Home Education Language Learning Top 40 phrases to survive in French
Last update on 22/05/2023

Don’t know a word of French? These 40 tried and tested phrases will help you on your first foray into the French world.

Before moving abroad, all I knew were common French stereotypes but I couldn’t speak a word of French. I love other cultures and international environments but my move happened so unexpectedly that I arrived unprepared. After buying a French phrasebook, which was completely useless, I did my own research.

I thought about French words I needed to survive daily activities, such as commuting, socialising, shopping etc. I came up with the best French phrases that truly helped me get on my feet.

Top 40 most useful French phrases

  1. Excusez-moi, où est…? – Excuse me, where is…?
  1. Où se trouve la station de métro la plus proche? – Where is the closest metro station?
  1. Un billet, s’il vous plaît. – One ticket, please.
  1. Avez-vous une carte en anglais, s’il vous plaît? – Do you have a menu in English, please?
  1. Je voudrais…, s’il vous plaît. – I would like…, please.
  1. Au secours! – Help! Emergency!
  1. J’ai besoin d’un médecin qui parle anglais. – I need a doctor who speaks English.
  1. Où est la pharmacie? – Where is the pharmacy?
  1. J’ai une douleur ici. – I have a pain here.
  1. A bientôt – See you soon.
  1. Vous parlez anglais? – Do you speak English?
  1. Comment allez-vous? – How are you? (formal)
  1. Très bien / mal / pas mal – Very good / bad / not bad
  1. Ça va? – How are you? (informal)
  1. Ça va. – I’m fine. (informal response to Ça va?)
  1. Oui / non Yes / no
  1. Comment vous appelez-vous? – What’s your name? (formal) / Tu t’appelles comment? (informal)
  1. Je m’appelle… – My name is… (informal)
  1. Enchanté(e) – Nice to meet you.
  1. Je suis de… / Je viens de… – I am from…
  1. Où habitez-vous? – Where do you live? (formal)
  1. J’habite à… – I live in…
  1. Je ne parle pas espagnol. Je parle allemand. I don’t speak Spanish. I speak German.
  1. Parlez-vous français? Tu parles anglais? – Do you speak French? (formal) Do you speak English? (informal)
  1. Je comprends. – I understand.
  1. Je ne comprends pas – I don’t understand.
  1. Pouvez-vous m’aider? / Tu peux m’aider? Can you help me? (formal / informal)
  1. Comment? – What?
  1. Bien sûr. – Of course.
  1. Je ne sais pas. Je sais. – I don’t know. I know.
  1. Voici… / Voilà – Here is/are… / There it is.
  1. Il y a… / Il y avait… – There is/are… / There was/were…
  1. Comment dit-on ____ en français? – How do you say ____ in French?
  1. Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? – What is that?
  1. J’ai chaud / J’ai froid. – I’m hot / I’m cold.
  1. J’ai faim / J’ai soif. – I’m hungry / I’m thirsty.
  1. Ce n’est pas grave. – It’s no problem. / It’s alright.
  1. J’ai oublié. – I forgot.
  1. Félicitations! – Congratulations!
  1. Je vous aime / Je t’aime. – I love you. (formal and plural / informal)

Even if you only learn these 40 phrases, I guarantee you will survive in French. Just print these top basic French phrases list here, read it a few times and take it with you. You can also look at the Mini French Phrasesbook I created here or download the
Google Translate app.

Are you ready to go?