Are you ready to hold a conversation in French? Below, French teacher Carol Beth L. shares 25 conversational French phrases every beginner should know…
When learning a new language, not all vocabulary or phrases are equal. As a beginner French student, it is most beneficial to learn popular phrases you will use most frequently.
Below are 25 conversational French phrases that are used most often. Memorizing these useful French phrases will help you hold a basic conversation in French.
You’ll notice the distinctions in some cases between informal and formal. The informal versions can be used with close friends and family.
For new acquaintances and people you don’t know very well, however, use the formal version. If you’re unsure, use the formal version, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Note: Each conversational French phrase is followed by an audio clip. Be sure to listen to the audio and practice the proper French pronunciation.
25 Conversational French Phrases Every Beginner Should Know
French greetings are one of the first things most people learn as beginner students. After all, it can be difficult to interact with people if you don’t know how to say hello or ask how they are. Check out the simple French greetings below.
1. Bonjour! (Good day!)
2. Bonsoir! (Good evening!)
3. Bonne nuit! (Good night!)
4. Au revoir! (Goodbye!)
5. A bientôt! (See you soon!)
6. Comment allez-vous? (formal / plural) Comment va-tu? (informal) (How are you?)
7. Très bien, merci! (Very well, thank you!)
8. Question: Ca va? Response: Oui, ca va (très bien, merci)! Question: How’s it going? Response: Fine/very well, thanks!
Tip: This is an informal greeting. Only use it with people you know well and who are established on an approximately equal social status as you, such as close friends and family.
Once you meet someone, chances are you will want to find out a little bit more about them as well as tell them some things about yourself. After all, having a conversation is all about sharing and exchanging information. Check out the useful French phrases below.
9. Comment vous appelez-vous? (formal / plural) Comment tu t’appelles? (informal) (What is your name?)
10. Je m’appelle _______. Il / elle s’appelle ______. (My name is _______. His / her name is ______.)
11. Vous êtes de quelle nationalité? (formal / plural) Tu es de quelle nationalité? (informal) (What is your nationality?)
12. Je suis américain(e). (I am American.)
Tip: If you’re a female, add the -e in parenthesis and pronounce the final “n.” If you’re not American, you can replace “américain(e)” with any other nationality. For example, chinois(e) (Chinese), japonais(e) (Japanese), australien(ne) (Australian), mexicain(e) (Mexican).
13. Est-ce que vous parlez anglais? Or Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)
Tip: Just as in the previous question, you can replace “anglais” with any other language. For example, espagnol (Spanish), chinois (Chinese), allemand (German), italien (Italian).
For someone learning French, it’s rather useful to know how to ask what things mean when you don’t know, as well as how to say and write certain words and phrases. Check out these French phrases to know.
14. Comment dit-on _____ (en français)? (How do you say _____ (in French)?)
15. Comment écrire _____? (How do you write _____?)
16. Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire? (What does that mean?)
Once you’ve met people, you’ll probably want to do something with them. Perhaps share a meal, for example, or tour a museum. While you’re at it, you might also need to spend a little money. Here are some conversational French phrases to help you.
17. Allons-y (Let’s go!)
18. Je voudrais _______. (I would like _______.)
19. Ça coûte combien? (How much does that cost?)
20. Qu’est-ce que vous voudriez faire? (formal) Qu’est-ce que tu voudrais faire? (informal) (What would you like to do?)
21. Est-ce que vous voudrez prendre un verre? (Would you like to get something to drink?)
Are you learning French because you’re planning a trip abroad? When visiting or adjusting to a new area, it may take some time to learn how to get around.
In the conversational French phrases below, fill in the blank with any location you’d like to visit. For example, l’hôtel (the hotel); un bon restaurant (a good restaurant), le metro (the subway), le parc (the park).
22. Je voudrais aller à ______. (I would like to go to ______.)
23. Comment aller à ______? (How do you get to ______?)
24. Où sont les toilettes? (Where is the restroom?)
25. Où est ______? (Where is ______?)
Try it Yourself!
Studying these conversational French phrases will help you on your way to being fluent in French. But don’t stop there! Learning how to speak French takes time and persistence.
As you learn, speak French as much as you can with those around you, because learning a language is also easier in the company of those who speak it or are, like you, learning it.
Even if they don’t speak it at first, your enthusiasm will be contagious!