French phrases to sound like a native speaker

Learning French in school, with books or online with apps is great. However, there are French phrases and expressions you won’t find there!  Listening and imitating the locals will help you sound like a native French speaker.

In order to build up confidence in your new language, practicing during French conversation classes is also extremely effective. No matter how awkward you feel at first, you will discover that conversations with locals are not so scary.

The French language has a lot of strange, hilarious and poetic turns of phrase. Don’t’ worry, you can sound like a local even though you’re a complete beginner in the language.

french woman native speaker

Make a suggestion like a native French speaker

Be a little less formal to sound like a native French

First, even if you have been studying for a while, you may think there’s still something lacking in your French. Making a suggestion like a native French speaker won’t be taught in grammar or vocabulary books ! In English, you don’t really speak like you just came out of a Brontë book, do you? If you do, the chances of you sounding like a know-it-all are huge ! So try to forget about the books and watch a lot of French series, documentaries and news.

If you still don’t feel confident when conversing in French with friends, we have listed here a few phrases you can re-use everyday :

How to suggest something to French locals

  • Vous êtes chauds / T’es chaud ? = You Ok for it ? (fam.)
  • Tu penses que …, hein ? = Do you think that…, isn’t it ? ‘Hein’ will be at the end of the sentence, the french for ‘eh’
  • Ça vous / te dirait = Would you be up for it?
  • Ca vous / te dit ? = Are you up for it ?
suggestion in french

Answer to a question or proposition in French

Next, knowing how to reply to a French friend or acquaintance is essential ! Thanks to the suggestions below, the next time you meet, you’ll be equipped with plenty of options other than ‘avec plaisir’ ou ‘bien sûr’ !

  • Ca roule / ça marche ! = It works for me, it’s Ok. Attention, it can be a question Ca roule ? meaning How are you ?
  • Carrément ! = Totally !
  • C’est top ! = Awesome
  • Dac ! = Short for d’accord, I agree (fam.)
  • Faut voir = I need to think about it
  • Grave ! = Sure thing
  • Je reviens vers toi / vers vous = I’ll come back to you, I’ll let you know (you can use the ‘vous’ form in business)
  • Je sais pas = I dont’ know but here without the negation ‘ne’ (Je ne sais pas) to make it more informal
  • Tu m’étonnes ! = No wonder ! Expression used for something evident
  • Voyons… = Let’s see…
answer question in french

What to say when you are upset or you don't agree

Beyond the cliché of the Parisian being sometimes rude or moody, you may also want to learn a few expressions when are annoyed.

  • Laisse tomber ! = Forget about it, leave it !
  • Bordel ! = Damn it ! This can also mean it’s a mess (c’est le bordel) (fam.)
  • Ca me prend la tête = This is doing my head in
  • Fais gaffe = Be careful. This can be used to really warn someone to watch out for danger but also when you are very upset and you’re going to explore
  • C’est naze / c’est nul (à chier) / c’est pourri ! — That stinks! 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 ridicule (fam.)
  • Ca me saoule / tu me saoules = It annoys me / you’re annoying me. The first meaning of ‘se saouler’ is to get drunk
  • Ca me gave = I’m sick of it (fam.)
  • J’en peux plus (je n’en peux plus) = I can’t stand it, am done
upset french

French phrases when you have to go

Then, if you’d like to change your classic ‘à bientôt’ and sound more French, read on ! There are a lot of possibilities to tell politely that you have to leave.

  • Je file = I’m off
  • A plus (pronounced the ‘s’) = See you later
  • A tout’ (pronounced toute) = Meaning ‘à tout à l’heure’  see you later
  • Je m’arrache = I gotta go (fam.)
  • Tiens-moi /tenez-moi au courant = Let me know, keep me posted
  • Tiens moi au jus = Let me know, keep me posted (fam.)
expressions to go in french

Express surprise feelings in French

Please don’t use the ‘oh la la’ when you are surprised. We actually don’t say this anymore when we want to express our astonishment ! Nowadays, it is used for disappointment (Oh la la ce film est nul !  Wow, this movie is so bad !). Like any other language, French has a long list of casual words. Don’t be shy to add some French slang here and there to :

  • Speak the “real” French instead of sounding like an outdated book
  • Sound natural and less heavy when you talk
  • Feel like you have lived in France for many years

What to say in French when you are astonished

  • Ah bon ? = Really ?
  • Ah ouais ? = Yes? Really  The ‘ouais’ is yes very informal (fam.)
  • C’est dingue ! = It’s crazy !
  • No way ! = We use as well the english no way to say impossible !
express surprise in french

Common French conjunctions and phrases to sound like a local

Finally, there’s nothing like sprinkling your narrative with typical expressions to make you sound totally French. It will all flow so naturally and sound great. Furthermore, it will buy you more time to think about the rest of your words further. French expressions can be funny but also absurd the same time, as you can see in this post about French idioms with colors or delicious expressions with food.

If you are at advanced level and would like to laugh a bit, feel free to read this great article about ‘du coup‘ ! It really became a language automatism and can be heard in various everyday situations !

  • Bref = In short, to be brief
  • Bon, ben,…= Well, well
  • Comme d’hab = As usual, same as always. ‘Dhab’ is ‘d’habitude’
  • Ca fait un bail = It’s been a long time
  • Ca le fait / Ca va le faire = Everything is / is going to be alright
  • Du coup = Then, well, as a result, therefore
  • Euh… = French for hum
  • Tiens ! = Well / Hold on !
  • T’es large ! = You have plenty of space (when someone is parking his/her car) or plenty of time (when someone thinks he/she is late)
  • Tu t’en sors ? = Do you manage ? Are you Ok ?
french apero

I hope you feel a bit more French ! If you have additional comments or would love to speak more a ‘real’ French, please feel free to get in touch. A bientôt.

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