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Advanced French Phrases for Achieving Fluency

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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 FrenchPod101.com.

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 
“Far-fetched”
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 FrenchPod101.com, 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 FrenchPod101.com!

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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French

Useful French Phrases for the Intermediate Level

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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 ? 
[Formal]
Would you be available next week?
Literally: Is it that you would be available the next week?

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

Vous voulez manger japonais ? 
[Formal]
Would you like to eat Japanese?

Ça te dit de manger japonais ? 
[Casual]
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. 
[Casual]
Je vous conseille de le voir en version originale. 
[Formal]
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. 
[Formal]
Fais comme chez toi. 
[Casual]
Make yourself at home.
Literally: Do like at your home.

Profitez bien de vos vacances ! 
[Formal]
Profite bien de tes vacances ! 
[Casual]
Enjoy your vacation!

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

C’était un plaisir.
That was a pleasure.

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

À la vôtre ! 
[Formal]
À la tienne ! 
[Casual]
Cheers!
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. 
[Formal]
À tes souhaits. 
[Casual]
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 FrenchPod101.com.

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 FrenchPod101.com, 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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French

The 15 Best Podcasts to Improve Your French

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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 FrenchPod101.com!

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

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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.

Bonjour.
[Formal or casual]
Salut.
[Casual]
Hello.Hi.
Literally: “Good day,” in one wordLiterally: Greeting.

Bonsoir.
[Formal or casual]
Good evening.

Bonjour monsieur.
[Formal]
Hello, sir.

Bonsoir madame.
[Formal]
Good evening, madam.

Bonjour mademoiselle.
[Formal]
Hello, miss.

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

Comment allez-vous ? 
[Formal]
Comment ça va ? 
[Casual]
How are you?
Literally: How are you going?

Je vais bien, merci. 
[Formal]
Ça va. / Ça va bien. 
[Casual]
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 ? 
[Formal]
Comment tu t’appelles ? 
[Casual]
What’s your name?
Literally: How do you call yourself?

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

Enchanté(e). 
[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 ? 
[Formal]
Tu as quel âge ? 
[Casual]
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]
Please
Literally: If it pleases you.

Merci
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:

Pardon.
Sorry.
Literally: Pardon.

Désolé(e).
Sorry.

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. 
[Formal]
Salut ! 
[Casual]
Goodbye.Bye!
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 ! 
[Casual]
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 ? 
[Formal]
Tu parles français ? 
[Casual]
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 ? 
[Formal]
Comment on dit “dog” en français ? 
[Casual]
How do you say “dog” in French?

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

Pouvez-vous répéter plus lentement ? 
[Formal]
Tu peux répéter plus lentement ? 
[Casual]
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 ? 
[Formal]
Où sont les toilettes ? 
[Casual]
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 FrenchPod101.com!

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

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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 FrenchPod101.com!

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.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French

Learn Intermediate French Words and Scale Up Your Vocab

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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 sg.moi“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 sg.meme
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.

lequel
lesquels
laquelle
lesquelles
(“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
quels
quelle
quelles
(“which”)
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


10Dix
11Onze
12Douze
13Treize
14Quatorze
15Quinze
16Seize
17Dix-sept
18Dix-huit
19Dix-neuf
20Vingt

2 – Counting Up to 100


30Trente
40Quarante
50Cinquante
60Soixante
70Soixante-dix
80Quatre-vingt
90Quatre-vingt-dix
100Cent

    → 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


200Deux-cent
300Trois-cent
(…)
900Neuf-cent

And from there, the sky’s the limit!

1,000Mille
10,000Dix-mille
100,000Cent-mille
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”
horrible“horrible”
bizarre“weird”
compliqué“complicated”
epais“thick”
fin“thin”
proche“near”
lointain“far”
etroit“narrow”
large“wide”
doux“soft”
dur“hard”
plein“full”
vide“empty”
léger“light”
lourd“heavy”
unique“unique”
spécial“special”
particulier“particular” / “special” / “specific”
neuf“new” (as in: never used)
pauvre“poor”
riche“rich” / “wealthy”
propre“clean”
sale“dirty”
faible“weak”
mince“slim”
mignon“cute”
méchant“mean” / “wicked” / “evil”
drôle“funny”
sympa“nice”
heureux“happy”
triste“sad”
calme“quiet”
excité“excited”
dangereux“dangerous”
ennuyeux“boring” / “annoying”
gras“fat”
epicé“spicy”
second
deuxième
“second”
prochain“next”
précédent“previous”
avant-dernier“penultimate” / “second-to-last”
orange“orange”
rose“pink”
gris“gray”
violet“purple”
magenta“magenta”
turquoise“turquoise”

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


déjà“already”
longtemps“a long time” / “long”
maintenant“now”
encore“again”
enfin“at last”
ensuite
alors
“then”

2 – How Often 


parfois“sometimes”
rarement“rarely”
d’habitude“usually”
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”
loin“far”
près“close”

4 – How 


doucement“softly” / “quietly”
lentement“softly” / “quietly”
lentement“slowly”
rapidement“fast” / “quickly” / “shortly”
calmement“calmly” / “quietly”
facilement“easily”
heureusement“luckily”
simplement“simply” / “just”

5 – How Much 


plutôt“rather”
assez“enough”
surtout“especially”
presque“almost”
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”
chez“at”
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”
derrière“behind”
sous“under”
sur“over” / “on”

3 – Other


entre“between” / “among”
grâce à“thanks to”
malgré“despite”
sans“without”

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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Animal Names in French

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Do you know which animals the French love most? What about the most popular pets and common farm animals? How many species are there in the gastropod family, and what’s the life expectancy of forest-litter snails? We’re about to answer some of these questions.

As I was gathering animal names, I came up with a fascinating theory: the more exotic an animal is in France, the easier it will be for you to learn its French name. Conveniently enough, there are several animal names in French that are identical to their English equivalents: lion, crocodile, panda, koala, giraffe, jaguar… They shouldn’t give you too much trouble!

In this article, you’ll learn the names of different animals in French, from pets and farm animals to wild beasts, sea creatures, and all sorts of tiny bugs. We’ll even spice it up with some extras: French animal sounds, body parts, and a bunch of colorful expressions such as il pleut comme vache qui pisse (“it’s raining like a pissing cow”).

Different Types of House Pets

Des animaux de compagnie (“Pets”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Pets
  2. Farm Animals
  3. Wild Animals
  4. Sea Animals
  5. Bugs
  6. Birds
  7. Reptiles & Amphibians
  8. Animal Body Parts
  9. Animal Verbs
  10. Animal Sounds
  11. Bonus: Animal Idioms
  12. Le mot de la fin

1. Pets

When it comes to pets, the French don’t have very eccentric tastes. Sure, you could always find domestic snakes or spiders here and there. But the all-time classics (cats and dogs) are as ubiquitous here as anywhere else in the world, with fish and birds coming next on the list.

Polls have shown that the most popular pets in France are cats (purring in around 30% of households), followed by dogs (20%), and then fish (10%). When asked about their favorite animals (and not just pets), the French still answered in favor of cats and dogs, followed by horses and dolphins.

Surprisingly, France is also the European country with the highest number of domestic reptiles, though this number is marginal compared to the number of domestic mammals.

Un chat“Cat”
Un chien“Dog”
Un lapin“Rabbit”
Une souris“Mouse”
Un rat“Rat”
Un cochon d’Inde“Guinea pig”
Un poisson rouge“Goldfish”
Un perroquet“Parrot”

A Kitten Mewling

Un chaton (“Kitten”)

2. Farm Animals

Farm animals don’t vary much from one country to the next, and France is no exception. We breed the same-old cows, pigs, sheep, and goats as anywhere else in the world, which makes these words some of the most useful to learn.

The only feature you may find “exotic” about French farms is that we breed horses for their meat.

Hippophagy (the practice of eating horse meat) is generally frowned upon in the U.S., and is even banned in many states across the country. It’s met with the same disgust in the U.K., where it remains a strong taboo. 

In France, it was never wildly popular, but following lots of scandals and controversies over the last two decades, the consumption of horse meat has decreased dramatically. At this rate, it shall soon become a distant nightmare for all horse-lovers.

Here are the names of common farm animals in French:

Une vache“Cow”
Un cochon“Pig”
Un mouton“Sheep”
Une chèvre“Goat”
Un cheval“Horse”
Une poule“Hen”
Un coq“Rooster”
Un canard“Duck”
Une oie“Goose”
Une dinde“Turkey”

    → To learn more French words and practice your pronunciation, why not stop by our vocabulary lesson on farm animals? It’s available for free on FrenchPod101.com.

Several Pigs

Des cochons (“Pigs”)

3. Wild Animals

French forests and mountains are home to a variety of wild animals. Rabbits and hares are the easiest to spot, but if you hike deep enough in the woods, you might encounter deer, wolves, and even bears.

If you’re more of a mountain climber, you may find some adorable groundhogs hiding from eagles and different kinds of wild goats strolling around like they own the place. The Alps are especially renowned for their wildlife, but we also have a few whales singing in the Mediterranean Sea and fluffy seals on the northern coast.

Here are the names of popular wild animals in the French language:

Un ours“Bear”
Un loup“Wolf”
Un cerf“Deer”
Un lièvre“Hare”
Un renard“Fox”
Un hérisson“Hedgehog”
Un écureuil“Squirrel”
Un sanglier“Boar”
Une marmotte“Groundhog”
Un lion“Lion”
Un tigre“Tiger”
Un jaguar“Jaguar”
Une panthère“Panther”
Un éléphant“Elephant”
Une giraffe“Giraffe”
Un singe“Monkey”
Un gorille“Gorilla”
Un kangourou“Kangaroo”
Un koala“Koala”
Un panda“Panda”
Un paresseux“Sloth”
Un phoque“Seal”
Un pingouin“Penguin”
Un ours polaire“Polar bear”
Un morse“Walrus”

A Cute Sloth Peeking Over Some Railing

Un paresseux (“Sloth”)

4. Sea Animals

Counting our overseas regions (Nouvelle Calédonie, Polynésie Française, Mayotte…), France alone is home to 10% of the world’s corals. They’re mostly gathered around our islands, and they host an impressive diversity of fish, algae, and shellfish.

On the other hand, the industrialization and pollution of the French coasts have taken a huge toll on the marine ecosystem, with plastic being one of the main culprits.

Un poisson“Fish”
Un requin“Shark”
Un dauphin“Dolphin”
Une baleine“Whale”
Un lion de mer“Sealion”
Une méduse“Jellyfish”
Une pieuvre
Un poulpe
“Octopus”
There is no difference between un poulpe and une pieuvre. The latter is a bit more modern, but both are equally used.
Un hippocampe“Seahorse”
Un oursin“Urchin”
Une étoile de mer“Starfish”
Une moule“Mussel”
Un concombre de mer“Sea cucumber”
Sea cucumbers are so bizarrely amazing that I couldn’t resist including them on this list. Do you know of any other animal that breathes through its butt?

They especially thrive in deep water, and make up 90% of life on the ocean floor below 15,000 feet.

    → Do you wanna dive deeper? We have a vocabulary list of marine animals and fish with recorded pronunciation examples.

A Hammerhead Shark

Un requin-marteau (“Hammerhead shark”)

5. Bugs

France has a diverse fauna of native and endemic bugs. Nothing as lethal and scary as what you’d find in Australia, luckily, but we have our fair share of crawling insects and nasty worms.

The three most dangerous animals in France are the Asian hornets, blood-sucking ticks, and the infamous veuve noire (“black widow”), a spider found on the island of Corsica and the region of Provence. Its venom is more dangerous than that of a cobra and can induce crazy hallucinations.

Une abeille“Bee”
Une guêpe“Wasp”
Un moustique“Mosquito”
Une mouche“Fly”
Une araignée“Spider”
Un criquet“Grasshopper”
Un cafard“Cockroach”
Un papillon“Butterfly”
Une fourmi“Ant”
Une mite“Moth”
Un escargot“Snail”
Une limace“Slug”

A Wasp on Someone’s Skin

Une guêpe (“Wasp”)

6. Birds

There are more than 500 species of birds in France, but none are as familiar as our iconic pigeon.

Around 23,000 pigeons live in Paris today, but it wasn’t always so. Back in the nineteenth century, they could only be seen flying over the city. Pigeons only settled in later on, thanks to the lack of predators and the rise of the pigeon post during the Franco-Prussian War.

Un pigeon“Pigeon”
Une mouette“Seagull”
Un corbeau“Crow”
Un aigle“Eagle”
Une colombe“Dove”
Un hibou
Une chouette
“Owl”
What’s the difference between hiboux and chouettes? Simple enough: Hiboux have fluffy ‘ears’ and chouettes don’t. Both are adorable.
Une pie“Magpie”
Un moineau“Sparrow”
Un paon“Peacock”

A Flock of Pigeons on the Ground

Des pigeons (“Pigeons”)

7. Reptiles & Amphibians

Although we don’t have many lethal snakes in France, we still have a few vipers hiding in the bushes here and there. However, they usually don’t attack without provocation and their venom is rarely fatal to humans.

Their natural habitat has been increasingly threatened in recent years and they’re nearly extinct today. Due to their bad reputation (much of which is derived from phobias and irrational fears), nobody’s too eager to protect them.

Une grenouille“Frog”
Un crapaud“Toad”
Un crocodile“Crocodile”
Un lézard“Lizard”
Une tortue“Turtle”
Une tortue de mer“Sea turtle”
Un serpent“Snake”


A Snake

Un serpent (“Snake”)

8. Animal Body Parts

Une queue“Tail”
Un poil“Hair”
Une fourrure“Fur”
Une dent“Tooth”
Un croc“Fang”
Une griffe“Claw”
Une corne“Horn”
Un sabot“Hoof”
Une plume“Feather”
Une aile“Wing”
Un bec“Beak”
Une gueule“Mouth”
The word gueule is also a rude slang term for “mouth,” as in the expression: Ferme ta gueule. (“Shut your trap.”)

In that case, you’re implicitly comparing the other person to an animal.
Une nageoire“Fin”
Un tentacule“Tentacle”
Une crinière“Mane”
Une trompe“Trunk”
Une défense“Tusk”
Une antenne“Antenna”
Un dard“Dart”
Une patte“Leg”
Une patte can only be used for animals. When talking about a human leg, we use une jambe.
Une écaille“Scale”

A Ram

Des cornes (“Horns”)

9. Animal Verbs

Miauler“To meow”
Aboyer“To bark”
Rugir“To roar”
Bourdonner“To buzz”
Grogner“To growl”
Ronronner“To purr”
Galoper“To gallop”
Nager“To swim”
Ramper“To crawl”
Mordre“To bite” (with teeth)
Piquer“To sting” (with a dart)
Griffer“To scratch”
Lécher“To lick”
Caresser“To pet”
Dresser“To tame” / “To train”
Nourrir“To feed”
Vacciner“To vaccinate”

A Dog Barking

Le chien aboie. (“The dog is barking.”)

10. Animal Sounds

The onomatopoeia used for animal sounds vary greatly from one country to the next, and it’s always hilarious to see how people perceive barking or meowing in other cultures. Here are the most popular French animal sounds, for your entertainment.

But before you make fun of our animals’ sounds, just keep in mind that cats say “knavili” in Georgian, dogs go “Gaf gaf” in Russian, Danish ducks sing “Rap rap,” and Belgian turkeys gobble “Irka kloek kloek.” Just sayin’.

Miaou(Cat)
Ouaf / Wouf(Dog)
Meuh(Cow)
Bêêê(Sheep)
Cui cui(Bird)
Cocorico(Rooster)
We also use this sound as a symbol of national pride. When a French person says Cocorico !, it’s pretty much like saying “Go France!”
Coin coin(Duck)
Grrr(Growling sound)
Hou hou(Owl)
Croa croa(Toad)
Glouglou(Turkey)
Cot cot(Hen)
Groin groin(Pig)

A Rooster

Cocorico ! (“Cock-a-doodle-doo!”)

11. Bonus: Animal Idioms

French expressionMarcher sur des œufs
Literal translation“To walk on eggs”
This is the equivalent of “to walk on eggshells,” when you’re being very careful not to offend someone or do anything wrong.

French expressionÇa ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard.
Literal translation“It doesn’t break a duck’s three legs.”
The equivalent of “It’s nothing to write home about,” when something is not really impressive.

French expressionOh la vache !
Literal translation“Oh, the cow!”
The unholy version of “Holy cow!”

French expressionVachement
Literal translation“Cowishly”
This roughly translates to “really” or “very.”

For example: C’est vachement bien ! (“It’s really good!”)

French expressionIl pleut comme vache qui pisse.
Literal translation“It’s raining like a pissing cow.”
Similar to “It’s raining cats and dogs,” when talking about heavy rain.

French expressionIl n’y a pas un chat.
Literal translation“There is not a cat.”
The place is so empty that you can’t even spot a stray cat strolling around.

French expressionJ’ai un chat dans la gorge.
Literal translation“I have a cat in the throat.”
The equivalent would be “I have a frog in my throat,” when you can’t speak normally because of how dry and hoarse your throat feels.

French expressionIl fait un temps de chien.
Literal translation“It’s a dog’s weather.”
“The weather is really bad.” 

The expression was introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century, when dogs still had a reputation for being dirty animals. When it was pouring rain, only stray dogs would stay outside and roam the empty streets.

French expressionUn trou à rat
Literal translation“A rat hole”
A dirty or miserable place.

French expressionDonner de la confiture aux cochons
Literal translation“To give jam to the pigs”
The equivalent of “to throw pearls before swine.” To waste good things on someone undeserving.

French expressionUn caractère de cochon
Literal translation“A pig’s temper”
Do pigs have especially bad tempers? This is what the expression implies.

French expressionPoser un lapin
Literal translation“To put a rabbit”
The equivalent of “to stand someone up,” when you’re supposed to meet them but fail to show up.

French expressionC’est chouette !
Literal translation“It’s owl!”
I’d translate it as “It’s nice,” or “It’s cool.” We use it when talking about something exciting or pleasant.

For example: Ce film est chouette. (“This movie is nice.”)

French expressionÀ vol d’oiseau
Literal translation“On bird’s flight”
This is the equivalent of “as the crow flies.” It describes the shortest possible distance between two points that a bird could cover, flying over roads and obstacles.

For example: La gare est à 2 km à vol d’oiseau. (“The train station is two kilometers as the crow flies.”) In other words: It would be further when walking, but here’s a raw estimate.

French expressionNoyer le poisson
Literal translation“To drown the fish”
Similar to “to cloud the issue,” when you make a problem more difficult to understand or deal with by introducing unnecessary ideas.

French expressionChercher la petite bête
Literal translation“To look for the tiny beast”
The equivalent of “to nitpick,” when you focus on small, specific mistakes. A teacher might nitpick if they blame you for a missing comma in your otherwise perfect paper.

An Owl Resting on a Woman’s Shoulder

Les chouettes sont vachement chouettes ! (“Owls are super cool!”)

12. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you’ve learned many animal names in French, from pets to marine animals and beyond. Now you’re ready to ask your friends about their pets or their favorite furry animals.

Did we forget any animal expression you’ve heard? If you know more funny French animal sounds, be sure to share them 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 practice the animal words from this article, 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 FrenchPod101.com!

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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French Phone Phrases for Smooth Calls

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Do you sometimes get anxious when the phone rings? For some, this anxiety arises due to the fear of being criticized or judged for what they’re gonna say. Telephone phobia can even make one afraid, by association, of the actual ringing.

Even though this type of anxiety was not common for me, I noticed that taking phone calls in a foreign language could get me really tense. I would sometimes struggle to find the right words, and I was afraid I’d fail to understand what the other person wanted from me.

As a learner, picking up some French phone phrases can relieve you of most of this apprehension. Equipped with the essential phrases and useful phone vocabulary, you’ll be ready to face almost any phone scenario. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to answer the phone in French and handle different components of a phone call: greetings and introductions, transferring a call, taking a message, handling connection issues, and much more. Once we’re done here, you’ll be ready to keep your cool and pick up with confidence.

A Man in a Business Suit Smiling while Talking on the Phone

No more stress: Pick up the phone with a confident smile!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Phone Vocabulary
  2. Greeting
  3. Checking
  4. Transferring
  5. Stating Your Business
  6. Problems
  7. Ending
  8. Le mot de la fin

1. Phone Vocabulary

Before we start with the phrases, let’s have a look at the most useful words you should know when talking about phones and calls. This short vocabulary list includes everything you need, from words to describe the hardware to some key verbs.

Un téléphonePhone
Un portable
Un mobile
Mobile phone
Une batterieBattery
Un chargeurCharger
Un message
Un texto
Un SMS
Text message
Un écranScreen
Une sonnerieRingtone
Un appel
Un appel téléphonique
Call
Un coup de filCall [Slang]
Un numéroUn numéro de téléphonePhone number
AppelerTo call
RappelerTo call back
ComposerTo dial
SonnerTo ring
DécrocherTo pick up
RaccrocherTo hang up
Laisser un messageTo leave a message
AllumerTo turn on
ÉteindreTo turn off
BrancherTo plug
Charger / RechargerTo charge


Someone Picking Up Their Work Phone

Décrocher le téléphone (“To pick up the phone”)

2. Greeting

When calling someone or picking up the phone, the conversation almost always starts with a greeting of some sort. This is just basic phone etiquette.

It might be casual when you’re calling friends or answering your personal phone, or formal and informative if you’re answering in a professional capacity.

Below, you’ll find a few common phone greetings in French for making and receiving a call. 

1 – Calling

Allo.Hello.
Allo is a “hello” for phone conversations only. 

In France, we never use allo in any other context, unlike in French Quebec where it’s also a common in-person greeting.
Bonjour.Hello.
When you’re calling, you could simply say Bonjour instead of Allo, then move on to introducing yourself, stating your business, or whatever comes next.

2 – Answering

Allo ?Hello?
When answering the phone, you can also use Allo or the interrogative Allo ?

Unless you’re answering in a professional capacity, this is usually all you need to say before you know who’s calling and why.

Another option is Oui, allo ? It doesn’t change much, really.
Bonjour.Hello.
Like when calling, you can answer with a simple Bonjour.
Allo oui, j’écoute.Hello, yes, I’m listening.

If you’re taking a professional phone call on behalf of your company, here’s the formal and efficient way to do it:

[Company name], bonjour.

Or:

[Company name], [Your name] bonjour.

For example: 

  • Clinique Saint-Martin, bonjour. (“Saint-Martin Clinic, hello.”)
  • Decathlon Montreuil, David Morel, bonjour. (“Montreuil’s Decathlon, David Morel, hello.”)

Then, you could add something like:

  • Je vous écoute. (“I’m listening.”)
  • Comment puis-je vous aider ? (“How can I assist you?”)

Beyond Allo, there are many different ways to greet someone on the phone. You’ll find lots of ideas on our list titled Common Ways to Say Hello here on FrenchPod101.com.

A Man Receiving a Wakeup Call in His Hotel Room

Oui, allo ? (“Hello?”)

3. Checking

Now that you’ve said “hello,” the next step is to make sure you’ve reached the right person (or to ask who’s calling). Once you familiarize yourself with the following French phone call phrases, you’ll be able to handle this with ease. 

1 – Calling

One simple way to see if you’ve gotten the right person is to just use their name:

  • David? [Casual]
  • Monsieur Morel ? [Formal – Male]
  • Madame Lemaire ? [Formal – Female]

Here are a few other options:

Je suis bien chez David Morel ?Is this the home of David Morel?
Je suis bien au 06 78 24 XX XX ?Did I reach the 06 78 XX XX?
If you suspect you might have dialed a wrong number, this is how you would double-check.
Je suis bien au cabinet du docteur Morel ?
Je suis bien à la clinique Saint-Martin ?
Is this the office of Doctor Morel?
Is this the Saint-Martin Clinic?

Once you know you’re at the right place, this is a good time to introduce yourself:

C’est Sophie. [Casual]It’s Sophie.
Je m’appelle Sophie Cibat. [Formal]My name is Sophie Cibat.

2 – Answering

If you didn’t recognize the person calling and they haven’t introduced themselves yet, you probably want to inquire about that.

Qui est à l’appareil ? [Formal]Who’s this?
This literally means: “Who’s at the device?”
Qui est-ce ? [Casual]Who’s this?
A Man Sitting at a Park and Talking on the Phone

Qui est à l’appareil ? (“Who is it?”)

4. Transferring

At some point during the conversation, the caller may be transferred to another person or department. Here are several French phone expressions you can use to make this as smooth a process as possible. 

1 – Calling

If you’ve reached the secretary of a big company or the main desk of an administration, your next step is to be transferred to the right person or service.

J’essaye de joindre David. [Casual]I’m trying to reach David.
Je cherche à joindre David Morel. [Formal]I’m trying to reach David Morel.
Je cherche à joindre monsieur Morel. [Formal]I’m trying to reach Mr. Morel.
Je peux parler à David ? [Casual]Can I talk to David?
Tu peux me passer David ? [Casual]Can you put David on?
Je voudrais parler à David Morel, s’il vous plaît. [Formal]I would like to speak to David Morel, please.
Est-ce que je pourrais parler à David Morel, s’il vous plaît ? [Formal]Can I speak to David Morel, please?
Je cherche à joindre le service juridique.I’m trying to reach the legal service.
Est-ce que vous pourriez me transférer au service juridique, s’il vous plaît ?Could you transfer me to the legal service, please?

2 – Answering

C’est de la part de qui ?Who’s calling?
This is similar to qui est à l’appareil, but this phrase is used when you’re asking on behalf of the person you’ll transfer the caller to.
Ne quittez pas.Hold the line.
Un instant, s’il vous plaît.
Un moment, s’il vous plaît.
A moment, please.
Je te le passe. [Casual]
Je vous le passe. [Formal]
Je vous mets en relation. [Very formal]
I’ll put him on.
I’ll put him on.
I’ll put you through.
La ligne est occupée.The line is busy.
Elle n’est pas disponible pour le moment.She’s not available right now.
Est-ce que je peux prendre un message ?Can I take a message?
Je peux lui demander de vous rappeler.I can ask him/her to call you back.
Pouvez-vous me laisser votre nom et votre numéro ?Can I take your name and number?

    → To learn and practice some more useful phrases for your phone conversations, check out our vocabulary list with audio recordings.

A Woman Taking a Call while Working in the Office Late at Night

Je suis désolée, la ligne est occupée. (“I’m sorry, the line is busy.”)

5. Stating Your Business

There could be many reasons why you’re making a phone call. Maybe you want to discuss a casual topic with a friend or perhaps you’re calling for serious business matters. 

J’appelle pour prendre de tes nouvelles.I’m calling to check on you.
Tu as essayé de m’appeler tout à l’heure.You tried to call me earlier.
Je voudrais parler à quelqu’un d’un problème juridique.I would like to talk to someone about a legal issue.
Je voudrais prendre rendez-vous.I would like to make an appointment.
Je vous rappelle après avoir reçu un message.I’m calling you back after receiving a message.

A Guy Sitting on the Couch and Talking on the Phone with a Remote in His Hand

Tu as essayé de m’appeler tout à l’heure. (“You tried to call me earlier.”)

6. Problems

Nowadays, smartphones and the internet are making “wrong number” situations rather unusual, but there are still many other issues that might come up.

Compared to old models that could last for days on a single charge, the curse of smartphones is the short battery life…you never know if it’ll die on you in the middle of a call. There are also lots of opportunities for a bad connection, like if someone drives through a tunnel and breaks up unexpectedly.

Je t’entends mal. [Casual]
Je vous entends mal. [Formal]
I can’t hear you. / I can barely hear you.
Je t’entends plus. [Casual]
Je ne vous entends plus. [Formal]
I can’t hear you anymore.
La connexion est mauvaise.The connection is bad.
Il y a de la friture sur la ligne. [Casual – Idiom]There is noise on the line.
Literally: “There is something frying on the line.”
Tu peux répéter ? [Casual]
Vous pouvez répéter, s’il vous plaît ? [Formal]
Can you repeat?
Could you repeat, please?
On a été coupés.We got cut off. / We got disconnected.
Ma batterie est bientôt morte. [Casual]My battery’s almost dead.
Ma batterie est presque épuisée.My battery’s almost depleted.
Je n’ai presque plus de batterie.I’m almost out of battery.
Vous vous trompez de numéro.You’ve dialed the wrong number.
Désolé, je me suis trompé de numéro.I’m sorry, I’ve dialed the wrong number.

Two Kids Talking through Tin Can Phones

La connexion est mauvaise ! (“The connection is bad!”)

7. Ending

Ending the call is usually as easy as greeting the other person. It’s just a quick formality that only gets a bit more complicated in professional contexts.

Au revoir. [Formal]Goodbye.
Salut ! [Casual]Bye!
Bonne journée.Have a good day.
Merci, au revoir.Thank you, goodbye.
Merci pour votre appel. [Formal]Thank you for calling.
À bientôt.See you soon.
À tout à l’heure.See you later.


8. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about phone calls in French, from basic phone vocabulary to specific phrases for greeting, introducing yourself, stating your business, transferring a call, taking a message, and more. 

Did we forget any important phone phrases you’d like to learn?

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings, free resources to boost your studies, and plenty of fun audio/video lessons to 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. Your own private teacher can help you practice any new French words you’ve learned, and more. They can also provide you with assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples just for you—all this in addition to reviewing your work and helping you improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com

About the Author: Born and bred in rainy northern France, Cyril Danon bounced off various jobs before leaving 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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Start Strong with These French Words for Beginners

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Do you know how many words there are in the French language? Come on, have a guess.

Most French dictionaries list around 60,000. But Le Grand Robert, one of the most prominent resources, gathers more than 100,000 words for a total of 350,000 different meanings.

Sounds overwhelming? Keep in mind that even native French speakers know merely a fraction of that! To start having basic conversations, you only need a few hundred basic French words for beginners. 

Further down the line, you’ll be considered “proficient” in French upon reaching around 5,000 words. That’s only about 5% of the whole collection.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! In this article, we’ll list all of the French beginner words that will allow you to handle many everyday situations, whether you want to talk, listen, or both.

A Man and a Woman Chatting on a Date with Drinks

You only need a few words to start a conversation and make friends.

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. Le mot de la fin

1. Pronouns

Let’s start our list of beginner French words with the most useful pronouns you should learn as you begin your studies.

At first, all you’re gonna need are the personal subject pronouns (“she,” “you,” “we,” and so on). As you move forward, you’ll quickly add some more to your arsenal.

    → To learn all about this topic, from the general rules to the 10 main categories of French pronouns, make sure to visit our complete guide on FrenchPod101.com.

1 – Personal Subject Pronouns

Personal subject pronouns replace the subject of a sentence.

  • Sophie parle français. (“Sophie speaks French.”)
  • Elle parle français. (“She speaks French.”)

PersonFrench pronounEnglish
1st person sg.je, j’I
2nd person sg.tu / vousyou (casual / formal)
3rd person sg.il, elle, onhe, she, one
1st person pl.on / nouswe (casual / formal)
2nd person pl.vousyou
3rd person pl.Ils, ellesthey

2 – Impersonal Pronouns

When a sentence doesn’t have a clear subject, let’s stay vague and impersonal:

ça, ce, c’ (“it”)

  • Ça fait mal. (“It hurts.”)
  • Ce n’est pas vrai. (“It is not true.”)
  • C’est important. (“It is important.”)

il (“it”)

  • Il est temps. (“It’s time.”)
  • Il pleut. (“It’s raining.”)

3 – Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used with reflexive verbs. For example:

  • se lever (“to stand up”)
  • se promener (“to stroll”)
  • s’habiller (“to get dressed”)

PersonFrench pronounExample
1st person sg.me, m’Je me lève. (“I stand up.”)
2nd person sg.te, t’Tu te lèves. (“You stand up.”)
3rd person sg.se, s’Elle s’habille. (“She gets dressed.”)
1st person pl.nousNous nous préparons. (“We’re getting ready.”)
2nd person pl.vousVous vous rasez. (“You shave.”)
3rd person pl.seIls se promènent. (“They are strolling.”)

4 – Interrogative Pronouns

  • Qui ? (“Who?”)
    Qui est là ? (“Who’s there?”)
  • Où ? (“Where?”)
    Où es-tu ? (“Where are you?”)

  • Quand ? (“When?”)
    On commence quand ? (“When do we start?”)
  • Quoi ? (“What?”)
    On fait quoi ce soir ? (“What are we doing tonight?”)
  • Pourquoi ? (“Why?”)
    Pourquoi tu ris ? (“Why are you laughing?”)

5 – Indefinite Pronouns

  • tout (“everything”)
  • rien (“nothing”)
  • quelque chose (“something”)
  • tout le monde (“everybody”)
  • personne (“nobody”)
  • quelqu’un (“somebody”)

A Woman Stretching Upon Waking Up in the Morning

Elle se réveille. (“She wakes up.”)

2. Verbs

Here’s a list of the 50 most useful French verbs for beginners. Of course, depending on whether you’re studying, visiting, or working in France, you might have different needs. But this is a good place to start in any case!

    → For all the information you’ll need on regular verb groups (-ER and -IR), irregular verbs, and reflexive verbs, be sure to have a look at our full article on FrenchPod101.com.

êtreto be
avoirto have
allerto go
vouloirto want
pouvoirto be able to / can
devoirto have to / must
falloirto be necessary
This verb is only conjugated in the third person, with the impersonal pronoun il (“it”). In this case, it means “it is necessary that.”
  • Il faut partir à l’heure. (“We must leave on time.”)
  • Il faut que je parte. (“I have to go.”)
faireto do
direto say / to tell
parlerto talk / to speak
aimerto like / to love
mettreto put / to place
remettreto put back
poserto put down / to ask
prendreto take / to catch / to capture
donnerto give
savoirto know
entendreto hear
voirto see
demanderto ask / to request
répondreto answer / to reply
chercherto look for
trouverto find / to discover
retrouverto regain / to meet up
rendreto return / to give back / to make
venirto come
passerto pass / to go / to come
croireto believe / to think
montrerto show
commencerto begin / to start
continuerto continue / to keep going
penserto think
comprendreto understand / to include
resterto stay / to remain
attendreto wait
partirto leave
arriverto arrive / to happen
suivreto follow
revenirto come back
connaîtreto know
compterto count
permettreto permit / to allow
s’occuperto take care of
semblerto seem
lireto read
écrireto write
devenirto become / to turn into
déciderto decide
tenirto hold
porterto carry / to wear
Signs that Read Now, Tomorrow, and Yesterday

Just add a few tenses and you can talk about anything!

3. Numbers

As a beginner, you really won’t need much as far as counting and numbers go. In most situations, you can get by with only small numbers; I’d not go further than 1 to 10 for now.

    → Should you need more digits, you could check out our article on French numbers. You’ll find everything you need to count from zero to infinity! It’s available for free on FrenchPod101.com.

  • 0        Zéro
  • 1        Un
  • 2        Deux
  • 3        Trois
  • 4        Quatre
  • 5        Cinq
  • 6        Six
  • 7        Sept
  • 8        Huit
  • 9        Neuf
  • 10       Dix

4. Nouns

As a beginner, your basic French vocabulary arsenal should consist of the most common nouns in various categories. Knowing these alone will allow you to communicate basic ideas in a pinch. 

French nouns can be masculine or feminine, and you can generally determine which gender a word is based on the ending. However, because you don’t want to think about it in the middle of a conversation or get tricked by exceptions, the best way to learn nouns is to always use the article.

  • Train Un train (“A train”)
  • Voiture Une voiture (“A car”)

In the following list, I’ll mention the article for each word. In case the plural is irregular, I will include that as well. For every other word, the general rules apply.

  • Un train, des trains (“Train, trains”)
  • Une voiture, des voitures (“Car, cars”)
  • Un mois, des mois (“Month, months”)

For more information on the gender and plural of French nouns, we just happen to have a detailed article on FrenchPod101.com.

1 – Time

une heurean hour
une minutea minute
un joura day
un moisa month
un an / une annéea year
An is mainly used with numbers, as in:
  • J’ai 20 ans. (“I’m 20 years old.”)
  • Deux fois par an (“Twice a year”)

Année
is used in most other cases: 
  • L’année prochaine (“Next year”)
  • Chaque année (“Every year”)
un lundiMonday
un mardiTuesday
un mercrediWednesday
un jeudiThursday
un vendrediFriday
un samediSaturday
un dimancheSunday
un matinmorning
un midinoon
un après-midiafternoon
un soirevening
une nuitnight

2 – Places

un mondeworld
un payscountry
un endroitplace
une mersea
une forêtforest
une montagnemountain
un magasinshop

3 – Technology & Internet

un téléphonephone
un écranscreen
un ordinateurcomputer
internetinternet

4 – Home

une maisonhouse
une portedoor
une fenêtrewindow
une cuisinekitchen
une chambrebedroom
des toilettestoilets / restroom

5 – City & Transport

une voiturecar
un busbus
un traintrain
un avionplane
un taxitaxi / cab
un vélobicycle
une villecity
une ruestreet
une avenueavenue
une routeroad

6 – People

une mèremother
un pèrefather
MamanMom
PapaDad
une femmewoman / wife
un hommeman
un marihusband
un frèrebrother
une sœursister
une famillefamily
une copinegirlfriend
un copainboyfriend
un filsson
une filledaughter
un amifriend

7 – Body

une têtehead
un œil / des yeuxeye / eyes
une bouchemouth
un neznose
une oreilleear
des cheveuxhair
un brasarm
une mainhand

8 – Food

une tabletable
une assietteplate
un verreglass
de l’eauwater
un fruitfruit
un légumevegetable
un cafécoffee
du painbread

9 – Work & Studies

un étudiantstudent
une écoleschool
un docteurdoctor
un vendeursalesman / vendor / seller
un professeurprofessor

10 – Conversation

une questionquestion
une réponseanswer
un motword
une phrasephrase / sentence
une idéeidea

A Man at the Subway Station Reviewing Vocabulary on His Tablet

There is always a bit of time to review vocabulary lists.

5. Conjunctions

There’s a LOT to say and explain about conjunctions, but luckily, you don’t need to use many of them when you start learning French.

    → Later on, though, have a look at our complete guide on French conjunctions to learn everything about how to list things, express conditions, state consequences, and much more.

  • et (“and”)
    Un chat et un chien (“A cat and a dog”)

  • ou (“or”)
    De l’eau ou du vin (“Water or wine”)

  • si (“if”)
    Si tu veux venir (“If you want to come”)
  • parce que (“because”)
    Je mange parce que j’ai faim. (“I eat because I’m hungry.”)
  • mais (“but”)
    Un peu mais pas trop (“A bit, but not too much”)
  • pour (“for” / “to” / “so that”)
    J’apprends le français pour voyager. (“I learn French to travel.”)
    C’est pour toi. (“It’s for you.”)
  • par (“by” / “out of” / “with” / “using” / “through”)
    Je suis aidé par un expert. (“I’m helped by an expert.”)
    Je passe par Paris et Bordeaux. (“I go through Paris and Bordeaux.”)

A Cat and a Dog

Un chat et un chien (“A cat and a dog”)

6. Adjectives

French adjectives must agree in gender and number with the noun they describe. In this table, you’ll find both genders in the format [ Masculine – Feminine ], as they can get quite irregular. If you see only one, it just means that the masculine and feminine forms are identical.

Plurals, on the other hand, are rather predictable and follow the general rules of the French plural.

    → You might want to check out a more detailed article on French adjectives for more grammar info and examples.

bon – bonnegood / right / correct
mauvais – mauvaisebad / wrong / incorrect
facileeasy
difficiledifficult / hard
nouveau – nouvellenew
cher – chèreexpensive
grand – grandelarge / big / tall / great / major
gros – grossebig / fat
petit – petitesmall / little
long – longuelong
court – courteshort
rapidefast / quick
lent – lenteslow
chaud – chaudehot / warm
froid – froidecold
premier – premièrefirst
dernier – dernièrelast / final / latest
mêmesame
autreother
différent – différentedifferent
seul – seuleonly / alone / lonely
meilleur – meilleurebest / better
pireworst
beau – bellehandsome / beautiful
mocheugly
fort – fortestrong / high / important
gentil – gentillenice / kind
fou – follecrazy / mad
content – contenteglad
maladesick / ill
important – importanteimportant
noir – noireblack
blanc – blanchewhite
bleu – bleueblue
rougered
sucré – sucréesweet
salé – saléesalty
délicieux – délicieusedelicious

A Woman Biting into a Tart

Cette tarte est délicieuse ! (“This tart is delicious!”)

7. Adverbs

If you need a reminder on what adverbs are, how they’re formed, and where to place them in a sentence, I would recommend a pit stop at our extensive article on French adverbs.

1 – When

tardlate
tôtearly
bientôtsoon
hieryesterday
aujourd’huitoday
demaintomorrow
avantbefore
aprèsafter

2 – How Often

jamaisnever
troptoo much
souventoften
toujoursalways
peut-êtremaybe
aussias well / too / also

3 – Where

icihere
there
partouteverywhere
dedansinside
dehorsoutside

4 – How

bienwell
malbadly / poorly
vitequickly

5 – How Much

vraimenttruly / really
toutall / everything
riennothing
beaucoupmany / much / a lot
seulementonly
peulittle / few
trèsvery / really
plusmore
moinsless

A Zombie Coming Toward the Camera

Il a très faim ! (“He’s really hungry!”)

8. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you’ve learned more than 200 of the most useful French words for beginners: pronouns, verbs, nouns, adjectives, and all that jazz. As you keep learning French, you might find it handy to have them all conveniently gathered in one place.

Can you think of any more words you might need to know as you start your language learning journey? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you!

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and learn more basic French words and structures. Our vocabulary lists are another great way to learn and review the pronunciation of new words.

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 beginner words 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 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 for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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Top 10 French Filler Words: Maximum Frenchness!

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Have you ever started a conversation in a foreign language, believing you could handle it, only to end up puzzled and confused with the abundance of mysterious and seemingly unnecessary sounds that no academic learning could have prepared you for?

Like all languages, real-life spoken French is quite different from what you learn in grammar books. It’s littered with weird “filler words” that easily get in the way when you’re trying to follow a complicated conversation.

French filler words are short and meaningless words or sounds we use to fill the gaps. They can get rather irritating, but on the bright side, mastering these filler words in French will allow you to sound even ‘Frencher’ than locals.

In this article, you’ll learn how to use the most common French filler words and phrases. We’ll also discuss why you should consider using them (within reason). Get your Uh and your Um ready, and let’s dive in.

A Man with a Very Confused and Frustrated Look on His Face

The first time you hear: “Alors, euh…tu vois, quoi.”

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Why Do We Use Filler Words?
  2. Top 10 French Filler Words
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Le mot de la fin

1. Why Do We Use Filler Words?

We’ve all met like…that person that…like…uses filler words, like…at least twice per sentence. Are they looking for the right word or thinking about what to say next? And why does it sound so bad when used in excess?

Filler words add no meaning to a sentence. They are trivial sounds or pieces of speech—the “um” and “uh” of most conversations—but that doesn’t mean they serve no purpose and should be removed entirely.

French filler words can have various functions:

  • To give you a moment to think about what you want to say or how you want to phrase it
  • To let others know that you’re not finished yet, and that even if you’ve paused for a second, you have more to say
  • To emphasize something, or to stress the importance of what you’ve just said

Some filler words can be used in any situation, while others should be avoided in formal contexts. In the following section, I’ll add a note when that’s the case.

2. Top 10 French Filler Words

#1

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Euh…“Uh…”

Euh is possibly the most overused filler sound in French, and I can guarantee that you’ll hear a LOT of it when talking with locals, in informal and formal settings alike.

Just like its English equivalent, you can use it to mark a pause and reflect on life for a moment, as your companions patiently wait for what’s coming next, hanging on your every word.

Je voudrais acheter du lait et, euh…des œufs. (“I would like to buy some milk and, uh…eggs.”)
Euh…je sais pas quoi dire. (“Uh…I don’t know what to say.”)
C’est euh…la première porte à droite. (“It’s, uh…the first door on your right.”)

    → Are you spending too much time looking for the right word when you’re in a shop? Stop by our Shopping vocabulary list, or learn essential words for Shopping Downtown.
A Couple and Their Child Standing at a Counter in the Deli Section of a Grocery Store

Je voudrais des œufs et…euh… (“I would like some eggs and…uh…”)

#2

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Quoi“What”“You know”

Although quoi literally means “what,” it has a whole different meaning when it’s not used as a question word. We use it at the end of a sentence to emphasize what we’re saying and make it sound like an obvious truth.

This is especially ubiquitous in northern France, but you could hear it pretty much anywhere. It’s better to avoid it in very formal settings such as a job interview, as it sounds a bit too laid back (even if most people wouldn’t even notice it on a conscious level).

Cette équipe gagne à chaque fois. C’est les meilleurs, quoi. (“This team wins every time. They are the best, you know.”)
1000€ pour ça ? C’est trop cher, quoi.
(“1000€ for that? It’s too expensive, you know.”)
J’étais fatigué. J’en avais marre, quoi. (“I was tired. I had enough of it, you know.”)

#3

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Hein ?“What?”“Right?” / “Isn’t it?”

Outside of its function as a filler word, hein is a very informal version of quoi (“what”) that you can use when you don’t understand something or can’t believe what you’ve heard.

– On part dans dix minutes. (“We’re leaving in ten minutes.”)
– Hein ? (“What?”)

As a filler word, it’s used to emphasize a question, making it sound like something you believe is correct. You’re asking the other person for confirmation. 

Tu pars bientôt, hein ? (“You’re leaving soon, aren’t you?”)
C’était une bonne soirée, hein ? (“That was a nice evening, right?”)

#4

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Ben / Bah / Beh“Well”

Ben is a shortened version of bien (“well” / “good”) and can be used as a filler word at the beginning of a sentence, or somewhere in the middle, just like euh (“uh”).

There are a few variations of this common French filler—ben, bah, beh—that can all serve the same two functions:
  • To emphasize the meaning of something (sort of like saying “duh” to express that you believe something is obvious)
  • To express indecision, just like euh or a reluctant “well”

– Tu aimes le fromage ? (“Do you like cheese?”)
– Bah bien sûr ! (“Duh, of course!”)

– Tu aimes le vin ? (“Do you like wine?”)
– Bah… je sais pas. (“Well, I don’t know.”)

– Le film, beh…c’était pas terrible. (“The movie, well…it wasn’t amazing.”)
– Ben non, c’était mauvais ! (“Well no, it was bad!”)

#5

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
En fait“In fact”“Actually”

This is literally “in fact,” and it can be used in a similar fashion. I’m personally guilty of overusing it, even though I’m well aware it’s not bringing anything meaningful to the table. 

It can be used in various places within a sentence and it’s very close to the English filler “actually.”

Mais, en fait, j’en achète tout le temps. (“But, actually, I buy it all the time.”)
En fait, je préfère manger dehors. (“In fact, I prefer to eat outside.”)
Je suis venu mais en fait, il n’y avait personne. (“I came, but actually, there was nobody.”)

A Woman Ordering from the Meat Section of a Store

Je vais prendre des saucisses, en fait. (“I’ll take some sausages, actually.”)

#6

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Bon“Well”“Well” / “So”

Bon is a close equivalent of the English “well.” It can be used either to emphasize a sentence or, less commonly, to express impatience like “so” does in English. 

Bon, ça t’a plu ? (“Well, did you like it?”)
Bon, on commence quand ? (“So, when do we start?”)
Bon, je ne suis pas vraiment convaincu. (“Well, I’m not really convinced.”)

#7

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Genre“Type” / “Kind”“Like”

Literally, genre means “kind” as in: “It’s a kind of cake.” (C’est un genre de gâteau.

As a filler word, it does not convey any specific meaning but rather expresses some sort of indecision.

Ça se mange, genre…avec une sauce. (“It’s eaten, like…with a sauce.”)
Il faudrait partir, genre…vers 20h. (“We should go, like…around 8 p.m.”)

#8

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Enfin“Finally” / “At last”“Well”

Enfin is the literal combination of en and fin (“in end”):

J’ai enfin vu ce film. (“I have finally watched that movie.”)

As a filler word, it’s closer to “anyway” or “well,” and it stresses the phrase it’s attached to.

It can also be combined with bref (“anyway”), and the result enfin bref would roughly translate to “long story short.”

Enfin, tu vois ce que je veux dire. (“Well, you know what I mean.”)
Il y avait de la bonne bouffe et de la bonne musique. Enfin bref, c’était une super soirée. (“There was great food and good music. Long story short, it was a great night!”)

#9

FrenchLiterally and English equivalent
Tu sais / Tu vois“You know” / “You see”

This is generally used at the end of the sentence as a question, even though it’s not necessarily pronounced as such and can be said like a statement. Also, this is a rhetorical question and the speaker does not expect to get an answer.

It’s quite casual, though it wouldn’t be considered rude to say the formal variations vous voyez (“you see”) and vous savez (“you know”) in a formal setting.

C’est vraiment difficile, tu vois. (“It’s really difficult, you see.”)
J’aimerais beaucoup venir, tu sais. (“I would love to come, you know.”)
C’est un produit très efficace, vous savez. (“It’s a very effective product, you know.”)

A Man at a Coffee Shop Flirting with a Woman Sitting Across from Him

T’es mignonne, tu sais. (“You’re cute, you know.”)

#10

FrenchLiterallyEnglish equivalent
Alors“Then”“So” / “Well”

Alors is a very common filler word in French that’s often used to draw attention to your next sentence. You can use it to get the other person’s attention or before changing the topic.

You can use it in formal or informal situations, and as opposed to euh, quoi, or ben, it will not sound like you’re slow or indecisive. Rather, it will sound like you’re giving your speech some structure.

Alors, quoi de neuf ? (“So, what’s up?”)
Alors, qu’est-ce vous voulez commander ? (“So, what do you want to order?”)
Alors, voyons voir qui est arrivé. (“Well, let’s see who has arrived.”)

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

As you can see, this was a fairly short list and lots of these basic French filler words have a similar function. It makes filler words quite easy to pick up once you wrap your head around their very concept. Should you really use them, though?

1 – Sound Like a Local

When you start using filler words, it will instantly boost how “authentic” you sound. Most people might not even realize it, but it will have an effect on how they perceive you and your speech. 

If you’ve attained a beginner or intermediate level of French, using filler words correctly will make you sound a bit cooler and might boost your confidence.

As an advanced learner, you’re getting one step closer to truly blending in. If your pronunciation is good enough, you could even start fooling your new local friends by sounding just like a native French speaker.

2 – Why You Shouldn’t Overuse Them

However, this is a double-edged sword and if you overdo it, it might make you sound too hesitant or less confident. I’ve been on the hiring side of job interviews, and hearing a candidate constantly mumble Euh… in every single sentence doesn’t make for a good impression.

Conveniently, you don’t have to substitute filler words with anything, because they don’t add any meaning to begin with. You can simply cut them from your speech and you’ll be just fine. 

There are also a few tricks that will buy you some time to gather your thoughts while making you sound smarter than using euh or genre would. 

  • Euh…. je crois que c’est là bas. (“Uh… I think it’s over there.”)
    • Mmmh… je crois que c’est par là. (“Mmh… I think it’s over there.”)
    • Voyons voir… je crois que c’est par là. (“Let’s see… I think it’s over there.”)
    • Laissez-moi réfléchir… je crois que c’est par là. (“Let me think… I think it’s over there.”)

As long as you’re relaxed enough, you can just embrace the pause and build some suspense while pausing to collect your thoughts. Great public speakers often pause for several seconds, to great effect. You won’t hear them dragging on an “Uh….” as they carefully think about their next words.

A Woman Thinking in Front of a Blackboard that Has a Thought Bubble Drawn on It

Voyons voir… (“Let’s see…”)

4. Le mot de la fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about French filler words: what they are, how to use them in a sentence, and what the most popular filler words in French are. We’ve also discussed why you might want to use them and how to refrain from overdoing it.

Did any of these filler words catch you by surprise? Let us know which ones in the comments!

A couple of good ways to practice French filler words are to focus on one or two words at a time and to start paying attention to how locals use them. You can do this during a conversation or by watching videos or listening to podcasts. Then, once you feel like you’ve got the hang of it, you could try using them yourself and let the magic happen.

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings as well as 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 a private teacher who can help you practice filler words and so much more. In addition to giving you personalized assignments and exercises, your teacher will record audio samples just for you and review your work to help you improve every day. 

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com!

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon had been 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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