How do you say good luck in French?
In French, the expression for good luck is “bonne chance” (pronounced bɔn ʃɑ̃s). The word “bonne” means “good” and the word “chance” translates to “luck”. “Bonne chance”, however, is not the only way to say good luck in French. This post will explore several more useful and pertinent expressions. Keep reading and bonne chance!
More on the pronunciation of bonne chance
As mentioned, “bonne” means “good”. It is the feminine form of “bon”. To pronounce “bonne” simply say “bun” as in hamburger bun.
The pronunciation of “chance” sounds like “shahns’ and requires that you master the nasal -an sound. My good friend, Camille, at Frenchtoday.com does a great job covering the French nasal sounds.
This page on Forvo.com gives a great audio sample of the correct pronunciation of bonne chance.
Our pal, Vincent, also does a great job teaching how to pronounce bonne chance:
How to use “bonne chance”
The expression “bonne chance” can be followed by “pour” (for), “avec” (with) and “dans” (in). Here are several common example sentences using “bonne chance” followed by the above prepositions.
- Bonne chance pour ton examen. Good luck on your exam.
- Bonne chance avec ton nouveau travail. Good luck with your new job.
- Bonne chance dans ton nouveau poste. Good luck in your new job position.
“Bonne chance” can also be preceded by the verb, “souhaiter”, which means “to wish”. Thus, to wish somebody good luck with “souhaiter” you can say:
- Je te souhaite bonne chance. I wish you good luck. (familiar)
- Je vous souhaite bonne chance. I wish you good luck. (formal or plural)
More expression for good luck besides “bonne chance”
The expression “bonne chance” is not the only game in town when it comes to saying good luck. In this next section we’ve included several more expressions.
1) Bon courage !
The French are crazy about the word “courage“, which translates to courage, bravery, fortitude and strength. To wish somebody “good luck” before any difficult task which requires courage, the French often use the expression “Bon courage !“, which means translates literally to “good courage”. In real spoken French, the expression is often shortened to a single-word exclamation: “Courage !”.
2) Bonne continuation !
“Bonne continuation !” is another common expression for “good luck” that you’ll hear in the French-speaking world. WordReference gives the translation “keep it up!” for “bonne continuation“ is “good continuation.
However, the real meaning of this expression is something to the effect of “good luck in your future endeavors”. Two people will often use this expression when parting ways and don’t expect to see each other again. It is somewhat of a cold expression used with minimal emotion.
3) Merde !
The word “merde“ translates to “sh*t”. However, “Merde !” is a slang expression for wishing somebody “good luck”. This expression equates to the English expression “Break a leg!”.
“Merde !” can often be followed by “pour” (for) and the upcoming event. For example, “Merde pour ton examen!” (good luck with your exam). This expression is definitely informal and should not be used in formal situations.
4) Meilleurs vœux
The expression “meilleurs vœux” translates to “best wishes”. The pronunciation is a bit difficult and this page on forvo.com gives a good audio sample. This expression is often used during this holiday season. However, it can be used to express good luck for other auspicious occasions and is often followed by the preposition “pour” (for). For example:
- Meilleurs vœux pour ton anniversaire. Best wishes for your birthday.
- Meilleurs vœux pour votre retraite. Best wishes for your retirement.
5) Croiser les doigts
The expression “croiser les doigts“ equates to the same English expression and superstition “to cross your fingers”. This expression is yet another way to wish somebody good luck. It can also be followed by the preposition “pour” plus the upcoming auspicious event. For example:
- Je croise mes doigts pour ta réussite. I’m crossing my fingers for your success.
- Je croise mes doigts pour votre voyage. I’m crossing my fingers for your trip.
6) Toucher du bois
In French, the expression “toucher du bois“ equates to the English expression, “touch wood” or “knock on wood”. It is an an expression of good luck. Specifically, the French say, “Je touche du bois”, literally “I touch some wood”. Here’s an example of how “toucher du bois” is used:
- Marc et Sylvie sont très heureux ensmeble. Touche du bois! Marc and Sylvie are very happy together. Knock on wood!
7) Que + subjunctive
The final way to wish somebody good luck in French is to use the construction “que + subjunctive”. This page covers the French subjunctive mood in detail if you haven’t learned it. Here are some examples:
- Que ta femme ait de bon santé ! May your wife have good health!
- Que le voyage se passe bien! May the trip go well!
As you can see, there are many ways to say “good luck” in French besides “bonne chance”. Thank you for reading this post. “Bon courage et bonne continuation !”