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100 Must-Know French Verbs

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Did you get the chance to read our previous articles on 100 Nouns and 100 Adjectives? In that case, I guess you saw this one coming! To complete your French arsenal, I present you with the most common and useful French verbs. 

They’ll greatly expand your capacity to build interesting phrases, as well as enhance your reading and listening skills. More importantly, they’ll get you through most of your daily interactions and you’re not likely to be caught off-guard once you’ve mastered them.
In this article, we’ll cover everything from French verb conjugation—including -er and -ir verbs—reflexive verbs, and of course, a list of the top 100 verbs for you to add to your vocabulary.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in French Table of Contents
  1. Mastering French Verbs
  2. The 100 Most Useful French Verbs
  3. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. Mastering French Verbs

Je visite Paris - Tu visites Paris - Il visite Paris

1- French Tenses are Scary

If you know a bit about French verb conjugation, you know it can be intimidating, with many groups, tenses, and exceptions. However, once you start understanding the logic underneath, you’ll soon brush this first impression off.

Of course, coming from the English language, even the Présent tense can seem a bit overwhelming, with distinct endings for each pronoun:

  • Je pense
  • Tu penses
  • Il / Elle pense
  • Nous pensons
  • Vous pensez
  • Ils pensent

This is not an article about tenses, and we’ll stick to the Présent for most of the examples, with occasional notes on the Passé composé (one of the three most common tenses in spoken French, alongside Present and Near Future).

And for all your conjugation needs, I suggest that you bookmark this website (or any similar online resource): https://la-conjugaison.nouvelobs.com/. Also keep in mind that FrenchPod101 will soon have another article dedicated to French verb conjugation rules! 

2- The Curse of Irregular Verbs

One important thing to keep in mind is that, like in most languages, the most prominent verbs are also the most irregular ones. People have been using these verbs so much over the centuries that they had plenty of opportunities to evolve, mutate, and twist in mysterious ways, to the point where some of their conjugated forms differ wildly from the infinitive. 

You shouldn’t be put off by the first verbs you’ll learn, such as être (“to be”) or aller (“to go”). Just like in English, these verbs are highly irregular. But I still recommend that you learn them first, as they’re also some of the absolute most useful French verbs you’ll encounter.

3- The Bliss of Regular Verbs

Top Verbs

In the meantime, many other verbs will show similarities, and from them, you’ll get a grasp of how regular verbs work. 

Understanding regular French verbs early on will allow you to navigate through this list with much more ease, so here’s everything there is to know about conjugating French verbs:

Penser (“to think”) ← This is the infinitive form

Pens ← This is the “stem”

1st sg (I)2nd sg (you)3rd sg (she)1st pl (we)2nd pl (you)3rd pl (they)
Stem + eStem + esStem + eStem + onsStem + ezStem + ent
Je penseTu pensesElle penseNous pensonsVous pensezIls pensent

4- Should You Care About Verb Groups?

Short answer: No.

Oh well, let me elaborate a little. It’s very common when learning French verbs to start with a lesson on verb groups. There are three groups based on verb endings:

  • French ER verbs
  • French IR verbs
  • French RE verbs

Each of these groups follows a given set of rules that you can use as guidelines to conjugate virtually any French verb. Pretty cool, right? Except it doesn’t work.

The first group is somewhat regular…let’s say for the most part. Then, the other two groups are such a giant mess of irregularities that it doesn’t make sense to try and rely on groups at all. You’ll see that many of the IR and RE verbs from this very list don’t abide by any fixed set of rules. For that reason, I won’t talk about it any further.

French Kid Trying to Make Sense of Verb Groups.

5- How to Effectively Learn French Verbs

Understanding French verbs in their entirety may seem like an impossible task, and you’re probably wondering how to memorize French verbs easily and effectively. 

To quickly pick up on French verbs and conjugation, I recommend jumping right into it! Don’t clutter your memory with countless rules and conjugation tables. Instead, read the examples from this article’s verbs list and try to figure out for yourself the inner workings of their conjugation. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How does the infinitive end?
  • How does it end now that it’s conjugated with this pronoun?
  • Is it working like similar verbs I’ve seen before or could it be irregular?

The more you figure out by yourself, the more confident you’ll become with verbs and the quicker you’ll be able to handle them without overthinking it and dwelling on textbook rules. Only then can you consider reviewing what you’ve learned with some more academic material and get a better idea of the big picture.

Now, let’s review our French verbs list for beginners! 

2. The 100 Most Useful French Verbs

More Essential Verbs

These are French verbs used in daily life that you’ll hear over and over again in France. What are you waiting for? Get cracking!

1

être
“to be”
Je suis Français.
“I am French.”

2

avoir
“to have”
Tu as une maison à Paris.
“You have a house in Paris.”

Être and avoir are auxiliary verbs, which makes them the two most important French verbs. We use them to form compound conjugations in tenses such as passé composé and past subjunctive.

Here’s an example of passé composé with the verb manger (“to eat”):

  • Présent: Je mange (“I eat”)
  • Passé composé: J’ai mangé (“I have eaten”)

Here’s another example with the verb tomber (“to fall”):

  • Présent: Je tombe (“I fall”)
  • Passé composé: Je suis tombé (“I have fallen”)
/! When should I use the French auxiliary verbs être or avoir?

We use avoir in most situations, except for these two cases:

1) We use être for all pronominal verbs (those starting with se)

For example: se lever (“to stand up”)
  • Présent: Je me lève (“I stand up”)
  • Passé composé: Je me suis levé (“I have stood up”)
2) We also use être for a few other verbs, most of them reflecting a change of direction, state, or movement.

Some examples: monter, rester, retourner, descendre, passer, venir, aller, entrer, sortir, arriver, partir, tomber
French Irregular Verbs - Volumes 1 to 24

Now that our auxiliaries are under control, let’s get back to our list!

3

aller
“to go”
Vous allez à l’école le lundi.
“You go to school on Mondays.”
Aller is used to form one of the most important tenses of spoken French: Near Future.
  • Tu vas voir ! (“You will see!”)
  • Ils vont s’amuser. (“They will have fun.”)

4

vouloir
“to want,” “to wish”
Vous voulez du café ?
“Do you want some coffee?”

5

pouvoir
“can,” “to be able”
Il peut venir ce soir.
“He can come tonight.”

6

devoir
“must,” “to have to,” “to owe”
Nous devons y aller.
“We need to go.”
Devoir is also a noun, meaning “duty.”

7

falloir
“to have to”
Il faut le voir pour le croire.
“You have to see it to believe it.”

8

faire
“to do,” “to make”
Ils font la paix.
“They are making peace.”

9

dire
“to tell,” “to say”
Tu dis ce que tu penses.
“You say what you think.”

10

parler
“to speak”
Nous parlons souvent.
“We speak often.”

11

aimer
“to like,” “to love”
J’aime le fromage.
“I love cheese.”
It’s interesting to notice that “to like” and “to love” translate into the same French verb.

So, when I say: J’aime ma femme (“I love my wife”) and J’aime le fromage (“I love cheese”), it conveys a similar intensity.

Not so romantic now, are we?

12

mettre
“to put,” “to place”
Je mets le rôti au four.
“I put the roast in the oven.”

13

remettre
“to put back”
Tu remets ton chapeau.
“You’re putting your hat back.”

14

poser
“to put down,” “to ask”
Il pose son sac dans la chambre.
“He’s putting his bag in the bedroom.”

Elle pose trop de questions.
“She’s asking too many questions.”

15

prendre
“to take,” “to catch,” “to capture”
Il prend le bus tous les jours.
“He takes the bus everyday.”

16

donner
“to give”
Nous donnerons bientôt notre réponse.
“We will give our answer shortly.”

17

savoir
“to know”
Je ne sais pas.
“I don’t know.”

18

voir
“to see”
Les chats voient dans le noir.
“Cats can see in the dark.”

19

entendre
“to hear”
Ils ont entendu un bruit.
“They have heard a noise.”

20

demander
“to ask,” “to request”
Tu as demandé l’addition ?
“Did you ask for the check?”

21

répondre
“to answer,” “to reply”
Il répond à un email.
“He’s answering an email.”

22

chercher
“to look for”
Nous cherchons un appartement.
“We are looking for a flat.”

23

trouver
“to find,” “to discover”
Il trouve toujours une solution.
“He always finds a solution.”

24

retrouver
“to regain,” “to meet up”
On se retrouve devant la gare.
“We’re meeting in front of the train station.”

25

rendre
“to return,” “to give back,” “to make”
Tu vas rendre cet argent.
“You will give this money back.”

26

venir
“to come”
Nous venons en paix.
“We come in peace.”

27

passer
“to pass,” “to go,” “to come”
Il est passé par ici.
“He came this way.”

28

croire
“to believe,” “to think”
Je crois qu’il est là.
“I think he’s here.”

29

montrer
“to show”
Montrez-moi vos mains.
“Show me your hands.”

30

commencer
“to begin,” “to start”
Le film commence maintenant.
“The movie is starting now.”

31

continuer
“to continue,” “to keep going”
Continuez tout droit.
“Keep going straight.”

32

penser
“to think”
Je ne pense pas.
“I don’t think so.”

33

comprendre
“to understand,” “to include,” “to comprehend”
Ils ne comprennent rien.
“They don’t understand anything.”

34

rester
“to stay,” “to remain”
Restez calme.
“Remain calm.”

35

attendre
“to wait”
J’attends mon bus.
“I’m waiting for my bus.”

36

partir
“to leave”
Tu pars demain ?
“Are you leaving tomorrow?”

37

arriver
“to arrive,” “to happen”
Il est arrivé en retard.
“He arrived late.”

Ça arrive tous les jours.
“It happens everyday.”

38

suivre
“to follow”
Suivez cette voiture !
“Follow this car!”

39

revenir
“to come back”
Nous revenons de vacances.
“We are coming back from vacation.”

40

connaître
“to know”
Ils connaissent ce restaurant.
“They know this restaurant.”

41

compter
“to count”
Je vais compter jusqu’à 10.
“I will count to 10.”

42

permettre
“to permit,” “to allow”
Ils nous permettent d’entrer.
“They allow us to enter.”
French idiom time!
  • Tu permets ? (“Do you mind?”) [Casual]
  • Vous permettez ? (“Would you mind?”) [Polite]

43

s’occuper
“to take care of”
Il s’occupe des enfants.
“He’s taking care of the kids.”

44

sembler
“to seem”
Cela semble certain.
“It seems certain.”

45

lire
“to read”
Elle lit le journal.
“She’s reading the newspapers.”
Mother and Son Reading Books

Nous lisons un livre. (“We are reading a book.”)

46

écrire
“to write”
Nous écrivons sur un blog.
“We are writing on a blog.”

47

devenir
“to become,” “to turn into”
Je veux devenir pilote.
“I want to become a pilot.”

48

décider
“to decide”
Vous avez décidé de venir ?
“Did you decide to come?”

49

tenir
“to hold”
Je te tiendrai la main.
“I will hold your hand.”

50

porter
“to carry,” “to wear”
Il est interdit de porter des bretelles.
“It is forbidden to wear suspenders.”

51

servir
“to serve”
Ils servent de la soupe.
“They are serving soup.”

52

laisser
“to leave,” “to allow,” “to let”
Laissez-moi tranquille !
“Leave me alone!”

53

envoyer
“to send”
Ils vont l’envoyer par la poste.
“They will send it by mail.”

54

recevoir
“to receive”
Elle ne l’a pas encore reçu.
“She didn’t receive it yet.”

55

vivre
“to live”
Nous vivons en Russie.
“We live in Russia.”

56

appeler
“to call”
Je t’appelle plus tard.
“I’ll call you later.”

57

rappeler
“to remind,” “to call back”
Je te rappelle dans un moment.
“I’ll call you back in a moment.”

58

présenter
“to introduce,” “to present”
Je te présenterai ma fiancée.
“I’ll introduce you to my fiancée.”

59

accepter
“to accept”
Nous acceptons Visa et Mastercard.
“We accept Visa and Mastercard.”

60

refuser
“to refuse”
Il a refusé de travailler là.
“He refused to work there.”

61

agir
“to act”
Tu agis bizarrement.
“You’re acting weird.”

62

jouer
“to play”
Vous jouez à quoi ?
“What are you playing?”

63

reconnaître
“to recognize,” “to acknowledge”
Je ne l’avais pas reconnue.
“I didn’t recognize her.”

64

choisir
“to choose,” “to select”
Choisis bien !
“Choose well!”

65

toucher
“to touch”
Je peux toucher ?
“Can I touch?”

66

expliquer
“to explain”
Expliquez moi comment y aller.
“Explain to me how to go there.”

67

Se lever
“to stand up,” “to get out of bed”
Je me lève tous les jours à 8h.
“I get out of bed everyday at 8 o’clock.”

68

ouvrir
“to open”
Il ouvre son cadeau.
“He’s opening his present.”

69

gagner
“to win,” “to earn”
On a gagné !
“We won!”

70

perdre
“to lose”
Tu perds la tête.
“You’re losing your mind.”

71

exister
“to exist”
Ça existe encore ?
“Does it still exist?”

72

réussir
“to succeed,” “to manage”
J’ai réussi à le réparer.
“I managed to fix it.”

73

changer
“to change”
Il va changer de coiffure.
“He will change his haircut.”

74

travailler
“to work”
Nous travaillons dans l’informatique.
“We work in IT.”

75

dormir
“to sleep”
Elle dort sur le canapé.
“She’s sleeping on the couch.”

76

marcher
“to walk”
Ils marchent très rapidement.
“They walk really fast.”
Negative Verbs

77

essayer
“to try,” “to attempt”
J’essaye une nouvelle technique.
“I’m trying a new technique.”

78

empêcher
“to prevent,” “to stop”
Ca ne t’empêche pas d’essayer.
“It doesn’t stop you from trying.”

79

reprendre
“to resume,” “to take back”
Il reprend sa partie.
“He’s resuming his game.”

80

cuisiner
“to cook”
Vous cuisinez du cassoulet.
“You’re cooking cassoulet.”

81

appartenir
“to belong”
Cette maison appartient à ma famille.
“This house belongs to my family.”

82

risquer
“to risk”
Il risque sa vie tous les jours.
“He’s risking his life everyday.”

83

apprendre
“to learn,” “to teach”
Vous apprenez le Français sur FrenchPod101.
“You’re learning French on FrenchPod101.”

84

rencontrer
“to meet”
On s’est rencontrés sur Internet.
“We met on the Internet.”

85

créer
“to create”
Les écrivains créent des mondes imaginaires.
“Writers create imaginary worlds.”

86

obtenir
“to obtain,” “to get”
Il a obtenu son diplôme.
“He got his degree.”

87

entrer
“to enter”
Elle entre par la porte de derrière.
“She’s entering through the back door.”

88

sortir
“to exit,” “to go out,” “to leave”
Tu sors, ce soir ?
“Are you going out tonight?”

89

proposer
“to offer,” “to suggest”
Nous vous offrons un poste.
“We offer you a position.”

90

apporter
“to bring”
J’ai apporté du saucisson.
“I’ve brought saucisson.”

91

utiliser
“to use”
On utilise des engrais naturels.
“We use natural fertilizers.”

92

atteindre
“to reach,” “to achieve”
Ça a atteint de nouveaux sommets.
“It has reached new heights.”

93

préparer
“to prepare,” “to make”
Je prépare le déjeuner.
“I’m making lunch.”

94

ajouter
“to add”
Ajoutons un peu de sel.
“Let’s add a bit of salt.”

95

voyager
“to travel”
Je voyage en Europe.
“I travel in Europe.”

96

payer
“to pay”
Avez-vous payé l’addition ?
“Did you pay the check?”

97

vendre
“to sell,” “to distribute”
Je vends mon appareil photo.
“I’m selling my camera.”

98

acheter
“to buy”
Tu achètes un ordinateur.
“You buy a computer.”

99

pousser
“to push”
Nous devons pousser la voiture.
“We have to push the car.”

100

tirer
“to pull,” “to shoot”
Il faut tirer très fort.
“You have to pull real hard.”
Man Pushing the Couch

Il pousse le canapé. (“He’s pushing the couch.”)

3. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this French verbs guide, you’ve learned everything about French verbs, from conjugation to auxiliary, groups, and irregular French verbs. And of course, you now have a wide selection of the most useful French verbs, with examples to get you familiar with them.

Did I forget any important verb that you know? Do you feel ready to put them to work in your daily conversations with French speakers?


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. Your private teacher can help you practice with verbs and conjugation using assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples for you. They can also review yours to help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

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10 Types of French Pronouns to Keep Things Sleek and Smooth

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Do you feel like your French is awkwardly congested with unnecessary repetitions? Wish there was a way to make these go away, and replace them with…let me think…beautiful pronouns? Oh, hey, what a coincidence!

French pronouns are what keep you from repeating the same things over and over when it’s already been mentioned, or when it’s just plain obvious. For example, you wouldn’t call your friends by their names in every single sentence. It’s better to use personal pronouns, such as tu, il, or elle. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In this article, we’ll talk about the ten main categories of French pronouns—direct and indirect object pronouns all the way to the relative pronouns. 

There’s a lot of French pronouns rules to process and a hefty load of vocabulary, so spend as much time as you need to read the examples or to practice making sentences on your own, and you’ll be a pronouns expert before you know it. =)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Personal Pronouns
  2. Impersonal Pronouns
  3. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. Personal Pronouns 

Introducing Yourself

Alright, it’s time to make it personal and start with the first thing you think about when you hear “pronouns.”

Personal pronouns are everywhere, in almost every sentence, and you won’t empower your French without a deep and thorough dive into the crux of that matter.

These are the different types of personal pronouns:

  • Subject
  • Stressed
  • Direct object
  • Indirect object
  • Reflexive

We’ll look into every one of these types, but before we do, here’s an overview of what they all look like:

SubjectStressedDirect objectIndirect objectReflexive
jemoimememe
tutoitetete
il; elle; onlui; elle; soile; laluise
nous; onnousnousnousnous
vousvousvousvousvous
ils; elleseux; elleslesleurse

Now, let’s have a closer look at these French pronouns and how to use them. We’ll also look at how they behave and how they compare to their English counterparts.

1- Personal Subject Pronouns

No matter your level of French, you already know these guys. They’re some of the most basic and common words in the language, featured in the very first sentences you ever learned.

These pronouns simply replace the subject of a sentence.

For example:

  • Marie a faim. 

“Marie is hungry.”

  • Elle a faim. 

“She is hungry.”

SubjectExample
je (“I”)Je suis Français. 
“I am French.”
tu (“you”)Tu as raison. 
“You are right.”
il (“he”)


elle (“she”)


on (*)
Il frappe à la porte. 
“He is knocking on the door.”

Elle frappe à la porte. 
“She is knocking at the door.”

On frappe à la porte. 
“Someone is knocking at the door.”
nous, on (“we”)Nous sommes mariés. 
We are married.
vous (“you”)Vous êtes de vrais amis. 
“You are true friends.”
ils, elles (“they”)Ils vont bien. 
“They are doing well.”

(*) On is an odd case. It can be used as an indefinite pronoun or as an alternative to nous.

Depending on the sentence and context, on can translate as “someone,” “one,” or “people.”

  • On pourrait croire que… 

“One could think that…”

  • A l’époque, on pensait que… 

“At the time, people thought that…”

In other cases, on translates into a slightly casual nous. Indeed, in most conversations, you’ll use on instead of nous.

  • On sera un peu en retard ce soir. 

“We will be a bit late tonight.”

  • On va prendre la voiture. 

“We will take the car.”

2- Stressed Pronouns

No need to bang your head anywhere, these pronouns are much more stressed than they are stressful. They’re even pretty straightforward, once you get to know them!

StressedExample
1st person [s]moiC’est moi
“It’s me!”
2nd person [s]toiJ’en ai un. Et toi
“I’ve got one. And you?”
3rd person [s]lui; elle; soiNous sommes différents, lui et moi
“We are different, he and I.”

Avec ou sans elle 
“With or without her”
1st person [p]nousIls sont plus fort que nous
“They are stronger than us.”
2nd person [p]vousNous sommes meilleurs que vous. 
“We are better than you.”
3rd person [p]eux; ellesNe fais pas attention à eux. 
“Don’t mind them.”
Woman Meditating

Don’t let the stressed pronouns get on your nerves!

3- Direct and Indirect Pronouns

Now it’s getting serious! Before we get to these French pronouns examples, we need to talk about how they work and how to place direct and indirect pronouns in a sentence.

First, you need to find out whether you need a COD (Complément d’Objet Direct, not Call of Duty!) or a COI (Complément d’Objet Indirect).

COD answers the question: “Who?” or “What?

COI answers the question: “To whom?” or “To what?

And here are the different forms:

Direct objectIndirect object
1st person [s]meme
2nd person [s]tete
3rd person [s]le; lalui
1st person [p]nousnous
2nd person [p]vousvous
3rd person [p]lesleur
  • Let’s take an example: 

Julie donne une pomme. 

“Julie gives an apple.”

Subject + Verb + ?

Julie donne quoi ? 

“Julie gives what?”

Une pomme. 

“An apple.”


Une pomme is our COD.

Now, we’ll replace une pomme with a direct pronoun and it changes the order of the words:

Subject + Direct Pronoun + Verb.

Julie la donne. 

“Julie gives it.”

  • Let’s take another example: 

Julie parle aux enfants. 

“Julie talks to the kids.”

Subject + Verb + ?

Julie parle à qui ? 

“Julie talks to whom?”

Aux enfants. 

“To the kids.”

Aux enfants is our COI.

Now, we’ll replace aux enfants with an indirect pronoun and change the order to:

Subject + Indirect Pronoun + Verb.

Julie leur parle. 

“Julie talks to them.”

  • And finally, let’s see how to use direct pronouns and indirect pronouns in one single sentence. What’s Julie up to?

Julie donne une pomme aux enfants.  

“Julie gives an apple to the kids.”

We already know that une pomme is COD and aux enfants is COI.

The sentence is built as follows: 

Subject + Direct PronounIndirect Pronoun + Verb

Julie la leur donne. 

“Julie gives it to them.”

Okay, that was heavy! Let’s relax a bit with some more examples to help you get familiar with the structures:

  • Julie donne une pomme à Cyril. (That’s me!)

Julie me la donne. 

“Julie gives it to me.”

  • Julie donne une pomme au lecteur. (She gives it to the reader, that’s you!)

Julie te la donne. 

“Julie gives it to you.”

  • Julie te les donne. 

“Julie gives it to you.”

(But it’s plural; there are several apples.)

  • Julie me les présente. 

“Julie introduces them to me.”

  • Julie te la présente. 

“Julie introduces her to you.”

  • Julie nous la présente. 

“Julie introduces her to us.”

Daughter Giving an Apple to Her Mother

Elle la lui donne. (“She gives it to her.”)

4- Reflexive Pronouns

I’d like to tell you that the worst part is behind us, but reflexive pronouns are still in the way!

Reflexive pronouns are used with reflexive verbs, such as:

  • Se laver
  • S’appeler
  • S’intéresser

While there’s nothing inherently complex about them, English-speakers can find them quite arbitrary. (Why are s’habiller or s’appeler reflexive verbs while manger is not?)

The general idea is that verbs that imply an action on yourself are reflexive, and can usually be translated using an additional “oneself.”

For example:

  • Nous nous lavons. 

“We wash [ourselves].”

  • Je m’appelle Bob. 

“I call [myself] Bob.” = “My name is Bob.”

  • Il se demande. 

“He asks himself.”

  • Elle s’habille. 

She dresses [herself].”

Many verbs involving a motion of some sort are also reflexive.

  • Il s’éloigne. 

“He moves [himself] away.”

  • Je m’assois. 

“I sit [myself].”

ReflexiveExamples
1st person [s]meJe me lève. 
“I stand up.”
2nd person [s]teTu te demandes. 
“You wonder.”
3rd person [s]seElle se promène. 
“She strolls.”
1st person [p]nousNous nous endormons. 
“We fall asleep.”
2nd person [p]vousVous vous rasez. 
“You shave.”
3rd person [p]seIls s’inscrivent. 
“They register.”

2. Impersonal Pronouns

Basic Questions

1- Impersonal Subject Pronouns

If you like to keep it to yourself and never show your true feelings, you have a lot in common with impersonal pronouns! Let’s see how to stay vague in French, starting with the impersonal subject pronouns:

  • Ça; ce; c’ 

“It”

  • Il 

“It”

What? Did you expect another big flashy tab, full of rows and colorful columns?

Now, here’s how to use them:

  • Ça commence maintenant. 

“It starts now.”

  • Ce n’est la première fois. 

“It is not the first time.”

  • C’est terminé. 

“It is over.”

  • Il est impossible d’entrer. 

“It is impossible to enter.”

  • Il est temps. 

“It is time.”

2- French Adverbial Pronouns

Not an overwhelming list either, but I can’t stress enough how important they are!

“there”; “about it”

  • en 

“one”; “some”; “of it”; “of them”

y is used to replace à [quelque chose] (“to [something]”; “about [something]”) or en [quelque chose] (“in [something]”)

This [something] is often a place, but not always, as long as it’s inanimate.

  • Je veux aller à Paris. 

“I want to go to Paris.”

Je veux y aller. 

“I want to go there.”

  • Je pense à mon avenir. 

“I think about my future.”

J’y pense. 

“I think about it.”

  • Je crois en la science. 

“I believe in science.”

J’y crois. 

“I believe in it.”

en is used to replace de(s) ____ (“some ____”; “of ____”)

You’ll see it a lot when talking about quantities.

  • J’ai une pomme. 

“I have an apple.”

J’en ai une. 

“I have one.”

  • J’ai deux frères. 

“I have 2 brothers.”

J’en ai deux. 

“I have two of them.”

  • J’ai beaucoup de cheveux. 

“I have lots of hair.”

J’en ai beaucoup. 

“I have a lot of it.”

  • Il a du temps. 

“He has time.”

Il en a. 

“He has some.”

A Colony of Penguins

Il y en a des milliers. (“There are thousands of them.”)

3- Relative Pronouns

I’ll keep these relatively simple, as they can easily be compared to English.

Of course, it’s never an exact translation, but it will give you a fairly good idea of how to use them in a variety of contexts.

que 
“that”
Tu penses qu’il va pleuvoir ? 
“Do you think that it will rain?”

Je sais que tu es là. 
“I know that you are here.”
qui 
“who”
J’ai un fils qui m’aime. 
“I have a son who loves me.”
où 
“where”; “when”
C’est la maison où je vis. 
“This is the house where I live.”

Le jour où je t’ai rencontrée 
“The day when I met you”
dont 
“whose”; “that”
L’homme dont c’est le chapeau 
“The man whose hat it is”

La personne dont tu parles 
“The person [that] you’re talking about”
lequel(s) 
laquelle(s)
“which”; “that”
Le lit sur lequel nous dormons
“The bed on which we sleep”

Les rues dans lesquelles nous travaillons
The streets in which we are working”

/! You can’t use these to talk about people.

4- Demonstrative Pronouns

The demonstrative pronoun celui replaces something that was mentioned earlier.

  • J’aime le café mais pas celui de Starbucks. 

“I like coffee, but not the one from Starbucks.”

Sure, you could also say: 

J’aime le café mais pas le café de Starbucks. 

“I like coffee, but not the coffee from Starbucks.”

But it sounds clumsy, doesn’t it?

This demonstrative pronoun has masculine, feminine, and plural forms:

Masc. [s]celui
“The” / “This” / “That one”
C’est celui que je préfère. 
“This is the one I prefer.”
Masc. [p]ceux
“These” / “Those”
Ceux du fond
“Those in the back”
Fem. [s]celle
“The” / “This” / “That one”
Je te donne celle que tu veux. 
“I give you the one you want.”
Fem. [p]celles
“These” / “Those”
Celles de gauche 
“These on the left”

You can’t end a phrase with these demonstrative pronouns in their base form, or put them right before a verb. They simply don’t like it!

Instead, you have to add a suffix. It can be either ci (here) or (there).

  • J’ai deux livres. Je te prête celui.
  • J’ai deux livres, je te prête celui-ci. 

“I have two books, I’ll lend you this one.”

  • J’aime ces deux histoires mais je préfère celle-là. 

“I love these two stories, but I prefer that one.”

Two Kids Reading in the Dark

C’est celui que je préfère. (“This is the one I prefer.”)

5- Interrogative Pronouns

In case your brain is already melting out of your ears, let’s keep this one as simple as possible. Nothing complicated about interrogative pronouns, really!

qui 
“who”
Qui es-tu ? 
“Who are you?”
où 
“where”
Où allons-nous ? 
“Where are we going?”
quand 
“when”
Quand partez-vous ? 
“When do you leave?”
quoi 
“what”
A quoi penses-tu ? 
“What are you thinking about?”
lequel


lesquels


laquelle


lesquelles
“which one”
Lequel tu préfères ? 
“Which one do you prefer?”

Lesquels sont les plus gros ? 
“Which ones are the biggest?”

Laquelle me va le mieux ? 
“Which one suits me best?”

Lesquelles veux-tu voir ? 
“Which ones do you want to see?”
quel
quels
quelle
quelles
“which”
Quelle heure est-il ? 
“What time is it?”

/! These aren’t technically pronouns (they’re interrogative adjectives) but it felt wrong not to include them. And they were crying.

6- Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are these vague fellows who don’t want to be too specific about what’s going on or who’s involved. There are many of them, and they prove to be very useful.

Here are a few of the most common ones:

tout 
“everything”; “anything”; “all”
Tout est possible. 
“Anything is possible.”
rien 
“nothing”
Rien n’est impossible. 
“Nothing is impossible.”
personne 
“nobody”
Personne n’est parfait. 
“Nobody’s perfect.”
chacun 
“everyone”; “every man”
Chacun pour soi 
“Every man for himself”
tout le monde 
“everybody”
Tout le monde est là ? 
“Is everybody here?”
quelqu’un 
“someone”
Quelqu’un va venir. 
“Someone will come.”
quelque chose 
“something”
Quelque chose te tracasse ? 
“Is there something bothering you?”
certains 
“some [people]”
Certains sont venus. 
“Some people came.”

3. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

Improve Listening

In this French pronouns guide, you’ve learned everything about French pronouns, from direct to indirect object pronouns, French relative pronouns, and many more! 

Did we forget any important pronouns? Do you feel ready to come up with impressive sentences using all of these new tools? Or do you need more French pronouns help?

I’m gonna say it again, but the key is to take it one step at a time. Understanding French pronouns doesn’t happen overnight. Start making sentences with personal subject pronouns, then keep building from there! 

  • Sophie a acheté des pommes pour Nicolas.
  • Elle a acheté des pommes pour Nicolas.
  • Elle a acheté des pommes pour lui.
  • Elle en a acheté pour lui.

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. The vocabulary lists are also a great way to review the words and learn their pronunciation.
Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice using French pronouns with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with your pronunciation.

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Premium PLUS: The Golden Ticket for Language-Learning

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Allow me to emphasize on how these Premium PLUS features strengthen my language studies.

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As a Premium PLUS member, I have full access to the lesson library and other Premium features. Best of all, I’m not limited to one level; I can learn to my heart’s content with upper-level courses.

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Practice Speaking with the Voice Recording Tool!

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Pronunciation is an essential ingredient in language-learning. Proper pronunciation prompts clear understanding during conversations with native speakers.

Prior to learning full Korean sentences, my online Korean language tutor assigned the “Hana Hana Hangul” pathway to me. It demonstrated the writing and pronunciation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Throughout this pathway, I submitted recordings of my Hangul character pronunciations to my language teacher for review.

I was given a similar task on JapanesePod101.com with the “Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide” pathway. My Japanese language teacher tested my pronunciation of the Japanese characters kana. My completion of the two pathways boosted my confidence in speaking.

Speaking is one of the more challenging components of learning a language. The voice recording tool in particular was a great way for me to improve my speaking skills. Further, because the lesson dialogues are spoken by native speakers, I’m able to practice speaking naturally.

This feature is also available for vocabulary words and sample sentences. Being able to hear these recordings improves my pronunciation skills for languages like Japanese, where intonation can change the meaning of a word entirely. The voice recorder examines my speed and tone. I also follow up by sending a recording to my online language tutor for feedback.

A great way to boost one’s speaking confidence is to shadow native speakers. During the vocabulary reviews, it’s helpful for me to hear the breakdown of each word; doing so makes a word that was originally difficult to even read a breeze to say!

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Example Scenario:

The host asks the following question:

어디에 살고 있습니까?

eodieseo salgo isseumnikka

“Where do you live?”

If you live in Tokyo, you would readily say the following:

도쿄에 살고 있습니다.

Tokyo-e salgo isseumnida.

“I live in Tokyo.”

Increase Your Vocab with Spaced-Repetition Flashcards and More!

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Imagine having a conversation with a native speaker and hesitating because you lack a solid vocabulary base.

Premium PLUS offers various features to expand learners’ vocabulary, including Free Gifts of the Month. FrenchPod101’s free gifts for April 2020 included an e-book with “400 Everyday Phrases for Beginners,” and the content is updated every month. When I download free resources like this, I find opportunities to use them with co-teachers, friends, or my language tutors.

An effective way to learn vocabulary is with SRS flashcards. SRS is a system designed for learning a new word and reviewing it in varying time intervals.

You can create and study flashcard decks, whether it’s your Word Bank or a certain vocabulary list. For example, if you need to visit a post office, the “Post Office” vocabulary list for your target language would be beneficial to study prior to your visit.

In addition to the SRS flashcards, each lesson has a vocabulary slideshow and quiz to review the lesson’s vocabulary.

There’s also the 2000 Core Word List, which includes the most commonly used words in your target language. Starting from the 100 Core Word List, you’ll gradually build up your knowledge of useful vocabulary. These lists can be studied with SRS flashcards, too.

With the SRS flashcards, you can change the settings to your liking. The settings range from different card types to number of new cards per deck. Personally, I give myself vocabulary tests by changing the settings.

After studying a number of flashcards, I change the card types to listening comprehension and/or production. Then I test myself by writing the translation of the word or the spoken word or phrase.

The change in settings allow me to remember vocabulary and learn how to identify the words. This is especially helpful with Japanese kanji!

Complete Homework Assignments!

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Homework assignments are advantageous to my language studies. There are homework assignments auto-generated weekly. They range from multiple-choice quizzes to writing assignments.

Language tutors are readily available for homework help. Some writing assignments, for instance, require use of unfamiliar vocabulary. In such cases, my language teachers assist me by forwarding related lessons or vocabulary lists.

In addition to these auto-generated homework tasks, language tutors customize daily assignments. My daily homework assignments include submitting three written sentences that apply the target grammar point of that lesson, and then blindly audio-recording those sentences. My personal language tutor follows up with feedback and corrections, if needed.

Your language tutors also provide assignments upon requests. When I wanted to review grammar, my Korean teacher sent related quizzes and assignments. Thus, you are not only limited to the auto-generated assignments.

Every weekend, I review by re-reading those written sentences. It helps me remember sentence structures, grammar points, and vocabulary to apply in real-world contexts.

Furthermore, I can track my progress with language portfolios every trimester. It’s like a midterm exam that tests my listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

Get Your Own Personal Language Teacher!

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My language teachers cater to my goals with personalized and achievable learning programs. The tangible support of my online language teachers makes it evident that we share common goals.

Once I share a short-term or long-term goal with my teacher, we establish a plan or pathway that will ultimately result in success. I coordinate with my teachers regularly to ensure the personalized learning programs are prosperous. For example, during my JLPT studies, my Japanese language tutor assigned me practice tests.

Your language tutor is available for outside help as well. When I bought drama CDs in Japan, I had difficulty transliterating the dialogue. My Japanese teacher forwarded me the script to read along as I listened.

Additionally, I often practice Korean and Japanese with music. I memorize one line of the lyrics daily. Every time, I learn a new grammar point and new vocabulary. I add the vocabulary to my SRS flashcards, locate the grammar in the Grammar Bank, and study the associated lessons online.

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A remarkable thing happened to me in South Korea. I was stressed about opening a bank account with limited Korean. I sought help from my Korean teacher. She forwarded me a script of a bank conversation.

After two days, I visited the local bank. It all started with my opening sentence:

은행 계좌를 만들고 싶어요

eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

Everything went smoothly, and I exited the bank with a new account!

The MyTeacher Messenger allows me to share visuals with my teachers for regular interaction, including videos to critique my pronunciation mechanisms. I improve my listening and speaking skills by exchanging audio with my teachers. In addition to my written homework assignments, I exchange messages with my language teachers in my target language. This connection with my teachers enables me to experience the culture as well as the language.

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It’s impossible for me to imagine my continuous progress with Japanese and Korean without Premium PLUS. Everything—from the SRS flashcards to my language teachers—makes learning languages enjoyable and clear-cut.

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Subscribe to Posted by FrenchPod101.com in Feature Spotlight, French Language, Learn French, Site Features, Team FrenchPod101

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!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Around Town in French

100 Must-Know French Nouns

Thumbnail Do you know that the sun, a world, or a spider are guys, while moons, tables, and legs are girls? And these are only a few family-friendly examples of the French nouns genders’ oddity. Wait until you learn about the male and female genital words and their counter-intuitive genders.

Figuring out which are the feminine nouns in French is one of the trickiest aspects of the language, and so is the formation of plural nouns, but bear with me for a little while and you’ll learn a collection of useful tricks to help you wrap your head around it!

In this guide, you’ll find a list of the 100 most common and useful French nouns and how to use them. For each of these words, I’ve included the gender, plural form, translation, and example sentences. If you manage to memorize most of the items on this French nouns list, you’ll be pretty far along on your way to talking about a great many things!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French Table of Contents
  1. Gender and Plural
  2. About Time
  3. Places
  4. Technology & Internet
  5. Home, Sweet Home
  6. City & Transports
  7. Family & Friends
  8. Body Parts
  9. Food & Utensils
  10. Occupation
  11. Clothing Items
  12. Bonus: Communication
  13. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French


1. Gender and Plural

Scattered Word Magnets

Le vocabulaire (“Vocabulary”)

1- How do you know if a French word is masculine or feminine?

French nouns are either masculine or feminine.

For instance, le soleil (“the sun”) is masculine, while la lune (“the moon”) is feminine.

The question of why une araignée (“a spider”) is female and un cafard (“a cockroach”) is male doesn’t matter as much as: How do I know which gender it is?

Luckily, it’s generally quite straightforward, and based on the final letters of a word, you can guess its gender. The rule isn’t entirely accurate, but as you get used to these typical masculine and feminine endings, you’ll be able to make good guesses.

      Usually feminine endings:
      Most words ending in -e or -ion
      • Une lune; une année; une semaine
      • Une nation; une division
      Except words ending in -age, -ege, , -isme
      Usually masculine endings:
      Words ending in -age, -ege, , -isme

      + Everything else.
      • Un mariage; un été
      • Un jour; un parc; un nain
      Should you learn all of these endings by heart? I don’t believe so.
      1. It would be a tedious and super-boring process.
      2. This is not how native speakers learn the words’ genders.


      If you’re wondering how to remember French nouns’ gender, I instead encourage you to ALWAYS learn new nouns with their article.
      • Soleil Un soleil (“A sun”)
      • Lune Une lune (“A moon”)


      You can also memorize them with a definite article. It’s just a matter of preference.
      • Le soleil (“The sun”)
      • La lune (“The moon”)
      Man and Woman Arguing

      The gender war is declared.

      2- How to make French nouns plural

      For most nouns, simply add an -s at the end of the word.
      • Un an -> des ans
      • Un jour -> des jours


      Nouns ending in -au become -aux.
      • Un bateau -> des bateaux


      Nouns ending in -ou usually become -ous, but some take a -oux.
      • Un fou -> des fous
      • Un bijou -> des bijoux


      Nouns ending in -al become -aux.
      • Un animal -> des animaux


      Finally, nouns ending in -s, -x, or -z are invariable.
      • Une souris -> des souris
      • Un lynx -> des lynx
      • Un nez -> des nez


      Now that we’ve learned how to determine the gender of French nouns and how to make them plural, let’s move on to our 100 French nouns list!

      2. About Time

      Nouns 1
      Un an; des ans
      “Year”

      Une année; des années
      “Year”
      Nous vivons ici depuis dix ans.
      “We have been living here for ten years.”

      Nous vivons ici depuis plusieurs années.
      “We have been living here for several years.”
      An is mainly used when there is a number involved:
      • J’ai 35 ans. (“I’m 35 years old.”)
      • Trois fois par an (“Three times per year”)
      Année is used in most other cases:
      • Je voyage chaque année. (“I travel every year.”)
      • L’année dernière, j’ai arrêté de fumer. (“Last year, I stopped smoking.”)
      Une semaine; des semaines
      “Week”

      A la semaine prochaine !
      “See you next week!”
      Un mois; des mois
      “Month”
      Le mois de juillet est souvent ensoleillé.
      “The month of July is often sunny.”
      Un jour; des jours
      “Day”
      Je viendrai dans trois jours.
      “I will come in three days.”
      Une heure; des heures
      “Hour”
      Ce film dure trois heures.
      “This movie is three hours long.”
      Quick Tip: How to tell time?

      In France, you can use the twelve- or twenty-four-hour system.
      • Quelle heure est-il ? (“What time is it?”)
      • Il est seize heures et demi. (“It is 4:30 PM.” Literally: “It is 16 and half.”)
      • Il est huit heures trente cinq. (“It is 8:35.”)
      Une minute; des minutes
      “Minute”
      Laisse moi deux minutes et on y va !
      “Give me two minutes and let’s go!”
      Un temps; des temps
      “Time”
      Je n’ai pas le temps.
      “I don’t have the time.”

        → Make sure to visit our full article about Time as well as our vocabulary list on Talking About Time, with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation. It’s freely available on FrenchPod101!


      Lots of Clocks

      Une question de temps (“A matter of time”)

      3. Places



      Un monde; des mondes
      “World”
      La plus belle plage du monde.
      “The most beautiful beach in the world.”
      Un pays; des pays
      “Country”

      Tu as visité de nombreux pays.
      “You have visited many countries.”
      Un endroit; des endroits
      “Place”
      J’adore cet endroit !
      “I love this place!”
      In Quebec, where French is a bit different, a place is une place.
      • Montréal est un endroit une place que j’aime beaucoup
        “Montreal is a place that I like very much.”
      In France, une place means “a square,” as in La place centrale (“The main square”).
      Une région; des régions
      “Region”
      C’est le plat typique de ma région.
      “This is the typical dish of my region.”
      Une mer; des mers
      “Sea”
      La mer du nord est un peu froide.
      “The northern sea is a bit cold.”
      Une forêt; des forêts
      “Forest”
      Il s’est perdu dans la forêt.
      “He got lost in the forest.”
      Une montagne; des montagnes
      “Mountain”
      Des vacances à la montagne
      “Mountain vacations”
      Un magasin; des magasins
      “Shop”
      Tu peux en acheter dans ce magasin.
      “You can buy some in this shop.”
      Une banque; des banques
      “Bank”
      J’ai besoin de retirer de l’argent à la banque.
      “I need to withdraw some cash at the bank.”
      Un parc; des parcs
      “Park”
      On se retrouve dans le parc ?
      “Shall we meet in the park?”

        → Learn more about how to navigate French cities with our free vocabulary list on places Around Town.


      4. Technology & Internet

      Nouns 2
      Un téléphone; des téléphones
      “Phone”
      Je te donne mon numéro de téléphone.
      “I’ll give you my phone number.”
      Un portable; des portables
      “Mobile phone”
      Tu me donnes ton numéro de portable ?
      “Can you give me your mobile phone number?”
      Portable VS. Mobile VS. Laptop

      A common source of confusion, even among natives, is the word portable meaning “mobile phone” and “laptop.”

      One way to avoid the confusion is to use un mobile or un smartphone instead of un portable when talking about mobile phones. Younger generations also tend to use laptop instead of portable.

      To be fair, it’s usually easy to guess from the context.
      Un ordinateur; des ordinateurs
      “Computer”
      Mon ordinateur est un PC.
      “My computer is a PC.”
      Fun fact: PC is also the acronym for the French communist party: Parti Communiste.
      Is there any risk of ever confusing these two? I wouldn’t bet on it.
      Une tablette; des tablettes
      “Tablet”
      Tu as installé l’app sur ta tablette ?
      “Did you install the app on your tablet?”
      Une télé; des télés
      “TV”
      Il y a quoi à la télé, ce soir ?
      “What’s on TV tonight?”
      Télévision, Télé, or TV?

      While Télévision is the full word, it’s rarely used in conversations; Télé is far more popular. TV is mainly used in writing.

      Un chargeur,;des chargeurs
      “Charger”
      Je peux emprunter ton chargeur ?
      “Can I borrow your charger?”
      Internet
      “Internet”
      On n’a pas internet, dans ce petit village.
      “We don’t have internet in this small village.”
      Internet (with a capital “I”), internet, or l’internet?

      Short answer: Whatever you like!

      (But use “internet” if you wanna sound cool. L’internet is for your grandpa.)

      Long answer: According to the Académie Française (official patron of the French language), you can use both. However, there was an attempt in 2016 at the national assembly to officialize l’internet over “internet.” Thank goodness, the bill didn’t pass.
      Un site web; des sites web
      “A website”
      On ira voir sur le site web de la mairie.
      “We’ll check on the city hall’s website.”
      Site or Site web? Whichever.
      • On ira voir sur le site de la mairie.
        “We’ll check on the city hall’s website.”
      Un compte; des comptes
      “Account”
      Tu as un compte Skype ?
      “Do you have a Skype account?”
      Un mot de passe; des mots de passe
      “Password”
      Je dois réinitialiser mon mot de passe.
      “I need to reset my password.”
      How do you say “login?”
      We often say login, but you can equally say identifiant.
      Un fichier; des fichiers
      “File”
      J’ai copié les fichiers sur ma clef USB.
      “I copied the files on my USB drive.”
      Un logiciel; des logiciels
      “Software”
      Tu peux installer ce logiciel.
      “You can install this software.”

        → Appliances and technology are a vast topic and I’m just scratching the surface here! Don’t miss any words with our free vocabulary lists on Home Appliances, Technology, and the Internet.

      A Mobile Phone being Used in Front of a Laptop

      La technologie (“Technology”)

      5. Home, Sweet Home


      Une maison; des maisons
      “House”; “Home”
      On rentre à la maison.
      “We’re going home.”
      Une porte; des portes
      “Door”
      La première porte à gauche
      “The first door on the left”
      Une fenêtre; des fenêtres
      “Window”
      Les cambrioleurs ont cassé une fenêtre.
      “Burglars have broken a window.”
      Un frigo; des frigos
      “A fridge”
      Ne mettez jamais de vin rouge au frigo !
      “Don’t ever put red wine in the fridge!”
      Ideally, before and after it has been opened, you should keep it out of light and at room temperature.
      Une armoire; des armoires
      “Closet”
      On a besoin d’une nouvelle armoire.
      “We need a new closet.”
      Une pièce; des pièces
      “Room”
      Ce serait bien d’avoir une pièce en plus.
      “It would be nice to have one more room.”
      Une cuisine; des cuisines
      “Kitchen”
      N’oublie pas d’aérer la cuisine.
      “Don’t forget to ventilate the kitchen.”
      Cuisine also means…well, “Cuisine.” #CaptainObvious
      • J’aime la cuisine indienne. 
        “I love Indian cuisine.”
      Un salon; des salons
      “Living room”
      On va prendre l’apéro dans le salon.
      “We’ll take the aperitif in the living room.”
      Une chambre; des chambres
      “Bedroom”
      Ma chambre a un plafond intéressant.
      “My bedroom has an interesting ceiling.”
      Des toilettes (invariable)
      “Toilets”
      Où sont les toilettes ?
      “Where are the toilets?”
      We also use WC, for “water closet.”
      Une salle de bain; des salles de bain
      “Bathroom”
      Il y a une autre salle de bain à l’étage.
      “There is another bathroom upstairs.”


      6. City & Transports

      Nouns 3
      Une voiture; des voitures
      “Car”
      J’ai vendu ma voiture.
      “I’ve sold my car.”
      Un bus; des bus
      “Bus”
      Je prends souvent le bus.
      “I often take the bus.”
      Un train; des trains
      “Train”
      Je voyage parfois en train.
      “I sometimes travel by train.”
      Un avion; des avions
      “Plane”
      J’évite surtout de prendre l’avion.
      “I especially avoid taking planes.”
      Un taxi; des taxis
      “Taxi”; “Cab”
      Tu peux m’appeler un taxi ?
      “Can you call me a cab?”
      Un vélo; des vélos
      “Bicycle”
      Un vélo de course.
      “A racing bicycle.”
      Vélo is short for vélocipède, a word so popular that I learned about it two minutes ago.
      Une ville; des villes
      “City”; “Town”
      On se promène en ville.
      “We’re strolling in town.”
      Une rue; des rues
      “Street”
      Une rue piétonne
      “A walking street”
      Une avenue; des avenues
      “Avenue”
      L’avenue principale
      “The main avenue”
      Une route; des routes
      “Road”
      Les routes de campagne sont tranquilles.
      “Countryside roads are quiet.”
      A Bus

      Les transports en commun (“Public transports”)

      7. Family & Friends


      Une mère; des mères
      “Mother”

      Aujourd’hui, c’est la fête des mères.
      “Today is Mother’s Day.”
      Ma maman 
      “My mom”
      Un père; des pères
      “Father”
      Luke, je suis ton père.
      “Luke, I am your father.”
      Mon papa 
      “My dad”
      Une femme; des femmes
      “Wife” (literally: “Woman”)
      Ma femme a toujours raison.
      “My wife is always right.”
      You can also say Mon épouse (formal) or Ma conjointe (super-formal).
      Un mari; des maris
      “Husband”
      Son mari est enseignant.
      “Her husband is a teacher.”
      You can also say Mon époux (formal) or Mon conjoint (super-formal).
      Un frère; des frères
      “Brother”
      Il t’aime comme un frère.
      “He loves you like a brother.”
      Une soeur; des soeurs
      “Sister”
      J’ai deux soeurs et un frère.
      “I have two sisters and one brother.”
      Une famille; des familles
      “Family”
      Je passe Noël avec ma famille.
      “I spend Christmas with my family.”
      You can also use un parent/des parents, but don’t confuse mon parent (“my relative”) and mes parents (“my parents”).

      Un parent (“a relative”) or des parents (“relatives”) both refer to relatives of any kind, while mes parents (possessive plural) means: “my parents” (mom and dad).
      • Je vais voir mes parents. 
        “I’m going to see my parents.”

      • J’ai des parents dans la région. 
        “I have relatives in the region.”
      Une copine; des copines
      “Girlfriend”

      Un copain; des copains
      “Boyfriend”

      Je vais au cinéma avec ma copine.
      “I’m going to the cinema with my girlfriend.”

      Laisse tomber, j’ai un copain.
      “Let it go, I have a boyfriend.”
      The word copain / copine also means “buddy.” It depends on the context, but it can be confusing even for locals. (Just like when American women talk about their “girlfriends.”)

      The general rule is:
      • When you say un copain, it means “a buddy” or “a pal.”
      • When you say mon copain, it means “my boyfriend.”
      Un fils; des fils
      “Son”

      Nous sommes les fils de la Terre.
      “We are the sons of the Earth.”
      Une fille; des filles
      “Daughter” (Literally: “Girl”)
      Ma fille aînée.
      “My elder daughter.”
      Un ami; des amis
      “Friend”
      Tu es mon meilleur ami.
      “You’re my best friend.”

        → To read more about the rest of the family, check out our free vocabulary list on Family Members. And be sure not to miss our special article about The French Family to learn everything on this important topic, from the vocabulary to the cultural aspect of it!

      8. Body Parts


      Une tête; des têtes
      “Head”
      Un chasseur de têtes
      “A headhunter”
      Un oeil; des yeux
      “Eye”
      Tu as de très beaux yeux.
      “You have very beautiful eyes.”
      Une bouche; des bouches
      “Mouth”
      Ouvre la bouche.
      “Open your mouth.”
      Un nez; des nez
      “Nose”
      Un piercing au nez.
      “A nose piercing.”
      The French don’t stand toe to toe, but nose to nose.
      • Il se trouve nez à nez avec elle. 
        “He’s standing toe to toe with her.”
      However, in French, this expression doesn’t necessarily involve a conflict or competition. It means that you unexpectedly end up right in front of that person.
      Un cheveu; des cheveux
      “Hair”
      Elle a les cheveux courts.
      “She has short hair.”
      Un bras; des bras
      “Arm”
      Viens dans mes bras.
      “Come into my arms.”
      Une main; des mains
      “Hand”
      Les mains en l’air !
      “Put your hands in the air!”
      The French don’t wear their heart on their sleeve; they have it on their hand.
      • Il a le coeur sur la main. 
        “He’s wearing his heart on his sleeve.”
      Une jambe; des jambes
      “Leg”
      Je me suis cassé la jambe.
      “I broke my leg.”
      Un pied; des pieds
      “Foot”
      J’ai déjà un pied dans la tombe.
      “I already have one foot in the grave.”
      In France, don’t put your foot in your mouth; put it in the dish.
      • J’ai mis les pieds dans le plat. 
        “I put my foot in my mouth.”

        → Practice your French anatomy by reviewing our free vocabulary list on Body Parts, with audio recordings to improve your pronunciation!

      Anatomical Model of a Human

      L’anatomie (“Anatomy”)

      9. Food & Utensils


      Un couteau; des couteaux
      “Knife”
      Un couteau à fromage
      “A cheese knife”
      Une fourchette; des fourchettes
      “Fork”
      J’ai besoin d’une plus grande fourchette.
      “I need a bigger fork.”
      Une cuillère; des cuillères
      “Spoon”
      Une cuillère à soupe d’huile
      “A tablespoon of oil”
      Une assiette; des assiettes
      “Plate”
      Une assiette de charcuterie
      “A plate of cold cuts”
      Un verre; des verres
      “Glass”
      Tu mérites un verre de vin.
      “You deserve a glass of wine.”
      Une eau; des eaux
      “Water”
      Je voudrais une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plait.
      “I would like a jug of water, please.”
      Un vin; des vins
      “Wine”
      Une cave à vin
      “A wine cellar”
      Un fruit; des fruits
      “Fruit”
      Un jus de fruit
      “A fruit juice”
      Un légume; des légumes
      “Vegetable”
      Je mange des légumes une fois par semaine.
      “I eat vegetables once a week.”
      Une viande; des viandes
      “Meat”
      Viande ou poisson ?
      “Meat or fish?”


      10. Occupation


      Nouns 4
      Un étudiant; des étudiants
      “Student”
      C’est un très bon étudiant.
      “He’s a very good student.”

      Un docteur; des docteurs
      “Doctor”; “Physician”
      Vous avez besoin d’une ordonnance du médecin.
      “You need a doctor’s prescription.”
      The most common word for “physician” is médecin.
      Un policier; des policiers
      “Police officer”
      Mon frère est policier.
      “My brother is a police officer.”
      Un professeur; des professeurs
      “Teacher”
      Je veux devenir professeur de Russe.
      “I want to be a Russian teacher.”
      Un avocat; des avocats
      “Lawyer”
      Je ne parlerai pas sans mon avocat.
      “I will not talk without my lawyer.”
      Avocat also means “Avocado.” Any risk of confusion? Not sure.
      • Je ne parlerai pas sans mon avocat. 
        “I will not talk without my avocado.”
      Un serveur; des serveurs
      “Waiter”
      La serveuse a pris notre commande.
      “The waitress has taken our order.”

        → Find your profession and your friends’ jobs on our free vocabulary lists: Jobs and Work. We also have a complete article on How to Find Jobs in France. Check it out!

      Group of People with Different Jobs

      Quelle est votre profession? (“What is your profession?”)

      11. Clothing Items


      Un pantalon; des pantalons
      “Pants”
      Un pantalon en cuir
      “Leather pants”
      Un pull; des pulls
      “Sweater”
      Un pull en laine
      “A wool sweater”
      Un T-shirt; des T-shirts
      “T-shirt”
      J’enfile un T-shirt propre.
      “I’m putting a clean T-shirt on.”
      Une chemise; des chemises
      “Shirt”
      Enlève ta chemise.
      “Take off your shirt.”
      Un manteau; des manteaux
      “Coat”
      J’ai laissé mon manteau dans la voiture.
      “I’ve left my coat in the car.”
      Une chaussette; des chaussettes
      “Sock”
      Mes chaussettes rouges et jaunes
      “My red-and-yellow socks”
      Une robe; des robes
      “Dress”
      Une robe en soie
      “A silk dress”
      Une chaussure; des chaussures
      “Shoe”
      Des chaussures de randonnée
      “Hiking shoes”


      12. Bonus: Communication


      Une question; des questions
      “Question”
      C’était une question rhétorique.
      “It was a rhetorical question.”
      Une réponse; des réponses
      “Answer”
      J’exige des réponses !
      “I demand answers!”
      Un mot; des mots
      “Word”
      Je ne trouve pas les mots.
      “I can’t find the words.”
      Une phrase; des phrases
      “Sentence”
      Je ne comprends pas cette phrase.
      “I don’t understand this sentence.”
      Une idée; des idées
      “Idea”
      C’est une très bonne idée !
      “This is a very good idea!”

      13. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French


      In this French nouns lesson and guide, you’ve learned everything there is to know about French nouns, from the feminine nouns in French to the rules of forming plurals. You’ve also learned the key French nouns with our extensive noun list.

      Did we forget any important noun that you know? Do you feel ready to explore new conversation topics with your French friends, using everything you’ve learned today?

      A good way to practice the words on our basic French nouns list is to start simple, then add more flavor with adjectives.

      Adding adjectives to common French nouns will also help you remember the nouns’ gender, as many French adjectives have different forms in feminine or masculine:
      • Une pomme (“An apple”)
      • Une pomme verte (“A green apple”)


      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 revisit the words and learn their pronunciation.

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

      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.

      French Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in French & More

      Thumbnail

      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.

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

      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.

      Secret Revealed: The Best Way to Learn a Language on Your Own

      Learning A Language on Your Own

      Can You Really Learn French Alone?

      Learning a language on your own or without traditional classroom instruction may seem quite daunting at first. What if you run into questions? How do you stay motivated and on track to achieving goals?

      Don’t worry, not only is it possible to learn French or any language without traditional classroom instruction: FrenchPod101 has created the world’s most advanced and extensive online language learning system. Not only is FrenchPod101 specifically designed to help you with learning a language on your own, it’s actually faster, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom options!

      Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning French or any language alone.

      Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

      Also, don’t forget to download your free cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Language Skills too!

      3 Reasons to Learn a Language Alone

      Learning Alone

      1. Learn at Your Own Pace and On Your Schedule

      In today’s fast-paced world, there just isn’t time for traditional classroom instruction. Between getting to class and studying on some professor or teacher’s schedule, traditional classroom learning is simply impossible to fit in. But when you learn French alone, you can study in bed if you like and whenever suits your schedule best, making it far easier to actually reach your goal of learning and mastering the language.

      2. Learning a Language on Your Own Reduces Stress and Anxiety

      Speaking in front of a class, pop quizzes, and tests are just a few of the stressors you will encounter when you learn a language in a traditional classroom setting. Specifically, these are external stressors that often derail most people’s dream of learning a new language. But when you learn French alone, there are no external stressors. Without the external stress and anxiety, it becomes much easier and more exciting to study French and reach your very own goals—all on your own!

      3. Learning French Alone Helps Improve Cognitive Function and Overall Success

      Learning a language on your own is indeed more challenging in some ways than being taught in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, while classroom instruction requires more rote memorization and following instructions, studying a language on your own requires more problem-solving and higher cognitive function to self-teach lessons and hit goals. So while it’s more challenging and requires higher levels of cognition, teaching yourself a language pays dividends throughout life by better preparing you for social/work opportunities that arise.

      How to Learn a Language on Your Own with FrenchPod101

      Learning with FrenchPod101

      1. Access to the World’s Largest Collection of French Audio & Video Lessons

      The best way to learn a language on your own is to study from native speaking instructors. Ideally, you want audio and/or video lessons that teach vocabulary, grammar, and provide actual French conversations and dialogue to help you with pronunciation. FrenchPod101 has hundreds of hours of HD audio and video lessons created by real French instructors and every lesson is presented by professional French actors for perfect pronunciation. Plus, all lessons can be accessed 24/7 via any mobile device with Internet access. And, if you download the PDF versions of each lesson, you can even study without Internet access once the lesson is stored on your device!

      2. “Learning Paths” with French Courses Based Upon Your Exact Needs & Goals

      Although FrenchPod101 has more than thousands of video and audio lessons, you need not review each and every one to learn the language. In fact, FrenchPod101 has developed a feature called “Learning Paths”. You simply tell us your goals and we will identify the best courses and study plan to help you reach them in the shortest time possible. So even though you are technically learning a language on your own, our team is always here to help and make sure you reach your goals FAST!

      3. Advanced Learning Tools Reduce Learning Time and Boost Retention

      When you have the right tools and French learning resources, it’s actually easy to teach yourself a language! In the past 10+ years, FrenchPod101 has developed, tested, and refined more than 20 advanced learning tools to boost retention and reduce learning time, including:

      • Spaced Repetition Flashcards
      • Line-by-Line Dialogue Breakdown
      • Review Quizzes
      • Voice Recording Tools to Help Perfect Pronunciation
      • Teacher Feedback and Comments for Each Lesson
      • French Dictionary with Pronunciation
      • Free PDF Cheat Sheets
      • And Much More!

      Armed with our growing collection of advanced learning tools, it’s truly a breeze to learn French alone and reach your goals!

      Conclusion

      Learning a language on your own is not only possible, it’s actually easier and more beneficial for you than traditional classroom instruction. In fact, when you learn French on your own you can study at your own pace, eliminate stress, and actually increase cognitive function.

      FrenchPod101 is the world’s most advanced online language learning system and a great resource to help you teach yourself a new language. With the world’s largest collection of HD audio and video lessons, more than 20 advanced learning tools, and customized “Learning Paths”, FrenchPod101 makes learning a new language easier, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom instruction.

      And the best part is: With FrenchPod101, you can study in bed, your car, or wherever you have a few spare minutes of time. Create your Free Lifetime Account now and get a FREE ebook to help “kickstart” your dream of learning a language on your own below!

      Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to Improve Your Language Skills!

      Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From FrenchPod101.com!

      Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at FrenchPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn French together!

      And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study French with FrenchPod101.com!

      Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

      From Celine, Sam, Angele and the whole FrenchPod101.com Team!