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Basic French Words

You’ll be well on your way to speaking French if you learn just a few basic French words and phrases. Although you won’t be fluent – if you’re traveling, you’ll find that many people appreciate the effort you make in expressing yourself and it can make getting around just a little bit easier.

Words for Tourists

These basic words might come in handy on your daily interaction with the French people you meet.

  • Oui/Non (whee/no) – yes/no
  • S’il vous plaît (see voo play) – Please
  • Parlez-vous anglais? (parlay vooz ong-glay) – Do you speak English?
  • Merci (mair-see) – Thank you
  • Voici (vwah-see) – Here is
  • Voilà (vwah-la)- There is
  • De rien (du-rhee-en) – You’re welcome
  • Je ne comprends pas (zhe nhe comp-rehn pah) – I don’t understand
  • J’ai besoin d’aide (zhay buh-swahn ded) – I need help
  • Excusez-moi(escoosay mwah) – Excuse me
  • Je ne sais pas (zhe-nhe say paw) – I don’t know
  • Il y a (eel ee aw) – There is


In France, a greeting is simply being polite. Greet shop owners when you walk into their boutiques, and make sure to say something on your way out as well.

  • Bonjour (bon zhoor) – Good morning
  • Bonsoir ( bon swar) – Good night/evening
  • Bon après-midi (bon ah-pray mee-dee) – Good afternoon
  • Madame (mah-dahm) – Miss (or Mrs. preceeded by a last name)
  • Monsieur (mihn-see-yuh) – Sir
  • Comment allez-vous?(co-mo-tah-lay-voo) – How are you?
  • Au revoir (o-rhe-vwa) – Good bye

Informal Greetings

These are not things you would say to someone you don’t know, however these familiar phrases are something you’d use with your buddies or peers.

  • Salut (saw-loo) – Hi
  • Ça va? (saw-vaw) – How’s it going?
  • Ça va bien (saw-vaw-bee-en) – I’m fine

Note: Salut and ça va are often used together as in, “Salut! Ça va?”

Question Words

While traveling, you may find it very helpful to have a good command of basic question words and phrases.

  • Combien? (comb-bee-en) – How much?
  • Où? (oo) – Where?
  • Quand? (kond) – When?
  • Quelle/Quel/Quelles/Quels? (kell) – What?
  • Pourquoi? (por-kwah) – Why?
  • Comment? (co mo) – How?
Original Content: http://french.lovetoknow.com/


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