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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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