10 Great French Phrases

Thought I’d break it up a bit today and share part of a neat article that I found on the Fluent U website. (See end of post for details and a link to the original article.)


As a French learner, which would you rather hear?

“Your French is so good!”
“You sound so French!”

If you’re like most people, I’m guessing that it’s the latter.

To help you get there, we’ve racked our brains and put together a list of informal, everyday French phrases and expressions.

10 Casual, Everyday French Phrases and Expressions


1.   Ça roule?

Ça roule is a very colloquial statement, meaning that everything’s great and life’s going well. Therefore, in the form of a question, it simply means ‘How’s life? Good?’ Otherwise, the more standard question used to express this same idea is Ça va?, literally meaning ‘is it going?’

2.   N’importe quoi!

For all those who tend to have a dissenting opinion, this casual French phrase is a must. It simply means ‘whatever,’ and is commonly used in French when someone is exasperated and wishes to openly display their disagreement in a simple, informal way.

“Je te jure! Je n’ai rien fait! » : I swear, I didn’t do anything!
(“N’importe quoi…” : Whatever…)

Similarly, in some other contexts, n’importe quoi can mean ‘anything,’ like in this example:

‘I would have given anything and everyting!’
‘J’aurais donné tout et n’importe quoi !’

3.   Laisse tomber…

This is a useful French phrase, meaning ‘just forget it,’ or ‘never mind that.’ It literally means ‘drop it,’ but doesn’t have quite the same snappy tone behind it as ‘just drop it!’ does in English. Although…it very well can with a spiteful enough tone…

‘Et alors? Est-ce que tu as eu ton augmentation de salaire ?’
‘Laisse tomber…L’entreprise a fait faillite !’
(So? Did you get your raise? –Forget it…The company went bankrupt!)

4.   Ça te dit? / Ça vous dit?

Meaning ‘You up for it?’, this casual French expression is great for suggesting outings with friends or restaurant choices.  It can also mean, ‘Sound good?’ So, whenever you get a marvelous idea for a Saturday afternoon or evening, tack this on at the end as a way of politely asking your friends if they’re interested. Use the latter when addressing several friends, and the first when hanging out with just one.

‘Il y a un petit resto chinois pas loin de chez moi…ça te dit?’
(‘There’s a little Chinese restaurant not far from my place…sound good?’)

5.   Tiens-moi au courant!

‘Keep me up to date!’  This is the perfect French phrase to use as you’re waiting to see how things play out in a friend’s life. Perhaps they just started a new job, or moved to a new city, and you want to know how things are evolving. End your emails or conversations with this little phrase to ensure you get those little updates!

Also, inversely, the response to this would be
‘Ouais, t’inquiète pas, je te tiens au courant.’
(‘Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll keep you up to date.)

6.   Bref.

Bref is only ever used to summarize something or to give one’s final impression of something after a lengthy story has been told, and it’s an easy little word to recall, due to that the English equivalent is almost the same; ‘in brief.’ Another synonyms would be ‘all in all’ or ‘in short.’

Elle m’a appelé hier et m’a dit qu’elle n’avait pas les mêmes sentiments pour moi, et qu’au final, elle veut qu’on reste amis. Bref, elle m’a largué.
(She called me yesterday and told me that she didn’t have the same feelings for me, and that in the end, she wants to remain friends. In short, she dumped me.)

7.   T’sais?

This casual French phrase is used so commonly in casual settings that it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with friends without hearing it. It simply means ‘Ya know?’ and is oftentimes tacked onto the end of a sentence to emphasize whatever the speaker is saying.

‘Non, mais j’en ai marre, t’sais?’
(‘No, but I am sick of it, ya know?’)

8.   C’est naze / c’est nul / c’est pourri !

These are all lovely little French phrases to use to say ‘that sucks!’ or ‘that’s stupid! or ‘that’s terrible!’ The general implication is that whatever is being discussed is either a total bore or totally ridiculous.

‘Ça, c’est marrant! Par contre, ce cours est nul!’
(‘Now that’s funny! This class, however, sucks!’)

9.   Ça te changera les idées…

‘It’ll take your mind off things…’ Use this French phrase when consoling a friend who’s down. Offer to go with him/her to a movie or  to a café to grab a cappuccino. Make your proposition, then use this argument to get them out of their funk.

‘Allez! Tu ne peux pas rester enfermé dans ta chambre! Viens avec moi au ciné! Ça te changera les idées !’
(C’mon! You can’t stay cooped up in your room! Come with me to the movie theater! That’ll take your mind off things!”)

10.   Tu t’en sors ?

‘Doing okay there? You managing there?’ This is a common French phrase to use while observing a friend who appears to be having difficulty doing something.

‘Tu t’en sors?’
-‘Pas trop, non. Je ne sais pas comment faire un créneau…’
(You managing there? –‘No, not really. I don’t know how to parallel park…’)


Note to AIMLong readers:

  • There you have it… 10 easy to learn & use French phrases that will take your French from blah! to FAB! Put ’em to good use & then come see us in France!

Note to Original Authors:

  • I did not simply republish the article as-is because, given the nature and readership of this blog, there was – in the original article – an image that some might find questionable.  The full article can be accessed here (where the full article can also be downloaded as a .pdf document).
  • The intent is to fairly give full credit to the original authors. If, however, the authors would prefer that I remove this post completely, please let me know and I will immediately do so.


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