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Archive for the 'French Phrases' Category

French Word Order: From Basic Sentences to Writing Laws

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Do you ever get this feeling when speaking French? You have all the words you need to make the perfect sentence, but they just don’t fit together. This is what happens when you’re not comfortable with the word order and need to learn about the specifics of the correct French sentence structures.

It may seem confusing at first, but bear with me for a moment and I trust that you’ll find it to be quite simple. Except for a few tricky exceptions, the structures are always the same and are often very similar to English. With all the tips and tricks from this article and a bit of practice, it will come naturally in no time!

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the French sentence structure, from basic sentences for beginners to impressive complex statements for sophisticated talkers.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Ordering Words in French
  2. Simple Sentences with Subject, Verb, and Object
  3. How to Build Complex Sentences
  4. Asking Questions
  5. Negative Sentences
  6. Practical Cases
  7. Le Mot De La Fin

1. Ordering Words in French

Improve listening

Rule #1: French is SVO

Like many other languages throughout the world, French is what we call an SVO language. This means that the default word order is: Subject Verb Object.

  • {Je mange une pomme.} (“I eat an apple.”)

Rule #2: Don’t Skip the Subject

And unlike similarly rooted languages, such as Spanish or Italian, we don’t usually drop the subject of the sentence, even when it’s a pronoun.

  • I speak French.
  • (Yo) hablo Frances. (Spanish)
  • (Io) parlo Francese. (Italian)
  • Je parle Français.

Rule #3: Rules are Meant to be Broken

These are mainly the French word order rules of simple declarative sentences, but as soon as we enter imperative, interrogative, or negative sentences territory, it gets a bit wilder. I mean…it’s French we’re talking about.

And one more thing: Master Yoda is allowed to use OSV sentences and still sound cool, but it’s forbidden to the rest of us.

An Image of Yoda

Le Français je parle. (“French I speak.”)

2. Simple Sentences with Subject, Verb, and Object

In the following sections, we’ll work with the most common type of sentences: declaratives.

A declarative sentence is used to make a statement. It declares or states something, and ends with a period. We can’t use declarative sentences to ask questions or give orders.

Let’s get back to our basic declarative sentence: Je parle Français. (“I speak French.”)

In this sentence, I’m stating that I speak French.

Like we mentioned before, there are mainly two things you need to know about declarative sentences and their basic word order in French:

  1. The word order is Subject + Verb + Object.
  2. We don’t drop the subject, even when it’s a pronoun.

To these basic rules, I would also add:

  1. Verbs are conjugated. Their ending depends on the subject.
  • Ils parlent Français. (“They speak French.”)
  • Nous parlons Français. (“We speak French.”)
  1. Objects must agree with the subject. Their ending also varies.
  • Il est Américain. (“He is American.”)
  • Elle est Américaine. (“She is American.”)

/! The main exception to the S+V+O rule is the imperative mood, where the structure becomes: V+O.

  • Vous parlez Français. (“You speak French.”) → Parlez Français. (“Speak French.”)
  • Nous mangeons des pommes. (“We eat apples.”) → Mangeons des pommes. (“Let’s eat apples.”)
A Girl Choosing between a Green Apple and Red Apple

Elle mange des pommes. (“She eats apples.”)

3. How to Build Complex Sentences

Now that we have the basics covered, it’s time to add more ingredients into the mix and spice it up with adverbs, adjectives, and pronouns to gradually make our sentence more exciting!

1 – Adding Adjectives:

Adjectives describe nouns to make them more interesting. Let’s see where to place them in a sentence.

According to French word order, adjectives usually go AFTER the noun they describe.

  • Une pomme verte (“A green apple”)

However, some of the most common adjectives go BEFORE the noun.

  • Une grosse pomme (“A big apple”)

Put in a sentence, it looks like this:

  • Il mange une pomme verte. (“He’s eating a green apple.”)

2 – Adding Adverbs:

Adverbs work together with and describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs to modify their meaning or make a sentence more precise.

When the adverb modifies a verb, it usually comes AFTER this verb. The word order is: S + V + Adv.

  • Je parle lentement. (“I speak slowly.”)

Then, if we have an object, it would be: S + V + O + Adv.

  • Je parle Français couramment. (“I speak French fluently.”)

When the adverb modifies an adverb or adjective, it usually comes AFTER the verb and BEFORE the adverb or adjective. The word order is: S + V + Adv + Adv.

  • Je parle très lentement. (“I speak very slowly.”)

When we get to this level of complexity, things start becoming a bit more flexible.

For instance, both sentences are correct:

  • Je parle Français couramment. (“I speak French fluently.”)
  • Je parle couramment Français. (“I speak French fluently.”)

However, it comes with exceptions, such as the very common bien (“well”) which is placed BEFORE the object.

  • Je parle bien Français. (“I speak French well.”)
  • Je parle vraiment bien Français. (“I speak French very well.”)
  • Je parle Français bien.
A Blackboard Drawing of a Person with Colored Sticky Notes

Not too confused with the colors, are you?

3 – Adding Pronouns

Brace yourself, this is where French language word order gets tough. Understanding the word order of pronouns in French isn’t always a walk in the park, and we’ll really just scratch the surface here. 

Subject pronouns don’t move:

  • Nicolas mange une pomme. (“Nicolas eats an apple.”)
  • Il mange une pomme. (“He eats an apple.”)

Same thing for stressed pronouns:

  • Il mange une pomme avec ses amis. (“He eats an apple with his friends.”)
  • Il mange une pomme avec eux. (“He eats an apple with them.”)

However, direct and indirect pronouns are not as well-behaved.

  • Nicolas donne une pomme. (“He gives an apple.”)
  • Nicolas la donne. (“He gives it.”)
  • Il donne une pomme à ses amis. (“He gives an apple to his friends.”)
  • Il leur donne une pomme. (“He gives them an apple.”)
  • Il la leur donne. (“He gives it to them.”)

And what happens when we put everything together?

  • Je leur parle Français très lentement. (“I speak French with them very slowly.”)
  • Il leur donne gentiment une pomme verte. (“He gently gives them a green apple.”)

4 – Adding Prepositions

Prepositions are words that usually precede a noun or pronoun and express a relationship to another element of the sentence. Prepositional phrases often answer questions such as:

  • Where? Il mange une pomme dans la cuisine. (“He eats an apple in the kitchen.”)
  • When? Il mange une pomme après le dîner. (“He eats an apple after dinner.”)
  • How?
    • Il mange une pomme avec eux. (“He eats an apple with them.”)
    • Il mange une pomme sans se presser. (“He eats an apple without rushing.”)
    • Il mange une pomme avec soin. (“He eats an apple with care.”)

Prepositions can be placed BEFORE or AFTER the verb. In some cases, you can freely choose, and in other situations, only one option will make sense.

  • Après le dîner, je mange une pomme. (“After dinner, I eat an apple.”)
  • Je mange une pomme après le dîner. (“I eat an apple after dinner.”)
  • Il mange une pomme sans se presser. (“He eats an apple without rushing.”)
  • Sans se presser, il mange une pomme. (“Without rushing, he eats an apple.”)

In these two examples, both versions are correct.

But sometimes, you need to know the verb for the preposition to be relevant:

  • Je rentre à la maison. (“I go back home.”)

You would not say “Home, I go back,” and it would sound equally awkward in French.

  • Je donne une pomme à mon ami. (“I give an apple to my friend.”)

Similarly, it wouldn’t make sense to mention the recipient before the action is stated.

To combine prepositions, you can simply apply the same logic when choosing where to place them:

  • Après le dîner, je rentre à la maison sans me presser. (“After dinner, I go back home without rushing.”)
  • Sans me presser, je mange une pomme avec eux dans la cuisine. (“Without rushing, I eat an apple with them in the kitchen.”)
A Man Complaining about His Food at a Restaurant


These are not the words I ordered!

4. Asking Questions

The word order in French questions isn’t always SVO.

Questions can take several different forms in French, depending on whether you’re talking or writing, as well as how formal you want to be.

Let’s go back to our apple-eating example: Tu manges une pomme.

Here’s how to say: “Do you eat an apple?”

1. Tu manges une pomme ? (SVO)

2. Est-ce que tu manges une pomme ? (Est-ce que + SVO)

3. Mangestu une pomme ? (VSO)

Now I guess the last one is confusing: Why do we suddenly invert the subject and verb?

This form is used only in writing or in very formal speech. Among friends, with random strangers, or in most business settings, you would stick to one of the first two options. I’d say both are equally common.

Now, what if we add some interrogative pronouns and adverbs?

Let’s see how to use words like: Quand (“When”), Qui (“Who”), Comment (“How”), (“Where?”).

“Where do you eat?”

1. Tu manges ?

2. est-ce que tu manges ?

3. mangestu ?

“When do you eat?”

1. Tu manges quand ?

2. Quand est-ce que tu manges ?

3. Quand mangestu ?

5.  Negative Sentences

Luckily, this is the last case, because I’m seriously running out of colors!

In this section, we’ll have a look at the word order in negative sentences.

Negative structures are placed around the verb and before the preposition or object.

  • Je ne mange pas de pommes. (“I don’t eat an apple.”)
  • Je ne mange pas dans la cuisine. (“I don’t eat in the kitchen.”)
  • Je ne mange pas vite. (“I don’t eat fast.”)

The same thing goes for other negative structures:

  • Je ne mange plus dans la cuisine. (“I don’t eat in the kitchen anymore.”)
  • Je ne mange jamais dans la cuisine. (“I never eat in the kitchen.”)
Girl Writing

That’s how I learned negative sentences!

6. Practical Cases

Now, it’s time to practice everything we’ve been learning today! We’ll take it slow and do it step-by-step. At any time, feel free to go back through the article if you’re having doubts. 

Try to come up with the French translations for these sentences. You can use a conjugation table if you’re not sure how to deal with parler (“to speak”).

1. “We speak.” – _________________

2. “We speak French.” – _________________

3. “We speak French slowly.” – _________________

4. “We speak French slowly with her.” – _________________

5. “We speak with her in the kitchen.” – _________________

6. “After dinner, we speak with her in the kitchen.” – _________________

7. “We never speak with her in the kitchen.” – _________________

8. “Do you speak with her in the kitchen?” – _________________


“Where do I put these verbs again?”

Kid Stacking Colored Wooden Blocks

“Where do I put these verbs again?”

[SPOILER] And here are the translations:

  1. “We speak.” – Nous parlons
  2. “We speak French.” – Nous parlons Français.
  3. “We speak French slowly.” – Nous parlons Français lentement.
  4. “We speak French slowly with her.” – Nous parlons Français lentement avec elle.
  5. “We speak with her in the kitchen.” – Nous parlons Français avec elle dans la cuisine.
  6. “After dinner, we speak with her in the kitchen.” – Après dîner, nous parlons avec dans la cuisine.
  7. “We never speak with her in the kitchen.” – Nous ne parlons jamais avec elle dans la cuisine.
  8. “Do you speak with her in the kitchen?” – Est-ce que tu parles avec elle dans la cuisine ?

7. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned a lot about French word order and the correct French sentence structures, from the basics to the most advanced parts such as French pronoun order.

Did we forget any important structure you would like to learn about? Do you feel ready to assemble ambitious sentences, using everything you’ve learned today?

As we’ve seen with the exercises, a good way to practice French word order is to start easy and slowly build up to complex sentences, one piece at a time.

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review the words and learn their pronunciation.
Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice talking about word order in French with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with the pronunciation.

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“Time Will Tell” – Telling Time in French

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Do you sometimes get the impression that time is flying away, riding a winged clock out of your reach, or is it just me? Flying or not, time is the single most precious thing we have, and being able to discuss it will prove useful within your first few days in France.

Whether you want to talk about your day, plan something, talk about schedules, or just answer someone on the street asking you for the time, learning about telling time in French is essential. You’ll have to know the basic vocabulary for “hour” or “minutes” in French, some numbers, and a variety of valuable time-related phrases and keywords.

In this article, you’ll learn everything about telling the time in French, from the units to the AM / PM system, common questions & answers, and much more!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in French Table of Contents
  1. What Time is it?
  2. Time Units
  3. AM or PM?
  4. How to Give the Time
  5. Hour Divisions
  6. From Dusk till Dawn
  7. Expressions and Proverbs about Time in French
  8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. What Time is it?

Surreal Scene with a Large Clock

Le temps presse ! (“Time is of the essence!”)

Before you learn how to tell the time in French, you’ll need to understand when someone is asking you for it. And in the process, you’ll learn how to ask for the time yourself. As you can expect, there isn’t only one way of asking about time in French, but the most popular, by far, is:

  • Quelle heure est-il ? [Formal]

“What time is it?”

If you have some experience with polite sentences, you may have noticed the inverted subject (est-il instead of il est). Indeed, this is the formal sentence that most French lessons teach you, but there are several other ways you can ask (or be asked) for the time:

  • Quelle heure il est ? [Casual]
  • Il est quelle heure ? [Casual]


Both of these phrases mean “What time is it?”

Let’s have a look at other popular alternatives:

  • Est-ce que vous avez l’heure ? [Formal]
  • Est-ce que tu as l’heure ? [Casual]
  • T’as l’heure ? [Very casual]

These translate to “Do you have the time?”

And of course, if you’re asking some stranger in the street or anyone you’re not yet familiar with, don’t forget to add some honey by starting with a polite Excusez-moi (“Excuse me”), and maybe a nice s’il vous plaît (“please”) at the end!

  • Excusez-moi, est-ce que vous avez l’heure, s’il vous plaît ? [Very formal]

“Excuse me, do you have the time, please?”

2. Time Units

Time

Before we get to the juicy part, let’s talk vocabulary for a moment. Obviously, to give the time in French, you’ll have to be in the clear about numbers. At the minimum, you need to be able to count up to fifty-nine, but don’t worry if you can’t do that yet—we also have some magic words to save you the trouble! 

However, I would say that counting up to 12 is an absolute minimum, so just in case, let’s review this quickly:

1. un2. deux3. trois4. quatre5. cinq6. six
7. sept8. huit9. neuf10. dix11. onze12. douze

Now, here are our time units:

  • une heure (“hour”)
  • une minute (“minute”)
  • une seconde (“second”)

So, what happens when you combine these words with numbers?

  • Trois heures (“three hours”)
  • Dix minutes (“ten minutes”)
  • Trente secondes (“thirty seconds”)

And here’s a glimpse of how to tell time in French with minutes, though we’ll go more into this later.

  • Cinq heures vingt (“five hours twenty minutes”)

In most cases, when the number of minutes closely follows the hour, like above, you can omit the word minutes (“minutes”). 

    → You’ll find these words, as well as the numbers, in our free vocabulary list on Talking about Time with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation!
A Sundial

Un cadran solaire (“A sundial”)

3. AM or PM?

Frequently asked question: Should I use the twelve- or twenty-four-hour system in French?

Answer: As you wish! (But there is a twist.)

The twelve-hour system used to be popular in northern Europe, but nowadays, it’s slowly losing the battle against the objectively superior twenty-four-hour system. Let’s see how it looks.

  • Il est 5 heures du matin. (“It is 5 AM” or literally “It is five hours in the morning.”)
  • Il est 5 heures de l’après-midi. (“It is 5 PM” or “It is five hours in the afternoon.”)
  • Il est 8 heures du soir. (“It is 8 PM” or “It is eight hours in the evening.”)

Dealing with twelve hours makes it easily confusing when you’re talking to someone from the same time zone, but it gets ridiculous with globalization and our tendency to communicate and schedule events with people from all around the world.

Now, if you also consider that AM (which stands for “Ante Meridiem,” as opposed to “Post Meridiem”) could possibly be the abbreviation for après-midi (French for “afternoon”), you’ll understand why it’s losing in popularity.

Let’s see what the twenty-four-hour system looks like:

  • Il est 5 heures. (“It’s 5 AM.”)
  • Il est 17 heures. (“It’s 5 PM.”)
  • Il est 20 heures. (“It’s 20 PM.”)

Now that being said, there are still MANY people using the twelve-hour system. It’s not even old-fashioned yet and you should be ready to understand it, even if you choose not to use it yourself.

And as tempting as it was to add a lecture on the Latin origin of meridiem, I’m all about self-control and will keep my sophisticated pedantism in check. Hey, did you know “pedant” comes from the Italian “pedante,” derived from the Latin “paedogogus?” Oh no, I did it again!

Woman Looking at a Clock

Most hated object in the house: The alarm clock!

4. How to Give the Time

Alright, I’ve kept you waiting long enough. Here’s how to tell the time in French:

  • Il est _____. (“It is _____”).

Did it feel anticlimactic? I feel like it’s not quite the big reveal.

Okay, but that’s not all of it! Here’s how you can make it more interesting:

  • Il est 8 heures. (“It is 8.”)
  • Il est bientôt 8 heures. (“It is 8 soon.”)
  • Il sera bientôt 8 heures. (“It will be 8 soon.”)
  • Il est presque 8 heures. (“It is almost 8.”)
  • Il est 8 heures passées. (“It is past 8.”)
  • Il est encore 8 heures. (“It is still 8.”)
  • Il n’est pas encore 8 heures. (“It is not 8 yet.”)
  • Vers 8 heures. (“Around 8.”)
  • Aux environs de 8h. (“Around 8.”)
  • Il est 8 heures pile. (“It is 8 sharp.”)

Il est 8 heures pétantes. (“It is 8 sharp.”)

Hold on, these two are interesting!

Pile or tout pile is rather straightforward. When it’s not used for the time, you can find it as an equivalent of “sharp,” “exactly,” or “right,” as in:

A midi pile. (“At noon sharp.”)
On a pile 10 mètres carrés. (“We have exactly ten meters square.”)
Il a visé pile au centre. (“He aimed right at the center.”)

Il est 8 heures pétantes literally means “It is eight blasting hours,” or “It is eight farting hours.”

In 1786 in Paris, there used to be a small canon next to the Palais-Royal. It was only forty centimeters long and was equipped with a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays. Every sunny day at noon sharp, it would set the gunpowder on fire and BOOM!

And if you’re dealing with the twelve-hour system, don’t forget about the trinity of matin, après-midi, and soir:

  • Il est 4 heures du matin. (“It is four in the morning.”)
  • Il est 4 heures de l’après-midi. (“It is four in the afternoon.”)
  • Il est 9 heures du soir. (“It is nine in the evening.”)
Woman Pointing at an Alarm Clock

Il est 8 heures pile. (“It is 8 sharp.”)

5. Hour Divisions

I promised you a magic workaround if you don’t know all the numbers from 13 to 59. Here we are!

  • Il est 8 heures et demi. (“It is half past 8.”) Literally: “It is 8 hours and half.”
  • Il est 2 heures et quart. (“It is quarter past 2.”) Literally: “It is 2 hours and quarter.”
  • Il est 3 heures moins le quart. (“It is quarter to 3.”) Literally: “It is 3 hours minus quarter.”
  • Il est 9 heures moins 10. (“It is 10 to 9.”) Literally: “It is 9 hours minus 10.”

/! This only works in the twelve-hour system:

  • Il est 8 heures et demi.
  • Il est 20 heures et demi.
  • Il est 20 heures 30.

6. From Dusk till Dawn

Improve Listening

Now that we know how to ask for the time and tell the time in French, let’s get more vocabulary on the various moments of the day. Describing time in French becomes much simpler when you know how to say the general time.
Unless you’re living in Saint-Petersburg and partying throughout the endless white nights, or hiding from vampires during the thirty days of night in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, your typical day should start with a sunrise and end with a sunset.

Morning
  • Le lever du soleil (“Sunrise”)
  • L’aube (“Dawn”)
  • Le matin (“Morning”)
  • Le début de matinée (“Early morning”)
  • La matinée (“Morning”)
  • La fin de matinée (“Late morning”)
Afternoon
  • Le midi (“Noon”)
  • Le début d’après-midi (“Early afternoon”)
  • L’après-midi (“Afternoon”)
  • La fin d’après-midi (“Late afternoon”)
  • La fin de journée (“Late afternoon”)
Evening & Night
  • Le début de soirée (“Early evening”)
  • La soirée (“Evening”)
  • La fin de soirée (“Late evening”)
  • Le crépuscule (“Dusk”)
  • Le coucher du soleil (“Sunset”)
  • La nuit (“Night”)
  • Minuit (“Midnight”)
Sunset Near a Church

Un coucher de soleil (“A sunset”)

7. Expressions and Proverbs about Time in French

Did you notice that the French don’t ask “What time is it?” but “What hour is it?”

Many time-related French expressions are surprisingly similar to their English equivalent, but it’s interesting to see the differences:

  • La nuit des temps [Literally: “The night of times”]

(“The dawn of times”)

  • Ces derniers temps  [“Those latest times”]

(“Lately”)

  • En temps normal [“In normal time”]

(“Under normal circumstances”)

  • En temps utile [“In useful time”]
  • En temps voulu [“In desired time”]

(“In due time”)

  • Chercher midi à quatorze heures. [“To look for noon at 2 PM”]

(“To look for unnecessary complications”)

And of course, we do have the infamous proverb: Le temps, c’est de l’argent. (“Time is money.”)

Even though we’re as deep into capitalism as any of our European neighbors, the average French doesn’t live by this proverb and people tend to think of time as a commodity and not just something they convert into cash. 

And even without pondering about the things money can’t buy, there’s an Epicurean component to the French Art de vivre (“Art of Living”) that keeps people from being swallowed by their working life and helps them prioritize what they work for.

Spiralling Clock

Passed time never comes back.

8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

Basic Questions

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about telling the time in French, from the common questions and answers to time units, vocabulary, and expressions. Did I forget any important time-related word or expression that you know? Do you feel ready to ask random French strangers for the time, or to answer when you’re asked for it?

Understanding time in French may take time. A good exercise to practice telling the time is simply to try and think in French when you look at your watch. Try to form the sentence in your head using what you’ve learned today, and you’ll soon become more comfortable. Just take it easy and go at your own pace. =)

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 with your private teacher. Using assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples —and by reviewing yours—they can help you improve your pronunciation much faster. 
Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

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Be the GPS with French Directions: Left in French & More



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Have you ever been lost in a big capital city, without batteries in your phone or credit on your SIM card? And when was the last time you’ve bought one of these unfoldable paper maps? Luckily, there’s one thing you can always rely on when you’re completely lost in France: helpful locals!

But it comes at a price. Outside of Paris, it can be difficult to find English-speaking help and you’ll have to be ready to break the language barrier. Asking directions in French is easy. Understanding the answer is a different story (but “left” and “right” in French aren’t hard). Don’t worry, we’ll get you there. =)

First, you’ll need to know the basic vocabulary, such as right, left, North, or South in French. But you’ll also need to know the usual movement verbs and the most common structures. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find your way around France, from the landmarks to the transportation, taxi phrases, and polite greetings. Time to hit the road!

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Table of Contents
  1. On the Map: Compass Directions in French
  2. Simple Directions in French Using Landmarks
  3. On the Road: Driving Directions in French
  4. Must-Know Phrases: Asking for Directions
  5. Must-Know Phrases: Giving Directions in French
  6. The French vs. Directions
  7. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French


1. On the Map: Compass Directions in French


Directions

Whether you prefer the modern conveniences of a GPS or ever-reliable paper maps, and whenever you’re navigating through unknown regions or talking about the French territory with your local friends, you’ll need to know the basic cardinal directions and how to use them in sentences.

So, before we dive into anything more complex, let’s start with that!

Le nord
“North”
Nous irons vers le nord.
“We will head north.”
Le sud
“South”
Elle habite au sud de Paris.
“She’s living south of Paris.”
L’est
“East”
Annecy est à deux heures à l’est de Lyon.
“Annecy is two hours east of Lyon.”
L’ouest
“West”
L’europe de l’ouest
“Western Europe”
Le nord-est
“Northeast”
Ils vivent au nord-est de la Russie.
“They are living northeast of Russia.”
Le nord-ouest
“Northwest”
Le nord-ouest des Alpes est une belle région.
“The northwest of the Alps is a beautiful region.”
Le sud-est
“Southeast”
Il fait toujours beau dans le sud-est.
“It’s always sunny in the southeast.”
Le sud-ouest
“Southwest”
Je ne suis jamais descendu dans le sud-ouest.
“I’ve never been down southwest.”


Now that you know how to navigate map directions in French, here are a few more useful words to talk about the French territory:

Région
“Region”
La région Hauts-de-France
“The Hauts-de-France region”
France is divided into thirteen regions whose names changed recently, in 2016.
Département
“Department”
Le Pas-de-Calais est un département Français.
“Pas-de-Calais is a French department.”
Each region is subdivided into smaller departments.

There are currently 101 departments on the French territory, including overseas departments.
La côte
“The coast”
On va sur la côte pour l’été.
“We’re heading to the coast for the summer.”
La frontière
“The border”
Elle habite près de la frontière Belge.
“She’s living near the Belgium border.”


    → Make sure to visit our vocabulary list about Direction Words, with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation. It’s freely available on FrenchPod101.


A Treasure Map

Une carte aux trésors (“A treasure map”)



2. Simple Directions in French Using Landmarks


Time to fold your map and get down to business! You’ve arrived at your destination, but there’s still a lot of unknown ground to cover. You’ll need some serious vocabulary to navigate through this new city and ask locals for directions.

In this chapter, we’ll cover all the essential city landmarks, from transport hubs to city buildings, streets, and key indoor locations.

1- Transports



Un aéroport
“Airport”
Je voudrais aller à l’aéroport d’Orly.
“I would like to go to the Orly airport.”
Une gare
“Train station”
Mon train part de la gare Montparnasse.
“My train is leaving from the Montparnasse station.”
Une gare routière
Une gare de bus
“Bus station”
Pouvez-vous m’indiquer la gare routière ?
“Could you tell me where the bus station is?”
Une station de métro
“Metro station”
Je cherche la station de métro la plus proche.
“I’m looking for the closest metro station.”
Un parking
“Parking”
J’ai laissé ma voiture au parking.
“I left my car at the parking.”


2- In the City



Un hotel
“Hotel”
Une nuit d’hotel
“A hotel night”
Un parc
“Park”
Je me promène au parc de Fontainebleau.
“I’m strolling at the Fontainebleau park.”
Une banque
“Bank”
Je dois aller à la banque pour un retrait.
“I need to go to the bank for a withdrawal.”
Un magasin
“Shop”
Un petit magasin d’antiquités
“A small antique shop”
Une poste
“Post office”
Je vais déposer mon colis à la poste.
“I will drop my parcel at the post office.”
Un marché
“Market”
Je fais mes courses au marché le samedi.
“I shop at the market on Saturdays.”


An Airport Terminal

Un aéroport (“Airport”)



3- In the Street



Un rue
“Street”
J’habite rue Saint Martin.
“I live on the Saint Martin street.”
Une avenue
“Avenue”
L’avenue Baltique est près du rond-point Albert II.
“The Baltique Avenue is near the Albert II roundabout.”
Un croisement; une intersection
“Intersection”
On te prendra à cette intersection.
“We’ll pick you up at the intersection.”
Un feu
“Traffic light”
Je m’arrête au feu rouge et j’attends le feu vert.
“I stop at the red light and wait for the green light.”
The literal meaning of Un feu is “Fire,” but we don’t actually use boric acid to make green fire at our intersections! You should probably not do it at home either.
Une station service
“Gas station”
On va faire le plein à la prochaine station service.
“We will refuel at the next gas station.”
Un passage piéton
“Crosswalk”
Il y a un passage piéton sur votre gauche.
“There is a crosswalk on your left.”


4- Key Indoor Locations



Les toilettes
“Toilets”
Excusez-moi, je cherche les toilettes.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for the toilets.”
Un ascenseur
“Elevator”
Prenez l’ascenseur si votre sac est lourd.
“Take the elevator if your bag is heavy.”
Un escalator
“Escalator”
Prenez l’escalator jusqu’au troisième étage.
“Take the elevator up to the third floor.”
Des escaliers
“Stairs”
Descendez les escaliers jusqu’au parking sous-terrain.
“Take the stairs down to the underground parking.”
L’entrée
“Entrance”
L’entrée principale
“The main entrance”
La sortie
“Exit”
La sortie de secours
“The emergency exit”
Les caisses
“Cashier”
Où sont les caisses, s’il vous plait ?
“Where is the cashier, please?”


    → Learn more about city locations with our free vocabulary list on the most useful words to navigate Around Town.


Exit Sign

La sortie de secours (“The emergency exit”)



3. On the Road: Driving Directions in French


When you’re asking for directions or explaining to somebody how to reach their destination, you’ll need to know how to say “left” and “right” in French, but that’s not it! There are many direction words you can use to precisely pinpoint a location or accurately describe a route.

Here are the most frequently used words for telling directions in French:

Devant
“In front of”
On se retrouve devant la gare.
“Let’s meet in front of the train station.”
Derrière
“Behind”
Mon taxi attend derrière la gare.
“My cab is waiting behind the train station.”
La gauche
“Left”
La première à gauche
“First on the left”
La droite
“Right”
La troisième à droite
“Third on the right”
Loin
“Far”
Est-ce que c’est loin d’ici ?
“Is it far from here?”
Près
“Near”
Je travaille près de la poste.
“I work near the post office.”
A côté de
“Next to”
A côté de l’arrêt de bus
“Next to the bus stop”
De l’autre côté de
“On the other side of”
De l’autre côté de la rue
“On the other side of the street”
En face de
“In front of”
En face de la cathédrale
“In front of the cathedral”
A l’opposé de
“Opposite”
A l’opposé de
“Opposite”


GPS on Top of a Map

Un GPS de voiture (“Car GPS”)



4. Must-Know Phrases: Asking for Directions


Now that you’re equipped with a solid vocabulary on directions and many example phrases, let’s take a moment to address what I call the “social lubricant”: a bit of gentle grease to polish your interactions with locals and make them pleasantly smooth.

In other words, let’s make your mom proud and learn how to be polite in French!

1- Making First Contact


Asking Directions

Here’s your bread-and-butter:

  • Bonjour
    “Hello” / “Good morning” / “Good day”


  • Bonsoir
    “Good evening”


  • Excusez-moi
    “Excuse me”


From these few words, you can make different combinations, the most polite (that I usually keep for an elderly audience) being:

  • Bonjour monsieur, excusez-moi…
    “Hello sir, excuse me…”


  • Bonjour madame, excusez-moi…
    “Hello madam, excuse me…”


2- Ask for Help


Here are a few variations on “where is”:

  • Est-ce que vous savez où est la Cathédrale Saint-Machin ?
    “Do you know where the Saint-Machin Cathedral is?”


  • Je cherche la place Dauphine.
    “I’m looking for the Place Dauphine.”


  • Pouvez-vous m’indiquer la rue Sainte-Bidule ?
    “Can you tell me where the Saint-Bidule street is?”


And a couple questions on distances:

  • Est-ce qu’on est loin de la gare Montparnasse ?
    “Are we far from the Montparnasse station?”


  • Est-ce que vous pouvez m’indiquer le métro le plus proche ?
    “Can you tell me where the closest metro station is?”


3- Wrap Things Up


  • Merci.
    “Thank you.”


  • Merci beaucoup !
    “Thank you very much!”


  • Merci pour votre aide.
    “Thank you for your help.”


Man Asking a Woman for Directions

Sometimes, it takes a wrong turn to get to the right place.



5. Must-Know Phrases: Giving Directions in French


There are a few situations where you’ll need to give directions:

  • When explaining to friends where you live
  • If you blend in so well that locals start asking you for directions (it will happen before you know it!)
  • While in a taxi, navigating your driver toward your destination


Here’s one last list of useful words, as well as the most common phrases in everyday situations.

1- Horizontal Directions



Tout droit
“Straight”
Marchez tout droit pendant 100 mètres.
“Walk straight for 100 meters.”
Faire demi-tour
“To double back”
Roulez jusqu’au prochain rond-point et faites demi-tour.
“Drive until the next roundabout and double back.”
Tourner
“To turn”
Après l’église, tournez à gauche.
“After the church, turn left.”


2- Vertical Directions



Un étage
“Floor”
J’habite au 7ème étage, sans ascenseur.
“I live on the seventh floor, without a lift.”
Un sous-sol
“Underground”
Un sous-sol
“Underground”
En haut
“Up”
En haut
“Up”
En bas
“Down”; “Downstairs”
Il y a une épicerie en bas de chez moi.
“There is a grocery store downstairs from my place.”


3- Taxi Directions in French



Continuer
“To continue”; “To keep going”
Continuez un peu, jusqu’au bout de la rue.
“Keep going a bit, until the end of the street.”
Plus loin
“Further”
Non, c’est plus loin sur cette avenue.
“No, it is further on this avenue.”
S’arrêter
“To stop”
Vous pouvez vous arrêter ici.
“You can stop here.”
Ralentir
“To slow down”
Vous pouvez ralentir un peu, s’il vous plaît ?
“Could you please slow down a bit?”


    → To learn more words and their pronunciation, check out our free vocabulary list on Position & Direction.


Plane cockpit

“Could you start going down? I live a few blocks from here!”



6. The French vs. Directions


Asking a random person for directions is like playing roulette. Sometimes, you’ll bump into another tourist who might very well know the surroundings. Or you’ll face a high-tech teenager, shocked at your inability to rely on a map app, or someone—like myself—who doesn’t know more than two or three street names in the city where they spent ten years.

1- The Lost Art of Knowing Street Names


Best case scenario? You’ll meet one of these old-timers who grew up without modern smartphones and don’t see the point in carrying a GPS outside of their car, if any. They’ve memorized the name of every single street, from center to suburb, and will be only too happy to share their nearly extinct knowledge with you.

Knowing the street names and the most optimized way to get from point A to point B without any GPS-driven help is definitely a matter of generation, and elderly French will be your best friends! Just don’t forget to address them respectfully, using your most humble Bonjour monsieur and Merci beaucoup.

2- I Don’t Know!


Basic Questions

What do people do when asked for directions to a place they don’t know? In some countries, they would simply admit they don’t know, but if you’re in one of the South-East Asian countries where saving face matters more than telling the truth, it’s more complicated. I once found myself helplessly wandering through the streets, looking for an embassy because every single local would describe me all kinds of random directions, only not to admit they didn’t have a clue.

In France, when people don’t know what you’re looking for, or aren’t sure how to describe the directions, they’ll simply tell you Je ne sais pas (“I don’t know”) or Aucune idée ! (“No idea!”) and it’s a blessing.

3- French Perception of Distances


Although cars are popular and as overused as in any wealthy country, the French still have the culture of walking, and it shows in their appreciation of distances.

On a trip abroad, I once asked for the nearest bakery and was told “Oh no, it’s way too far to walk there, you should take a taxi!” Having nothing but time, I walked there anyway and found it after five minutes of my long stride. In my personal perception of distances, it was absolutely within walking reach, but locals would take their bikes for shorter errands.

Most French wouldn’t take their cars for less than a kilometer and when they give you walking directions, keep this walking culture in mind. They won’t blink if you tell them you want to walk from the Eiffel Tower to Montmartre. Sure, go ahead, it’s just a one-hour walk!

Hikers Walking Across a Mountain

Typical French vacations. Better take your hiking poles!



7. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French


In this guide, you’ve learned everything about asking and giving directions in French, from the most common structures to situation-specific vocabulary, polite greetings, and map navigation. Did I forget any important word or phrase that you know? Do you feel ready to get lost in Paris and valiantly ask your way around the capital?

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 have your private teacher help you practice with directions and more. They’ll provide you with assignments and personalized exercises, and will record audio samples for you as well as review yours, to help improve your pronunciation.

Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

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Jeter Des Fleurs – French Compliments Guide

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Jeter des fleurs à quelqu’un. (“To compliment someone.” Or literally: “To throw flowers at someone.” )

Ever wonder how to compliment a guy in French or give your compliments to the chef after a delicious meal? If you haven’t heard compliments in French before, it may be because the French don’t do this much and tend to keep their praise a bit too much to themselves.

When I traveled to Japan with a bunch of French friends, we were stunned at how people would praise us for everything we were doing, laugh at our most wonky jokes, and compliment us at every corner on our accents, clothes, or even our choices of drinks. People would strongly react with round eyes, laughter, and what seemed to me like a general tendency to exaggerate their feelings.

I got a similar impression later about Americans, then about Colombians, and it got me thinking: Are we, Europeans, such emotionless logs, sitting in silence with a straight face and dead eyes, that we are unable to see beauty and excitement in the smallest of things like our foreign counterparts do? How deep does this phlegm of ours go?

The French are known to be sparing with their compliments, but they usually mean every single word when they do give one. You might not get much praise from them, but when you do, you’ll know it means something and it’s not overacted. It will convey just the level of enthusiasm they think it deserves, or probably less because we can also be emotionless logs. But don’t hold it against us!

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Table of Contents

  1. Good Job!
  2. Complimenting Someone’s Look
  3. Complimenting the Mind
  4. This is Amazing!
  5. What Comes After a Compliment
  6. Compliments and the French Culture of Seduction
  7. Le Mot De La Fin

1. Good Job!

Compliments

One situation where you’d compliment someone is to praise them for doing a good job on something.

Whether you’re at work or home, a job well done deserves some appreciation. Although more reserved than some in this department, your French colleagues or friends shouldn’t fail to reward the quality of your work with some nice words.

Here are some common French compliments for a job well done:

  • Bien joué ! (“Well done!” Literally: “Well played!” )
  • Bon travail. (“Good work.” )
  • C’est du bon boulot. / C’est du bon travail. (“It’s good work.” )
  • Excellent travail. (“Excellent work.” )

And here’s how to compliment them on their awards or achievements:

  • Félicitations ! (“Congratulations!” )
  • Toutes mes félicitations. (“My congratulations.” )
  • Tu l’as bien mérité ! (“You’ve earned it!” or “You deserve it!” )

You don’t have to blindly follow the average French mindset. I’m personally trying to follow Dale Carnegie’s precept: “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” By praising whenever you can, even for small wins, you’ll make a strong impression on the French people you’re socializing with, as they’ll get more appreciation from you than they’d expect.

A Businesswoman Giving a Thumbs-up Sign

Bon travail ! (“Good work!” )

2. Complimenting Someone’s Look

If there’s one situation where the French don’t keep their tongue in their pocket, it’s when it comes to flirting, seduction, or praising their partner. Whether seeking pleasure or romance, this is when we could actually over-express our feelings and get carried away.

For now, let’s be superficial and see how to compliment someone in French for their good looks:

  • Tu es beau. (“You are handsome.” ) [Male]
  • Tu es belle. (“You are beautiful.” ) [Female]

Don’t forget that French adjectives need to agree with the subject. In most cases, the adjective’s ending will simply change, as in:

  • Tu es charmant. (“You are charming.” ) [Male]
  • Tu es charmante. (“You are charming.” ) [Female]

But there are some cases, such as with beau and belle, where the two words are different.

    → You can find more on adjectives and how they work in our Complete Guide to French Adjectives on FrenchPod101.com.

With the same structure, you can make many more compliments:

  • Tu es magnifique / superbe / élégant(e) / classe.
    (“Wonderful,” “Superb,” “Elegant,” “Classy” )

We could go on for quite some time!

These are very general compliments, so let’s get more specific:

  • Tu as de beaux yeux. (“You have beautiful eyes.” )
  • Tu as de beaux cheveux. (“You have beautiful hair.” )
  • Tu as de belles mains. (“You have beautiful hands.” )

Technically, you can compliment on whatever you want, but some body parts are more popular targets and complimenting someone on their elbows or earlobes might raise a few eyebrows. Don’t let that keep you from doing it, though, if you ever meet someone whose amazing elbows leave you speechless!

It’s always nice to be complimented on your body, but unless it’s aimed at your hard-earned muscles or surgically fixed nose, chances are you haven’t done anything to deserve the praise. What about when we switch to something else?

  • J’aime bien tes chaussures. (“I like your shoes.” )
  • J’aime beaucoup ton maquillage. (“I really like your makeup.” )
  • J’adore ta robe ! (“I love your dress!” )
  • Ce chapeau te va très bien. (“This hat suits you very well.” )
  • Tes lunettes sont super cool ! (“Your glasses are super-cool!” )
  • Je veux le même t-shirt ! (“I want the same T-shirt!” )

Young and middle-aged French men are wearing lots of printed T-shirts where they can display their favorite comic characters, movie posters, video game artwork, as well as countless pop culture references. For example, if I’m wearing my Godzilla T-shirt and one of my coworkers comments on it with a subtle reference or clever remark, it instantly creates a connection, as we’re bonding over our common tastes in entertainment.

A Cat with Clothes, a Wig, and a Beard

Tu as une très belle barbe. (“You have a very beautiful beard.” )

3. Complimenting the Mind

Enough with the superficial compliments! Sure, everyone likes to be appreciated for their appearance, but we also want our minds to be praised! Let’s see some of the best French compliments regarding someone’s intellect or skills.

Tu es intelligent. (“You’re intelligent.” )
Tu es malin / futé. (“You’re smart / clever.” )

There are many other words you can use, such as:

  • Intéressant (“Interesting” )
  • Perspicace (“Insightful” )
  • Drôle (“Funny” )
  • Cultivé (“Cultured” )
  • Gentil (“Kind” )
  • Sympa (“Nice” )
  • Adorable (“Adorable” )

You can also compliment people on their skills with simple structures like:

Tu _____ bien. (“You ____ well.” )

  • Tu chantes bien. (“You sing well.” )
  • Tu écris assez bien. (“You write rather well.” )
  • Tu cuisines très bien. (“You cook very well.” )
  • Tu dessines vraiment bien. (“You draw really well.” )

Tu as une bonne / belle ______. (“You have a good / beautiful ____.” )

  • Tu as une bonne conduite. (“You have a good driving style.” )
  • Tu as un bon style. (“You have a good style.” )
  • Tu as une belle écriture. (“You have beautiful writing.” )

An Old Couple Dancing Together at a Party

Tu danses bien ! (“You’re a good dancer!” )

4. This is Amazing!

When you compliment a thing, you’re often indirectly praising a person. When you’re in awe of the food, you’re praising the cook; when you fall in love with a song, all credit goes to the artist.

Here are the most useful words and sentences to share that you like something:

  • C’est bien. (“It’s good.” )
  • C’est bon. (“It’s good.” Mainly used to mean “it tastes good” or “it feels good.” )
  • C’est magnifique. (“It’s wonderful.” )
  • C’est magique ! (“It’s magical!” )
  • C’est intéressant / passionnant / divertissant. (“It’s interesting / fascinating / entertaining.” )

Don’t leave the cook hanging. Let’s see more French compliments for food:

  • C’était très bon. (“It was very good.” )
  • C’est délicieux. (“It’s delicious.” )
  • C’est vraiment excellent. (“It’s really excellent.” )
  • Ça a l’air délicieux. (“It looks delicious.” )
  • Ça sent très bon. (“It smells very good.” )
  • Mes compliments au chef. (“My compliments to the chef.” )

In France, we joke about the fact that burping is a way to show your appreciation for the food, but unless you’re among friends in a private environment, you should certainly refrain from letting it out.

    → Learn more about table manners in our Complete Guide on French Etiquette.

And here are some mild compliments for when you’re satisfied, but not impressed:

  • C’est sympa. (“It’s nice.” )
  • C’est pas mal. (“It’s okay.” )
  • C’est pas pire. (“It’s okay.” Quebec only.)
  • C’est pas dégueu. (“It’s not bad.” [Familiar] Originally about food, but we use it figuratively for any other thing.)

A Cheesecake Slice with Strawberry Topping

Ça a l’air très bon ! (“It looks delicious!” )

5. What Comes After a Compliment

Complimenting is often a two-way street and there are some social norms for the aftermath.

How should you say “thank you”? What do you answer after someone thanks you for your compliment? Should you deflect compliments? Everything will be answered in this chapter.

1 – Express Your Gratitude

The easiest thing you can do after a compliment is to accept it and thank the complimenter. Look the person in the eyes, smile, say “thank you,” and you’ll be fine! (Yes, I’m also teaching you how to look human, in case you’re an android or a disguised alien.)

  • Merci ! (“Thank you!” )
  • Merci beaucoup. (“Thank you very much.” )

What if you compliment someone and receive a merci?

  • De rien ! (“You’re welcome!” Literally: “of nothing” )
  • Je t’en prie. (“You’re welcome.” Literally: “I pray you for it.” )

2 – Answer with Another Compliment

This is the equivalent of answering “What’s up?” with “How are you doing?” but it’s still perfectly acceptable.

Complimenting someone back in French is the same as in English. You can either answer with a simple “you too” or try and be more creative.

For example:

  • Tu as de très beaux yeux. (“You have very beautiful eyes.” )
    Toi aussi. [Casual] / Vous aussi. [Formal] (“You too!” )
  • J’adore ton t-shirt ! (“I love your T-shirt!” )
    Merci, mais je ne peux pas rivaliser avec ta chemise. (“Thank you, but I can’t compete with your shirt.” )

3 – Don’t Deny Compliments or Demean Yourself

Another way to react to a compliment is to deny it by explaining why you don’t deserve it. It usually sounds awkward and may be insulting to the complimenter, so obviously, I would not recommend it. But here’s how it would sound in French:

  • J’adore ton t-shirt ! (“I love your T-shirt!” )
    C’est juste un vieux truc que je porte pour dormir. (“It’s just an old rag I sleep with.” )
  • Très bon travail, ton script. (“Very good work on your script.” )
    Je trouve ça plutôt ennuyeux, mais merci. (“I find it rather boring, but thank you.” )

In general, you should embrace the compliment and accept it with modesty. Don’t undermine the compliment with phrases such as:

  • Oh non, c’est rien. (“Oh no, it’s no big deal.” )
  • Non, ce n’était vraiment rien. (“No, but it was nothing.” )

4 – Share the Credit

If you ever answer with a compliment, do it genuinely, without entering a compliment battle.

However, you can give credit where it’s due, and accept the compliment while sharing the credit with your team or contributors. For example:

  • Rien de tout ça n’aurait été possible sans mon équipe. (“None of this would have been possible without my team.” )

Man and Woman Complimenting Each Other at a Piano

– Tu as de beaux cheveux. (“You have beautiful hair.” )
Toi aussi. (“You too.” )
– …

6. Compliments and the French Culture of Seduction

1 – Complimenting VS Showing Interest

It’s always nice to receive compliments, but what most of the French really want (besides eternal life and free cookies) is to generate interest and curiosity. If you’re hitting on a guy with a beautiful beard, don’t compliment him on his beard; he’s heard that one countless times.

You should go for something original and unpredictable, or even better: Skip the compliment entirely and just show your interest in whatever he’s doing, what he likes, his values, his core beliefs, or his favorite Star Wars characters. Anything, as long as it’s meaningful to both of you.

Especially in Paris, French girls get a lot of hassle from the sad crowd of wannabe Don Juans loitering in the streets and metro stations. As a result, compliments are just not as well-received as they used to be. Unspoken compliments, such as an eloquent stare, a smile, or a sincere show of interest can go a much longer way.

2 – The “Negs Hit,” a French Pickup Technique

Disclaimer: I’m not advocating pickup techniques in general, but I find this one culturally interesting.

Popularized by self-proclaimed “Pick-Up Artist” Erik Von Markovik, the Negs Hit is a negative comment aimed at your target (usually a girl you want to seduce) to destabilize her and get her to lower her guard.

It’s usually aimed toward girls with high self-esteem, if they get overly defensive at your approach. Using Negs Hits with someone who’s already into you and opening up would be counter-productive.

A Negs Hit is not supposed to be insulting or hurtful, and should not target any major flaw the person is likely to have a complex about. It’s a slightly embarrassing and seemingly innocent comment you’d make on a flaw in her looks or behavior. By doing so, you communicate that you’re not impressed with her desirability and that you’re not interested in her as a potential partner.

It’s supposed to create curiosity and interest toward you, as well as lower her guard for the moment you’d choose to switch to a more traditional seductive approach, should you decide to do so. I personally think it should just be called “having a sense of humor,” and it works wonders to filter people out who don’t have one, as they’ll get angry at your comment and walk away.

A Man Flirting with a Woman from a Window

Jolie coiffure ! C’est une perruque ? (“Nice hairstyle! Is it a wig?” )

7. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about French compliments: how to compliment a guy or a girl, how to cheer the chef, and even how to flirt in French. You’ve also learned many praise words in French and how to put them together. Did I forget any important compliment you’d like to know about? Do you feel ready to express your appreciation and gratitude using everything we’ve learned today?

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 have your private teacher help you practice compliments and more, using assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples for you. Your teacher can also review your audio recordings to help improve your pronunciation.

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com!

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

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.

Celebrating Whit Monday in France

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The majority of France’s population (around sixty-five percent) identifies as Christian, with most of those Christians being Catholic. Considering the large Christian population, Christian holidays are a big deal here!

In this article, you’ll learn about the Whit Monday holiday in France. We’ll dive into the Whit Monday meaning, explore the most common traditions in France, and go over some important vocabulary you should know.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Whit Monday in France?

The Shape of a Dove Against the Sun

Whit Monday is a Christian holiday that celebrates the descent of the Saint-Esprit (“Holy Spirit” ) onto Jesus’s disciples. The Holy Spirit’s descent is said to mark the “birthday” of the Christian church. Catholics celebrate this holiday as the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

The name of this holiday is thought to stem from Pentecost’s other name (Whit Sunday or Whitsun), with “whit” referring to the white garments worn by those hoping to be baptized. Others speculate that “whit” could refer to the Anglo-Saxon “wit,” which refers to one’s understanding. After all, the Holy Spirit is thought to provide understanding and wisdom to Christians.

Whit Monday in France is a jour férié (“public holiday” ), which means that the majority of businesses are closed. However, due to an unprecedented canicule (“heatwave” ) that took place from 2005 to 2007, many people had to work during this holiday to help provide service de santé (“health services” ) for the older population. Today, Whit Monday is still considered a public holiday, though many French people do end up working.

    → See our vocabulary list on Religion to learn some useful vocab.

2. What Date is Whit Monday This Year?

A Rabbit in an Easter Basket

Whit Monday is a moveable holiday, meaning that its date changes each year according to the Christian calendar and the date of Pâques (“Easter” ). For your convenience, we’ve outlined this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: June 1
  • 2021: May 24
  • 2022: June 6
  • 2023: May 29
  • 2024: May 20
  • 2025: June 9
  • 2026: May 25
  • 2027: May 17
  • 2028: June 5
  • 2029: May 21

3. Whit Monday Traditions & Celebrations

Someone Having Their Baby Baptized

Whit Monday is a time to commemorer (“commemorate” ) the gift of the Holy Spirit, though this holiday doesn’t have quite the same religious connotation as Whit Sunday (Pentecost) does. The Whit Monday holiday is often considered a perfect opportunity for baptême (“baptism” ), with many Christians being baptized for the first time or re-baptized.

In addition to religious celebrations, a common French Whit Monday tradition is to visit with family and friends. This often involves eating a nice meal or going out together. Some people prefer to stay at home and enjoy their time off work, while others engage in outdoor activities if the weather permits.

As mentioned, on Whit Monday, France’s businesses are largely closed, though a few may be open for people’s enjoyment.

4. Shavuot

Shavuot is a major Jewish holiday, and it’s thought that the apostles were in the process of celebrating this holiday when the Holy Spirit descended on them.

During Shavuot, a holiday celebrating the wheat harvest, Jews offer bikkurim (first fruits) at the temple, read the Book of Ruth, and eat dairy products.

5. Must-Know French Vocabulary for Whit Monday

A Cemetery with White Crosses and Purple Flowers

Let’s review the most important words and phrases for Whit Monday in France!

  • Cinquante — “Fifty” [n. masc]
  • Jour — “Day” [n. masc]
  • Religion — “Religion” [n. fem]
  • Service de santé — “Health services” [n.]
  • Jour férié — “Public holiday” [masc]
  • Pâques — “Easter” [fem]
  • Messe — “Mass” [n. fem]
  • Jésus — “Jesus”
  • Commemorer — “Commemorate” [v.]
  • Saint-Esprit — “Holy Spirit” [masc]
  • Apôtre — “Apostle” [n. masc]
  • Venue — “Descent” [n. fem]
  • Baptême — “Baptism” [n. masc]
  • — “Elderly” [adj.]
  • Canicule — “Heatwave” [n.]

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to visit our French Whit Monday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Whit Monday in France with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you celebrate Whit Monday in your country? If so, are traditions there similar or quite different from those in France? We look forward to hearing your answers in the comments.

If you want to continue learning about French culture and the language, FrenchPod101.com has many free resources for you:

This only scratches the surface of everything FrenchPod101.com can offer the aspiring French-learner. To make the most of your study time, create your free lifetime account today; for access to exclusive content and lessons, upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans.

We want to help you reach your goals in the most fun and straightforward way possible, and we’ll be here every step of your language-learning journey!

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Celebrating Mother’s Day in France

Did you know that people have been celebrating mothers and motherhood for a very long time? After all, what would the world be like without mothers? A lot bleaker than it is already, I imagine!

Like many countries around the world, France has a special holiday set aside to honor one’s mother. In this article, you’ll learn all about Mother’s Day, France’s take on this holiday, and some new vocab.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is thought to have originated as far back as Ancient Greece, where the population organized springtime ceremonies for Rhea, the grandmother to the gods (and Zeus’ mother). The Ancient Romans had a similar holiday for celebrating mothers, called Matronalia. What we think of as Mother’s Day today, however, likely originated in the United States when Anna Jarvis publicly commemorated her deceased mother.

In 1929, the French government officially made Mother’s Day a holiday after many years of smaller celebrations throughout the country. The village of Artas refers to itself as the “cradle of Mother’s Day” due to a celebration it held in 1906 for mothers of large families. In 1920, this holiday was recognized, later becoming Mother’s Day as we know it today. In 1941, the Vichy Regime put this holiday on the calendar, and it was set to be the last Sunday of May; this took effect after the war.

In modern times, Mother’s Day is simply a holiday dedicated to honoring one’s mother and showering her with gifts.

2. When is Mother’s Day in France?

Mother’s Day is on a Sunday

Each year, the French celebrate Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in May (unless it falls on the same day as Pentecost, in which case it’s moved to the first Sunday of June). For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: June 7
  • 2021: May 30
  • 2022: May 29
  • 2023: June 4
  • 2024: May 26
  • 2025: May 25
  • 2026: May 31
  • 2027: May 30
  • 2028: May 28
  • 2029: May 27

3. Mother’s Day in France: Traditions & Celebrations

A Little Girl Holding Up a Handmade Mother’s Day Card

The most popular way to celebrate this holiday is by giving Mother’s Day gifts.

Starting from an early age, children make gifts for their mothers by hand; common items include cards and jewelry that were made in school. As children grow older, they may buy their mother things like clothes, perfume, or Mother’s Day flowers. Other popular gifts include chocolat (“chocolate”), a carte de vœux (“greeting card”), or a bon d’achat (“gift certificate”).

In addition, some children may give their mother a petit déjeuner au lit (“breakfast in bed”), and her husband may take the family out for a nice Mother’s Day dinner somewhere.

4. Médaille de la Famille

In France, there’s an honorary medal called the Médaille de la Famille that’s given out to families who have done well in raising a great many children.

Originally, this medal was created in hopes of giving mothers the honor and appreciation they deserve. Later on, however, fathers and other caregivers were allowed to receive this award as well.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Mother’s Day in France

A Family Eating Dinner Together

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here are the most important words and phrases for Mother’s Day!

  • Dîner — “Dinner” [n. masc]
  • Dimanche — “Sunday” [n. masc]
  • Chocolat — “Chocolate” [n. masc]
  • Aimer — “Love” [v.]
  • Fille — “Daughter” [n. fem]
  • Fils — “Son” [n. masc]
  • Cadeau — “Present” [n. masc]
  • Rose — “Rose” [n. fem]
  • Mère — “Mother” [n. fem]
  • Célébrer — “Celebrate” [v.]
  • Petit déjeuner au lit — “Breakfast in bed” [masc]
  • Carte de vœux — “Greeting card” [fem]
  • Bon d’achat — “Gift certificate” [n. masc]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Mother’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about French Mother’s Day celebrations with us, and that you took away some valuable information from this article.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day in your country? We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to learn even more about French culture and the language, FrenchPod101.com has several more great articles for you:

This just scratches the surface of all that FrenchPod101.com can offer the aspiring French-learner. Create your free lifetime account today and make the most of your study time, or upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans to gain access to exclusive content and lessons.

Wherever you are in your language-learning journey, we want to help you reach your goals with confidence and finesse.

Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂

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“Excuse My French” – Getting Angry in French, with Style!

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Did you know that anger is a sign of weakness? These intense emotions bursting out of us like a raging volcano can be intimidating and mistaken for a show of strength, but they’re quite the opposite. We get angry when we’re afraid or weak, when we feel overwhelmed or outsmarted. However, properly channeled, it can be a spark, igniting you with power and purpose.

If you get upset in France, better do it with flair and panache! It’s important that you know the various words and expressions for how to say “I’m angry” in French, because in the heat of the moment, you won’t have time to think it through!

You should know that profanity is far from being as much of a taboo in France as it is in the U.S., and it’s not uncommon to hear seemingly obscene swearing in public places or even at work. The French are quite open about it and, to be honest, are often oblivious to the actual meaning of our colorful expressions.

However, in this article, we’ll focus on the family-friendly angry French phrases that you can use just about anywhere without having to carefully assess the situation.

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Table of Contents

  1. Angry Orders
  2. Angry Questions
  3. Angry Blames
  4. Describing Your Frustration
  5. Culture: How to Make the French Angry
  6. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. Angry Orders

Negative Verbs

1- “Shut your trap!”

Whether you want the person to be quiet or you’ve lost the argument but won’t admit it, you might want to firmly ask someone to shut up. Here are a couple of ways to demand the silence you so dearly desire:

  • Tais-toi ! (“Shut up!” )

The verb se taire means “to keep quiet.”

Je me tais. (“I keep quiet.” )

Used in the imperative form, it’s a common way to request someone’s silence without being too harsh.

  • La ferme ! (“Shut up!” )
  • Ferme-la ! (“Shut up!” )

The verb fermer means “to close” or “to shut” and this is the closest expression to the English phrase “shut up.” Literally meaning “Shut it!” it’s a shortened and slightly more polite version of “Shut your trap,” but still more rude than tais-toi.

2- “Watch your tone!”

If someone is being aggressive, offensive, or raising their voice at you, it might be time to tell them to pipe down with a sharp: “Watch your tone, buddy!”

  • Surveille ton langage ! (“Watch your language!” )

This one can be used when unnecessary profanities have been put to the table. It’s a polite expression that can be used even in formal situations if you use the vous.

Surveillez votre langage. [Formal]

  • Ne me parle pas sur ce ton. (“Don’t you use that tone with me.” )

This second expression is more focused on the tone than the choice of words. It’s also perfectly suitable for a formal situation when things are heating up too much and you feel like you’re owed more respect.

Ne me parlez pas sur ce ton. [Formal]

Man Yelling at Someone

La ferme ! (“Shut up!” )

3- “Stop it!”

Whatever you want to stop, you need to be clear and articulated. Here are two variations that should get similar results:

  • Ça suffit ! (“That’s enough!” )

The verb suffire means “to be sufficient” or “to be enough,” so it’s hard to find more straightforward angry French expressions than ça suffit !

  • Arrête ! (“Stop!” )

Coming from arrêter (“to stop” ), this is the shortest and most explicit way to tell someone to stop whatever they’re doing. You might want to be a little more specific, depending on the context:

  • Arrête de me parler. (“Stop talking to me.” )
  • Arrête tes bêtises. (“Stop your nonsense.” )
  • Arrête de faire ça ! (“Stop doing this!” )
  • Arrête de chanter du Reggaeton. (“Stop singing Reggaeton.” )

4- “Get away from me!”

Sometimes, the best way to avoid getting even angrier at someone is to get them out of your sight. Let’s see how to handle that:

  • Dégage ! (“Get away!” )

This is a simple yet quite aggressive way to ask someone to get out of your face. You can spice it up a little with:

Dégage de là. (“Get away from there.” )

  • Fous le camp ! (“Get out of here!” )

Foutre le camp or Ficher le camp (the old-fashioned and more polite version) is an old expression from the XVIII century. Ficher used to mean “to take” and camp unsurprisingly translates to “camp.” The expression roughly means “to pick up your tent and leave camp.”

  • Va te faire voir ! (“Get lost!” )

Literally: “Go make yourself seen.”

Va te faire voir is a greatly watered down version of another popular expression using the French F-word, but this one is much more offensive: Va te faire foutre !

Conversely, a cute alternative would be:

Va voir ailleurs si j’y suis. (“Go somewhere else and see if you can find me.” )

Complaints

2. Angry Questions

These French angry phrases are ALL rhetorical questions. Let’s be clear about the fact that you’re not expecting an answer. Should you receive one anyway, it’s likely to anger you even more!

  • Et alors ? (“So what?” )

First of all, you should know that et alors is not always an angry phrase. It has two distinct meanings:

1- “Tell me more!”, “And then, what happened?”

    J’ai vu le dernier Tarantino hier. (“I’ve seen the latest Tarantino yesterday.” )
    Et alors ? (“Tell me more.” )

2- “So what?” is more of an exclamation than a question. It means that you don’t really care about the previous statement or objection.

    Ma mère est très malade. (“My mother is very ill.” )
    Et alors ? (“So what?” )
    T’es vraiment un con. (“You’re such an ass.” )
    Et alors? (“So what?” )
  • Qu’est-ce qui te prend ? (“What’s gotten into you?” )

Literally: “What is taking you?”

  • Qu’est-ce que tu fous ? (“What the hell are you doing?” )

F-word is back with a vengeance. You can soften it with Qu’est-ce que tu fiches ? or Qu’est-ce que tu fabriques ? However, this last variation is so innocuous that it should be said with a sharp tongue to convey your exasperation.

  • Et puis quoi encore ? (“And what’s next?” )

Literally: “And then, what again?”

I couldn’t find a satisfying English equivalent, but we use this phrase to express disapproval or exasperation. You can also use it when you feel like the other person is asking too much.

    Est-ce que je peux emprunter ta voiture, coucher avec ta femme et terminer ta bière ? (“Can I borrow your car, sleep with your wife, and finish your beer?” )
    Et puis quoi encore ? ( [Ironically] “And what’s next?” )
  • Tu veux ma photo ? (“What are you looking at?” )

Literally: “Do you want my picture?”

Use this when someone is staring at you to the point where it makes you upset.

Women might want to remember this one when they go out and attract unwanted stares from creepy weirdos.

  • Qu’est-ce que c’est que cette histoire ? (“What on earth are you talking about?” )

Literally: “What is this story?”

This can be said when someone tells you something crazy, difficult to understand, hard to believe, or tough to swallow.

    On m’a dit que je n’avais pas été recrutée à cause de ma coupe de cheveux. (“I’ve been told I wasn’t hired because of my haircut.” )
    Qu’est-ce que c’est que cette histoire ? (“Wait, what?” )
  • Tu te fous de moi ? (“Are you kidding me?” )

Softer versions are available: Tu te fiches de moi ? or Tu te moques de moi ?

They all express the same level of incredulity.

  • Ça va pas ? (“What’s wrong with you?” )

Literally: “Are you unwell?”

We use this phrase to express disbelief over what a person is doing or saying.

  • T’es malade ou quoi ? (“Are you crazy or what?” )

Literally: “Are you sick or what?”

Man Angrily Staring Over Sunglasses

You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here.

3. Angry Blames

Weakness or not, la coupe est pleine (“enough is enough” ). You’re officially angry and ready to come down on someone like a ton of bricks. Heads will roll!

  • C’est n’importe quoi ! (“That’s bullsh*t!” )

Literally: “That’s anything!”

You can also shorten it to N’importe quoi ! (“Bullsh*t!” )

Note that you can use this n’importe quoi in other sentences like:

  • Tu fais n’importe quoi. (“You’re acting stupid.” )
  • Tu dis n’importe quoi. (“You’re talking nonsense.” )
  • Il ne manquait plus que ça. (“Just what we needed!” )

Literally: “We were only missing this.”

You’d say this when sh*t just keeps piling up, one annoyance after another.

  • Tu ne m’écoutes pas. (“You’re not listening to me.” )
  • C’est une honte. (“It’s a disgrace.” )
  • C’est inacceptable. (“It’s unacceptable.” )
  • Ce ne sont pas tes affaires. (“It’s none of your business.” )
  • T’occupes ! (“Not your business!” )

T’occupe is short for T’occupe pas, which comes from the imperative sentence: Ne t’occupe pas de ça. (“Do not worry about this.” or “Do not deal with this.” )

This isn’t necessarily an angry sentence. You could use it to refrain someone from helping you if you feel like you have everything under control, or when you don’t want to answer questions on something that you want to keep secret or private.

  • Tu es sûre que tu n’as pas besoin d’aide ? (“Are you sure you don’t need help?” )
  • T’occupe ! (“Stay out of it!” )
  • Tu me saoules ! (“I’m sick of you!” )

Literally: “You’re making me drunk!” (But in a bad way! )

We have many words in French for “to get drunk,” and se saouler is more often used in the context of being fed up and exasperated.

This is one of those angry things to say in French when someone has been pissing in your ear for a while and you just can’t take it anymore, or when a task is really tedious or unpleasant.

  • Ce mec m’a saoulée toute la matinée. (“This guy annoyed me all morning.” )
  • Ça me saoule, ce boulot ! (“I’m sick of this job!” )
  • Tu me gonfles ! (“You’re getting on my nerves!” )

Literally: “You are inflating me!”

The origin of this slang expression is unclear. Some see a sexual reference, but the most probable interpretation is that you feel like you’re slowly inflating with anger, close to the point of figurative explosion.

  • Tu me prends la tête ! (“You’re driving me crazy!” )

Literally: “You’re taking my head!”

I use this every time someone (or something) is busting my chops. IE: makes my life miserable, with useless complication or just plain nonsense.

  • Ce formulaire me prend la tête. (“This form is driving me crazy.” )
  • Cette fille me prend la tête. (“This girl is driving me crazy.” )

You can also do it to yourself:

  • Je me prends la tête sur ma compta depuis ce matin. (“I’ve been driving myself crazy on my accounting since this morning.” )

And finally, it can be used when people are complicating their lives for no reason, or spending too much time brooding over something.

  • Tu te prends encore la tête là-dessus ? (“Are you still losing your head over this?” )
    → Make sure to visit our vocabulary list about Curse Words, with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation. It’s freely available on FrenchPod101.

Man Holding Head in Hand

Ça me prend la tête ! (“It’s driving me crazy!” )

4. Describing Your Frustration

Negative Feelings

Now that you’ve let off some steam with angry French sayings, it’s time to tell people how you feel. Are you fed up? Sick and tired? Dazed and confused or violently furious?

  • J’en ai marre ! (“I’m tired of it!” )

Literally: ..?

The literal meaning is hard to tell because the very origin of this expression is still debated. Does it come from old French’s marrir (“to afflict” ), from the Spanish “mareo” (“sea-sickness,” but also “boredom” ), or from the 17th century expression avoir son mar (“to have enough” )?

  • J’en ai ras-le-bol ! (“I’ve had enough of this!” )

Literally: “I have my bowl full!”

What about the origin of this wildly popular expression? To be honest, I had to look it up and I believe most French have no idea that the bol (“bowl” ) is a slangy analogy for the butt.

Short of knowing about this, I’ve heard this expression in all kinds of circles, including professional contexts where people complain about their filled butt without second thought.

  • J’en ai assez ! (“I’ve had enough!” )
  • J’en peux plus ! (“I can’t take it anymore!” )
  • J’en ai jusque là ! (“I’ve had enough!” )

Literally: “I have it up to here!”

Once again, it’s difficult to trace the exact origin of this expression, but it implies that you’re full of whatever is upsetting you and you can’t take any more of it.

  • Ça me fait une belle jambe. (“A fat lot of good it does me.” )

Literally: “It makes me a beautiful leg.”

With this ironic expression, you’re answering to something that’s supposed to give you some comfort or satisfaction but really doesn’t. This “something” is useless, worthless, and doesn’t have the intended effect.

    Je sais que tu as perdu ton travail, mais au moins, il fait beau ! (“I know you’ve lost your job, but at least it’s a sunny day!” )
    Ça me fait une belle jambe. (“A lot of good it does me.” )

In the 12th century, French men started wearing tights. Yes, just like our modern-day superheroes, except that we didn’t wear our underwear over it. Then, in the 17th century, displaying muscular and elegant male leg became increasingly fashionable. You had to wear stylish tights on well-shaped legs, and this is where the expression faire la belle jambe (“to do the beautiful leg” ) appeared.

Fast-forward to the 19th century. After 200 years of evolution, we get to today’s ironic version of the original expression: Ça me fait une belle jambe.

Girl Frustrated with Homework

J’en peux plus… (“I can’t take it anymore…” )

5. Culture: How to Make the French Angry

“You’re making me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” (Bruce Banner)

1- “French are lazy!”

If you know something about the French working culture, you might have this mental image of us working five hours a day and enjoying months of vacations while being showered with social benefits and perks all year round.

It’s true that France is doing very well in the field of social welfare and that French workers benefit from a neat package of bonuses and protection. In many other countries, if you lose your job, you’re in serious life-threatening trouble.

That being said, generations of French fought hard for these rights throughout several social revolutions, and we’re keeping the fight alive today. French workers are often considered by foreign employers to be hard and dedicated workers, and there are few things they hate more than being called lazy!

2- “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ?”

French women have a reputation for being easy. Where this is coming from is beyond me. Maybe because the French are comfortable with nudity, or not too prudish about public displays of affection. However, the fact that French women speak openly about sex and seem confident about what they want doesn’t make them any easier to seduce. In fact, the French dating scene is likely to feel very confusing for North Americans.

So please, don’t go quoting Lady Marmelade with a bold Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir ? (“Do you want to sleep with me tonight?” ) and expect French girls to fall in your arms like butter melts in the hot pan. They might find it funny or lame, but they hate when foreigners assume they’re just waiting to jump in their bed.

Couple Drinking Champagne on Christmas

No, one drink is not enough. You also have to be charming!

6. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about how to say “I am angry” in French, from bitter words and expressions to furious questions and outraged blames.

Did we forget any important expressions that you know? Do you feel ready to burst out in anger using everything you’ve learned today?

Besides getting angry yourself, which I wouldn’t wish for you, knowing how people express their anger in French may be useful when you’re taking the blame for something you did or didn’t do. Better prepared than sorry!

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

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice talking and listening in French with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with pronunciation.

Happy French learning!

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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!

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

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.

Your Guide to Talking about French Weather

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Do you often imagine yourself as Nicolas Cage in the movie The Weather Man? Are you looking for a couple of lines to chat with your French neighbors or catch the attention of a charming coworker by talking about the weather in Paris, France? Or are you engrossed in how climate change is threatening the future of mankind and eager to tell everyone about it?

No matter your level of French, commenting on the weather is a common way to engage in conversation with someone you don’t know anything about, as it’s the kind of innocuous universal topic anybody can talk about. Sure, it may not lead to a passionate debate (or maybe it will, on how the weather used to be forecasted before the time of satellites!) or a thought-provoking exchange of opinions, but as an ice-breaker or a casual conversation topic among strangers, it gets the job done.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to talk about the weather in French, from sunny days to pouring rain, and misty mornings to windy nights.

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Table of Contents

  1. What is the Weather Today?
  2. What is Your Favorite Season?
  3. Be the Coolest and the Hottest!
  4. How to Break the Ice?
  5. Is it True that the French Dislike Small Talk?
  6. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. What is the Weather Today?

Weather

1- Just Four Easy Phrases

Talking about weather in French is nothing complicated. Describing the different weather conditions in French comes down to only four common sentences, and nothing more. How beautiful is that?

  • il fait ___ (it does ___)
  • il y a ___ (there is ___)
  • il ___ [verb] (it ___)
  • c’est ___ [adj] (it is ___)

Using only these four structures, you can describe any kind of weather in French. Let’s have a closer look before moving onto French weather vocabulary:

  • il fait ___ is used to describe the most basic weather states.
    • il fait chaud (it is hot; literally “it does hot,” when translated)
    • il fait très froid (it is very cold)
    • il fait frais (it is fresh)
    • Il fait humide (the weather is humid)
    • il fait beau (the weather is good, literally “it makes beautiful,” when translated)
    • il fait moche (the weather is ugly)

Now, these two can be heard depending on the region, generation, and education of the speaker:

    • il fait du vent (it is windy)
    • il fait (du) soleil (it is sunny)

I would personally use il y a instead. Let’s check it out now.

  • il y a ___ is used for basic weather states, when il fait doesn’t do the job.
    • il y a du brouillard (there is fog)
    • il y a du vent (there is wind)
    • il y a du soleil (there is sun)
  • il___ [verb] is followed by a verb and used mostly when the sky is pouring something on you.
    • il pleut (it is raining)
    • il neige (it is snowing)
    • il grêle (it is hailing)
  • c’est ___ [adj] is followed by adjectives to describe the weather in French when talking about basic weather states.
    • c’est pluvieux (it is rainy)
    • c’est nuageux (it is cloudy)
    • c’est orageux (it is stormy)

2- Weather Pocket Dictionary:

Now that you have the four basic sentences, all you need is a bit of vocabulary before you can take over Évelyne Dhéliat as the French’s favorite weatherman!

Le soleil
“The sun”
Il y a eu du soleil toute la journée !
“It was sunny all day long!”
La pluie
“The rain”
Il pleut toujours beaucoup en mai.
“It is always very rainy in May.”
Les nuages
“The clouds”
Il y a des nuages depuis ce matin, il va pleuvoir.
“There have been clouds since the morning; it is going to rain.”
La neige
“The snow”
J’espère qu’il y a assez de neige pour skier.
“I hope there is enough snow to ski.”
Le brouillard
“The fog”
Le brouillard se lève souvent dans la matinée.
“The fog often lifts during the morning.”
La grêle
“The hail”
Une averse de grêle peut causer de sérieux dégâts.
“A hailstorm can cause serious damage.”
Le verglas
“The black ice”
Le verglas est une couche de glace qui se forme sur les routes.
“Black ice is a coating of ice that appears on a road surface.”
Le vent
“The wind”
L’avion ne pourra pas décoller avec un vent pareil.
“The plane won’t be able to take off with such a wind.”
L’orage
La tempête
“The storm”
Ca va être un orage fantastique !
“It’s gonna be a terrific storm!”
La foudre
“The thunder”
“The lightning”
Il y a plus de chance d’être frappé par la foudre.
“Got a better chance of being struck by lightning.”

Person Walking with an Umbrella in the Rain

Il pleut à verse ! (“It’s pouring!”)

3- Be Weatherproof!

I usually don’t use an umbrella. I find them bulky, easy to break, and they make a mess in your bag if you didn’t dry them properly.

Why am I talking about this? Because when talking about adverse weather in French, you can’t skip out on humanity’s reactions to it. We’ll now have a look at all of mankind’s amazing inventions to void nature’s attempts at making us wet, cold, and miserable.

Un parapluie
“An umbrella”
N’oublie pas ton parapluie !
“Don’t forget your umbrella!”
Un manteau
“A coat”
J’ai un gros manteau pour l’hiver.
“I have a big coat for the winter.”
Un imperméable
Un imper [Familiar]
“A raincoat”
Sans mon imper, je serais déjà trempé.
“Without my raincoat, I would be soaked already.”
Un K-Way
“A windcoat”
(Like Kleenex® or Caddie®, K-Way® is a brand used a noun)
J’ai toujours un K-Way dans mon sac, au cas où.
“I always have a windcoat in my bag, just in case.”
Des gants
“Gloves”
Je ne peux pas utiliser mon téléphone avec mes gants.
“I can’t use my phone with my gloves.”
Une écharpe
“A scarf”
Mets ton écharpe ou tu vas t’enrhumer.
“Put your scarf on or you’ll catch a cold.”
Un bonnet
“A winter hat”
Mon bonnet est humide à cause de la neige.
“My hat is wet because of the snow.”
Des lunettes de soleil
“Sunglasses”
S’il fait beau, je porterai mes lunettes de soleil !
“If the weather is nice, I will wear my sunglasses!”
    → Don’t let the cold bite you! Bundle up in your coat, scarf, and boots and learn all these words with our free vocabulary list on Winter Clothes.

A Lot of Winter Clothes

Les vêtements d’hiver (“Winter clothes”)

2. What is Your Favorite Season?

There was a not-so-distant time when I would answer “spring.” Nowadays, I would say “season 3” for Game of Thrones and “season 4” for The Wire. What about you?

If you’re still in touch with Mother Nature, though, let’s talk about the passing of seasons and weather in French as you can witness it from your window, not your TV screen.

1- France has Four Distinct Seasons

Thanks to its temperate climate, France features a whole set of seasons with well-defined weather as well as the visual enjoyment you can expect from them.

However, global warming is changing this rapidly, and the once clear demarcation of our seasons has been blurring considerably in recent years. It also brought extreme weather in French areas, including heat waves and deadly flooding, the kind of which we’d never seen before.

Here’s how seasons usually look in France, so you can easily hold a discussion about seasons and weather in French:

  • Le printemps (Spring)

    Spring

    Spring is the saison de l’amour (season of love) in France, when nature wakes up from its winter sleep. As for spring weather in French regions, trees are getting their green back, flowers are blooming, and forests are filled with the voices of thousands of birds. It’s also fairly wet and rainy—there is a price to pay for all of these vibrant colors!

  • L’été (Summer)

    The rain quiets down, temperatures rise to around 30°C (86°F), and girls dress shorter. Coasts can be especially welcoming, with warm yet not hot temperatures and infrequent rains. Beware of canicules (heatwaves) where temperatures can rise to a whopping 43°C (109.4°F) which is 2018’s highest peak.

    With the lovely French weather in summer, wildlife thrives in our numerous national parks and reserves, and hikers can easily meet all kinds of chamois, deer, beavers, and countless species of birds.

  • L’automne (Fall)
    Autumn

    The trees are turning yellow and red, leaves are falling, and the French return from their summer vacations. This is also the main wine season, with les vendanges (the grape harvest) taking place in September, and some delicious vintage coming in the following month. Rainfalls are back with a vengeance, especially in the north.

  • L’hiver (Winter)

    Northerly winds bring cold weather from the Manche (English Channel) to the Méditerranée (Mediterranean Sea), but the country remains remarkably popular among tourists.

    French winter can be especially welcoming in Paris, with clear days and blue skies, while the temperature rarely drops below zero. In the mountains, it can be much harsher with chilly winds and abundant snowfall.

A Clock with the Four Seasons on the Face

Les quatre saisons (“The four seasons”)

2- Talking About the Seasons

Here are the most important words and expressions to talk about the seasons, as well as examples to illustrate how to use each one in association with our pocket weather dictionary!

Une saison
“A season”
C’est ma saison préférée !
“This is my favorite season!”
Le printemps
“Spring”
La nature s’épanouit au printemps.
“Nature is blooming in spring.”
L’été
“Summer”
Une pluie d’été ne dure jamais.
“A summer rain never lasts.”
L’automne
“Fall”
L’automne est la meilleure saison pour voyager pas cher !
“Fall is the best season for cheap travels!”
L’hiver
“Winter”
L’hiver vient.
“Winter is coming.”

3. Be the Coolest and the Hottest!

Complaints

The most important things to know when talking about temperatures is that the French use the Celsius system.

If you hear your French friend talking about 30° in the summer, it means very warm weather (86°F), and not the below freezing it would be in Fahrenheit.

Also keep in mind that most French don’t know how to handle the Fahrenheit system. If you mention that in your room, the temperature can reach 86° during summer, they might get really worried about your health. (86°C is 187°F!)

Here are the most common words and structures to talk about temperatures:

Le temps
“The weather”
Il fera quel temps demain ?
“What will be the weather tomorrow?”
La température
“The temperature”
Il fait quelle température ?
“What is the temperature?”
Degré
“Degree”
Couvre-toi bien, il fait 5 degrés aujourd’hui !
“Bundle up, it is 5 degrees today!”
Geler
“To freeze”
Il a gelé cette nuit.
“It was freezing last night.”

Weather Reporter

If you ever see this kind of number in Celsius, get a fire extinguisher!

4. How to Break the Ice?

Stay frosty and chill out: it’s slang time!

If you want to sound like a native speaker, it’s good to know your slang. There’s a wide range of colorful expressions for discussing weather in French, and most of these are so popular that they don’t sound especially familiar.

Il pleut à verse.
“It is pouring rain.”
Verser actually means “to pour.”
Il pleut des cordes.
“It is pouring rain.”
Literally: “It’s raining ropes.”
Il pleut comme vache qui pisse. [Familiar]
“It’s raining cats and dogs.” (raining heavily)
Literally: “It’s raining like pissing cow.”
France, world capital of elegance.
Je suis trempé jusqu’aux os.
“I’m soaking wet.”
“I’m drenched to the bones.”
On s’est fait rincer.
“We’ve been soaked.”
“We’ve been rinsed.”
Il y a de l’orage dans l’air.
“There is a storm brewing.” (a storm is coming)
“There is a storm in the air.”
Il y a un vent à décorner les boeufs.
“It’s blowing a gale.” (there is a strong wind)
“There is a wind that could de-horn the oxen.”
Je me gèle les miches. [Familiar]
“I’m freezing my butt off.”
Equally popular is the short version: Je me les gèle. (I’m freezing it.)
Il fait un froid de canard.
“It’s brass monkey weather.” (it’s really cold)
Literally “a duck’s cold,” this hunting expression refers to how ducks are easy prey when their pond is frozen. How sad…
ça caille or ça pèle
“It clots” or “It peels”
When it’s so cold that your blood is clotting and your skin is peeling.
Je crève de chaud. [Familiar]
“I’m burning up.” (I’m really hot)
“I’m dying from the heat.”
C’est une l’étuve, ici.
“It’s hot as an oven in here.”
Une étuve is not exactly an oven. The word is used mostly in cuisine or medicine to describe a heating appliance.
    → From freezing to melting, learn more ways to describe the weather in French using additional weather words and expressions with our free vocabulary list on the Top 15 Weather Conditions.

5. Is it True that the French Dislike Small Talk?

No. Next question, please! Well, seriously, I’ve read this question several times and it’s time to address it. Do we love small talk? Is it our favorite pastime? Certainly not. But do we hate it? Usually not.

Small talk is perfectly fine with strangers or vague acquaintances you don’t have much in common with that you can talk about. It could be a neighbor you meet once in a while on the staircase and whose name you don’t know, your hairdresser, or the old tenant of the bakery next door.

Why “old tenant?” Because there is also a generational component. Older generations tend to be more welcoming to small talk than younger folks who may find it fake or shallow.

We call it parler de la pluie et du beau temps (to talk about the rain and good weather), and people who are afraid of an awkward silence use it to fill in the blanks. But many French were taught to stay quiet when they don’t have anything interesting to say, and talking for the sake of it doesn’t come as naturally as it does in more effusive cultures.

It’s not snobbism or elitism that sometimes makes us frown upon small talk; it’s a belief that it doesn’t take a college degree to talk about meaningful experiences, the political situation, good food, exciting movies, or really anything worth sharing. And life is just too short to talk too much about the weather.

Now, does it mean that you should stay away from any meteorological comment? Absolutely not! I’m just highlighting a difference in cultural backgrounds, but asking or commenting on the weather with your French friends, coworkers, or everyday encounters is perfectly fine, as long as you don’t make it your only topic!

Hurricane

This is not whipped cream, it’s a hurricane.

6. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned a lot about how to talk about the weather, from useful keywords to common sentences and slang. Did we forget any important expression you’d like to know about?

Do you feel ready to engage in a conversation about the weather in French and pose as an expert meteorologist, using everything you’ve learned today?

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your French grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to revise the words and learn their pronunciation, to help you speak like a native in no time.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice talking about weather conditions in French with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you improve your speaking skills.

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

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Dimanche de Rameaux: Celebrating Palm Sunday in France

Celebrating Palm Sunday in France

Dimanche de Rameaux, or Palm Sunday in France, is a major Christian holiday with many fascinating traditions. In this article, you’ll learn about the story behind Palm Sunday, France’s most common celebrations, and some useful vocabulary.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Palm Sunday?

On Palm Sunday, exactly one week before Easter (Pâques), Christians celebrate Jesus’ entrée, or “entrance,” into Jerusalem. According to the Bible, people welcomed his arrival by throwing palm branches on the ground he traveled, hence this holiday’s name. Palm Sunday is also the first day of Semaine Sainte, or “Holy Week.”

In France, Palm Sunday is a day strongly associated with plants and other springtime elements, as is true in some other cultures as well. We’ll go more into this later.

2. When is Palm Sunday in France?

A Calendar

The date of Palm Sunday varies each year, along with the dates of Lent and Easter. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

  • 2020: April 5
  • 2021: March 28
  • 2022: April 10
  • 2023: April 2
  • 2024: March 24
  • 2025: April 13
  • 2026: March 29
  • 2027: March 21
  • 2028: April 9
  • 2029: March 25

3. Palm Sunday Traditions in France

A Man Carrying a Small Bible

Many French Palm Sunday traditions take place throughout the country, and they vary slightly based on region. For example, there are actually two different names for Palm Sunday. In northern France, it’s called Dimanche de Rameaux (“Sunday of Branches”); in southern France, it’s Dimanche de Palmes (“Sunday of Palms”). This is because the climate and weather of northern France are better suited for the growth of box-trees, while southern France has a climate more suited for palms. Some places in France also use olive branches.

On Palm Sunday, French believers go to the church to have their box-tree or palm branches blessed. They then take these branches home to decorate the front door, because some believe this grants God’s protection for the coming year. Some people also use these blessed branches as decorations for loved ones’ graves.

Another common Palm Sunday tradition is the Mass procession. This is when believers gather at one church to have the branches blessed and then proceed together toward a second church (or, if necessary, any other location deemed proper by the church).

4. Ash Wednesday

Each year, the branches that people took home on Palm Sunday are brought back to the church on Ash Wednesday the following year. There, the branches are burned, and the ashes are used to make a cross on the foreheads of believers. This is thought to give them God’s blessing.

5. Essential Palm Sunday Vocabulary

A Photo of Jerusalem

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Palm Sunday!

  • Dimanche — “Sunday”
  • Calendrier — “Calendar”
  • Pâques — “Easter”
  • Précéder — “Precede”
  • Entrée — “Entrance”
  • Semaine sainte — “Holy Week”
  • Chrétien — “Christian”
  • Jésus — “Jesus”
  • Jérusalem — “Jerusalem”
  • Mort — “Death”
  • Croix — “Cross”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Palm Sunday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Palm Sunday in France with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you celebrate Palm Sunday in your country? If so, do traditions vary from those in France or are they pretty much the same? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

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