There are certain phrases in French that, when said, can mean the difference between sounding like you've swallowed a French textbook and really being able to express yourself and your personality.
In this collection of common French phrases, we first take a look at a few things the locals would say in casual conversation, followed by some helpful phrases to keep your conversation going, even when you're a little unsure. To help you on your way to French fluency, we've included what each phrase means, how to pronounce it, what it implies, and when to use it.
Au cas où
Pronunciation: "O ka oo"
Meaning: "Just in case"
Literal meaning: "In the case where"
How to use it: In an informal situation, you can pop it on the end of a sentence, for example: "ferme la porte, au cas où" ("close the door, just in case"). In formal conversation, it can go at the beginning to explain the actions described in the sentence.
Why use it? This phrase has an exact equivalent in English ("just in case") so you'll likely enjoy and feel comfortable using it.
Blague à part
Pronunciation: "Bla ga par"
Literal meaning: "Joking aside'"
How to use it: Use it in between two sentences, one joking (or a lie), one serious (or true).
Why use it? Because, as a language learner, a little humour will make you seem a much more confident speaker!
À mon avis
Pronunciation: "Ah mo nah vee"
Meaning: "In my opinion'"
Literal meaning: "In my opinion"
How to use it: Use it as you would in English - to introduce your thoughts or to soften a statement. "À mon avis, il fait froid" ("in my opinion, it’s cold") "Tu ne devrais pas, à mon avis" ("You should not, in my opinion").
Why use it? One of the joys of learning a language is to be able to communicate and debate with a whole new culture - this phrase will help you get your point across.
Un moment s'il vous plaît
Pronunciation: "Uhn moment seel voo play"
Meaning: "One moment please"
Literal meaning: "One moment, if you please"
How to use it: When you want someone to wait, or stop talking for a second, this stand-alone phrase is perfect.
Why use it? Lost track of a conversation? Buy yourself a little time by asking them to hold fire for a moment.
Peux-tu me corriger, s'il te plaît?
Pronunciation: "Puh to me corri-jay, seel tuh play"
Meaning: "Will you correct me please?"
Literal meaning: "Will you correct me if you please?"
How to use it: This stand-alone phrase is perfect if your conversation partner has hinted that you've said the wrong thing. You can also use it before using a word you are unsure of, too.
Why use it? Using this phrase can earn you confidence-boosting reassurance and give you the chance to improve.
Pouvez vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plait