How do you say “happy” in French?
Happy in French is “heureux” (pronounced øʀø). The feminine form is “heureuse” (pronounced øʀøz). Another French word for happy is “content” (pronounced kɔ̃tɑ̃). This post will compare heureux vs. content as well as look at different ways to say happy.
How to pronounce “heureux”
Beginners are almost always perplexed by how to pronounce heureux. My suggestion is to isolate the sounds. Read each “eu” as “uh” or the -e in the word “je” (I). Ignore the -h at the beginning of the word and simply insert the letter -r.
Thus, the pronunciation will be [(h) + eu + r + eu]. To pronounce the feminine for (heureuse), simply add a -z sound to the end: [(h) + eu + r + eu + z].
This page on Forvo offers several excellent audio samples of both heureux and heureuse. Our friend, Vincent, a star French teacher on YouTube also covers the pronunciation of heureux and heureuse in the following videos:
Heureux vs content
Before we go any further, it would be a good idea to clarify the difference between heureux and content. Both of these words mean “happy”. However, there is a very subtle difference between the two words.
“Heureux” often describes happiness on a deeper or more emotional level. For example, happiness in life or in a situation in life such as a relationship or job. For example:
- Grace à Dieu je suis très heureux en ce moment. Thank God, I’m very currently very happy.
The word content, however, has an underlying meaning of “content” or “satisfied” at the moment. For example:
- Vous aimez la pizza? Vous êtes content ? Do you like the pizza? Are you happy (or satisfied)?
How to use heureux in a simple sentence
As mentioned above, the French use “heureux” to describe happiness on a deep emotional level. For example:
- Je suis très heureux depuis mon changement de carrière. I’ve been very happy since my career change.
- Elle est très heureuse depuis la naissance de son fils. She’s been very happy since the birth of her son.
Grammatical constructions using heureux
There are several ways to use the word “heureux” when constructing sentences. In this section we’ll look at several grammatical structures.
Être heureux de + infinitive = to be happy to do
To express, “being happy to do something”, use the following grammatical form: “Être heureux de + infinitive (to form of verb)“. This structure also translates to “to be happy about something”. Here are some examples:
- Je suis heureux de voyager en France. I’m happy to travel to France.
- Vous êtes heureux de vous revoir. You’re happy about seeing each other again.
Être heureux que + subjunctive
In the previous example, we looked at “to be happy to + verb”. Here, we’re looking at “to be happy that + person + verb”. This structure requires the usage of the subjunctive mood as it involved two different subjects separated by the word “que” and an element of emotion. This page on our site covers the subjunctive mood in detail.
- Nous sommes heureux que vous veniez. We’rehappy you’re coming.
- Ils sont heureux que je puisse me débrouiller en français. They’re happy I can get by in French.
More on the word “content”
As mentioned, another word for happy is “content” (pronounced kɔ̃tɑ̃). “Content” also means happy but on a more superficial level. Another meaning of content is “satisfied”. Here are some example sentences:
- Les enfants étaient très contents quand ils ont reçu les cadeaux. The kids were very happy when they got the gifts.
- Nous étions très contents des résultats. We were very happy (or satisfied) with the results.
- Si t’es pas content, ne dit rien ! Don’t say anything if you’re not happy!
Both of these example sentences use the imperfect tense, which is a past tensed used for describing events. This page on our site covers the imperfect (imparfait) in detail.
To express “being happy” for somebody, use “être content pour”. For example:
- Les parents sont très contents pour les jeunes mariés. The parents are very happy for the newlyweds.
Joyeux: Another word for happy in French
Another word for happy in French is “joyeux“ (pronounced ʒwajø). The feminine form or this adjective “joyeuse”. Here are some example sentences:
- Nous passons un moment joyeux ensembe. We’re having a happy moment together.
- Tout le monde était joyeux le jour de Noël. Everybody was happy on Christmas day.
The word “joyeux” is also use to mean “happy” for holidays. For example, “Joyeux Noël” means “Merry Christmas”. This page on our site covers how to say Merry Christmas in French in detail.
“Joyeux” is also used to say happy birthday (Joyeux Anniversaire!). This page on our site covers how to say “happy birthday” in French in detail.
Other usages of the word “heureux”
The word “heureux” has several other usages or meanings including favorable, lucky, joyous and simply “good”. Here are some examples including all of these meanings.
- Notre pays a profité d’heureuses circonstances. Our country has benefited from favorable circumstances.
- Quel heureuse femme ! T’as vu son mari ? What a lucky woman! Did you see her husband?
- Nous passons une heureuse journée ensemble. We’re spending a joyous day together.
- J’avoue que ma décision n’était pas très heureuse. I admit that my decision wasn’t very good.
French expressions containing “heureux”
French has lots of fun expressions which contain the word “heureux”. We’ll look at some of them below.
- Attendre un heureux événement = to be expecting a baby (literally: to wait for a happy event)
- Couler des jours heureux = to enjoy life
- Un heureux élu, une heureuse élue = a lucky person
- Heureux au jeu, malheureux en amour = lucky at cards, unlucky in love
- Être heureux en ménage = to be happily married
- Ça fera des heureux = it will make somebody happy
- Il en faut peu pour être heureux = a little big goes a long way
- vivre heureux = to live happily, to be happy with life