Top 20 French Phrases Used In Everyday Conversation

French has lots of phrases and expressions that are used in everyday conversation which cannot be translated directly into English. In this blog post I wanted to come up with a list of the top 20 French most common phrases that are used in France that you most likely won’t learn in any high school class that are used in everyday spoken French. I’ve also included pronunciation.

If you think of some more phrases that I should add to the list please let me know in the comments box below and I’ll add them. To learn more useful phrases you may consider this complete online French course.

Ce n’est pas grave!

Pronounced: “Cuh nay pah grahv”. This expression translates to “It’s not serious” but the loose translation into everyday English would be “It’s no big deal”. Again, in fluent French you can drop the n’ and get “C’est pas grave”. The opposite expression, “Oh là là, c’est grave” would translate to “Whow…that’s serious!”

N’importe quoi!

Pronounced: “Nim port kwah”. This is more of an exclamation and loosly translates to “Nonsense!”, “Hogwash!” or “B.S.!” If you put a verb before it, such as “Tu dis n’importe quoi” you get something like, “You’re saying a bunch of crap”. “Tu fais n’importe quoi” would translate loosly to our English question, “What the heck are you doing?”

Je t’en prie

Pronounced: “Juh tun pree”. This is a polite way of saying “you’re welcome” with a literal translation of “I beg of thee”. Of course you could also say, “de rien” which means the same thing. If you were speaking to somebody older or a stranger you’d need to use the vous form: “Je vous en prie”, pronounced “Juh vooz un pree”.

Un de ces quatre

“Un de ces quatre” (pronounced “Uhn duh say kat-ruh”) translates to “one of these four” but really means, “one of these days”. I’m really not sure where the expression comes from. A common saying in French when you want to get together with somebody in the future but you’re not sure when is: “On se fait une bouffe un de ces quatre”. It literally means “Let’s make a meal one of these days” but translates loosly to “let’s get together one of these days”.

Quoi de neuf?

“Quoi de neuf?” (pronounced Kwah duh nuhf) literally means, “What of new” and translates to “What’s new?” It’s used as a conversation opener. This is expression is very informal and would only be used with a good aquaintance or friend. In very fluent Frenc you can almost skip over the “de” and just slightly pronounce it.

Allez!

“Allez” is the second-person plural or “vous” form of the verb “aller” (to go). This short exclamation and is used in a wide variety of ways in French. One usage is “come on” or “let’s go”. Another usage is “go on”, “go ahead” or “go away”. In this case you’re add a y to say, “Allez-y!”. Another useage of “allez” is to cheer on a sports team. Hence, “Allez la France!” or “Go France!”. If pronounced with a slightly negative tone “allez” translates to the English expression “come on” expressing disbelieve or displeasure.

Bon, ben…

“Bon, ben” is the shortened version of “Bon, et bien”. These words are used at the start of a sentence and translate to starting an English sentence with “Well…”

Tant pis!

“Tant pis” (pronounced tahn-pee) translate to “oh well”, “too bad” or “never mind”. “Tant” means “so much” and “pis” means “worse”. “Tant pis pour toi” is a common expression and translates loosly to “tough luck!” or “that’s too bad for you”.

De toute façon…

“De toute façon” is a very useful expression and is pronounced “duh toot fasohn”. It’s used at the beginning of a sentence to mean “anyway” “anyhow”. The literal translation is “Of all way”. An example sentence would be: “De toute façon ce n’est pas la peine!” (Anyway, it’s not worth it).

C’est pas vrai!

C’est pas vrai (pronounced “say pah vray”) is the shortened version of “ce n’est pas vrai” and translates to “that isn’t true”. A loose translation is “No way!”

J’en ai marre!

J’en ai marre (pronounced “zhuhn-ay mahr” translates to “I’ve had it!” or “I’ve had enough”. Another way of saying this expression with less severe language is: “J’en ai assez”. “Assez” also means enough.

Mais oui!/Mais non!

Mais oui (pronounced “may-wee) and “mais non!” (pronounced “may-nohn”) translate to “Of course!” “Absolutely!” and “Of course not!” or “Honestly!”. These are usually said with an exclamative tone and may evoke an element of sterness or surprise.

Ça ne fait rien

“Ça ne fait rien” (pronounced “sah nuh fay ree-unh”) translatest literally to “That makes nothing” but really means “Don’t mention it!”, “No worries!” “That’s okay” or “It’s alright”. If you’re done somebody a favor and they’re thanking you then you can use this expression to indicate that all is well.

C’est-à-dire

“C’est-à-dire” (pronounced “set ah deer”) literally means: “It’s to say” and translates to “In other words”. An example would be: “Elle est magnifique! C’est est-à-dire elle est très intelligente et très belle.” Translation: “She is magnificant! That’s to say she’s very intelligent and very beautiful.”

Enfin, bref

“Enfin, bref” (pronounced “unfihn brehf” is used when you’re trying to convey the main point of what you’re discussing. It transltates to “In short”.

Fais gaffe!

“Fais gaffe” (pronounced fay-gahf) is a way of saying, “Watch out!” or “Look out!”. It is the shortned version of: “Ne fais pas une gaffe”, or “Don’t make a blunder”.

J’arrive!

“J’arrive!” (pronounced jhah-reev) means “I’m coming!” or “I’m on my way” but translates literally to “I arrive!”.

Tout à fait!

“Tout à fait” (pronounced toot-fa-fay) is an interjection that you’re use in conversation to mean “Exactly!”, “That’s it” or “Absolutely!. It translates literally as “all to make/do”.

Tu m’étonnes!

“Tu m’étonnes” (pronounced too-may-ton) translates literally to “You surprise me” but really means something to the effect of “Are you kidding me?”

Ce n’est pas la peine!

This expression means “It isn’t worth it” or loosly translated, “No need”. The litteral translation is: “It’s not worth the effort.” Actually, “peine” also translates to punishment as well as sorrow and grief! In fluent French you get rid of the n’ and simply say, “C’est pas la peine”, pronounced “Say pah la pehn”.

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