Language Learning

French phrases you need to survive in France

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

French phrases

By Morgane Croissant 

Updated 9-1-2024

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.


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Top most useful French phrases

Excusez-moi, où est…? – Excuse me, where is…?

Où se trouve la station de métro la plus proche? – Where is the closest metro station?

Un billet, s’il vous plaît. – One ticket, please.

Avez-vous une carte en anglais, s’il vous plaît? – Do you have a menu in English, please?

Je voudrais…, s’il vous plaît. – I would like…, please.

Au secours! – Help! Emergency!

J’ai besoin d’un médecin qui parle anglais. – I need a doctor who speaks English.

Où est la pharmacie? – Where is the pharmacy?

J’ai une douleur ici. – I have a pain here.

A bientôt – See you soon.

Vous parlez anglais? – Do you speak English?

Comment allez-vous? – How are you? (formal)

Très bien / mal / pas mal – Very good / bad / not bad

Ça va? – How are you? (informal)

Ça va. – I’m fine. (informal response to Ça va?)

Oui / non Yes / no

Comment vous appelez-vous? – What’s your name? (formal) / Tu t’appelles comment? (informal)

Je m’appelle… – My name is… (informal)

Enchanté(e) – Nice to meet you.

Je suis de… / Je viens de… – I am from…

Où habitez-vous? – Where do you live? (formal)

J’habite à… – I live in…

Je ne parle pas espagnol. Je parle allemand. I don’t speak Spanish. I speak German.

Parlez-vous français? Tu parles anglais? – Do you speak French? (formal) Do you speak English? (informal)

Je comprends. – I understand.

Je ne comprends pas – I don’t understand.

Pouvez-vous m’aider? / Tu peux m’aider? Can you help me? (formal / informal)

Comment? – What?

Bien sûr. – Of course.

Je ne sais pas. Je sais. – I don’t know. I know.

Voici… / Voilà – Here is/are… / There it is.

Il y a… / Il y avait… – There is/are… / There was/were…

Comment dit-on ____ en français? – How do you say ____ in French?

Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? – What is that?

J’ai chaud / J’ai froid. – I’m hot / I’m cold.

J’ai faim / J’ai soif. – I’m hungry / I’m thirsty.

Ce n’est pas grave. – It’s no problem. / It’s alright.

J’ai oublié. – I forgot.

Félicitations! – Congratulations!

Je vous aime / Je t’aime. – I love you. (formal and plural / informal)

Are you ready to go?