
Combats avec tes défenseurs ! (bis)
Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire
Accoure à tes mâles accents !
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire !
Sacred love of the fatherland,
Guide and support our vengeful arms!
Liberty, cherished liberty
Fight with your defenders!
Under our flag, may victory
Rush to your manly accents!
May your dying enemies
See your triumph and our glory!

Verse 7

Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Quand nos aînés n’y seront plus ;
Nous y trouverons leur poussière
Et la trace de leurs vertus. (bis)
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre !
We will enter the career
When our elders are no longer there;
There, we shall find their dust
And the trace of their virtues.
Much less keen to survive them
Than to share their coffin,
We will have the sublime pride
To avenge or to follow them!

Liberty Leading the People

Liberty Leading the People, by Eugène Delacroix

3. When is it Played?

La Marseillaise is played on very specific occasions, typically for important speeches or ceremonies. You can hear it when the President is addressing the nation on TV, for example on new year’s eve, or for major announcements.

Military parades also sometimes resound with the fierce melody of our national anthem. It can be heard in small local events, as well as major parades such as the one on the 14th of July, when we celebrate the revolutionary Jour de la Bastille (“Bastille day”), our National day.

It is also traditionally played and sung during sport events. Football or rugby teams sing it before important games, during championships and you can hear it during Olympic games.

The most famous arrangement of the Marseillaise was written by French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is often considered the ‘official’ version.

Other notable versions include:

And my personal favorite, by French electronic musician Worakls.

La Parisienne, by Worakls

4. Should France Find a New National Anthem?

The Marseillaise is the reflection of a troubled time, of a bitter and merciless struggle against oppression, and the symbol of the union of a people to abolish the monarchy and take back control of its destiny. At its core, it is a war hymn used to galvanize the troops before the fight.

Is it violent, racist, or an outdated and embarrassing war song? The Marseillaise is one of the world’s most controversial songs. Even back in 1792, its original writer, Rouget de Lisle, almost lost his head and was thrown in jail under suspicion of being a royalist. He made it through, and his song survived the discredit, but that was just the beginning.

After being banned by Napoleon, the Marseillaise regained its influence during the Second World War, when it was sung by the resistance. The song had been banned by the collaborating Vichy government. Afterwards, it kept its momentum and became a rallying cry to rebuild a deeply wounded country.

However, in early 2000, the song became somewhat uncomfortable and was the target of frequent criticism. One of the main reasons comes from its use during France’s occupation of Algeria and its brutal and bloody war of independence in the middle of the 20th century. 

As a result, in 2001, it was booed by French-Algerians during a soccer match that degenerated into a riot when hundreds of supporters took to the field. More incidents occurred with Corsicans in 2002 and pretty much every year between then and 2008.

It remains somewhat controversial today but not nearly as much as it used to be. Opportunistic politicians still occasionally criticize it or use it to gain attention and publicity, but there has been no serious polemics recently.

Original Score of the Marseillaise

Original score of the Marseillaise

5. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you have learned everything about La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, from its history to its lyrics, most notable arrangements and controversies. Do you know of any interesting anecdotes about the song, or chapters in its history that we forgot to mention? Don’t hesitate to share them in the comments!

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and Free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching and have your own private teacher to practice with. 

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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60 Classroom Phrases for Studying or Teaching in France


Are you planning on studying or teaching in France? Do you know the most common classroom phrases in French for students or teachers alike? Whether you’re about to join a university as a foreign student or to teach your native language as a teacher in a French school, you will have to learn how to communicate in the classroom.

If you’re a student, not only will you need to learn how to address your teachers, but also to understand their instructions. And vice versa if you’re in the teacher’s shoes! You will also need to learn some basic vocabulary, such as school subjects and supplies, as well as infrastructure.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know as a teacher or a student, from common phrases to vocabulary, instructions, and a list of school subjects. It will teach you how to ask questions or give instructions and allow you to focus solely on the topic at hand rather than struggling with the common classroom interactions. Get your pencil case ready, and let’s jump straight into it!

Children Raising Their Hands Before Answering

Levez la main avant de répondre. (“Raise your hand before answering.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. School Vocabulary
  2. Teacher’s Phrases
  3. Student’s Phrases
  4. Subjects’ List
  5. Tests Instructions
  6. Le mot de la fin

1. School Vocabulary

Before we get to the common french phrases, let’s get some basic school vocabulary. To get your way around the schoolyard or the campus, you will need to know about the infrastructure as well as the stationaries.

1- Educational Infrastructures

Une salle de classeClassroom
Un bâtimentBuilding
Un amphithéâtreAmphitheater
La cantineCanteen
Le restaurant universitaireUniversity canteen
La cafétériaCafeteria
Une salle d’examenExam room
Le secrétariatSecretariat
La salle des professeursTeachers’ room
La bibliothèqueLibrary

2- School Supplies

Un cahierNotebook
Un classeurBinder
Une feuilleSheet of paper
Un livreBook
Un styloPen
Un crayonPencil
Une troussePencil case
Une gommeEraser
Un cartableSchoolbag
Un sac à dosBackpack
Une calculatrice, Une calculetteCalculator
Des ciseauxScissors
Une règleRuler
Un taille-crayonPencil sharpener

School Supplies

Des fournitures scolaires (“School supplies”)

2. Teacher’s Phrases

Whether you’re a student or a teacher in a French class, this section is for you! As a teacher, you need to know how to address your class, and as a student, you’d better understand what the teacher is saying. Let’s see some of the most common French teacher’s phrases.

1- Instructions

Aujourd’hui, nous allons apprendre la conjugaison.
(“Today we are going to learn conjugation.”)
Ouvrez votre livre à la page 12.
(“Open your book on page 12.”)
Prenez une feuille de papier.
(“Take a sheet of paper.”)
Levez la main si vous avez la réponse.
(“Raise your hand if you have the answer.”)
Ecoutez et répétez après moi.
(“Listen and repeat after me.”)
Regardez l’image à l’écran / Regardez l’image au tableau.
(“Look at the picture on the screen.” / “Look at the picture on the board.”)
Écrivez cette phrase.
(“Write this sentence.”)
Épelez ce mot.
(“Spell this word.”)
Faites une phrase avec le mot “demain”.
(“Make a sentence with the word “tomorrow.””)
Comment dit-on “tomorrow” en français ?
(“How do you say “tomorrow” in French?”)
Travaillez deux par deux.
(“Work in pairs.”)
Nous allons former de petits groupes.
(“We will form small groups.”)

2- Questions

Vous comprenez cette phrase ?
(“Do you understand this sentence?”)
Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ?
(“What does that mean?”)
Qui peut répondre à cette question ?
(“Who can answer this question?”)
Quelle est la bonne réponse ?
(“What is the correct answer?”)
Qui veut lire à voix haute ?
(“Who wants to read aloud?”)

3- Discipline

(“Take a seat.”)
Un peu de silence.
(“Silence, please.”)
Faites attention.
(“Be careful.”)
Taisez-vous au fond.
(“Shut up in the back.”)

    ➜ Would you like to live on a French campus? Never get lost with our free vocabulary list on School campus, complete with examples and recordings, on FrenchPod101.

Three People Working Together

Travailler en petits groupes (“To work in small groups”)

3. Student’s Phrases

France is renowned for its high education and affordable studies, making it one of the 5 most popular destinations for foreign students. For more information on the various programs, financing options, and campus sites, the website Campus France is the most official online resource you’ll find.

1- Talking About Teachers

In primary school, school teachers are referred to as:

  • [Male] Un maître (Literally: “Master”)
  • [Female] Une maîtresse (Literally: “Mistress”)

In University and High school, they are called Professeur (“Professor”)
There is also a short casual version: Prof

You can use these words when talking about teachers:

  • La maîtresse est absente jusqu’à demain. (“The teacher is away until tomorrow.”)
  • Je suis professeur à l’université de la Sorbonne. (“I am a professor at the Sorbonne University.”)
  • Mon prof d’anglais a un accent Écossais. (“My English teacher has a Scottish accent.”)

2- Addressing Teachers

At every level, unless told otherwise, students address their teachers using the words:

  • [Male] Monsieur (“Sir”)
  • [Female] Madame (“Madam”)

Here are a few examples:

  • Madame, j’ai une question. (“Madam, I have a question.”)
  • Monsieur, est-ce que je peux utiliser un crayon ? (“Sir, can I use a pencil?”)

As a teacher, whether it’s your colleagues or your students, you can simply call them by their names.

3- I have a Question

What is the most important information to convey during a class? When you don’t understand something. Whenever it happens, you shouldn’t wait until it magically clicks. It’s best to be proactive and talk about it right away.

Similarly, you will probably have some questions along the way, and being able to articulate them clearly is a valuable skill.

Je ne comprends pas.
(“I don’t understand.”)
Je ne comprends pas la terminaison de ce mot.
(“I don’t understand the ending of this word.”)
J’ai du mal à conjuguer ce verbe.
(“I have trouble conjugating this verb.”)
Vous pouvez répéter s’il vous plaît ?
(“Could you repeat that please?”)
Vous pouvez répéter plus lentement ?
(“Can you repeat slower?”)
Je ne sais pas dire ça.
(“I don’t know how to say that.”)
Comment ça se prononce ?
(“How do you pronounce it?”)
Quelle page ?
(“What page?”)

4- I have a Problem

We’re spending so much time in the classroom that we’re bound to face some trouble. It is not much of a problem to have an unforeseen event or an accident, as long as you know how to explain it.

J’ai oublié mon livre.
(“I forgot my book.”)
Je n’ai pas de stylo.
(“I don’t have a pen.”)
J’ai perdu mon cahier.
(“I lost my notebook.”)
J’ai un problème.
(“I have a problem.”)
Est-ce que je peux emprunter une gomme ?
(“Can I borrow an eraser?”)
J’ai besoin d’un peu plus de temps.
(“I need a little more time.”)
J’ai presque terminé !
(“I’m almost done!”)
Je peux aller aux toilettes ?
(“Can I go to the bathroom?”)
Je m’excuse pour le retard.
(“I apologize for the delay.”)
Je ne pourrai pas venir au prochain cours.
(“I won’t be able to come to the next class.”)
Je n’ai pas fait mes exercices.
(“I didn’t do my exercises.”)
J’ai oublié mes devoirs
(“I forgot my homework.”)
Le chat a vomi sur mes devoirs et mon cartable a pris feu.
(“The cat threw up on my homework and my schoolbag caught fire.”)

A Woman Feeling Confuse

Je ne comprends rien. (“I don’t understand anything.”)

4. Subjects’ List

You probably already know how to talk about what you’re studying or teaching, but whenever you’re chatting with your fellow students or teachers, a variety of other subject matters may come up.

Les mathématiquesMath
La biologieBiology
La chimieChemistry
La physiquePhysics
Le dessinDrawing
Le françaisFrench
La littératureLiterature
La philosophiePhilosophy
Le latinLatin
La poésiePoetry
L’éducation civiqueCivics
La politiquePolitics
La comptabilitéAccounting
La psychologiePsychology
La sociologieSociology
La géographieGeography
Le commerceBusiness
La musiqueMusic
Le solfègeMusic theory
L’EPS (éducation physique et sportive)Physical education (PE)

And here’s how to talk about these subjects:

Je vais en cours d’histoire.
(“I’m going to history class.”)
Ma matière préférée est la philo.
(“My favorite subject is philosophy.”)
J’ai de bonnes notes en biologie.
(“I have good grades in biology.”)
Passer un examen
(“To take a test”)
Je dois réviser le dernier cours de solfège.
(“I need to review the last music theory class.”)

    ➜ To practice your pronunciation, be sure to stop by our free vocabulary list on School Subjects, with recorded words and example phrases, on FrenchPod101.

A Physics Teacher Lecturing

Un cours de physique (“A physics course”)

5. Tests Instructions

When you pass an exam in a foreign country, the last thing you want is to be stressed about the instructions and simple interactions, instead of focusing on the content of the exam itself. Even if you’re well prepared, you have to understand how the exam will take place and exactly what you have to do.

1- Basic Vocabulary

Passer un examen
(“To take an exam”)

Réussir un examen
(“To pass an exam”)

Rater un examen
(“To fail an exam”)
You should not confuse Passer un examen with “To pass an exam”

These 2 sentences are false friends. In this sentence, the French verb passer means “To take” and has no implication on the outcome.

“To pass” would translate to Réussir (“To succeed”)
Passer un examen
(“To take a test”)
Un examen oral / Un oral
(“Oral exam”)
Un diplôme
Une salle d’examen
(“Exam room”)
Un surveillant d’examen
(“Test supervisor”)
Un formulaire
(“A form”)

2- Instructions

Lisez le texte
(“Read the text”)
Lisez les phrases
(“Read the sentences”)
Cochez la bonne réponse
(“Check the right answer”)
Cochez les cases
(“Check the boxes”)
Remplissez les blancs
(“Fill in the blanks”)
Complétez ces phrases
(“Complete these sentences”)
Mettez ces images dans le bon ordre
(“Put these images in the right order”)
Soulignez la bonne réponse
(“Underline the correct answer”)
Barrez les mauvaises réponses
(“Cross out the wrong answers”)
Écoutez l’exemple
(“Listen to the example”)
Décrivez cette image
(“Describe this image”)
Écrivez environ 200 mots
(“Write about 200 words”)
Résumez ce texte en 100 mots
(“Summarize this text in 100 words”)
Remplissez la grille ci-dessous
(“Fill in the grid below”)

A Man Studying

Il révise pour son examen. (“He is studying for his exam.”)

6. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you have learned all the most common classroom words and phrases in French, for students and teachers alike. From school vocabulary to test instructions, how to address your teacher or to conduct your class, this guide should provide you with a solid foundation for your daily life in a French school.

Did we forget any important French classroom phrases, or some specific topic you’d like to read about? Make sure to share with your fellow students in the comments below!

To go deeper into the topic, you can explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of Free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. The Vocabulary lists are also a great way to revise the words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching and have your own private teacher to practice with classroom words and more.

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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The Only Guide to French Restaurant Phrases You’ll Ever Need

Going to a restaurant in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language fluently can be unnecessarily stressful for several reasons: 

  • You don’t know French etiquette: how should I behave? How do things work? How do I address the waitress? Should I leave a tip?
  • You don’t know the language: How do I ask for a drink? How do you say “Main course?” What’s the phrase to ask for more bread?

Knowing the basic French restaurant phrases is one thing, but learning about the ins and outs of French dining beforehand will truly take you to the next level.

In this article, we’ll go through the six steps of going to a restaurant, and, for each phase, we’ll list the most common and useful French phrases, as well as the restaurant etiquette and unwritten rules you need to know. Fasten your napkin, and let’s dive right into it.

A Restaurant with Friends

Un restaurant entre amies (“A restaurant with friends”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Booking a Restaurant
  2. Entering a Restaurant
  3. Time for Drinks
  4. Food on the Table
  5. During the Meal
  6. Here Comes the Bill
  7. Conclusion

1. Booking a Restaurant

A- Should I book? Can I book?

Booking a restaurant is rarely an obligation in France, and you can almost always show up unannounced. Without booking, there’s no guarantee you’ll find a table, though, and in the most popular joints, you may be in for some discouragingly long lines.

There must be some upper-class restaurants that only accept customers with a booking, but I’ve never seen it myself. On the other hand, don’t be surprised if some restaurants don’t take reservations. They prefer to stick to the “first come, first served” rule and won’t block tables.

B- When should I book?

Cheap brasseries and mid-range restaurants with strategic locations can get extremely packed for lunch during the week, as workers from the neighboring companies all flock there at the same time during their synchronized lunch breaks. As a result, booking for lunch is generally a good idea.
Other restaurants, especially in the city center, are very popular dinner options and can attract long lines. If you know that you’re aiming at some sort of iconic or renowned place, it’s better to book in advance.

C- How do I book?

Some restaurants have their own booking system on their official website. Some use or other similar third-party services. In most cases, you can simply make a phone call. Booking information and phone numbers are usually available on Maps.

D- Conversation Example

Here is a phone conversation between a client and a restaurant employee:

Bonjour, Restaurant “Le Loup”, comment puis-je vous aider ?
(“Hello, “Le loup” restaurant, how may I help you?”)

Bonjour, je voudrais réserver une table pour demain soir.
(“Hello, I would like to book a table for tomorrow evening.”)

Bien sûr. Combien de personnes ?
(“Certainly. How many people?”)

Quatre personnes.
(“Four people.”)

Vous voudriez manger à l’intérieur ou en terrasse ?
(“Would you like to eat inside or on the terrace?”)

En terrasse, si c’est possible.
(“On the terrace if that’s possible.”)

D’accord. À quelle heure souhaitez-vous réserver ?
(“Okay. What time would you like to book?”)

À 20h30.
(“At 8:30 pm.”)

Pas de problème. Demain soir à 20h30, 4 personnes en terrasse. C’est réservé.
(“No problem. Tomorrow night at 8:30, 4 people on the terrace. It’s booked.”)

Parfait. Merci beaucoup ! Au revoir.
(“That’s fine. Thank you very much! Goodbye.”)

It is useful to know all possible questions, but with experience, you can cut through a lot of this back and forth and simply ask:

Bonjour, je voudrais réserver pour ce midi à 12h40, pour six personnes.
(“Hello, I would like to make a reservation for lunch at 12:40 for six people.”)

To Book a Table

Réserver une table (“To book a table”)

2. Entering a Restaurant

If you already know the menu and even booked a table, this part of the process will be as simple as introducing yourself at the entrance :

Bonjour, j’ai une réservation au nom de Jack Bauer.
(“Hello, I have a reservation under the name of Jack Bauer.”)

Bonsoir, j’ai réservé au nom de Jack Bauer, pour six personnes.
(‘Good evening, I have a reservation under the name of Jack Bauer, for six people.’)

And you will be shown your table.

If you’re not that prepared, there are a few things you need to know when choosing a restaurant:

  • What’s on the menu?
  • How much is the food?
  • Does it look pretty enough?

A- Can I See the Menu?

Many restaurants have their menu displayed outside, on a sign, or in the restaurant’s window. This is convenient if you want to quietly check your options before entering, as many people are too shy to leave once they set foot inside the premises.

If you can’t find any menu, I would simply advise that you ask for it before sitting down and, if you don’t like what you see, just give it back, thank them politely, and leave. No sane person will take offense, and it’s not considered bad etiquette.

Est-ce que je peux voir le menu, s’il vous plaît ?
(“Can I please see the menu?”)

Merci, bonne soirée !
(“Thank you, have a good evening!”)

B- Typical Questions and Answers

Once you enter a restaurant, the staff may ask you some questions:

Bonsoir, c’est pour manger ?
(“Good evening, are you here to eat?”)

Please, refrain from answering, “No, I’m here to play squash.” It’s not as stupid a question as it sounds. Most restaurants also serve drinks, and it’s customary to ask the question so they can place you accordingly.


Non, juste pour prendre un verre.
(“No, just to have a drink.”)

Vous souhaitez manger à l’intérieur ou en terrasse ?
(“Would you like to eat inside or on the terrace?”)

À l’intérieur, s’il vous plaît.
(“Inside, please.”)

Combien de personnes ?
(“How many people?”)

Pour deux personnes ?
(“For two people?”)

Once again, it might be tempting to answer, “No, the third one is hiding under my coat,” but this poor employee is merely doing their job! You might be expecting more friends to join, and the waiter needs to know what table size you need.

Pour trois personnes.
(“For three people.”)

    ➜ You can find more words and practice your pronunciation with our vocabulary list on Restaurants, on FrenchPod101.

The Menu

Le menu (“The menu”)

3. Time for Drinks

Now is the most exciting time! There’s delicious food on the menu, and you’re one order away from having it on your table. No time to get nervous: ordering is usually fairly simple as you can refer to the menu and ask for more information if you’re not familiar with some of the dishes.

But, first, more restaurants will ask you if you want an apéritif. This French word stands for the alcoholic beverage served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. It is usually dry rather than sweet and might come with dry nuts, olives, or breadsticks if you’ve picked a cool place. 

A- Ordering Apéritifs

The apéritif drinks are often listed in a specific section of the menu and are not mandatory. If you don’t feel like having one, simply decline it. It’s also perfectly fine not to have one when you’re among other people, and they order some apéritifs.

Also, keep in mind that restaurants generally make the most margin on drinks, so they’ll never fail to ask you whether you want apéritifs, wine, beer, bottled water, digestifs, and so on.

Est-ce que vous voulez des apéritifs ?
(“Do you want to order apéritifs ?”)

Je voudrais un pastis, s’il vous plaît.
(“I would like a pastis, please.”)

Non merci.
(“No, thank you.”)

B- Ordering Drinks

Some restaurants phrase it differently and ask if you want to order some drinks. This could happen as soon as you’re seated when you have no idea what’s on the drink menu. You could order an apéritif but also order something to drink with your food, such as table wine or beer.

Qu’est-ce que vous voulez boire ?
(“What do you want to drink?”)

Est-ce qu’il y aura des boissons ?
(“Will there be drinks?”)

Je voudrais un demi de blonde, s’il vous plaît.
(“I’d like a half-pint of blond beer, please.”)

Non merci.
(“No, thank you.”)

Rien pour moi.
(“Nothing for me.”)

Peut-être plus tard.
(“Maybe later.”)

C- Free Water Tastes Better

Whatever else you’re having, now is also the best time to order some water.

Tap water is always free in France (by law), and it’s drinkable all over the country. If you’re fine with simple water in a pitcher and not fancy bottled sparkling water, this is the way to go. Bottled water is sold at absurd prices in restaurants, so it’s never worth ordering it when you can have free tap water. 

This is an amazing feature of French restaurants, especially if you’re on a budget. And it’s also much more eco-friendly than drinking from a disposable bottle.

To ask for your free water, don’t just ask for water: sneaky waiters could interpret your order as mineral water and charge you for it. Instead, use this phrase:

Une carafe d’eau s’il vous plaît.
(“A jug of water, please.”)

Be sure to emphasize the word Carafe (“Jug”). This is what differentiates free water from a paid order of mineral water. And, if you run out, you can refill as much as you need.

Est-ce que je pourrais ravoir de l’eau, s’il vous plaît ?
(“Can I have more water, please?”)

To Have an Aperitif

Prendre l’apéritif (“To have an aperitif”)

4. Food on the Table

Ok, you’ve waited long enough. Let’s put some food on this table!

In most cases, you’ll have a menu right in front of you, but some restaurants do things differently. It may be on a blackboard somewhere on the wall or in the room, and I’ve been to places with digital menus where you scan a QR code and browse it on your phone.

Most inexpensive brasseries or mid-range restaurants have a Menu du jour (“Menu of the day”) or at least a Plat du jour (“Today’s special” but literally: “Dish of the day”), but some dodgy places could spot that you’re a tourist and decide to give you the regular menu that is usually more expensive.

Quel est le plat du jour ?
(“What is today’s special?”)

Je voudrais le plat du jour.
(“I would like today’s special.”)

Je voudrais le menu du jour.
(“I would like the menu of the day.”)

Je voudrais la formule du midi.
(“I would like the lunch menu.”)

If you need to know more about a specific dish, don’t hesitate to ask:

La tartiflette, qu’est-ce que c’est ?
(“The tartiflette, what it is?”)

C’est un plat à base de pommes de terre, avec du fromage et des lardons.
(“It is a potato-based dish with cheese and bacon.”)

Whether you’re ordering from the specials or à la carte, here are a few examples:

En entrée, je voudrais la salade composée.
(“As a starter, I would like the mixed salad.”)

Comme plat, je voudrais un steak au poivre.
(“As a dish, I would like a steak au poivre.”)

En dessert, je voudrais la mousse au chocolat.
(“For dessert, I would like the chocolate mousse.”)

If you have any allergy or a special diet, now is the time to talk about it:

Je suis allergique aux cacahuètes.
(“I’m allergic to peanuts.”)

Est-ce que ce plat contient des cacahuètes ?
(“Does this dish contain peanuts?”)

Avez-vous des plats végétariens ?
(“Do you have vegetarian dishes?”)

Avez-vous des plats végans ?
(“Do you have vegan dishes?”)

A Salmon Filet

Un filet de saumon (“A salmon filet”)

5. During the Meal

Food has come to the table and is currently traveling toward your stomach. Everything’s going well, but you may have some requests for the waiter, or worse: what if they ask you some questions?

A thoughtful waiter might ask you if everything is going well or if you need anything.

Est-ce que tout se passe bien ?
(“Is everything going well?”)

Tout va bien ?
(“Is everything okay?”)

Oui, très bien, merci !
(“Yes, very good, thank you.”)

Est-ce que je pourrais avoir plus de pain, s’il vous plaît ?
(“Could I have some more bread, please?”)

Je voudrais reprendre un verre de vin, s’il vous plaît.
(“I’d like another glass of wine, please.”)

Est-ce que vous avez des sauces pour les frites ?
(“Do you have some sauce for the fries?”)

If you need to call for a waiter, try to make eye contact or get their attention with a simple: Excusez-moi (“Excuse me”)

Now it’s time for dessert, isn’t it? You don’t want to miss out on the local delicacies!

Est-ce que vous prendrez des desserts ?
(“Will you have some desserts?”)

Vous voulez la carte des desserts ?
(“Do you want to see the desserts menu?”)

Je voudrais les profiteroles, s’il vous plaît.
(“I’d like the profiteroles, please.”)

Profiteroles are small balls of soft choux pastry filled with whipped cream or ice cream and covered with hot chocolate sauce. They’re served in heaven and in every good French restaurant.

It is common for the French to order a coffee after their meal and most waiters will ask if you’d like one:

Est-ce que vous prendrez un café ?
(“Will you have a coffee?”)


Des profiteroles (“Profiteroles”) (Credit: Annie Smithers Bistrot, shared under CC BY-SA 2.0)

6. Here Comes the Bill

Once you’re done with the main course or with the whole meal, waiters will sometimes ask for your feedback. It’s often just protocol, but you may want to go the extra mile if you really had a great time.

Tout s’est bien passé ?
(“Did everything go well?”)

Très bien, merci.
(“Very well, thank you.”)

C’était délicieux, merci !
(“It was delicious, thank you.”)

C’était vraiment excellent. Mes compliments au chef.
(“It was really excellent. My compliments to the chef.”)

This last one is very formal and may sound awkward if you’ve just had a kebab.

A- Check Please

When it comes to the bill, there are mainly three types of restaurants:

  • Fast food restaurants where you pay at the counter when you order
  • Restaurants where you pay at the counter after the meal
  • Restaurants where you pay at your table after the meal

When in doubt, look around you for clues or simply ask a waiter:

Est-ce que je pourrais avoir l’addition, s’il vous plaît ?
(“Could I have the bill, please?”)

Je vous l’apporte tout de suite.
(“I’ll bring it to you right away.”)

Vous pouvez régler directement au comptoir.
(“You can pay directly at the counter.”)

Then, when it’s time to pay:

Vous voulez payer séparément ou ensemble ?
(“Do you want to pay separately or together?”)

Je vais régler pour tout le monde.
(“I will pay for everyone.”)

Séparément, s’il vous plaît.
(“Separately, please.”)

B- What About the Tip?

In France, the 15% service fee is always included in the prices as they appear on the menu. Unlike other countries such as Canada or the US, the tip is not seen as something mandatory, and many French don’t tip or only tip when they feel like they have a good reason to do so (outstanding service or amazing food).

French waiters don’t survive on tips, but they’re rarely paid well for a physical and often stressful job, making the tip a welcome bonus to their wage.

Tips are usually left on the table in the form of coins or a bill or in a dedicated tip box at the counter. The average tip would be around 5% of the bill, but there are no strict rules about it, and you should not feel forced. On the other hand, a higher bill is always appreciated.

The Bill Please!

L’addition s’il vous plaît ! (“The bill please!”)

7. Conclusion 

In this guide, you have learned everything you need to know when eating in a French restaurant, from making a reservation to apéritifs, drinks, ordering food and desserts, as well as handling the check.

For each step, you need to know the tricks and secret rules, as well as the basic French restaurant phrases. Did we forget some specific situations you’d like to learn more about?

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. The vocabulary lists are also a great way to revise the words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching and have your own private teacher to practice with restaurant phrases and more.

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon jumped around from job to job before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the world. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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Let’s Talk! French Conversation Starters for Any Situation


It’s not always obvious how to start a conversation in French. Well, I guess it’s tough in any language, actually! It comes naturally to some people: they just go with the flow, follow their instincts, and say whatever goes through their heads. But when you’re dealing with a foreign language, it’s a different story.

Once you are talking to someone, and you’re both engaged in an interesting topic, it’s easier to keep it going. But just like a slow and cold engine, the difficult part is to get it started and find the right conversation starter suited for the context.

It’s hard to be spontaneous when you don’t speak French fluently if you’re nervously looking for your next sentence. If you’re not comfortable with French grammar, you may want to memorize some basic conversational starters as well as the most common French greetings.

Conversation starters in French depend on the situation: are you in a bar or at a friend’s party? At work or at the university? Maybe you’re on a date or meeting a beautiful girl or handsome guy that caught your interest? In any case, we got you covered!

A Guy at a Bar being Funny

Break the ice with the best opening lines!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Meeting New People
  2. Meeting People you Already Know
  3. Conversation Starters at Work
  4. Conversation Starters at School
  5. Conversation Starters for a First Date
  6. Le mot de la fin

1. Meeting New People

Depending on your personality, meeting new people can be an exciting or stressful prospect, but however you feel about it, there are a few rules that will always help you make the best of the first contact: 

  1. Make the other people talk about themselves.
  2. Ask follow-up questions.
  3. Be sure you actually want to know the answer.
  4. Find something to inquire about that you’re genuinely curious about.

I’m stressing the “genuine interest” part of the equation because if you’re not actually invested, it will likely fall flat, and you should probably ask something else or talk to someone else.

“How do you know the host?” is a classic, but it has no direct French equivalent, as we’d rarely call someone “the host,” even when they’re effectively organizing and hosting the event. 

Instead, you can use the person’s name:

    Comment tu connais Julien ? / Comment vous connaissez Julien ?
        (“How do you know Julien?”)

    Tu es un ami de Julien ? / Vous êtes un ami de Julien ?
        (“Are you a friend of Julien?”)

    Tu es un collègue de Julien ? / Vous êtes un collègue de Julien ?
        (“Are you one of Julien’s colleagues?”)

As you can see, all these sentences can be used with the casual TU or the formal VOUS.
In the rest of this guide, I’ll stick to the TU because it is more common and arguably better at breaking the ice. However, in a strict workplace environment or among older people, you might want to use the VOUS.

And speaking or which, here are a few other icebreakers:

    Qu’est-ce que tu bois ? Ça a l’air sympa. (“What are you drinking? It looks nice.”)
    Qu’est-ce que tu manges ? Ça a l’air bon. (“What are you eating? It looks good.”)
    Je vais me resservir. Tu veux quelque chose ? (“I’m going to get more food. Do you want something?”)
    Je vais reprendre un verre, je te prends quelque chose ? (“I’m going for another drink. Can I get you something?”)
    Tu viens souvent ici ? (“Are you coming here often?”)
    C’est la première fois que tu viens ici ? (“Is it your first time here?”)
    On s’est pas déjà croisés quelque part ? (“Did we meet somewhere before?”)

Of course, if you want to make for a stronger first impression, you could ditch the usual conversation starters, be creative, and ask any random questions, such as:

    Si tu pouvais avoir un super-pouvoir, ce serait quoi ? (“If you could have a superpower, what would it be?”)
    Pour ou contre la pizza Hawaïenne ? (“Are you for or against Hawaiian pizza?”)
    Si les zombies débarquent demain, tu te caches où ? (“Zombies are coming tomorrow, where do you hide?”)
    Si tu pouvais te réincarner en n’importe quel animal, tu choisirais quoi ? (“If you could reincarnate as any animal, what would you choose?”)

A Barmaid Handing a Drink to Someone

Prendre un verre (“To have a drink”)

2. Meeting People you Already Know

When you already know someone, you don’t need to be so careful with your opening words. A good idea is generally to bounce on something you know about them. Did they have some vacation recently? Why not ask about it? What about their significant other, pet, or kids? They’ll be happy to talk about it.

    Comment ça va ? (“How are you doing?”)
    Tu vas bien ? (“Are you doing well?”)
    Comment ça va depuis la dernière fois ? (“How is it going since the last time?”)
    Ça faisait longtemps ! (“It had been a while!”)
    Tu as passé de bonnes vacances ? (“Did you have a good vacation?”)
    Comment étaient tes vacances ? (“How was your vacation?”)
    Comment va Julien ? (“How is Julien?”)
    Julien ne pouvait pas venir ce soir ? (“Julien couldn’t come tonight?”)

You can also ask general questions about what they’ve been up to, but in my experience, it’s rarely effective in starting the conversation, and you’ll have to quickly follow up:

    Quoi de neuf ? (“What’s up?”)
    Tu fais quoi de beau dernièrement ? (“What have you been up to recently?”)

A Group of Friends

Un groupe d’amies (“A group of friends”)

3. Conversation Starters at Work

Meeting new people at work is often easier than in the ‘outside world’ because you already have something in common and shared acquaintances. You can use this to your advantage and ask more specific questions.

    Je m’appelle Sophie. C’est mon premier jour ici. (“My name is Sophie. It’s my first day here.”)
    Je travaille aux ressources humaines. Et toi ? (“I’m working in human resources. What about you?”)
    Tu travailles dans quel service ? (“In which service are you working?”)
    Tu travailles avec Julien ? (“Are you working with Julien?”)
    Tu travailles dans quoi ? (“What job are you doing?”)
    Tu travailles sur quel projet ? (“Which project are you working on?”)
    Tu travailles ici depuis combien de temps ? (“For how long have you been working here?”)
    Tu faisais quoi avant de travailler ici ? (“What did you do before working here?”)

When meeting people you already know at work, you could virtually ask them anything, depending on your level of intimacy. Here are a few ‘classic’ workplace conversation starters:

    Tu bosses sur quoi en ce moment ? (“What are you working on at the moment?”)
    Ton projet avance bien ? (“Is your project progressing well?”)
    C’est pas trop dur en ce moment ? (“It’s not too rough, lately?”)

When you’re on a friendly basis, you might want to start conversations unrelated to work, especially when you meet during lunch or coffee break and wish to take your mind off the job.

    Tu manges où ce midi ? (“Where do you go for lunch?”)
    Je peux me joindre à vous ? (“Can I join you?”)
    Tu as fait quoi ce weekend ? (“What did you do for the weekend ?”)
    Tu as des projets pour tes vacances ? (“Do you have plans for your vacation?”)
    Je t’offre un café ? (“Can I offer you a coffee?”)
    On va prendre un verre après le boulot ? (“Shall we have a drink after work?”)

Four Coworkers Standing Around and Talking

Tu travailles sur quel projet ? (“What project are you working on?”)

4. Conversation Starters at School

First days at school are rather similar to first days at work, but they come with their own specific vocabulary. Whether you start in high school, university, or a private school, here are a few conversation starters to make new friends:

    Je m’appelle Paul, je suis en première année d’Allemand. (“My name is Paul, I’m in my first year of German.”)
    Je viens de commencer ici. Et toi ? (“I’m just starting here. What about you?”)
    C’est mon premier jour. Je suis encore un peu perdue. (“It’s my first day, I’m still a bit lost.”)

You can also as people about their situation in the school:

    Tu es en quelle année ? (“What grade are you in?”)
    Tu étudies quoi ? (“What are you studying?”)
    Tu es dans la même classe que Julien ? (“Are you in the same class as Julien?”)
    Tu as bientôt des examens ? (“Are you having exams soon?”)

When you don’t know your way around the place, one way to establish contact is to ask for directions:

    Tu sais où sont les salles de TP ? (“Do you know where I can find the lab rooms?”)
    Tu connais un bon endroit pour manger le midi ? (“Do you know a good place to eat for lunch?”)
    Tu sais dans quel bâtiment est la bibliothèque ? (“Do you know in which building the library is?”)

University Students Taking Notes during a Lecture

Une salle de cours. (“A classroom”)

5. Conversation Starters for a First Date

A date is likely to start like most conversations: getting to know each other, casually exchanging general information about your job, situation, place of birth, and whatnot.

It is what comes next that’s interesting: getting deeper into knowing the other person to really figure out what their tastes, hobbies, lifestyles, and values are. But first, let’s break the ice with some formalities:

    Tu es né(e) où ? (“Where were you born?”)
    Tu habites à Paris depuis longtemps ? (“Have you been living in Paris for a long time?”)
    Tu as des frères et sœurs ? (“Do you have brothers and sisters?”)
    Tu bosses dans quoi ? (“What’s your job?”)

Then, time to get more personal:

    Tu aimes faire du sport ? (“Do you like sport?”)
    Tu préfères les chiens ou les chats ? (“Do you prefer dogs or cats?”)
    Tu es branchée astrologie ? (“Are you into astrology?”)
    Tu fais quoi de tes soirées, habituellement ? (“What do you usually do in the evening?”)
    Tu écoutes quel genre de musique ? (“What kind of music are you listening to?”)
    Tu as voyagé dans d’autres pays ? (“Have you travelled in other countries?”)
    Qu’est-ce qui te fait le plus rire ? (“What is making you laugh the most?”)

A great way to spark conversations or debates is to ask about favorite things. You’re sure to get right to the other person’s passions, and it might be the opportunity to find common ground or ask yourself if you really want to date someone who’s in love with Ed Sheeran.

    Quel est ton film préféré ? (“What’s your favorite movie?”)
    C’est quoi ta série préférée ? (“What’s your favorite series?”)
    Tu as un plat ou une cuisine préférée ? (“Do you have a favorite dish or cuisine?”)
    Quel est le dernier livre qui t’a marqué(e) ? (What’s the last book you’ve read that really made an impression?”)

Then, you can also be creative and ask weird, awkward, or funny questions. If the other person is open-minded or has a sense of humor, your questions should be well received and might lead to interesting conversations.

    Tu peux te décrire en un mot ? (“Can you describe yourself in one word?”)
    Si tu pouvais faire absolument n’importe quel métier, tu choisirais quoi ? (“If you could do absolutely any job, what would you choose?”)
    Si tu pouvais vivre à n’importe quelle époque et dans n’importe quel pays, tu choisirais quoi ? (“If you could live in any period and country, what would you pick?”)
    Si on t’annonçait que tu n’as plus qu’une semaine à vivre, tu voudrais en faire quoi ? (“If you’d be told you have one week left to live. What would you want to do with it?”)
    Est-ce que tu peux me raconter le pire rendez-vous de toute ta vie ? (“Can you tell me about the worst date of your life?”)
    Quel est le plus grand accomplissement de ta vie ? (“What’s the greater accomplishment in your life?”)
    Quelle est la chose la plus dangereuse que tu as faite ? (“What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve done?”)

A Man Pulling Out a Chair for a Woman on a First Date

Un premier rendez-vous (“A first date”)

6. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you have learned more than 70 conversation starters in French that you can use in a wide range of situations. From meeting new people to greeting friends, colleagues, and fellow students, or making a lasting impression on your date.

Did we forget any important topic you would like to read about, or do you feel ready to go and talk to those intriguing strangers?

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of Free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. The Vocabulary lists are also a great way to revise the words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching and have your own private teacher to practice with conversation starters and more.

Along with assignments, personalized exercises, and recording audio samples just for you, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

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Advanced French Phrases for Achieving Fluency


Are you an advanced French learner, or are you trying to become one? If you’ve decided to step up your game and start aiming toward content made for native speakers, such as French books or movies in their original version, I bet you’re getting more than a little confused. This is largely because advanced French phrases, necessary as they are to learn, are often put by the wayside. 

Traditionally, when learning a language, we study new words and grammar structures. Then, we learn how to combine it all to make nice and sophisticated sentences. You might still be doing so at an advanced level, but that’s not enough anymore.

Advanced French content tends to be full of idioms, slang, expressions, and weird structures that make no sense when simply translated word for word. A traditional approach won’t cut it, and you’ll have to learn not just words but actual phrases. 

Some of them will sound straightforward and easy to understand, but others are heavily idiomatic and will require you to just memorize them as they are. It’s perfectly normal! Most people use countless expressions in their native language without knowing where they come from or what the logic is behind the seemingly nonsensical combinations of words.

A Classy Woman Sitting and Drinking a Glass of Red Wine

Who doesn’t want to sound smart and sophisticated?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Useful Phrases for Structuring Your Thoughts
  2. Power Phrases for Your Cover Letter
  3. Outsmart Everyone at a Business Meeting
  4. Strange, Colorful Idioms for Connoisseurs
  5. Le mot de la fin

1. Useful Phrases for Structuring Your Thoughts

If you want to be convincing, prove your point, or simply express your ideas with confidence and eloquence, what you’re gonna need is structure. The following advanced French sentences will help you organize your speech, articulate your thoughts, and prioritize the steps to smoothly guide your reader toward your point.

Tout d’abord 
“First of all”
Tout d’abord, nous allons définir notre projet.
“First of all, we will define our project.”

Dans un premier temps 
“Firstly” / “Initially”
Dans un premier temps, la commission européenne n’était pas opposée à ce projet.
“Initially, the European Commission was not opposed to this project.”

Par ailleurs / En outre / De plus 
“Furthermore” / “In addition”
En outre, ces mesures devaient être temporaires.
“Furthermore, those measures were supposed to be temporary.”

En revanche / Par contre 
“However” / “On the other hand”
En revanche, le financement avait déjà été approuvé.
“However, the funding had already been approved.”

Premièrement, ___. Deuxièmement, ___. Troisièmement, ___.
“Firstly, ___. Secondly, ___. Thirdly, ___.”
Premièrement, ce n’est pas ce que j’ai dit. Deuxièmement, je ne fais plus partie de ce groupe.
“Firstly, that’s not what I said. Secondly, I’m not part of this group anymore.”

Par conséquent / Dès lors 
“Therefore” / “Consequently”
Par conséquent, je ne souhaite pas en parler davantage.
“Therefore, I don’t wish to elaborate on that.”

En d’autres termes / Autrement dit 
“In other words”
Nous sommes débiteurs, autrement dit, vulnérables.
“We are in debt, in other words, vulnerable.”

Dans la même optique / Dans le même ordre d’idées
“By the same token” / “Along the same line” / “In the same vein”
Dans la même optique, une attitude positive apporte les meilleurs résultats.
“In the same vein, a positive attitude brings the best results.”

Il convient de / Il est nécessaire de 
“It is necessary to”
Tout d’abord, il convient de rappeler les faits.
“First of all, it is necessary to review the facts.”

En matière de / Sur le plan de 
“In terms of”
Ils sont presque autosuffisants en matière d’énergie.
“They’re almost self-sufficient in terms of energy.”

A Woman Pointing to Her Head with Both Hands

If you can’t explain something, people might think you don’t understand it.

2. Power Phrases for Your Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is usually not an exercise in creativity and improvisation. More often than not, it obeys strict rules and follows a rather codified template. This means that most letters kinda look the same, with a set of key phrases defining their structure and introducing their different parts.

There could be many reasons why you would want to break the rules, but even if you want to be different, you’ll first have to know the tried and true formula. Study the advanced French structures below to get a head start and a strong feel for how to write your cover letter. 

Je me permets de vous contacter concernant ___
“I’m contacting you about ___
”Literally: “I allow myself to contact you about ___”

Je me permets de vous contacter car je pense être la bonne personne pour ce poste.
“I’m contacting you because I believe I’m the right person for this position.”

Votre offre d’emploi a particulièrement retenu mon attention.
“Your job offer really got my attention.
”Literally: “Your job offer, in particular, got my attention.”

Disposant d’une longue expérience dans le domaine de ___
“Having extensive work experience in (the field of) ___”

Mes études en ___ m’ont permis d’acquérir de nombreuses compétences en ___
“My studies in ___ have provided me with lots of skills in ___”

Souhaitant donner un nouvel essor à ma carrière, ___
“Wishing to give my carrier a new boost, ___”

Je serai heureux de vous rencontrer pour discuter de ma candidature.
“I will be happy to meet you and talk about my application.”

Je serai ravi de vous rencontrer et de vous convaincre de mon adéquation à ce poste.
“I will be happy to meet you and convince you of my adequacy for this position.”

Je souhaite mettre mes compétences à votre service pour ___
“I wish to put my skills at your disposal for ___”

Je vous prie d’agréer l’expression de mes salutations distinguées.
Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, mes meilleures salutations.
Veuillez recevoir, Madame, Monsieur, mes respectueuses salutations.
“Please receive, Madam, Mister, my best / respectful salutations.”

    ➜ For an in-depth look at the art of crafting a French resume or writing impactful cover letters, make sure to view our complete guide on

Two Female Colleagues Shaking Hands and Smiling

A great cover letter is a recipe for a striking first impression.

3. Outsmart Everyone at a Business Meeting

We all want to shine in social gatherings and make a lasting first impression. But if there is one context where you’ll want to impress your audience, it’s certainly the business meetings. There is a primal and territorial aspect to business that makes you want to sound assertive. 

Search for your words, mumble a little, and you might lose your momentum or weaken your argument. Mastering some advanced business French phrases will help build your confidence and boost your public speaking skills by a fair amount.

L’ordre du jour 
“The agenda” / “The order of the day”
Ce projet est à l’ordre du jour depuis des années.
“This project has been on the agenda for years.”

Avoir les choses en main 
“To have things under control”
Literally: “To have things in hands”
Ne vous inquiétez pas, nous avons les choses bien en main.
“Don’t worry; we have everything under control.”

Garder la tête froide 
“To keep a cool head”
Vous avez gardé la tête froide, jusqu’à présent.
“You’ve kept a cool head until now.”

Aborder la question de ___ 
“To address the issue of ___”
Je voudrais aborder la question de l’éthique environnementale.
“I would like to address the issue of environmental ethics.”

Jusqu’à preuve du contraire 
“Until proven otherwise”
Jusqu’à preuve du contraire, nous devons supposer que le logiciel n’est pas compatible.
“Until proven otherwise, we must assume the software is not compatible.”

À titre d’exemple / Par exemple 
“As an example” / “For example”
J’utiliserai, à titre d’exemple, ce processus de validation.
“I will use, as an example, this validation process.”

La date butoir 
“The deadline”
2024 est la date butoir pour publier nos résultats.
“2024 is the deadline to publish our results.”

Sans entrer dans les détails 
“Without going into details”
Sans entrer dans les détails, disons que la réunion ne s’est pas passée comme prévu.
“Without going into details, let’s say the meeting didn’t go as planned.”

Apporter la touche finale 
“To put the finishing touches”
Le logiciel est presque prêt, il ne nous reste qu’à apporter la touche finale.
“The software is almost ready; we only have to put the finishing touches.”

Peser le pour et le contre 
“To weigh the pros and cons”
Après avoir pesé le pour et le contre, j’ai décidé de décliner cette offre d’emploi.
“After I weighed the pros and cons, I decided to decline this job offer.”

People Engaged in a Business Meeting

It’s your time to shine!

4. Strange, Colorful Idioms for Connoisseurs

Once you reach an advanced level of proficiency in French and start reading content created for native speakers, you’ll enter a new world of peculiar expressions, full of animals and unintuitive word associations. 

Learning French expressions and idioms is your ticket to fluency. They might seem daunting at first, with their odd structures and atypical vocabulary, and you’ll have to learn many of them by heart. But they draw the line between a linguistic enthusiast and a true master of the Art of Frenching like a real Frenchie.

Être à cheval sur ___ 
“To be a stickler for ___”
Literally: “To be on horseback about ___”
Il est à cheval sur la ponctualité.
“He’s a stickler for punctuality.”

Prendre un coup de vieux 
“To get old”
Literally: “To take a blow of aging”
Salut, ça faisait un bail ! Dis donc, t’as pris un coup de vieux !
“Hi! It’s been a while! Gosh, you’ve gotten old!”
Prendre un coup de vieux can be about aging, but it’s also often used to describe the sudden feeling of getting old, a brutal realization of it: the first time someone calls you “Madam,” a receding hairline, a beard turning gray, or realizing that your favorite movie was released 20 years ago when it feels like yesterday.

Tiré par les cheveux 
Literally: “Pulled by the hair”
J’admets que ce raisonnement est tiré par les cheveux.
“I admit that this reasoning is far-fetched.”

Au pied de la lettre 
“To the letter” / “Literally”
Literally: “By the foot of the letter”
Ne prenez pas ses remarques au pied de la lettre.
“Don’t take his remarks literally.”

Tourner autour du pot 
“To beat around the bush”
Literally: “To turn around the pot”
Arrêtez de tourner autour du pot et expliquez-vous !
“Stop beating around the bush and explain yourself!”

Poser un lapin 
To fail to meet someone for a date without informing them beforehand
Equivalent: “To stand someone up”
Literally: “To put a rabbit”
On devait se voir hier mais elle m’a posé un lapin.
“We were supposed to meet yesterday, but she stood me up.”

Ne faire ni chaud ni froid 
To arouse no reaction whatsoever
Literally: “To do neither hot nor cold”
Pleure tant que tu veux, ça ne me fait ni chaud ni froid.
“Cry all you want; it makes no difference to me.”

Quelque chose qui cloche 
“Something amiss”
Il y a quelque chose qui cloche, j’en suis sûr.
“Something isn’t right, I’m sure of it.”
The French verb clocher means “to be wrong” or “to not add up.”

Connaître sur le bout des doigts 
“To know inside out” / “To know by heart”
Literally: “To know on the tip of the fingers”
Je connais sa biographie sur le bout des doigts.
“I know his biography inside out.”

En avoir le cœur net 
“To find out for sure”
Literally: “To have a sharp heart about it”
Trêve de spéculations, nous devons en avoir le cœur net.
“Enough speculation; we must find out for sure.”

One Girl Pulling Another Girl’s Hair

C’est vraiment tiré par les cheveux ! (“It’s really far-fetched!”)

5. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you have learned many advanced French conversational phrases, from common idioms and expressions to essay structures, power phrases for your cover letter, and even a handy toolkit for business meetings.

Did we forget any important structure or expression you’d like to learn more about? Feel free to share it with your fellow students in the comments below!

Make sure to explore, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also upgrade to Premium PLUS in order to use our MyTeacher service. This gives you personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher, who can help you practice with advanced French phrases and more. In addition to providing you with assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples, your teacher will review your work and help improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning on!

About the Author: Born and bred in rainy Northern France, Cyril Danon was bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the world. Now, after quenching his wanderlust over the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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Useful French Phrases for the Intermediate Level


Are you having trouble bridging the gap from beginner to intermediate level? It can feel like a daunting task when you have to leave the comfort of simple structures in the present tense. This is especially true once you start treading the uncharted grounds of expressing complex ideas or subtle feelings.

But once you’re confident with the basics and realize the only way is up, you’ll find a lot of satisfaction in honing your skills on something a bit more challenging (like the intermediate French phrases introduced in this article). And I say “a bit” because French has this weird tendency to look way more complicated than it actually is.

The tenses, for example, are not nearly as overwhelming as they seem at first glance. With only a couple of them (namely: passé composé and futur proche), you’ll be surprised how fast you can progress and how much you can express. Similarly, the French conjunctions are numerous, but many of them have direct English equivalents and are used exactly the same way.

In this article, we’ll have a look at some of the most useful structures with over 50 examples of common intermediate French phrases. Learning these structures will allow you to talk about past events, make plans for the future, explain your reasons, and more.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Anecdotes and Stories
  2. Let’s Make Plans
  3. A Few Reasons Why
  4. Praise and Complain
  5. Are You Kidding Me?
  6. Yes, Milord
  7. Le mot de la fin

1. Anecdotes and Stories

When you’re beginning with French, chances are you’ll only use the present tense for a while. Even when telling stories about past events or interesting experiences you’ve had, you can often get away with using the present tense. Sometimes, even native speakers do this in order to make the story more vivid and engaging. 

However, unless you’re fluently and seamlessly handling the transition, doing so can create this awkward moment when your audience is trying to place your anecdote and adapt to the uncommon choice of tense. In most cases, I’d say that using the past tense is a better choice, and learning how to juggle between its different forms will be well worth your time. 

Here are a few simple French phrases for the intermediate level that make use of the past tense. 

C’était une très bonne soirée !
That was a really good night!

On a passé un super moment.
We had a great time.
Literally: We have passed a great moment.

On s’est bien amusés !
We had fun!
Literally: We entertained ourselves well!

C’était le pire jour de ma vie.
That was the worst day of my life.

Je travaille ici depuis deux ans et demi.
I’ve been working here for two and a half years.
Literally: I work here since two years and a half.

This sentence uses the present tense because we’re talking about something that is still ongoing.
I am working here (present), and this action started two and a half years ago. 

L’année dernière, j’ai voyagé en Argentine.
Last year, I traveled to Argentina.

J’ai fait du Karaté pendant deux ans.
I’ve practiced karate for two years.
Literally: I have done karate during two years.

A Man Holding a Bottle while Lying Hungover on the Couch after a Party

C’était une très bonne soirée ! (“That was a really good night!”)

2. Let’s Make Plans

Now that you have a better grasp on the past, let’s jump back to the future. As you’ll see, there are many different options, and the future tense is not often mandatory. Using its different forms is quite simple, though, and I’d recommend that you give them a try!

Usually, mentioning the date of the event will be enough for the other person to understand that you’re talking about the future. From that point on, whether you use the present, future, near future, or conditional is a matter of preference.

Est-ce que vous seriez disponible la semaine prochaine ? 
Would you be available next week?
Literally: Is it that you would be available the next week?

Tu seras dispo dimanche ?
Will you be available on Sunday?
Literally: You will be available on Sunday?

Vous voulez manger japonais ? 
Would you like to eat Japanese?

Ça te dit de manger japonais ? 
Would you like to eat Japanese?
Literally: Does it tell you to eat Japanese?

On se fait un jap ? 
[Very Casual]
Care for some Japanese food?
Literally: Are we doing ourselves a Jap?

Je peux venir avec mon copain ? / Je peux venir avec ma copine ?
Can I come with my boyfriend? / Can I come with my girlfriend?

On peut reporter à la semaine prochaine ?
Can we postpone it to next week?
Literally: We can postpone to next week?

On en discutera plus tard en réunion.
We will discuss it later in a meeting.

A Man Riding on Public Transportation and Talking on His Cell Phone

On se voit dimanche ? (“Shall we meet on Sunday?”)

    ➜ We’re just scratching the surface here. If you want to learn how to talk more about your plans, this free vocabulary list is just what you need.

3. A Few Reasons Why

Stating facts or describing things that you’ve done is a great start, but your conversations will get much more interesting once you can explain your actions and understand people’s motivations. It can be as simple as saying that you don’t want dessert because you’re full, or as complex as elaborating on your tastes in music or movies.

Describing your reasons is quite straightforward in French. You just need a few key intermediate French words and phrases, and you’ll be able to talk about causes and consequences. 

Je ne mange ni œufs ni poisson car je suis allergique.
I eat neither eggs nor fish because I’m allergic.

J’espère que tu viens ce soir, sinon tu vas me manquer.
I hope you’re coming tonight, or I will miss you.
Literally: I hope that you come tonight, otherwise I will miss you.

J’aime cette musique parce qu’elle me détend.
I love this music because it relaxes me.

J’ai un peu bu, alors je vais rentrer à pied.
I’ve been drinking a little, so I’ll walk back home.
Literally: I have drunk a little, so I will go back on foot.

Comme j’étais épuisé, j’ai dormi jusqu’à midi.
Because I was exhausted, I slept until noon.

Je parle doucement pour ne pas la réveiller.
I’m speaking softly so I won’t wake her up.

J’ai choisi cette ville pour trois raisons : D’abord, sa taille, ensuite, son climat, mais surtout pour ses bars !
I chose this city for three reasons: First of all, its size; secondly, its weather; but most of all, for its bars!

A Man Asleep on the Couch with Pizza Boxes and Beer Bottles Nearby

J’ai dormi jusqu’à midi car j’étais épuisé. (“I slept until noon because I was exhausted.”)

4. Praise and Complain

Sharing our opinions and insights helps us create bonds and allows us to learn from each other’s experiences. Whether you want to recommend something or discourage your friends from anything terrible, you can do so using these useful French phrases and patterns. 

C’est mon cinéma préféré.
This is my favorite movie theater.

You can use this sentence pattern with anything. You should just keep in mind that préféré agrees with the object in both gender and number.

  • C’est ma musique préférée. (“This is my favorite music.”)
  • Ce sont mes films préférés. (“These are my favorite movies.”)
  • Ce sont mes séries préférées. (“These are my favorite series.”)

C’est le meilleur film d’action depuis John Wick.
This is the best action movie since John Wick.

C’est la meilleure adresse pour manger japonais.
This is the best address to eat Japanese food.

Je te conseille de le voir en version originale. 
Je vous conseille de le voir en version originale. 
I recommend that you see the original version.

J’ai beaucoup aimé ce film, je le reverrais avec plaisir.
I really enjoyed this movie. I would gladly watch it again.
Literally: I have really liked this movie. I would see it again with pleasure.

The conditional form is a bit tricky here. It sounds exactly like the future je le reverrai, and only the spelling is different. You can find the conjugation of the verb revoir over here.

La suite est très mauvaise. À éviter à tout prix.
The sequel is really bad. To be avoided at all costs.

A Book with Its Middle Pages Folded to Form a Heart Shape

C’est mon livre préféré ! (“This is my favorite book!”)

    ➜ In France, we love constructive criticism and—okay, fine, we love to complain! We go on and on about what we dislike and why it’s so terrible. If you want to join in on our verbal jousting, get some ammunition from our free vocabulary list on expressing dislike!

5. Are You Kidding Me?

Let’s change the tempo with some short conversation examples. In this section, you’ll learn how you can react to different statements and express enthusiasm, annoyance, curiosity, or disbelief.

On your road to fluency, being able to express interesting and nuanced reactions (rather than just saying yes or no) is a great step forward that will add a lot of flavor to your conversations.

1 – Great!

A: J’aime beaucoup la série que tu m’as conseillée. (“I really love the series you recommended to me.”)
B: C’est cool, je suis content que ça te plaise. (“That’s great. I’m glad you like it!”)

2 – Sorry.

A: Je suis allergique au poisson. (“I’m allergic to fish.”)
B: Oh, désolé, je ne savais pas. (“Oh, sorry, I didn’t know.”)

3 – I can’t believe it.

A: Je n’aime pas le fromage. (“I don’t like cheese.”)

B: Sérieusement ? (“Seriously?”) [Formal or Casual]
B: T’es sérieux ? (“Are you serious?”) [Casual]
B: Tu rigoles ? (“You kidding me?”) [Casual]
B: C’est pas vrai ! (“No way!”) [Formal or Casual]
B: N’importe quoi… (“Whatever…”) [Mostly Casual]

4 – That’s bad.

A: Je ne peux pas venir ce soir. (“I can’t come tonight.”)

B: Oh, c’est dommage. (“Oh, that’s a shame.”) [Formal or Casual]
B: Ah, c’est nul ! (“Ah, that sucks!”) [Mostly Casual]

5 – Keep me posted!

A: Je ne sais pas si je pourrai venir ce soir. (“I don’t know if I can come tonight.”)

B: OK, tenez-moi au courant ! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Formal]
B: Ok, tiens-moi au courant ! (“Alright, keep me posted!”) [Casual]

6. Yes, Milord

France is known for its exquisite etiquette and its slight obsession with polite protocol, so you bet there’s more to it than just s’il vous plaît (“please”) and merci (“thank you”). 

Sure, these two expressions will take you a long way, especially if you stick to casual settings and relaxed, friendly gatherings. But as soon as you step into the business world or any formal event, you’ll be glad to have learned more. And even among friends, pleasantries never hurt!

Below are several polite French phrases for the intermediate level.

Bon appétit.
Enjoy your meal.
Literally: Good appetite.

Faites comme chez vous. 
Fais comme chez toi. 
Make yourself at home.
Literally: Do like at your home.

Profitez bien de vos vacances ! 
Profite bien de tes vacances ! 
Enjoy your vacation!

Bon voyage !
Enjoy your trip!
Literally: Good travel!

C’était un plaisir.
That was a pleasure.

Excusez-moi de vous déranger. 
I’m sorry to disturb you.
Literally: Excuse me for disturbing you.

À la vôtre ! 
À la tienne ! 
Literally: To yours!

This is a shortened version of À votre santé ! [Formal] / À ta santé ! [Casual] (“To your health!”)
I personally prefer the shortened version, but it’s a matter of taste.

À vos souhaits. 
À tes souhaits. 
Bless you.
Literally: To your wishes.

This is used when someone is sneezing. If they do it again, you could add à tes amours (“to your loves”) but it’s old-fashioned and mostly used as a joke.

One Couple Greeting Another Couple into Their Home

Fais comme chez toi ! (“Make yourself at home!”)

    ➜ This is just the tip of the iceberg, but if you’re interested in the topic of French etiquette, you’re in luck! We have a complete guide on how to be polite in France. It’s freely available on

7. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you have learned a lot of intermediate French phrases with over 50 common examples covering various aspects of our daily lives. 

Did we forget any important topic or some specific structures you’d like to learn about? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

To practice what you learned from our list of intermediate French phrases, I’d recommend following these steps:

  • Read the sentence carefully and see if you can understand it.
  • Try and translate it yourself using the words and grammar that you already know.
  • Compare your results to the given translation (and to its literal translation, when needed).
  • Once you understand the words and the grammatical structure, you can make some changes to the sentence to make it more personal.
  • Once you’re comfortable enough, you could even try to rephrase it completely or to make it more complex.

Make sure to explore, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher. They can help you practice with the intermediate phrases you’ll come up with as you work through this list. In addition, your teacher can give you assignments, provide you with personalized exercises, and record audio samples just for you; they can then review your work and help improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning with FrenchPod101!

About the Author: Born and bred in rainy Northern France, Cyril Danon was bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the world. Now, after quenching his wanderlust over the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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The 15 Best Podcasts to Improve Your French


Do you wish there were a way to practice your French without going through the tedious grind of flashcards and grammar exercises? Some low-key technique that would save you from the hardships of academic learning?

What if I told you that you could practice any language efficiently without feeling like you’re putting actual work into it? This is not a life hack—it’s just what happens when you listen to engaging content in your target language!

Just like with movies and TV shows, you can learn French by listening to podcasts on a regular basis. Simply through natural exposure, you’ll learn new words, pick up a variety of idioms, and solidify the grammar structures you’ve already learned.

In this article, you’ll find 15 of the best French podcasts for learners at any level. You can use them to give your French learning a speed boost, especially when combined with the tips we’ve listed at the end. 

Put on your headphones and let’s dive in!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Why learn French from podcasts?
  2. The 15 Best French Podcasts
  3. How to Make the Most of Your French Podcasts
  4. Le mot de la fin

A Woman Sitting at Her Laptop and Wearing Headphones

Effortless practice is just one podcast away.

1. Why learn French from podcasts?

The best way to learn French is to fully immerse yourself: travel to France, forbid yourself from speaking any other language, live and breathe French until it becomes second nature… I’m sure you’ve heard that before, right?

This is good advice, for sure, but what if it’s not an option? Maybe you need to achieve a specific proficiency level before your trip to France, in order to pass an exam, or even to land a job. In any case, when full immersion is not on the table, it leaves us with all the other options.

Taking classes, learning grammar, and going through the usual tedium of vocabulary lists and fill-in-the-blank exercises has proven to be a reasonable approach. But in this day and age, why not take advantage of everything the internet has to offer? Streaming, YouTube videos, vlogs, online radio shows, and of course, podcasts.

1 – The Benefits of Passive Learning

Practice makes perfect. The more exposure you get, the better. 

On top of whatever method or academic program you may be following, the simple habit of listening to French every day in your car, on the bus, or while doing the dishes will foster a slew of benefits. It will: 

  • Improve your listening skills
  • Reinforce your pronunciation, especially early on
  • Consolidate your grammar as you hear the structures in context
  • Enrich your vocabulary on the topics of your choice

2 – Different Levels, Different Perks

As a beginner, listening to podcasts in French gives you a good sense of how the language sounds and allows you to tackle the pronunciation as early on as possible. This is something I always advocate for because fixing pronunciation mistakes further down the line would be significantly more difficult.

Intermediate learners always experience the effect of diminishing returns. Simply put, it takes more work to achieve the same level of progress than it used to. Through consistent exposure, you’ll enhance your grammar, learn new vocabulary, and get more comfortable with your French without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Advanced students may benefit the most from podcasts, especially once they’re fluent enough to choose from the massive amount of content for native speakers. Suddenly, you’ll be able to listen to hundreds of podcasts on any possible topic while still making progress.

A Kid Lying Down Next to an Assignment Graded A+

Podcasts are a great tool at any level.

2. The 15 Best French Podcasts

1 – CoffeeBreak French

  • Level: True Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free content with ads + Premium paid content

If you’re a true beginner, you may find that very few podcasts allow you to jump right in, and this is what makes CoffeeBreak French stand out. Its four seasons cover every level, all the way up to advanced. It begins with lots of English in the first episodes, then gradually shifts to more French as you progress through the seasons.

They also have a 40-episode paid course specifically aimed toward children, while the main entries are free.

2 – Podcast Français Facile

  • Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free

Another great podcast for beginners and advanced learners alike, Podcast Français Facile has dozens of recorded dialogues sorted by level. They often come with a transcript, a PDF, exercises, and questions. Some of them have attached videos as well. The website also features a collection of short grammar points and pronunciation exercises.

3 – News in Slow French

  • Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: News
  • Paid content with subscription

The name is self-explanatory: This is just like the French news, but slower. Pick your level, and the content will adjust in terms of speed and complexity. There are options to change the playback speed, if you want (for example) to hear beginner-level vocabulary with faster audio.

The site is paid; as a free user, you can only listen to the first minute of each episode to get an idea of what it’s about.

4 – FrenchPod101

  • Level: Absolute Beginner to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free content + Premium and Premium PLUS subscriptions

I feel like I’m preaching to my own choir, but there was no way I could leave FrenchPod101 off this list! The website is essentially a giant collection of podcast lessons ranging in difficulty from absolute beginner to advanced.

You’ll find dialogues depicting common daily situations, cultural insights, and lots of first-hand information about the country and its lifestyle. You can complement this info with grammar points, exercises, quizzes, vocabulary lists, and even personal coaching (for Premium PLUS members).

5 – Histoires à écouter

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Theme: Stories
  • Free

These are short stories for kids and teenagers, read by professional French actors for a pleasant and sharp delivery. Some of them use simple vocabulary, while others are more literary. Overall, even though they’re targeted at a young French audience, I’d not recommend it for beginners.

6 – Learn French by Podcast

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free

This is a great French podcast for intermediate learners, featuring more than 200 free recordings of around 15 minutes each. They cover a wide variety of topics: news, politics, society, etc. Unlike most of the other podcasts I’ve listed so far, Learn French by Podcast doesn’t provide the transcript, but the recordings are slow and very well-articulated.

7 – One Thing in a French Day

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Theme: Life Stories
  • Free

I was introduced to this podcast with a description along the lines of: “This lady’s talking about whatever, with a soothing voice,” and that’s pretty much it. Nearly 2000 episodes of five to seven minutes, offering a slice of a Frenchwoman’s day in France.

8 – InnerFrench

  • Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Theme: Teaching Podcast
  • Free 

To this day, InnerFrench has almost 100 episodes of 40 minutes each. There are a few interviews, but most of them are essays on different topics: French culture, news, science, psychology, languages, politics, books, music… It’s a great way to learn French and reflect on interesting topics of discussion. 

This is really a teaching podcast at heart, and expressions and idioms are sometimes explained. However, although it’s slow and deliberately articulated, it features some rather complex vocabulary.

9 – Change ma Vie

  • Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Theme: Personal Development
  • Free

This French podcast has around 200 episodes of 10 to 20 minutes, each one covering a topic related to personal development or soft psychology. It’s primarily aimed at native speakers, but its slow and carefully articulated speech makes it accessible enough for learners. The website sells life-coaching services, but the podcast is available for free.

10 – Journal en Français Facile

  • Level: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Theme: News
  • Free

The most important thing you need to know about Journal en Français Facile is that it’s anything but facile (“easy”). Even though the speakers are very articulated with their neutral newscaster speech, you’ll need some serious vocabulary to keep up. Luckily, the transcript is a big help.

A Female Newscaster Sitting in a Studio

Newscasters articulate very well, making it easier for foreign learners to follow.

11 – Transfert

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Life Stories
  • Free

Transfert is a widely acclaimed blog about life stories. Various speakers come to share intimate tales about love, grief, family, and lifestyle. It doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, and some of them can be emotionally trying, but I’ve always found the podcast strangely absorbing.

With more than 140 episodes (and counting) ranging from nine to 75 minutes, it’s a great resource for advanced students to practice with many different tones and accents while dealing with everyday topics. 

12 – Blog Histoire

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: History
  • Free

What we have here is a massive collection of hundreds of recordings from 1999 to 2020, mainly about history and literature. Most of them are from the French radio station France Inter, and you can also hear these episodes on their official website

The radio show used to be called 2000 ans d’histoire (“2000 Years of History”), and it had various experts and academics discussing fascinating subjects. With so many topics, you’re bound to find something you’ll be curious about! 

13 – La Poudre

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Society
  • Free

La Poudre (“The Powder”) is an activist blog on racism and feminist struggles, with around 100 episodes of one hour each. Various guests come to share their insights and experiences, or to discuss the most recent news and cases on those topics.

It’s definitely not the easiest podcast to follow, but you can find the transcript for many of their episodes at this address.

14 – Culture 2000

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: History & Geography
  • Free

Another one of the best French podcasts about history, this highly educational blog will teach you more about the world and its history. What better way to practice your French and enrich your cultural knowledge at the same time? Episodes are chunky pieces of 60 to 90 minutes each and can be downloaded for offline use.

15 – Une Histoire Intime

  • Level: Advanced
  • Theme: Death
  • Free

Posted in March 2021 on France Inter, Une Histoire Intime (“An Intimate Story”) is a miniseries by French author and blogger Maïa Mazaurette. With seven episodes of around eight minutes each, this is by far the shortest podcast on our list.

Maïa’s boyfriend died from a heart attack. He was just 29. Seven years later, she’s sharing the tale with the abrupt candor and disconcerting honesty she’s known for. This is surprisingly not a sad story, but it’s still a story about death, mourning, and acceptance.

Several Textbooks on Different Topics

Whatever topic you’re into, there’s a French podcast for you!

If you’re advanced enough to tap into the wide pool of French podcasts for native speakers, you can find a staggering amount of content. I’ve only listed a few in this article, but you might want to dig deeper until you find exactly what’s right for you.

    France Inter is a great place to start. They have countless free programs of professional quality available on their website. Among many others, I would recommend Affaires sensibles, a program about legal cases, unsolved crimes, and other gripping investigations.
    France Culture is another radio channel that offers a wealth of free podcasts on a wide variety of subjects. On this page, you can sort through them by category (Philosophy, Music, Cinema, and much more) and find the best programs for your tastes.

3. How to Make the Most of Your French Podcasts

And there you have it, the 15 best podcasts for practicing your French. But this is still a bit raw. Let’s see how you can pick the perfect podcast for you and make the most of it.

  1. First of all, you should pick a podcast for your level.

    What might sound really obvious can be challenging when you’re somewhere between levels. I would recommend starting with something on the easier side so you don’t get discouraged. Then, once you feel ready, you can always move up to some more challenging content later.

  1. Make sure you choose the right country and accent for your needs or preferences.

    The podcasts on this list are from France; if you want to learn French from Quebec or Belgium, you might want to look specifically for that. They will also address cultural topics in line with the country you’re interested in.

  1. Select the right topic for you.

    It may take some trial and error to figure it out. Especially if you’re advanced and have the luxury of choice, I strongly believe you should choose based on the topic over any other consideration. Listening to something you’re passionate about will keep you invested and coming back for more.

  1. Listen to several podcasts, and value diversity.

    You don’t have to find the perfect program from Day One, and keeping your options open is often the smart choice. This is also a good way to be exposed to more than one voice and accent.

  1. Practice makes perfect.

    You’ll often find some “listen & repeat” exercises on beginner podcasts, and I’d encourage you to take them seriously. Especially if you’re at home or in the comfort of your car, you can go wild and repeat as loud as you want. It will help you practice your pronunciation.

  1. Daily exposure is key.

    If you can find the time for a daily podcast session by setting up a routine, this consistency will take you a long way. Commuting time is a popular option, but any downtime can be transformed into progress, as long as your ears and brain are fully available (don’t multitask too much!).

  1. Don’t forget to mix it up.

    Although it might be possible to learn solely through passive learning, you will achieve the best results by mixing things up. I’d recommend using podcasts as a complementary activity to accompany some classic grammar and vocabulary work.

A Guy Listening to a Podcast while Walking Alongside Heavy Traffic

Transform your commute time into learning sessions.

4. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, we’ve discussed how you could boost your studies with the help of French podcasts and how to make the best of everything they have to offer. We’ve also listed our top picks for the 15 best podcasts for learning French.

Did we forget any amazing podcasts you’re following? We’d love to discover more useful content, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments below!

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher. They can help you solidify the new vocabulary and structures you learn from podcasts, and much more. In addition to giving you assignments and personalized exercises, your teacher can record audio samples for you and review your work to help you improve in all areas. 

Happy learning on!

About the Author: Born and bred in rainy Northern France, Cyril Danon was bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the world. Now, after quenching his wanderlust over the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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Simple French Phrases for Beginners


Do you sometimes feel that learning French is no small feat? Sure, the grammar can be intimidating at first, and the pronunciation a little challenging. But there are various ways to conquer these hurdles. One way is to practice using basic French phrases geared toward beginners right from the start.

The traditional academic route has its perks. It has been yielding good results for generations of language learners. But there is only so much to be gained from studying the basic grammar rules, learning lists of elementary vocabulary words, and practicing with written exercises. I believe in a more active approach.

With active learning, you develop the ability to think in French as a subconscious process and overcome the habit of translating everything in your head. How? Through the repetition and imitation of easy phrases with simple structures.

In this article, you’ll find more than 50 phrases every French beginner must know, from simple greetings to polite sentences. We’ll also cover phrases for a variety of common situations such as shopping, eating out, asking for help, or getting directions.

Four Friends Chatting and Having Coffee Drinks

Ils parlent français. (“They speak French.”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Greetings and Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases
  3. Shopping
  4. Eating and Drinking Out
  5. Lost in Translation
  6. Asking for Directions
  7. Getting Out of Trouble
  8. Le mot de la fin

1. Greetings and Self-introductions

The first beginner phrases anyone gets to use are the greetings. Until you get more experienced, the conversation might not go much further than simple salutations—but you’ll still be making a great first impression.

For any informal encounter, Salut is an amazingly versatile word that works for both “Hello” and “Bye” toward both genders, at any time of day. For anything more formal, Bonjour (“Good day”) and Bonsoir (“Good evening”) are the way to go. Let’s have a look at the finer details.

[Formal or casual]
Literally: “Good day,” in one wordLiterally: Greeting.

[Formal or casual]
Good evening.

Bonjour monsieur.
Hello, sir.

Bonsoir madame.
Good evening, madam.

Bonjour mademoiselle.
Hello, miss.

Then, you may want to ask how they’re doing:

Comment allez-vous ? 
Comment ça va ? 
How are you?
Literally: How are you going?

Je vais bien, merci. 
Ça va. / Ça va bien. 
I’m fine, thank you.All good.
Literally: I’m going well, thank you.Literally: It goes. / It goes well.

The common steps when meeting someone in France are rather similar to what you’d expect in any other country: “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” are all-time classics.

Comment vous appelez-vous ? 
Comment tu t’appelles ? 
What’s your name?
Literally: How do you call yourself?

Je m’appelle Cédric.
My name is Cédric.
Literally: I call myself Cédric.

[Formal or casual]
Nice to meet you.
Literally: Enchanted / Delighted

This is an adjective that agrees in gender with the person speaking (the one being delighted). So, if you’re a woman, you would be enchantée; if you’re a man, you would be enchanté.

Je suis français.
I’m French.

J’habite en France.
I live in France.

J’habite à Paris.
I live in Paris.

Quel âge avez-vous ? 
Tu as quel âge ? 
How old are you?
Literally: Which age do you have?

J’ai trente ans.
I’m thirty years old.
Literally: I have thirty years.

    → Once you feel comfortable with greeting and asking simple questions, you might want to step up your game and go further with the introductions. Why not have a look at our complete guides on how to say hello and how to introduce yourself?

A Woman Waving Hello to Someone

Salut ! Comment ça va ? (“Hi, how are you doing?”)

2. Courtesy Phrases

Courtesy is the lubricant that makes society run smoothly. It helps ease the friction between people with different cultural backgrounds and values, and it acts as a framework for peaceful social interactions. It may seem forced at times, but especially when meeting new people in a different country, I’d rather appear uptight than rude. 

Overall, the French are not especially stiff or overly apologetic. But forget to greet with a Bonjour when you enter a shop, and you’re already losing brownie points. 

Below are several beginner phrases in French that you can use to put your best foot forward. 

Excusez-moi.[Formal]Excuse-moi. [Casual]
Excuse me.
This is used to catch someone’s attention before asking for something, or to apologize in advance for an inconvenience.

For example: Excusez-moi, est-ce que vous avez l’heure ? (“Excuse me, do you have the time?”)

S’il vous plaît[Formal]S’il te plaît[Casual]
Literally: If it pleases you.

Thank you

De rien
You’re welcome
Literally: Of nothing

Even though it’s as commonly used as “you’re welcome,” this phrase is closer to “no problem,” meaning that it was no big deal and there’s no need to thank you.

If you make a mistake despite your best efforts and want to apologize for it, you can keep it simple:

Literally: Pardon.


Je suis désolé(e).
I’m sorry.

    → A simple pardon might not be enough if you really messed up, but you’ll find everything you need in our extensive guide on how to apologize in French

As with greetings, you’re expected to say goodbye when you part ways with friends or even people you’ve just met. The same goes for leaving a bank or a shop.

Au revoir. 
Salut ! 
Literally: Revoir means “to see again” or “to meet again,” so this literally means “Until we meet again.”Literally: Greetings!

À plus tard. 
[Formal or casual]
À plus ! 
See you later.See you!
Literally: Plus tard means “more late.” So this phrase literally means “Until later.”This is just a shortened version of à plus tard.

À bientôt.
See you soon.

À demain.
See you tomorrow.

Bonne chance.
Good luck.

    → With so many ways to say goodbye, it’s good to know that you can find them all in one place. That place would be our article 22 Ways to Say Goodbye in French.

A Woman Asking for Forgiveness with Her Palms Together in Front of Her

Je suis désolée ! (“I’m sorry!”)

3. Shopping

As you travel through France, you’ll soon enough surrender to the temptation of the many shops, markets, and bakeries. You would then have to test your skills by ordering from unsuspecting clerks who have limited English skills.

First off, let’s be proverbially French and see how to order a buttery croissant:

Je voudrais un croissant, s’il vous plaît.
I’d like a croissant, please.

Je voudrais acheter un croissant, s’il vous plaît.
I’d like to buy a croissant, please.

Then, it’s easy to change the number and ask for more:

Je voudrais deux croissants, s’il vous plaît.
I’d like two croissants, please.

    → If you’re going to the market, make sure you synchronize your grocery list and your flashcards! You can start by studying this list of fruits & vegetables with example sentences and recordings.

Here are a few more common phrases:

Est-ce que vous avez des croissants, s’il vous plaît ?
Do you have croissants, please?

Combien coûte un croissant ?
How much is a croissant?
Literally: How much does a croissant cost?

Combien je vous dois ?
What do I owe you?
Literally: How much do I owe you?

Je vais payer par carte.
I’ll pay by credit card.
Literally: I will pay by card.

Someone Handing Over Their Credit Card to Pay

Je vais payer par carte. (“I’ll pay with a credit card.”)

4. Eating and Drinking Out

Now that you’ve passed the trial of shopping, let’s move on to another life-or-death situation: ordering in a restaurant.

J’ai faim.
I’m hungry.
Literally: I have hunger.

Je voudrais voir la carte.
I would like to see the menu.

Quel est le plat du jour ?
What is today’s special?
Literally: What is the dish of the day?

Je voudrais une tartiflette, s’il vous plaît.
I would like a tartiflette, please.
But what’s a tartiflette?

Potatoes, fried onions, sliced bacon, with a hint of white wine and garlic. Top it with a thick layer of melted reblochon cheese, and you get one of the most amazing French specialties. Why would anyone order anything else?

Sur place ou à emporter ?
For here or to go?
Literally: On the place or to take away?

L’addition s’il vous plaît.
The bill, please.

A Man Having Digestion Troubles After Eating a Huge Meal

L’addition s’il vous plaît ! (“Check, please!”)

5. Lost in Translation

If you’re reading these French beginner phrases, chances are you’re not fluent yet and will likely get a little lost or confused during your visit. That’s perfectly fine, as long as you can explain the situation and move on.

Maybe you want to say that you don’t speak French very well, that you don’t understand, or that you’d like the other party to repeat what they said. It’s better to say it in French, because the longer you keep the conversation going, the more you’ll progress!

Parlez-vous français ? 
Tu parles français ? 
Do you speak French?

Je ne parle pas très bien anglais.
I don’t speak English very well.

Je ne comprends pas.
I don’t understand.

Comment dit-on “dog” en français ? 
Comment on dit “dog” en français ? 
How do you say “dog” in French?

Pouvez-vous répéter, s’il vous plaît ? 
Tu peux répéter ? 
Could you repeat, please?

Pouvez-vous répéter plus lentement ? 
Tu peux répéter plus lentement ? 
Could you repeat a little slower?
Literally: Can you repeat more slowly?

An Old Man in a Red Shirt Shrugging His Shoulders with His Palms Up

Je ne parle pas anglais. (“I don’t speak English.”)
Something you’re gonna hear often in France. Better be prepared!

6. Asking for Directions

Being lost in translation is one thing, but when you’re stranded in the middle of a large foreign city and don’t know where the nearest bathroom is…this is where you’ll badly need these emergency phrases.

Excusez-moi, où sont les toilettes ? 
Où sont les toilettes ? 
Excuse me, where are the toilets?Where are the toilets?

Excusez-moi, je cherche les toilettes.
Excuse me, I’m looking for the toilets.

Où se trouve la gare Montparnasse ?
Where is the Montparnasse Train Station?

Je voudrais aller à la gare Montparnasse.
I would like to go to the Montparnasse Train Station.

Comment aller à la gare Montparnasse ?
How can I get to the Montparnasse Train Station?
Literally: How to go to the Montparnasse Train Station?

A Tourist Getting Directions from a Woman at an Info Center

Je cherche la sortie. (“I’m looking for the exit.”)

7. Getting Out of Trouble

There are many other situations where you might get confused. It would be impossible to list them all, but here is a short first-aid kit of questions and statements that could get you out of trouble or help you understand what’s going on.

Je ne sais pas.
I don’t know.

Qu’est-ce que c’est ?
What is it?
Literally: What is it that it is?

À quoi ça sert ?
What is it for?
Literally: To what is it serving?

Qu’est-ce qui se passe ?
What’s happening?
Literally: What is it that is happening?

Ça ne fait rien.
It’s alright.
Literally: It’s not doing anything.

Ce n’est pas grave.
It doesn’t matter.
Literally: It’s not serious/severe.

Ne vous en faites pas. [Formal]Ne t’en fais pas. [Casual]
Don’t worry.
This is a complex structure based on the word faire (“to make”) and the pronoun en, which stands for des soucis (“trouble,” “worries”).

So, when we say Ne t’en fais pas, we mean Ne te fais pas de soucis. (Literally: “Don’t make worries to yourself.”)

A Woman Smiling and Giving the Thumbs-up Sign

Ne t’en fais pas, ça ne fait rien ! (“Don’t worry; it’s alright!”)

8. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you’ve learned a lot of the most common French phrases for beginners, from greetings and pleasantries to expressions for more specific daily situations. Did I forget any important basic sentences that you know? Feel free to mention them in the comments for your fellow students to see.

Feeling lost or want more practice with the topics we covered today? Then you should head over to our Can-Do French for Absolute Beginners pathway! It features 80 lessons and just over four hours of lesson material covering basic words and phrases you should know when first starting out. 

A good way to practice the phrases on this list is to imitate and repeat them, changing words here and there, modifying their structures, or combining them together. Coming up with your own sentences is a fun and rewarding process that you can enjoy even when you’ve just started learning French! 

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining.

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher. They can help you practice beginner phrases and more by providing you with personalized assignments and exercises, not to mention recorded audio samples just for you. Your teacher will review your work and help you improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning on!

About the Author: Born and bred in rainy Northern France, Cyril Danon was bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the world. Now, after quenching his wanderlust over the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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Add These Advanced French Words to Your Vocabulary

Why settle for an intermediate level when you can reach the summits of advanced French? It sure takes guts, dedication, and a lot of brainpower, but once you pull it off, there is nothing as rewarding as using your limitless fluency with your French-speaking friends!

Improving at an advanced level is no small feat, and few people have gone as far as you have. At this level, you’re getting hit pretty hard with diminishing returns: The more you learn and add to your vocabulary, the more difficult it becomes.

It can also be difficult to find educational content advanced enough to challenge your skills, and this is where we come in! In this article, you’ll find a large collection of useful advanced French words and phrases, from general terms to linking words, specialized vocabulary, and fancy substitutes for common words to help you stand out in a proficiency exam.

An Older Man Pointing to His Head with an Index Finger

Expand your mind with advanced French words.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. General Advanced Words
  2. Advanced Business Vocabulary
  3. Advanced Medical Vocabulary
  4. Advanced Legal Vocabulary
  5. Alternative Words
  6. Le mot de la fin

1. General Advanced Words

These are the bread and butter of advanced words: verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that you could use in a wide variety of situations. The last section contains a collection of useful linking words that you should use to articulate your speech and connect different phrases into logical structures.

Most of these words have a very specific meaning and allow you to clearly express your ideas. Later in this article, we’ll also talk about some alternative words that you can use to replace simple terms in order to sound a bit more sophisticated.

1 – Verbs

ArgumenterElle argumente en faveur de cette loi.
To argue / To debateShe’s arguing for this law.

DébattreOn pourrait en débattre toute la journée.
To debateWe could debate this all day.

ApercevoirJ’ai aperçu le sommet de la montagne.
To glimpseI’ve glimpsed the top of the mountain.

MurmurerIl murmure à mon oreille.
To whisperHe whispers in my ear.

RecueillirNous recueillons des données.
To collect / To gatherWe are collecting data.

AssumerJ’assume les risques.
To take responsibilityI take responsibility for the risks.

ConstituerCela constitue un progrès important.
To be / To make upThis is a huge step forward.

EntraînerCette crise entraîne une diminution des revenus.
To lead toThis crisis leads to a decrease in revenue.

Mener àCela ne mène à rien de bon.
To lead toThis leads to nothing good.

S’éleverLa facture s’élève à €80000.
To amount to / To come toThe bill comes to €80,000.

A Man Whispering another Man

Il murmure. (“He’s whispering.”)

2 – Adjectives

BénéfiqueCette mesure est bénéfique pour la France.
BeneficialThis measure is beneficial for France.

Conforme àElles sont conformes à mes attentes.
Consistent with / In line withThey are in line with my expectations.

ConvenableNous cherchons une solution convenable.
Suitable / AdequateWe’re looking for an adequate solution.

DéroutantCe film est déroutant.
Puzzling / ConfusingThis movie is puzzling.

DétailléUn compte rendu détaillé
DetailedA detailed report

FormidableC’est formidable !
Great / WonderfulThis is wonderful!

ImpeccableSa coupe de cheveux est impeccable.
FlawlessHis haircut is flawless.

PropiceCe milieu est propice à la criminalité.
ConduciveThis business is conducive to criminal acts.

RaisonnableC’est une solution raisonnable.
ReasonableThis is a reasonable solution.

RentableMon entreprise n’est plus rentable.
ProfitableMy company is not profitable anymore.

SpontanéUne combustion spontanée.
SpontaneousSpontaneous combustion.

SubtilUn mélange subtil d’ail et de basilic
SubtleA subtle blend of garlic and basil

AléatoireUn échantillon aléatoire est retenu.
RandomA random sample is selected.

DiscutableC’est moralement discutable.
DebatableThis is morally debatable.

FastidieuxSon travail est fastidieux.
Cumbersome / TediousHis work is tedious.

LaborieuxC’est une tâche difficile et laborieuse.
PainstakingThis is a difficult and painstaking task.

ImprobableCela me semble hautement improbable.
UnlikelyThis seems very unlikely.

InadmissibleCes résultats sont inadmissibles !
UnacceptableThese results are unacceptable!

PénibleMais qu’est-ce que c’est pénible !
Tedious / PainfulThis is so tedious!

ImpensableC’était impensable il y a encore 10 ans.
UnthinkableThis was unthinkable only ten years ago.

3 – Adverbs

LittéralementJe suis littéralement épuisé.
LiterallyI’m literally exhausted.

BrusquementNous sommes partis brusquement.
AbruptlyWe left abruptly.

NaturellementNous devons naturellement partir bientôt.
NaturallyWe naturally have to leave soon.

PrécisémentC’est précisément le contraire.
PreciselyIt is precisely the other way around.

ObstinémentIls refusent obstinément.
StubbornlyThey stubbornly refuse.

DécidémentElle est décidément très populaire.
Decidedly / CertainlyShe’s certainly very popular.

RésolumentJe suis résolument contre cette loi.
ResolutelyI’m resolutely against this law.

AbsolumentÇa n’a absolument aucun sens.
AbsolutelyIt makes absolutely no sense.

BrillammentTu as brillamment relevé le défi.
BrilliantlyYou have brilliantly tackled this challenge.

ModérémentJe l’apprécie modérément.
ModeratelyI like it moderately.

A Woman Performing Tedious Work at Her Keyboard

Un travail pénible (“Tedious work”)

4 – Linking Words

AinsiOn peut ainsi obtenir de meilleurs résultats.
ThusBetter results can thus be obtained.

Alors queLa musique a commencé alors que je n’étais pas prêt.
Even thoughThe music started even though I wasn’t ready.

À moins queCommençons, à moins que tu ne veuilles attendre.
UnlessLet’s start, unless you wish to wait.

Bien queBien que je ne puisse pas venir, le rendez-vous aura lieu.
Even thoughEven though I cannot come, the meeting will take place.

CependantTu peux cependant venir demain.
NeverthelessYou can nevertheless come tomorrow.

D’autant plusCela me chagrine d’autant plus.
All the moreIt pains me all the more.

D’autant plus queD’autant plus que les prix augmentent.
Even more soEven more so as the prices are increasing.

En tant queJe travaille en tant que professeur.
AsI work as a teacher.

MalgréTu es sorti malgré la pluie ?
DespiteDid you go out despite the rain?

Quant àQuant à ton rôle, nous en parlerons demain.
As forAs for your role, we’ll talk about it tomorrow.

QuoiqueCes actions sont rentables, quoique souvent instables.
AlthoughThose stocks are profitable, although often unstable.

Quoi queQuoi que tu fasses, tu feras le bon choix.
Whatever / No matter whatWhatever you do, you’ll come to the right decision.

Tandis queLes prix augmentent tandis que la qualité diminue.
While / WhereasPrices are increasing while the quality is going down.

Aussitôt queAussitôt que tu seras prêt, nous pouvons commencer.
As soon asAs soon as you’re ready, we can start.

NéanmoinsElles doivent néanmoins apporter une solution.
HoweverThey have, however, to provide a solution.

A Man Walking in Heavy Rain with an Umbrella

Il est dehors malgré la pluie. (“He’s out despite the rain.”)

2. Advanced Business Vocabulary

Do you plan on finding work or doing business in France? Knowing these advanced French vocabulary words for business will give you a leg up and impress your colleagues or associates. 

Un départementJe travaille au département marketing.
DivisionI work in the marketing division.

Le siège socialC’est le siège social de Renault.
Head officeThis is the Renault head office.

La sous-traitanceLa sous-traitance nous permet de réduire les coûts.
OutsourcingOutsourcing allows us to cut costs.

Un licenciementUn licenciement a été envisagé.
Dismissal / TerminationTermination was considered.

Les actifsIls ont des actifs pour gérer leurs dettes.
AssetsThey have assets to deal with their debts.

Les actionsLes actions présentées vont être évaluées.
StocksSubmitted stocks will be evaluated.

Un actionnaireJe suis l’actionnaire unique de mon entreprise.
ShareholderI’m the only shareholder of my own company.

Le taux d’intérêtLes taux d’intérêt diminuent chaque année.
Interest rateInterest rates are decreasing every year.

Les ressources humainesLes ressources humaines s’occupent de ton contrat.
Human resourcesHuman resources are taking care of your contract.

Le chiffre d’affairesLe chiffre d’affaires n’a cessé d’augmenter.
Turnover / RevenueRevenues have steadily increased.

Des fondsNous devons débloquer des fonds.
FundsWe have to release funds.

Une filialeNous sommes une filiale de Renault.
SubsidiaryWe are a Renault subsidiary.

Les honorairesVous trouverez mes honoraires sur mon site web.
FeeYou’ll find my fee on my website.

Un bulletin de salaireJe n’ai pas encore reçu mon bulletin de salaire.
PayslipI haven’t received my payslip yet.

Un partenariatElle vient de signer un partenariat avec Renault.
PartnershipShe’s just signed a partnership with Renault.

Le marché du travailLes femmes sont souvent discriminées sur le marché du travail.
Labor marketWomen are often discriminated against in the labor market.

RémunérerCette mission est bien rémunérée.
To compensate / To payThis assignment is well compensated.

PostulerJe postule pour un nouveau boulot.
To applyI’m applying for a new job.

Une succursaleNous avons une succursale à Rome.
BranchWe have a branch in Rome.

La comptabilitéJe vote pour une comptabilité simplifiée.
AccountingI vote for simplified accounting.

Une marque déposéeAndroid Auto™ est une marque déposée de Google Inc.
Registered trademarkAndroid Auto™ is a trademark of Google Inc.

Faire failliteMon entreprise a fait faillite.
To go bankruptMy company has gone bankrupt.

Un voyage d’affairesElle part en voyage d’affaires.
Business tripShe’s leaving for a business trip.

Un contrat à durée indéterminée
Permanent contract

Un contrat à durée déterminée
Fixed-term contract

Two Colleagues Checking Their Flight Status at the Airport

Un voyage d’affaires (“A business trip”)

3. Advanced Medical Vocabulary

Do you want to study medicine or enter the medical field in France? Or maybe you would like to be prepared just in case you wind up in the ER. In any case, the advanced French words below are a great place to start expanding your medical vocabulary. 

Un traitementJ’essaye un traitement expérimental.
TreatmentI’m trying an experimental treatment.

BéninCe syndrome est bénin.
BenignThis syndrome is benign.

DésinfecterTu dois désinfecter la plaie.
To disinfect / To sterilizeYou have to disinfect the wound.

ContagieuxCe virus est très contagieux.
ContagiousThis virus is highly contagious.

AnesthésierJe vais vous anesthésier avant l’opération.
To anesthetize / To sedateI’m going to sedate you before the operation.

Une allergieL’allergie à ce produit est très rare.
AllergyAllergy to this product is very unusual.

La tension artérielleIl va mesurer ta tension artérielle.
Blood pressureHe will measure your blood pressure.

Une fractureJ’ai une double fracture de la hanche.
FractureI have a double hip fracture.

Une radioVous allez avoir besoin d’une radio.
X-rayYou’re going to need an X-ray.

Un plâtreJe porte un plâtre depuis janvier.
CastI’ve been wearing a cast since January.

Une crise cardiaqueIl est mort des suites d’une crise cardiaque.
Heart attackHe died after suffering a heart attack.

Le système immunitaireMon système immunitaire était affaibli.
Immune systemMy immune system was weakened.

Un saignementNous devons arrêter le saignement.
BleedingWe have to stop the bleeding.

VaccinerIls veulent vacciner l’ensemble de la population.
To vaccinateThey want to vaccinate the whole population.

Une ordonnanceTu ne peux pas acheter ce médicament sans ordonnance.
PrescriptionYou can’t buy this medication without a prescription.

Un effet secondaireIl n’y a aucun effet secondaire connu.
Side effectThere is no known side effect.

Une prise de sangVous devez faire une prise de sang.
Blood testYou have to do a blood test.

La grippeJ’ai attrapé la grippe l’année dernière.
FluI got the flu last year.

DémangeaisonJe commence à ressentir une démangeaison.
ItchingI’m starting to feel an itch.

Les règlesC’est un médicament contre les règles douloureuses.
MenstruationThis is a remedy for painful menstruation.

La nuqueLa victime a la nuque brisée.
Neck / NapeThe victim got a broken neck.

Un estomacJ’ai mal à l’estomac.
StomachI have a stomachache.

La colonne vertébraleLa colonne vertébrale est fragile.
SpineThe spine is delicate.

Les côtesJ’ai mal aux côtes.
RibsMy ribs hurt.

Les poumonsLe gaz est éliminé par les poumons.
LungsThe gas is cleared through the lungs.

    → There are so many complicated medical words that it would take days to list them all! For more phrases with recorded examples, head to our vocabulary list on medical treatments.

An Old Man Suffering from Pain in His Stomach

Une douleur à l’estomac (“A stomach pain”)

4. Advanced Legal Vocabulary

Now that you’re more advanced in French, there are some useful legal words and terms you should become familiar with. They’ll help you avoid misunderstandings, keep up with the news, and engage in more complex conversations. 

AccréditéJe suis représentant accrédité du gouvernement.
Authorized / AccreditedI’m an accredited representative of the government.

À l’amiableCette affaire a été réglée à l’amiable.
Settled out of courtThis matter was settled out of court.

Casier judiciaireJe n’ai pas de casier judiciaire.
Criminal recordI don’t have a criminal record.

Un juge d’appelLa décision a été confirmée par le juge d’appel.
Judge in appealThe decision was confirmed by the judge on appeal.

Un juristeNous avons besoin d’un juriste.
Legal counselWe need legal counsel.

JudiciaireC’est une affaire judiciaire.
JudicialThis is a judicial case.

Un justificatifUn justificatif de domicile
Written proofWritten proof of address

ConvoquerElle a convoqué le témoin.
To summonShe summoned the witness.

Représentant légalJe suis le représentant légal de Renault.
Legal representativeI’m the legal representative of Renault.

Lettre recommandéeJ’ai envoyé le document en lettre recommandée.
Registered letterI have sent the document in a registered letter.

Un litigeVous avez deux jours pour ouvrir un litige.
Dispute / LitigationYou have two days to open a dispute.

Un mandatJe reviendrai avec un mandat.
WarrantI will come back with a warrant.

Un mandataireNous allons désigner un mandataire.
Authorized agent / RepresentativeWe will appoint a representative.

Un notaireLe document est certifié par un notaire.
NotaryThe document is certified by a notary.

ParapherJ’ai besoin que tu paraphes ce contrat.
To initial (a document)I need you to initial this contract.

PME (Petites et Moyennes Entreprises)Les PME paient trop de taxes.
SME (Small or Medium size Enterprise)SMEs are paying too much in taxes.

Un procèsUn procès a été intenté contre Apple.
LawsuitA lawsuit was filed against Apple.

Un procureurLe procureur veut vous parler.
Public prosecutorThe prosecutor wants to talk to you.

RevendiquerJe revendique le droit de prendre cette décision.
To claimI claim the right to make this decision.

Un versementTu recevras le premier versement en juin.
PaymentYou will receive the first payment in June.

Un enlèvementC’est l’endroit parfait pour un enlèvement.
A kidnappingThis is the perfect spot for a kidnapping.

Un agresseurSon agresseur était grand et blond.
AssailantHis assailant was tall and blond.

La corruptionLa corruption est un crime.
Bribery / CorruptionBribery is a crime.

Un cambriolageLe cambriolage a eu lieu dans la nuit du 17.
BurglaryThe burglary took place on the night of the 17th.

Faire chanterIls m’ont fait chanter pour des informations confidentielles.
To blackmailThey blackmailed me for confidential information.

A Man Picking a Lock to Break into a Home

Un cambriolage (“A burglary”)

5. Alternative Words

One way to shine in a proficiency test is to display competency with a wide array of vocabulary, showing that you can express yourself with subtlety instead of relying on simpler terms.

In this list, you’ll find simple verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, followed by their more sophisticated alternative and an example sentence. The first column is the basic word, and the second is the alternative you might want to use instead.

The meaning often varies between the first and second words, so I’ll mention both throughout the list. Using these words not only allows you to show off your vocabulary but also to express your ideas more accurately.

1 – Alternative Verbs

CommencerEntamerJ’entame une nouvelle carrière.
To startTo startI’m starting a new career.

ContinuerReprendreNous pouvons reprendre la réunion.
To continueTo resumeWe can resume the meeting.

ÉcrireRédigerElle rédige sa lettre de motivation.
To writeTo redactShe’s redacting her cover letter.

DonnerTransmettreIl transmet ses connaissances à ses collègues.
To giveTo passHe’s passing his knowledge on to his colleagues.

MontrerDévoilerRenault a dévoilé sa nouvelle gamme de véhicules.
To showTo reveal / To unveilRenault has unveiled its new range of vehicles.

AcheterAcquérirNous voulons acquérir ces brevets.
To buyTo acquireWe want to acquire those patents.

AvoirPosséderJe possède un cabinet d’avocats.
To haveTo ownI own a law firm.

DireAffirmerElle affirme ne rien savoir.
To sayTo claimShe claims she doesn’t know anything.

DireDéclarerJe n’ai rien à déclarer.
To sayTo say / To declareI have nothing to declare.

2 – Alternative Adjectives

VraiVéridiqueJ’atteste que cette déclaration est véridique.
TrueTrue / TruthfulI certify that this statement is true.

EssentielPrimordialIl est primordial d’investir dès maintenant.
EssentialEssentialIt is essential to invest right now.

PratiqueCommodeLa gestion des fichiers est devenue plus commode.
ConvenientConvenientFile management has become more convenient.

DifférentDistinctIl y a deux formulaires distincts.
DifferentDistinct / SeparateThere are two separate forms.

FacileEnfantinTu verras, c’est enfantin.
EasyVery easyYou’ll see, it’s very easy.

3 – Alternative Adverbs

FacilementAisémentOn peut aisément le remplacer.
EasilyEasilyWe can easily replace it.

MaintenantÀ présentVous devez à présent signer le contrat.
NowNowYou now have to sign the contract.

DésormaisDorénavantJe travaillerai dorénavant dans ce service.
Now / From now onFrom now onFrom now on, I will work in this department.

AvantPrécédemmentC’est ce que j’ai mentionné précédemment.
BeforePreviouslyThis is what I previously mentioned.

PlusDavantageJe veux acheter davantage d’actions.
MoreMoreI want to buy more stocks.

Someone Shopping Using an App

Cette application est commode. (“This app is convenient.”)

Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you have learned a large collection of general and specialized advanced French words, from medical vocabulary to legal terms and business phrases. Did we forget any important topic you’d like to learn about?

A good way to learn new words efficiently is to try and build sentences around them. Doing so will help you memorize them and understand how to use them in context. You can also use flashcard apps to get started, but you should not overextend yourself and set 150 flashcards right away. Add them little by little for the best results.

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching. Your own private teacher will be available to help you practice with advanced words and phrases. In addition to giving you assignments and personalized exercises, your teacher can provide recorded audio samples just for you and review your own pronunciation. 

Happy learning on!

About the Author: Born and bred in rainy Northern France, Cyril Danon was bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the world. Now, after quenching his wanderlust over the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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Learn Intermediate French Words and Scale Up Your Vocab


So, you’ve just reached the intermediate level, and nobody can call you a beginner anymore.

Congratulations! You have already outdone most of your fellow students, who get some basics down and then lose interest, can’t find the time or energy, or can’t build a good learning routine. I should know—I’ve been an eternal beginner in too many languages!

One of the first steps now is to learn some intermediate French words and how to use them. But first, a note:

Reaching the intermediate level is an amazing achievement in itself, but this is also when it gets tough. As your fluency level increases, you’ll start experiencing diminishing returns and realize that your progress is no longer linear. The more fluent you get, the more time it takes to improve.

This is when setting clear goals and maintaining long-term study habits really matters. Having a good overview of what’s ahead is a great way to focus on the bigger picture.

In this article, you’ll find a summary of the intermediate French words you should know as you steadily climb your way to the next level. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s packed full of invaluable vocabulary, from pronouns and verbs to adjectives and large numbers.

A Man Giving a Speech in Front of a Large Audience

Captivate your audience with the right words.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Verbs
  3. Numbers
  4. Nouns
  5. Conjunctions
  6. Adjectives
  7. Adverbs
  8. Prepositions
  9. Le Mot De La Fin

1. Pronouns

If you’re seeking to learn intermediate French vocabulary, you should already know the basic pronouns. To be more specific:

  • Personal subject pronouns (je, vous, elles, etc.)
  • Impersonal pronouns (ça, ce, il)
  • Reflexive pronouns (me, te, se, etc.)
  • Basic interrogative pronouns (qui, où, quand, etc.)
  • A few common indefinite pronouns (tout, rien, etc.)

Now, here are some more advanced French pronouns you should learn at the intermediate level.

1 – Stressed Pronouns

Also known as emphatic pronouns, they may be used in place of a subject or object and can only refer to people.

They can be used after prepositions (de, à, avec, etc.):

  • Elle parle de toi. (“She talks about you.”)

Or, they can be used after the word que in comparisons (plus que, moins que):

  • Tu es plus grand qu’elle. (“You are taller than her.”)

PersonFrench pronounEnglish
1st person“me”
2nd person sg.toi“you”
3rd person sg.lui / elle“he” / “him” / “she” / “her”
1st person pl.nous“us”
2nd person pl.vous“you”
3rd person pl.eux / elles“them”

2 – Direct and Indirect Pronouns

Direct pronouns replace a COD (Complément d’Objet Direct). In simpler terms, they answer the question “Who?” or “What?”

  • Je bois une bière. (“I drink a beer.”)
  • Je la bois. (“I drink it.”)

Indirect pronouns replace a COI (Complement d’Objet Indirect). They answer the question “To whom?” or “To what?”

  • Je parle à Simon. (“I talk to Simon.”)
  • Je lui parle. (“I talk to him.”)

Direct pronounsIndirect pronouns
1st person
2nd person sg.tete
3rd person sg.le / lalui
1st person pl.nousnous
2nd person pl.vousvous
3rd person pl.lesleur

3 – Adverbial Pronouns

There are only two adverbial pronouns in French, but they are really important.

Y is used to replace à [quelque chose] (“to [something]” / “about [something]”) or en [quelque chose] (“in [something]”).

  • Nous allons en Estonie. (“We are going to Estonia.”)
    Nous y allons. (“We are going there.”)
  • Je pense à mon projet. (“I think about my project.”)
    J’y pense. (“I think about it.”)

En is used to replace de(s) ____ (“some ____” / “of ____”).

  • J’ai une bière. (“I have a beer.”)
    J’en ai une. (“I have one.”)
  • Nous avons du temps. (“We have time.”)
    Nous en avons. (“We have some.”)

4 – Relative Pronouns

Although these pronouns don’t have a direct translation in English, it’s easy enough, with examples, to figure out how they work.

que (“that”)Je sais que tu aimes ça. (“I know that you like that.”)
qui (“who”)J’ai un ami qui vient ce soir. (“I have a friend who’s coming tonight.”
(“where” / “when”)C’est l’endroit où je travaille. (“This is the place where I work.”)
dont (“whose” / “that”)L’homme dont elle parle (“The man [that] she’s talking about”)

5 – Interrogative Pronouns

Since you already know the basic interrogative pronouns (qui, où, quand, quoi), let’s add a few more to your French arsenal.

(“which one”)
Lequel tu veux? (“Which one do you want?”)
Lesquels sont les meilleurs ? (“Which ones are the best?”)
Laquelle est la plus jolie ? (“Which one is the prettiest?”)
Lesquelles veux-tu manger ? (“Which ones do you want to eat?”)
Quel vélo est à vendre ? (“Which bike is for sale?”)

6 – Indefinite Pronouns

And finally, here are a couple of new indefinite pronouns for your collection:

chacun (“everyone” / “every man”)Chacun paye sa part. (“Everyone pays their share.”)
certains (“some [people]”)Certains sont venus. (“Some people came.”)

A Couple Picking Out Clothing Together

Lequel tu préfères ? (“Which one do you prefer?”)

2. Verbs

Assuming you know all about the most common French verbs, starting with our two auxiliaries (être and avoir) as well as the most useful and highly irregular specimens (such as aller or vouloir), it’s time to hone your skills with some additional high-profile verbs.

servir“to serve”
laisser“to leave” / “to allow” / “to let”
envoyer“to send”
recevoir“to receive”
vivre“to live”
appeler“to call”
rappeler“to remind” / “to call back”
présenter“to introduce” / “to present”
accepter“to accept”
refuser“to refuse”
agir“to act”
jouer“to play”
reconnaître“to recognize” / “to acknowledge”
choisir“to choose” / “to select”
toucher“to touch”
expliquer“to explain”
se lever“to stand up” / “to get out of bed”
ouvrir“to open”
gagner“to win” / “to earn”
perdre“to lose”
exister“to exist”
réussir“to succeed” / “to manage”
changer“to change”
travailler“to work”
dormir“to sleep”
marcher“to walk”
essayer“to try” / “to attempt”
empêcher“to prevent” / “to stop”
reprendre“to resume” / “to take back”
cuisiner“to cook”
appartenir“to belong”
risquer“to risk”
apprendre“to learn” / “to teach”
rencontrer“to meet”
créer“to create”
obtenir“to obtain” / “to get”
entrer“to enter”
sortir“to exit” / “to go out” / “to leave”
proposer“to offer” / “to suggest”
apporter“to bring”
utiliser“to use”
atteindre“to reach” / “to achieve”
préparer“to prepare” / “to make”
ajouter“to add”
payer“to pay”
vendre“to consider” / “to study”
acheter“to buy”
pousser“to push”
tirer“to pull” / “to shoot”
voyager“to travel”

A Tourist Taking Pictures in Paris, France

Elle voyage en France. (“She travels to France.”)

3. Numbers

You can go a long way with basic numbers, and as you learn a new language, counting from 1 to 10 is usually more than enough. But now that you’re approaching the intermediate French level, it’s time to go further.

This section will give you a leg up when it comes to handling big numbers for big prices, years, or someone’s age. It would be a shame to get a big French paycheck if you didn’t know the words to brag about it!

1 – From 11 to 20


2 – Counting Up to 100


    → Feeling a bit rusty with big numbers such as soixante-quatorze (74) or quatre-vingt-douze (92)? Head over to our full guide on French numbers for an in-depth reminder.

3 – To 1,000 and Beyond


And from there, the sky’s the limit!

1,000,000 (106)Un million

4. Nouns

To expand your vocabulary and the variety of topics you can talk about, here’s a list of nouns you might want to add to your flashcards.

1 – Time

un siècle“century”
une matinée“morning”
The difference between un matin and une matinée is subtle. They both mean “morning,” but matinée is often used when talking about a period of time and what we do in this period.
une soirée“evening”
Same goes for un soir and une soirée. There is little difference between the two, but we often use une soirée when talking about leisure activities, while un soir is more neutral.
un trimestre“trimester” / “quarter”
un semestre“semester”

2 – Places 

une région“region”
un département“department”
Metropolitan France is divided into 13 regions that are split into a total of 101 departments.

For example, Morbihan is a department within the Bretagne region.
un village“village”
un parc“park”
une banque“bank”
une pharmacie“pharmacy”
un hôpital“hospital”
This ^ on the ô is not pronounced; it’s just there as a tribute to the spelling of the word in Old French: hospital.
une boulangerie“bakery”
Have you ever noticed that in France, you can buy your bread from two different shops? Une boulangerie makes and sells bread, while une pâtisserie is more specialized toward cakes and sweets.
une plaine“plain”
une falaise“cliff”
une plage“beach”
une île“island”
une colline“hill”

3 – Technology 

un écran“screen”
un clavier“keyboard”
une souris“mouse”
Just like in English, une souris is also the word for the cute furry animal.
une tablette“tablet”
une télé“TV”
The full word is télévision, but the abbreviation is just as popular as the English “TV.”
une console“console”
un chargeur“charger”
un site / un site web“website”
un compte“account”
un mot de passe“password”
It may seem more complicated, but it’s actually a direct translation, using un mot (“word”).
un fichier“file”
un répertoire“folder”
un logiciel“software”

4 – Home 

une pièce“room”
un étage“floor”
In France, le premier étage (literally: “the first floor”) is what most North Americans call the second floor.

This is because the word étage has a slightly different meaning, and we don’t consider le rez-de-chaussée (“the ground floor”) to be un étage.
  • Le rez-de-chaussée (“The ground floor”, i.e.: “The first floor”)
  • Le premier étage (Equivalent of “The second floor”)
  • Le deuxième étage (Equivalent of “The third floor”)
un salon“living room”
une salle de bain“bathroom”
un frigo“fridge”
une armoire“cabinet” / “wardrobe” /
“cupboard” / “closet”

5 – City & Transportation

une banlieue“suburb” / “outskirt”
un quartier“district” / “neighborhood” / “area”
une autoroute“highway”
une ruelle“alley”
un rond-point“roundabout”
un carrefour“crossroad” / “intersection” / “junction”

6 – People 

un oncle“uncle”
une tante“aunt”
un petit-fils“grandson”
une petite-fille“granddaughter”
un bébé“baby”
un grand-père“grandfather”
une grand-mère“grandmother”

7 – Body Parts 

un doigt“finger”
You should not get distressed by the weird spelling. The letters “gt” at the end of doigt are silent.
un dos“back”
un ventre“belly”
un sein“breast”
une épaule“shoulder”
une jambe“leg”
une cuisse“thigh”
une fesse“butt cheek”
un pied“foot”
une joue“cheek”
un menton“chin”
un front“forehead”

8 – Food & Dining

un couteau“knife”
une fourchette“fork”
une cuillère“spoon”
un vin“wine”
un plat“dish”
une entrée“starter”
un dessert“dessert”
une boisson“drink”
un café“coffee”

9 – Work & Studies

un infirmier / une infirmière“nurse”
un policier / une policière“police officer”
un avocat / une avocate“lawyer”
un serveur / une serveuse“waiter”
une université“university”

10 – Clothes

un pantalon“pants” / “trousers”
un pull“sweater”
un t-shirt“T-shirt”
une chemise“shirt”
un manteau“coat”
une chaussette“sock”
une chaussure“shoe”
une robe“dress”
un chapeau“hat”

A Woman Wearing a Hat Holding a Cup of Tea in France

Elle porte un chapeau. (“She wears a hat.”)

5. Conjunctions

As you may already know the most basic ones (et, ou, si, parce que, mais, pour par), we’ll move on to the more complex conjunctions.

Ni…ni (“Nor”)

  • Je ne bois ni bière ni vin. (“I drink neither beer nor wine.”)

Alors (“Then” / “So”)

  • Je n’ai pas soif, alors je ne bois pas. (“I’m not thirsty, so I don’t drink.”)

Sinon (“Otherwise”)

  • Je ne bois pas, sinon je ne peux pas conduire. (“I’m not drinking, otherwise I cannot drive.”)

Puisque (“Since” / “As”)

  • Puisque tu es là, tu veux entrer ? (“Since you’re here, do you want to come in?”)

Quand (“When”)

  • Quand je suis fatigué, je baille. (“When I’m tired, I yawn.”)

Donc (“So” / “Therefore”)

  • Je pense donc je suis. (“I think, therefore I am.”)

Du coup (“So” / “Therefore”) [Casual]

  • J’avais soif, du coup j’ai bu. (“I was thirsty, so I drank.”)

6. Adjectives

Although not as essential for beginners who just want to express basic ideas, adjectives are a great way for intermediate French learners to make their sentences more meaningful and flavorful.

génial“great” / “awesome” / “amazing”
particulier“particular” / “special” / “specific”
neuf“new” (as in: never used)
riche“rich” / “wealthy”
méchant“mean” / “wicked” / “evil”
ennuyeux“boring” / “annoying”
avant-dernier“penultimate” / “second-to-last”

A Turquoise Stone

Une pierre turquoise (“A turquoise stone”)

7. Adverbs

Like with adjectives, you could get away with very few adverbs as a beginner, but you’ll need to learn some more as you level up. They’re not only great for showing some style and sophistication in writing, but also for helping the audience picture how something is done when having a conversation. 

1 – When

longtemps“a long time” / “long”
enfin“at last”

2 – How Often 

généralement“generally” / “usually”
tout le temps“all the time”

3 – Where 

nulle part“nowhere”
quelque part“somewhere”
ailleurs“somewhere else”
en haut“up” / “above”
en bas“down” / “below”
dessus“over” / “on”
dessous“under” / “below”

4 – How 

doucement“softly” / “quietly”
lentement“softly” / “quietly”
rapidement“fast” / “quickly” / “shortly”
calmement“calmly” / “quietly”
simplement“simply” / “just”

5 – How Much 

combien“how” / “
how much” / “how many”
tellement“so” / “so much” / “so many”
environ“about” / “approximately”

8. Prepositions

Our final list of intermediate French words consists of the most frequently used prepositions. You don’t need too many prepositions, but they’re nonetheless vital for articulating your speech and structuring your sentences. They mark the relationships and links between people, objects, places, and moments. 

1 – Time

avant“before” / “prior”
après“after” / “then” / “once”
dans“in” / “inside” / “within”

2 – Space

à côté“next to” / “beside”
à droite“to the right”
à gauche“to the left”
There is no direct translation for chez. It usually means “inside somebody’s home or place.”
  • Je vais chez Simon. (“I’m going at Simon’s place.”)
  • Bienvenue chez moi. (“Welcome to my home.”)
It can also be used to talk about a specific feature of a group of people:
  • Chez les Américains, il y a (…) (“Americans have…”)
  • Chez les écrivains, on pense que (…) (“Writers think that…”)
devant“in front of” / “ahead”
sur“over” / “on”

3 – Other

entre“between” / “among”
grâce à“thanks to”

An Elderly Couple Greeting a Younger Couple into Their Home

Bienvenue chez nous ! (“Welcome to our home!”)

Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned many of the best French words for intermediate learners. Did we forget any important words or categories you’d like to know about?

At this level, there are still some grammar and conjugation rules to learn, but your vocabulary is what’s going to make the difference when trying to tackle an unusual topic or when expressing complex thoughts in a conversation.

FrenchPod101 has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal 1-on-1 coaching with your own private teacher who can help you practice intermediate words and more. Your teacher will provide you with assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples just for you; he or she will also review all of your work and help improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning with FrenchPod101!

About the Author: Born and bred in rainy Northern France, Cyril Danon was bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the world. Now, after quenching his wanderlust over the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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