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Archive for the 'Advanced French' Category

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

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.

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Our 2020 Guide on the DELF French Proficiency Test

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What is DALF? Does it have anything to do with the alien-friendly 80s sitcom? And what about DELF? Are we talking engine oil and car lubricants? I’m sorry to disappoint, but we’re only referring to the most important French Proficiency tests on the market.

In this article, I’ll explain everything about the DELF & DALF language proficiency exams: what they are, how to sign up, and why you should care. You’ll also learn all the details about the six possible DALF/DELF French exam levels and how to identify yours. 

Finally, you’ll have an in-depth look at the structure and content of all four sections of the exam, and more importantly, the best techniques to practice and pass the test yourself!

A Student Glad He Got an A+ on a Test

Ace your DELF or DALF with our collection of pro-tips.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in French Table of Contents
  1. What are DELF and DALF?
  2. A Test for Every Level
  3. How to Succeed at DELF B2
  4. Le Mot De La Fin

1. What are DELF and DALF?

DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française) and DALF (Diplôme approfondi de langue française) are the two official degrees that certify various levels of proficiency in the French language. 

They’re issued by the French Ministère de l’éducation nationale (“Ministry of Education”), valid for life, and recognized worldwide, making them the best choices for validating your French proficiency.

There are six levels of DELF and DALF, ranging from A1 to C2. If you’re not yet at an A1 level, there’s another exam called DILF (Diplôme initial de langue française). Find more details about it right here.

Why Take the Exam?

There are many possible reasons why you’d want to pass a DELF or DALF:

  • To get into a renowned French school or university
  • To find a job in France
  • To apply for a French residence permit
  • To request French citizenship
  • To get a French training approved within the framework of the CPF, or Compte personnel de formation (“Personal training account”)

Maybe you’ve just spent the last six months studying hard on FrenchPod101.com and want to show the world the extent of your skills.

In that case, DELF might be too much trouble and I’d rather recommend that you take one of our free language portfolio tests. If you’re a Premium PLUS subscriber, just ask your teacher about it and they’ll get you started in no time!

What Do They Look Like?

Depending on the level you’re taking, the DELF and DALF exams can be wildly different. However, each exam consists of four distinct sections:

  1. Compréhension de l’oral (Listening test)
  2. Compréhension des écrits (Reading test)
  3. Production écrite (Writing test)
  4. Production orale (Speaking test)

Each section is timed and will put your linguistic skills to the test!

You can find detailed information on the examination on the official website of France Education (that you may have seen referred to as CIEP in older articles).

How to Sign Up?

There are many testing centers around the world, and you can usually sign up online. Some of these centers are from the group Alliance Française and also provide specific training for the test, but it’s rather expensive and NOT mandatory.

However, whether you pay for extra training or not, there will be a registration fee to take the exam. Prices vary depending on the center and level, but you can expect it to be in the range of $200.

You can find all approved examination centers outside of France on this official page. It includes contact numbers and email addresses for you, as well.

A Group of Students Testing in a Dark Classroom

The first three parts of the test are collective, and the oral exam is individual.

2. A Test for Every Level

Before you can choose the right test for your level, you need to be familiar with the CECRL system (Cadre Européen de référence pour les langues). This classification allows you to define your proficiency level in a foreign language, from A1 for beginners to C2 for experts.

LevelDescriptionYou can:
A1

DELF A1
BeginnerUnderstand and use typical everyday expressions and simple statements about practical needs
Introduce yourself to someone
Ask questions about someone and answer similar types of questions
Have very basic conversations if the other person is talking slowly and deliberately articulating
A2

DELF A2
Lower-intermediateUnderstand isolated sentences and frequently used expressions from familiar daily situations (personal information, family, shopping, or work interactions)
Communicate about common and simple tasks when they don’t require sharing too much information or unfamiliar topics

Describe your current environment and express immediate needs
B1

DELF B1
IntermediateUnderstand the main topics of a conversation in plain language, when it’s about familiar things (work, school, hobbies)
Handle most daily interactions when traveling in a French-speaking country

Produce simple texts on topics which are familiar or of personal interest
Tell about events, experiences, or dreams, describe a hope or goal, and briefly explain a project or an idea
B2

DELF B2
Upper-intermediateUnderstand the main ideas within a complex text on concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialization
Communicate spontaneously and effortlessly with a native speaker
Express yourself in a clear and detailed manner on a wide range of subjects and explain a point of view on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options
C1

DALF C1
AdvancedUnderstand long and demanding texts and their implicit meaning
Talk spontaneously and fluently without searching for your words too much
Use the language in an efficient and flexible manner at home, work, or school
Express your opinion on complex topics in a clear and structured manner, having full control over the linguistic tools for organizing and articulating your speech
C2

DALF C2
ProficientUnderstand effortlessly anything you read or hear
Summarize facts and arguments from various sources, written or spoken
Express yourself spontaneously, very clearly, and fluently, and highlight slight nuances in meaning when talking about complex topics
Language Skills

3. How to Succeed at DELF B2

In this section, we’ll mainly focus on the B2 DELF tests. This will allow you to get an in-depth look at one level, rather than a vague overview of all possible exams.

Why B2? Because this is the most common level they ask for when you’re looking for a job, and the minimum you should have when applying for a French university or school.

However, keep in mind that the structure, if not the timings, remains the same for all levels. Similarly, the Pro-Tips and How to Practice sections apply to most levels of DELF or DALF. Here’s the information you’ll need for your French DELF exam preparation:

1 – The Listening Test

Duration: 30 minutes, three exercises for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll listen to two recorded documents. They can be conversations, interviews, news broadcasts, conferences, or recordings from the radio or TV shows.

  • Before listening to the first document, you’ll have one minute to read the questions. Then, you’ll hear the document one single time (around two minutes). At the end of the recording, you have three minutes to answer the questions.
  • Before listening to the second document, you’ll have one minute to read the questions. Then, you will hear the document for the first time (up to six minutes) and you’ll have three minutes to start answering the questions. Finally, you’ll hear the document for the second time and you’ll have five minutes to complete your answers.

Pro-Tips

  • Make the most of the short time you’re given to read the questions. In the heat of the moment, this one minute feels like seconds. But knowing the questions in advance will help you focus on the specific information you have to extract from the recordings.
  • Don’t get tricked and stay very alert. Don’t jump to conclusions too fast. The French DELF B2 exam is rather advanced, and appearances can be deceiving. If you hear the exact words of a question in the recording, it’s probably a trap and you should be careful about what’s really being said.
  • Don’t worry about writing in flawless French, as long as you’re clear and accurate. The most important part of this text is to prove you’re a good listener, not a good writer.

How to Practice

  • You should ideally practice a few minutes every day, with French radio, TV, movies, series, or directly with native speakers if you have this luxury. Podcasts can also be a good idea!
  • Any listening exercise on FrenchPod101.com can be valuable practice to sharpen your ear.
  • Check online for examples of DELF recordings, starting with the website of France Education International, the official DELF ministry.
A Man Jamming Out to Music with Headphones

When you come well-prepared for your listening exam!

2 – The Reading Test 

Duration: around 1 hour, two to three exercises for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll be given two written documents along with questions to test your comprehension. You have one hour in total to read the texts and answer all the questions.

  • The first document will be informational, such as a news article or an essay about an aspect of French culture or values.
  • The second document will be an opinion article on a controversial topic.

Pro-Tips

  • Read the text very carefully before reading the questions, so you can get a first impression without any bias. Then quickly write down the main topics and ideas.
  • Only then, read the questions and make sure you understand them perfectly before you read the text once again in this new light.
  • Finally, answer the questions in the suggested order, always asking yourself why you’re answering that way (and not differently).
  • It’s important that you keep coming back to the text to question your answers and make sure you’re still on track.
  • Answer the question fully but concisely. You shouldn’t need more than a couple of sentences to prove your comprehension of the texts.
  • Stay alert and be prepared for multi-part questions or word play. Some idiomatic expressions might trick you into answering the wrong question.

How to Practice

  • It’s important that you practice by reading a wide variety of material, from blogs to newspaper articles, essays, or novels.
  • Reading about politics, movie reviews, or heated internet debates are some ways to prepare yourself for the second text.
  • Read some actual DELF tests to get a good idea of what to expect in terms of length and difficulty. You can find some French DELF B2 exam sample papers and more resources on the official website.
A Woman Reading a Book on a Bus

You can always find a minute to read some French!

3 – The Writing Test

Duration: around 1 hour, one writing exercise for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll have to take a stand on a controversial topic. You can be asked to support a given topic, or to write against it, and justify your opinion. Your text will be based either on a short text, letter, or article, or just a few sentences describing the situation and what you need to write.

You have one hour to write your text with a minimum of 250 words.

Pro-Tips

  • Make sure you’ve read the instructions very carefully and understand them fully.
  • Remember that you’re not likely to be asked for your opinion, but rather to take a stand following some specific guidelines. For example: Write a letter explaining that you hate chocolate and why it should be forbidden. It doesn’t matter that you personally love chocolate; you’ll still have to write against it!
  • Adapt your text to the target audience. Who’s writing? To whom? And why? If you’re pretending to write for a news website, you won’t use the same style as if you were writing a letter of complaint. The structure and style should match the type of text you’re writing.
  • Write a quick outline of your text before you begin writing. Gather examples you can use to support and organize your arguments.
  • Re-read your text very carefully, focusing on grammar, conjugation, and words agreeing in gender and number. Don’t forget about the punctuation.

How to Practice

  • Reading is an effective way to improve your grammar and vocabulary, and get familiar with the most common sentence structures. You’ll have to focus your reading on opinion pieces and reviews to get used to the style, and to learn the kind of vocabulary and connecting phrases these texts use.
  • Of course, writing is also great; but you’ll need to get feedback from a native speaker. There are some online communities where you can post your work and request feedback on websites like HiNative.
  • If you’re a Premium PLUS subscriber, you can use MyTeacher and send your practice texts to your tutor for a detailed and comprehensive review.
  • Read the instructions of actual B2 DELF tests to know what to expect. See how long it takes you to come up with your ideas and outline, and how comfortable you are writing 250 words within the rest of the hour.
A Woman Writing Late at Night

Will there ever be a better time to start writing your memoir in French?

4 – The Speaking Test

Duration: around 50 minutes, including the preparation, for a total of 25 points.

The Test

In this test, you’ll have to present and defend an opinion, based on a short document provided to you.
You’ll have thirty minutes to read the document and prepare for a ten-minute oral speech.

Once you’ve told your piece, you’ll then discuss it with two examiners for ten more minutes. They’ll ask you questions to start a dialogue, and you’ll have to not only react to their solicitations, but also take initiatives in the exchange.

Pro-Tips

  • Read the document carefully, as many times as it takes to be sure you perfectly understand what it says, as well as its implications. 
  • Decide whether you want to support the idea or argue against it, and what your take on the issue will be.
  • Write a list of arguments and examples, in the form of bullet points. Remember you only have thirty minutes of preparation, and you shouldn’t try to write the whole script of your ten-minute speech.
  • You may want to use some quotes from the text to make sure you don’t go completely off the rails. You can use these quotes to support the idea or contradict it.
  • You can illustrate your opinion using examples from current events or knowledge from any source you’ve read or heard from. Using concrete words, details, and examples keeps people more interested than abstract concepts and ideas do.
  • Try not to scatter yourself too much. You may want to articulate your speech around the classic triad of thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

How to Practice

  • Check some official DELF tests to see what you should expect, the kind of texts they provide, and what you would talk about in your ten-minute speech. It’s the best way to practice in “real” test conditions.
  • Practice your listening as much as possible. It’s often considered easier to make a statement than to understand one, and you’ll have to understand many questions from the two examiners.
  • Practice speaking with natives as often as you can. Talking to random strangers is the best way to get out of your comfort zone and get used to different accents, speeds, and styles.
  • If you don’t have native speakers available, try to practice with other learners or even alone. In that case, make sure to record yourself and try to correct your own mistakes. Speaking often, even to yourself, will make you more comfortable over time.
  • And of course, if you’re using MyTeacher, you can send recordings to your tutor and get some great feedback on your grammar and pronunciation!
A Crowd Cheering on an Orator

Conquer your French audience with well-crafted arguments!

4. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about the French proficiency tests DELF and DALF, from the reading exam and essay-writing, to the listening test and oral speech. 

Did I forget any practical information you need to get ready for your DELF exam? Do you feel ready to start practicing and rise to the challenge?

A good exercise to practice is to pick one of the official DALF or DELF French examinations and just do it, from A to Z. It’s gonna take a few hours, for sure, but only then will you know exactly what to expect, and how you should get ready for it!

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

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. You can have your private teacher help you practice for your upcoming DELF exam, using personalized exercises and recorded audio samples; your teacher can also review your recordings to help improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com!

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

French Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in French & More

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Have you ever stopped to ponder on how much our lives revolve around defining moments? These could be happy or tragic, once-in-a-lifetime or recurring events, and depending on where you live, you might experience them in dramatically different ways.

If you live in France, have French friends, or have an interest in French culture, you need to know how major life events are handled there, and how to talk about them. You’ll need to know how to wish a happy birthday in French, a Merry Christmas or New Year, and how to offer condolences or wish for a swift recovery. Further, you’ll wish to know how to congratulate friends on their new degree, spouse, or offspring.

In this article, we’ll go through the ten major French life events and their cultural ins and outs. We’ll also provide you with a list of the most useful French phrases for congratulations (and condolences) so that you can take part in these pivotal moments, and as a result grow much closer to the people involved.

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Table of Contents

  1. Joyeux Anniversaire ! (Happy Birthday!)
  2. Bonne Fête ! (Happy Name Day!)
  3. Naissance (Birth)
  4. Remise de Diplôme (Graduation)
  5. Nouvel Emploi (New Job)
  6. Retraite (Retirement)
  7. Mariage (Wedding)
  8. Funérailles (Funerals)
  9. Convalescence (Recovery)
  10. Fêtes (Holidays)
  11. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. Joyeux Anniversaire ! (Happy Birthday!)

Happy Birthday

Just like in many other European countries and North America, French birthdays usually involve a party with friends or family, a cake, some optional singing, blowing out candles, and receiving presents.

  • There are no fixed rules on who should throw your fête d’anniversaire (birthday party). It could be friends, family, or even yourself. Most birthdays in France are celebrated either at home or a restaurant. In the latter case, you’re not expected to pay for everyone, but your friends might want to pay for you. It’s your special day, after all!
  • Le gâteau d’anniversaire (The birthday cake) can be absolutely whatever: fruits, cream, chocolate, nuts, you name it. The white frosting cliché isn’t really a thing in France. Some like to cook the cake, while others prefer to buy it at the pâtisserie (pastry shop). We put les bougies (the candles) on it.
  • Les cadeaux (The presents) are equally not codified and really depend on the person. For a kid, we usually go for a toy or book. Adults are tricky, but if you’re close enough to buy them a present, you should know what they like, right?
  • La chanson (The song) is the easy part, with lyrics as simple as: Joyeux anniversaire, joyeux anniversaire, joyeux anniversaire Nicolas ! Joyeux anniversaire ! (Assuming the birthday boy is called Nicolas). Or you could go for this nightmarish song from humorist and singer Patrick Sebastien.
  • Les cartes d’anniversaire (Birthdays cards) used to be a thing, and it never hurts to send one, but the younger generations go through social networks.

How to say Happy Birthday in French:

Joyeux anniversaire !
Bon anniversaire !
Heureux anniversaire !
“Happy birthday!”
(Postcard greetings)
Je te souhaite un joyeux anniversaire et plein de bonheur.
“I wish you a happy birthday and plenty of happiness!”

Older Woman Blowing Out Birthday Cake Candles

Don’t spit on the cake!

2. Bonne Fête ! (Happy Name Day!)

A tradition mainly in Europe and Latin America, name days are originally based on the Christian calendar of Saints, but everyone can celebrate it in France, even though we don’t make a big deal out of it.

Just locate your name on the calendar and you’ll know when your fête, or “name day,” is. You’re not featured there? Well, tough luck, but you won’t be missing much more than nice words and a pat on the shoulder. Presents and parties for a name day aren’t unheard of, but definitely not commonplace.

So, how do we celebrate a name day? More often than not, we don’t. Should you wish to do it, a small present or a postcard are safe bets, but buying a drink might work just as well.

Here’s how you can offer your congratulations in French to someone on their name day:

Bonne fête ! “Happy name day!”
Bonne fête, Nicolas ! “Happy name day, Nicolas!”
C’est la Saint Nicolas aujourd’hui, bonne fête ! “It’s Nicolas’ day. Happy name day!”

3. Naissance (Birth)

Talking About Age

We don’t do baby showers in France and have no pre-birth equivalent. This American tradition has been pushed through advertisement companies, but people are resisting, seeing it as consumerism or even something prone to bring bad luck. However, celebrations are held after birth with the regular shower of gifts.

Religious rituals have become unusual in France, and although biblical names are still popular, parents don’t choose the name of their newborn based on the Saint’s name of the birthday. Christian families can choose to baptize their children before their first anniversary, which leads to a Fête de baptème, or “Baptism party.”

Toutes mes félicitations !
Sincères félicitations !
“Congratulations!”
(Postcard greetings)

Bienvenue au petit Nicolas ! Meilleurs voeux de bonheur à tous les trois !

Félicitations pour la naissance de votre fille ! Puisse sa vie être faite de rires, de chansons, d’allégresse et de découvertes !

“Welcome to little Nicolas! Best wishes of happiness to all three of you!”

“Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! May her life be filled with laughter, songs, joy, and discoveries!”

Newborn Baby, Mother, and Doctor

Congratulations, it’s a baby!

4. Remise de Diplôme (Graduation)

Graduations are usually not cause for wide-scale celebrations in France, but we have nothing against it! Graduated students can celebrate among themselves over a drink or a party, while schools or universities can also organize festive events on graduation day.

Parents sometimes offer presents to their children to celebrate their success, but there are no conventions on what these gifts should be.

Félicitations !
Bien joué !
Bon travail !
“Congratulations!”
“Well done!”
“Nice job!”
Bravo pour ta réussite !
Bravo pour ton diplôme !
Félicitations pour ton examen !
“Congratulations on your success!”
“Congratulations on your degree!”
“Congratulations on your test!”
(Postcard greeting)

Bravo pour ton diplôme bien mérité après tout ce travail acharné.

“Congratulations on a well-deserved degree after all of your hard work.”
    → Learn more about education and degrees with our free vocabulary list on the Graduation Season.

5. Nouvel Emploi (New Job)

Basic Questions

Work isn’t as prominent in French mentality as it is in other countries. It’s generally accepted that you should work for a living but not live for your work, and as a result, the French are trying to strike the right balance between their professional and personal lives, without dedicating too much to their workplace.

Similarly, new jobs and promotions are usually not a big thing. Your new job can typically be celebrated with your partner, while promotions are a good excuse for a drink among colleagues.

[Casual] Bravo pour ton nouveau job !
Bravo pour ton nouveau poste !
“Congratulations on your new job!”
“Congratulations on your new position!”
[Formal] Félicitations pour ton nouvel emploi.
Félicitations pour ta promotion.
“Congratulations on your new position.”
“Congratulations on your promotion.”
(Postcard greeting)

Toutes mes félicitations pour votre promotion ! Etant donné la qualité de votre travail, une telle reconnaissance est amplement méritée.

“Congratulations on your promotion! Considering the quality of your work, such a recognition is well-deserved.”

Coworkers Celebrating

Embrace your new career with a cheesy smile.

    → Get ready to congratulate your friends on any new position with our free vocabulary list on Jobs.

6. Retraite (Retirement)

Most French retire between the ages of sixty and seventy, but l’âge de la retraite, or “the retirement age,” is steadily rising. This is a cause for concern and social unrest in the country.

The pension system is contribution-based. A retiree’s pension is proportional to the amount of contributions he paid during his working life. Those contributions are directly taken from the salary, in the form of a tax.

When their retraite, or “pension,” (yes, this is the same word as for “retirement” ) allows for it, it’s fairly common for the French to enjoy their retirement by traveling, either in the countryside or abroad.

Here are some ways to go about congratulating someone in French for their retirement:

[Professional] Bonne continuation ! “All the best!”
[Casual] Profite bien de ta retraite ! “Enjoy your retirement!”
(Postcard greeting)

Je te souhaite une heureuse et sereine retraite.

“I wish you a happy and peaceful retirement!”

7. Mariage (Wedding)

Marriage Proposal

Weddings in France can be celebrated in many different ways, depending on your religion, social status, and personality. The celebrations range from an unpretentious informal event to a fastuous large-scale banquet of expensive delicacies, with awe-inspiring choregraphies and expertly crafted speeches.

  • A French marriage is typically planned up to years in advance, and don’t leave much to improvisation (or spontaneity, for that matter). Hiring a wedding coach is a new trend for the wealthiest couples.
  • The tradition of enterrement de vie de garçon (“bachelor party,” but literally “Burial of boy’s life”)—enjoying your single life to the fullest, with heavy drinking and strippers, before shackling yourself to your spouse for the rest of your days—appeared recently and is gaining in popularity.
  • Mariage religieux, or “religious weddings,” have been on the decline for a while, and most people marry at their town hall. The PACS (civil union, that used to be the only option for same-sex unions before) is quickly becoming the most popular option.
  • We don’t do wedding rehearsals or rehearsal dinners.

Here are some of the most common French marriage congratulations:

Tous mes voeux de bonheur. “Best wishes of happiness.”
Toutes mes félicitations pour votre union
Toutes mes félicitations pour votre mariage.
“Congratulations on your union.”
“Congratulations on your wedding.”
(Postcard greeting)

Sincères félicitations et meilleurs voeux de bonheur.

“Sincere congratulations and best wishes of happiness.”

Bouquet on the Ground

“Wait, did you bring the bouquet?”

    → Practice your romantic fluency with our free vocabulary list on Quotes about Love.

8. Funérailles (Funerals)

Some peoples around the world see death as a cheerful event, cause for celebration and rejoicing. French funerals, however, are as grim and depressing as you can expect them to be if you grew up in a western country.

  • Enterrement, or “burial,” is the most common way to go, but crémation, or “cremation,” is also an option.
  • The tradition of veillée funèbre, or a “wake,” is on the decline but still going strong in villages. The modern version is often held in a dedicated rented place (and not in the house of the deceased, like it used to be), and usually not through the night.

Here’s some French condolences messages and French phrases for condolences:

Repose en paix.
Paix à son âme.
“Rest in peace.”
“May he/she rest in peace.”
Toutes mes condoléances. “My condolences.”
(Postcard condolence)

Nous partageons votre douleur et sommes de tout coeur avec vous.

“We share your pain and our hearts go out to you.”

9. Convalescence (Recovery)

Serious illnesses or grave injuries are tragic yet important events for anyone. In France, it’s fairly common for friends and family to visit someone at the hospital, to keep them company or bring them gifts in the hope of helping with their recovery by lifting their spirit.

At the workplace, when someone is away on a long sick leave, their coworkers can write a group card with greetings and wishes.

Bon rétablissement ! “Get well soon!”
[Casual] Prends soin de toi ! “Take care!”
[Formal] Je te souhaite un prompt rétablissement. “I wish you a swift recovery.”

Kids Giving Their Sick Mother a Gift

“Look mom, we found you a new kidney on Craigslist!”

10. Fêtes (Holidays)

Classic French holidays include:

  • Noël (Christmas).
    Most French celebrate it without any religious connotation, but this is still arguably the biggest holiday of the year. Our traditions involve un arbre de Noël (Christmas tree), une crêche (a small nativity scene) in Christian families, une bûche de Noël (log-shaped Christmas cake), and lots of cadeaux de Noël (Christmas gifts), especially for kids.
  • Nouvel an (New Year).
    This one comes a little too close after Christmas’ hangover, but it’s duly celebrated by most French anyway. It’s not as traditional, though, and may take any form, from a family dinner to a restaurant with friends, a romantic walk on the Seine, or a gathering of fireworks enthusiasts.
  • Pâques (Easter).
    Celebrating Easter in France involves bells, des oeufs de Pâques (Easter eggs), and most of all, LOTS of chocolate. It’s common to hide chocolate eggs around the house and/or garden and let the children go on a treasure hunt. Adults gift each other with fancy Belgian chocolate treats.

We have many more holidays! You can find them all on our French Calendar, on FrenchPod101.

A few more celebrations worth mentioning:

  • Halloween started growing in popularity roughly a decade ago, and is now widely celebrated throughout the country.

    Unsurprisingly, our most conservative fellow citizens see it as overly commercial and a threat to our traditions, but it doesn’t prevent the younger generation from throwing Halloween parties and wearing their ghoulish costumes in the street.

    The French Halloween is mainly for adults celebrating at home or in local bars, while children rarely go door-to-door for trick-or-treating.

  • Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in France, and most French don’t even know what it’s about. However, given our love for never-ending dinner and delicious food, I’m sure there’s hope for this tradition to eventually land on our shores.
Joyeux Noël ! “Merry Christmas!”
Bonne année ! “Happy New Year!”
Joyeuses Pâques ! “Happy Easter!”
Poisson d’avril “April’s Fool”
Saint Valentin “Valentine’s Day”

A Christmas Light Display

Joyeux Noël ! (“Merry Christmas!” )

    → Don’t let the Christmas season take you off-guard; learn more festive vocabulary with our free list on Christmas!

11. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about the main life events as experienced in France, from birth to birthdays, weddings, and funerals. You’ve also learned the most important French phrases of congratulations, condolences, and well-wishing.

Did I forget any important event that you’ve been through or heard about? Do you feel ready to take part in these defining moments of the lives of your French friends with all the right words and phrases?

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

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching and practice life event phrases with your private teacher. You’ll gain access to assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples, and an experienced tutor to review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

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

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From FrenchPod101.com!

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