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9 Everyday French words and phrases

9 Everyday French words and phrases

If you’re learning a language then you want to be able to speak it. Here is a list of everyday French words and phrases that you’ll come across when talking to friends and people on and informal, friendly basis.

Quoi de neuf? – What’s new?

Easy enough. A friend you haven’t seen for a while might ask you “quoi de neuf?”. I’m still to find out why the French use “neuf” as “new” in some cases. As you should know already, “neuf” is also the number nine in French but is regularly used in this way too.

Ça te va? – Is that ok with you/does that work for you?

For example if you’re arranging a time and place to meet, you might ask or be asked, “ça te va?”: meaning “are you ok with this time and and place?”.

Ça te dit? – Do you feel like doing that?

Of course you’d have to know what the other person was talking about when referring to “that” when this was asked. I’ve seen this much more in text form that spoken.

Avoir la flemme – To feel lazy/can’t be bothered

Used like “J’ai la flemme” for the present or “J’avais la flemme” for the past tense is when you can’t muster the energy or the focus to complete a task.

Avoir la banane – To be happy

You can say “Je suis content(e)” or “Je suis heureux/heureuse”, but why do that when you can say “I have the banana”! “J’ai la banane” means to be happy and have a smile on your face. It also lets the French know that you’ve not just been learning from a text book or Duolingo.

Avoir la pêche/la frite/la patate – To be full of energy/pumped up.

“Il a la pêche” means “he’s full of energy” and excited to do something.

Avoir (trop) hâte – to be unable to wait for something

To be used when you can’t wait for something. A holiday, a party, something exciting. Not to be used in a sandwich shop to the nice lady who is serving you. In that situation it evokes a strange look followed by a smile which says “it’s ok. You freaked me out but then I remembered that you’re not French”.

Use it like: “J’ai hâte” where hâte is pronounced like “att”. And for extra urgency “J’ai trop hâte” where trop has a silent p and the r is the French r.

Ça fait un bail – It’s been a while

The french use the present tense for this, and it’s just a more common, and cooler way of saying “it’s been a long time”. This would be “ça fait longtemps”. Since I learned “un bail” which also means “a lease” such as for an apartment, I have stopped using “longtemps”, however only in spoken French.

C’est dommage – It’s/that’s a shame/too bad

Said in pretty much the same way its English equivalent is used. “C’est dommage” is said when something slightly sad or unfortunate happens. An example might be if you’re told a friend can’t come to a party. Another would be if the weather means you have to stay inside. It wouldn’t be used for something more disappointing such as a big holiday being cancelled because of something unforeseen. You get the point.

Do you have any others? I’ll be regularly updating this category on my site with new words and phrases as and when I learn them. Please let me know in the comments!

2 Comments

  • WilliamHus

    Thanks for the article post. Will read on… Engebretsen

    21st May 2016 at 13:44
  • Frederic

    Another way to say “Avoir la pêche” is “être au taquet”, literally “being at wood”. Good luck figuring it out, but it’s a good expression to remember when having friendly conversations!

    20th November 2016 at 18:10

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