French phrasebook

French-speaking areas

French (français) is a Romance language, and one of the most widely spoken languages in the world: 277 million people speak French, including about 100 million native speakers. While the French language originated in France, in modern times it is spoken on every continent; it is an official language of 29 countries, an important business, cultural, or minority language in dozens of other countries and regions, and is used officially by scores of international organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Olympic Committee. French was the main international lingua franca well into the 20th century, and at one point, French was the language spoken in most of the royal courts of Europe. To this day, it remains de rigueur for educated people in many societies around the world to have some level of basic French ability.

French is the sole official language of France, including all of its overseas departments and territories, and is the only language you will need to communicate with French nationals. Beyond France, French is widely spoken in many nearby countries in Europe, including the southern half of Belgium (Wallonia and Brussels), western Switzerland, Monaco, Luxembourg, and the Aosta Valley of northwestern Italy. A small number of second-language speakers are also found on the Channel Island of Jersey (where a dialect of Norman extremely similar to French persists) and in the tiny Pyrenean country of Andorra.

In the Americas, French is spoken primarily in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, the northern and eastern parts of Ontario, around the Winnipeg area of Manitoba, and the city of Whitehorse in Yukon. Indeed, Canada is an officially bilingual nation and there are Francophone enclaves in almost every province, though outside of the four provinces and territory mentioned, it's quite rare to encounter anyone in Canada who speaks more than a few words of French without hunting down off-the-beaten-track French-speaking communities. French is also spoken in a few parts of the United States, namely parts of Louisiana and northern Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In the Caribbean, French is an official language of Haiti, a former colonial possession of France. The Americas also host the French departments of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana, plus the overseas collectivities of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Barthélemy, and the northern half of Saint Martin.

Elsewhere, French is an official language of many former French and Belgian colonies in Africa, like Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo, and is unofficial but carries prestige in others, namely Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. It is an important administrative, educational, and cultural language in the former French Southeast Asian possessions of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. In the Indian Ocean, Réunion and Mayotte are French overseas departments, while French is also an official language in Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Comoros. In Oceania, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna remain overseas territories of France, and French is also one of the official languages of Vanuatu.

The French Wikivoyage has a page that can help you locate French-speaking regions.


French is often called the "language of Molière". The Parisian playwright is celebrated in stone on the city hall of his hometown.

French spelling is not very phonetic. The same letter used in two different words can make two different sounds, and many letters are not pronounced at all. The good news, though, is that French generally has more regular pronunciation rules than English. This means that with sufficient practice, one can generally pronounce written French fairly accurately. However, the large number of homophones and silent letters make it such that attempting to write down spoken French often results in spelling mistakes, even for native speakers. Some rules are as follows:

  • Stress is fairly even in French, but the stress almost always falls on the last syllable. In words where the stress falls on an earlier syllable, it's not uncommon to hear the last syllable or sound of some words cut off or "swallowed." For example, Possible can sound like poss-EEB and hymne can sound like eem. This is particularly noticeable in Quebec, but exists in other accents too.
  • The final consonant of a word is usually silent except for c, f, l, q, and r. Thus, allez (go) is pronounced al-AY, not al-AYZ; tard (late) is pronounced tar, not tard.
  • If the next word begins with a vowel, a consonant may be pronounced; this is called liaison. For example, allez-y (≈ go ahead / off you go), is pronounced al-ay-ZEE, while mes amis (my friends) is pronounced MEZ-ah-MEE .
  • A final e is also usually silent if the word has more than one syllable, except in parts of southern France and when singing or reciting poetry, when it becomes a schwa or é sound (see below).

Guess what? Those pronunciation "rules" you just read have a ton of exceptions! For example, the rule that a final r is pronounced is not true in the combination "-er", normally found in verb infinitives; this letter combination is pronounced ay. The plural ending "-ent" for verbs is silent (except for the t, in cases of liaison), even though it is pronounced when it appears in other words. Sometimes, whether to pronounce the final consonant of a word is denoted by its grammatical function; for example, the final "s" in tous (all) is silent when used as an adjective, but pronounced when used as a pronoun, while the final "f" in nouns such as cerf (deer) and œuf (egg) is pronounced in the singular form, but in the plural form (cerfs, œufs) the "f" and the "s" are both silent.

A final warning: for many French words, it is impossible to write something which an English speaker can easily read and reproduce without compromising on "perfect" French pronunciation. This means that the pronunciation guides in this very phrasebook are open to interpretation! Use the transliteration provided with each phrase as a guide to liaison, but refer to the following letter lists in order to correctly pronounce the vowels and consonants.



Vowels in French can have accent marks, which generally have no noticeable impact on pronunciation, but they often distinguish between homophones in writing (ou, meaning "or", and , meaning "where", are pronounced the same). The only really important ones which affect pronunciation are é, è, and ê, which are called e accent aigu, e accent grave, and e accent circonflexe, respectively. The grave and circumflex accents have the same name when they appear on other letters, while the umlaut (ë, ï, ü) is called e / i / u tréma.

a, à, â
like father (U.S. English) or cat (UK English); (IPA: a). In Quebec French, sometimes more like "aw" as in the standard UK pronunciation of not (IPA: ɔ)
in most cases a central neutral vowel ("schwa") like in about (IPA: ə), sometimes like "é" or "è". At the end of a word, it's usually not pronounced at all
é, ai, -er, -es, -ez, -et
similar to day but shorter (IPA: e)
è, ê
more open, like set (IPA: ɛ). Sometimes diphthongised in Quebec French (IPA: ɛɪ̯)
i, î
like see, but shorter and tenser (IPA: i)
o, ô, au, eau
generally like boat (IPA: o)
u, ù
like a very tight, frontal "oo" sound (purse your lips as if to say "oo" as in "soon" but try to make your tongue say "ee") - (IPA: y), uu in transcriptions, similar to the German ü. Sometimes pronounced more like "eu" in Quebec French
like food, but rounder (IPA: u)
when followed by a consonant, like see (IPA: i). When followed by another vowel, it's used as a consonant, pronounced yes (IPA: j)
between dew and burp (IPA: ø); written as eu in transcriptions
Like many ex-colonial placenames, Ouagadougou mixes French spelling convention with words from a local language, in this case Mooré


like wham (IPA: wa), or when followed by a nasal more like wet (IPA: wɛ̃). In Quebec French, sometimes like thought (IPA: ɔ)
like week (IPA: wi)
like week, but with a French u instead of the w (IPA: ɥi)
a bit like eu, but more open (IPA: œ). The distinction between œ (called o e entrelacés) and eu is very subtle and often irrelevant.


like boy (IPA: b)
like scam (before "a", "o", and "u" or before a consonant; IPA: k), like peace but pronounced with the tongue touching the teeth (before "e", "i", and "y"; IPA: )
like the second pronunciation of c. This letter, called a "cedilla" (cédille), can only be written before "a" ,"o", or "u"
like ship (IPA: ʃ); sometimes like k (in words of Greek origin mostly)
like do but pronounced with the tongue touching the teeth (IPA: ). In Quebec, like "dz" or "ds" when before "i" or "y"
like jump (IPA: d͡ʒ)
like fin (IPA: f)
like go (before "a", "o", and "u" or before a consonant; IPA: ɡ), like sabotage (before "e", "i" and "y"; IPA: ʒ)
like the first pronunciation of g (before "e", "i", "y"); if the u is to be pronounced, it will be written with a diaresis (e.g. aigüe)
somewhat like canyon (IPA: ɲ). This is particularly difficult when followed by oi, as in baignoire (beh-NYWAR) "bathtub".
silent, but may sometimes prevent a liaison with the former word (this is called an h aspiré)
like the second pronunciation of g
like skit (only used for loanwords, but common in Alsatian and Breton placenames; IPA: k)
l, ll
light L (higher-pitched, non-dental), like British light (IPA: l); some exceptions for "ll" in the combination "ille" (sometimes pronounced ee-yuh, IPA: j), or in "guillotine".
like milk (IPA: m)
pronounced with the tongue touching the teeth (IPA: ), except when followed by a vowel, when it is pronounced like nose (IPA: n). See Nasals below}}
like spin (IPA: p)
like f
like apnea (IPA: pn)
like slips (IPA: ps)
most of the time k, like quick only in loanwords
guttural r, pronounced at the back of the throat (IPA: ʁ)
usually like the second pronunciation of c; like z when between two vowels (unless doubled), or in a liaison
t, th
like still but pronounced with the tongue touching the teeth (IPA: ); in Quebec, like cats (IPA: t͡s) when before "i" or "y"; like the second pronunciation of c in tion
like teach (IPA: t͡ʃ)
like very (IPA: v)
only in foreign words, mostly like will (IPA: w) and sometimes like v (in particular, "wagon" is "vagon" and "WC" is "VC"!)
either ks, gz or s
like zoo but pronounced with the tongue touching the teeth (IPA: )
Remember the scene in the movie Home Alone where Kevin's sister mockingly told him "you're what the French call les incompétents"? Even though grammar Nazis might deduct points for addressing a singular subject in the plural, any phonicist will tell you she got the sound of the French nasal vowel pretty much down pat.


an, en, em
nasal a (IPA: ɑ̃). Not always pronounced as a nasal, especially if the n or m is doubled: Emmanuel is pronounced as a normal "emm" sound
nasal o (IPA: ɔ̃) - distinguishing between this and "an" is tricky, it's a deeper, more closed sound
in, ain
nasal è (IPA: ɛ̃)
nasal eu (IPA: œ̃). In northern France and particularly around Paris, pronounced the same as 'in' (IPA: ɛ̃)
nasal "wè" (IPA: wɛ̃)


aï, ail
like the English pronoun I (IPA: aj)
ay, éi
é and i smooshed together (IPA: ɛ.i)
either literally, or like "y" in "three years", with some exceptions (ville is veel, fille is fiy)

Quebec French sometimes has vestigial diphthongs where French from France no longer does. For example, while a Parisian would pronounce the word maître as MET-ruh, a Québécois would pronounce it more like MIGHT-ruh.


  • When there is an accent mark on "e", it prevents diphthongs. Letters should be pronounced separately, following the rule for the accented letter. Example: réunion (meeting).
  • A diaeresis (tréma) may also be used to prevent diphthongs on "e", "u" and "i". Example: maïs (Indian corn or maize).
  • In the combination "geo" (as in pigeon or bourgeois), the "e" should not be pronounced, as it is only there to force the pronunciation of the soft "g" (IPA: ʒ). When the e is marked with an acute accent (as in géologie) it is pronounced the normal way.


Like Spanish and German, but unlike English, the French language is governed by an official regulator - L'Académie française. Headquartered in Paris (shown here), the Académie issues guidance and recommendations on good French, and its occasional spelling reforms are often controversial.

Gender and its complications


French nouns are divided into two different genders: masculine and feminine. Unlike in English, all inanimate objects have a gender assigned to them: for example, pain (bread) is masculine, while confiture (jam) is feminine. The grammatical gender of nouns denoting persons generally follows the person's natural sex; for instance, mère (mother) is feminine, while père (father) is masculine. However, some nouns are always of the same gender regardless of the natural gender of the person they are referring to: personne is always feminine even if the person in question is a man.

It is not always easy to tell at a glance which gender a noun is but, in general, if it ends in a consonant, or by the letter combinations -age, -au, , -ège, ème, or -isme / -iste, or is a foreign (particularly English) loanword, it's likely to be masculine. On the other hand, if a noun ends in -ace, -ance / -ence, -ée, -elle / -erre / -esse / -ette, -ie, -ice, -ine, -ise, -que, or -tion / sion, it's probably feminine. There are plenty of exceptions, however!

The singular definite article ("the" in English) of each noun depends on its gender: le (m), la (f) or l’ (before all singular nouns starting with a vowel and some starting with "h", regardless of gender). The plural definite article for both genders is les. Thus:

  • le garçon – the boy → les garçons – the boys
  • la fille – the girl → les filles – the girls
  • l'homme – the man → les hommes – the men

The singular indefinite article ("a" and "an" in English) also corresponds to the noun's gender: un for masculine and une for feminine. Unlike English, French has a plural indefinite article – des, which works for both genders – and three partitive articlesdu (m), de la (f), and de l’ (before vowels and some instances of the letter "h"), which precede uncountable nouns. Thus:

  • un homme – a man → des hommes – men
  • une femme – a woman → des femmes – women
  • du vin – wine
  • de la confiture – jam
  • de l'eau – water

Similarly, the third person pronouns also depend on the grammatical gender of the subject: il (m – he or it) or elle (f – she or it), with ils and elles respectively being the masculine and feminine plurals (they). When there are groups of mixed-gender people or objects, ils is always used.

Formal and informal speech


In French, there are two equivalents of the English word "you". When addressing one person you know well such as a family member or a friend, plus any time you speak to one child or one animal, the word to use will be tu. In all other situations, including when addressing a group of people regardless of who they are, the word to use will be vous. This means that in practice, as a traveller and novice French speaker, most of the time you will be using vous. It is important to know the distinction, as while addressing a pet dog with the vous form might just raise a chuckle, using tu with somebody you've just met is inappropriate and may offend the person whom you are addressing. After initially using the vous form, a person may say to you "On peut se tutoyer"; this is a polite invitation for you to use the tu form with them.

The default title used when addressing a man is monsieur, while a woman would be addressed as madame. Mademoiselle was traditionally used to address young, unmarried women, but this is now controversial and arguably sexist, so unless the other person tells you otherwise, it is best to default to madame. The respective plurals are messieurs and mesdames, so the French equivalent of "ladies and gentlemen" is "mesdames et messieurs", though often in speech this is rendered as "messieurs-dames".



In a manner similar to many other Romance languages, French verbs all end in either -er, -ir, or -re in their infinitive forms, for example écouter (to listen), finir (to finish), and vendre (to sell). Verbs in French conjugate differently according to tense, mood, aspect and voice. This means that there are many more possible conjugations for French verbs than English verbs, and learning how to conjugate each verb in different scenarios can be a challenge for English speakers. Fortunately for you, the vast majority of verbs follow a regular conjugation pattern.

Here are three examples of regular verbs conjugated in the present tense, which can be used as a model for all other present-tense regular verbs. For the regular conjugations, remove the -er, -ir, or -re ending from the infinitive and add the letters in bold from the table below:

-er verb example:


to listen regular
-ir verb example:


to finish regular
-re verb example:


to sell
j'écoute I listen je finis I finish je vends I sell
tu écoutes you listen (informal) tu finis you finish (informal) tu vends you sell (informal)
il écoute

elle écoute

he listens / it listens (masculine inanimate)

she listens / it listens (feminine inanimate)

il finit

elle finit

he finishes / it finishes (masculine inanimate)

she finishes / it finishes (feminine inanimate)

il vend

elle vend

he sells / it sells (masculine inanimate)

she sells / it sells (feminine inanimate)

on écoute one listens

we listen

on finit one finishes

we finish

on vend one sells

we sell

nous écoutons we listen nous finissons we finish nous vendons we sell
vous écoutez you listen (formal / plural) vous finissez you finish (formal / plural) vous vendez you sell (formal / plural)
ils écoutent

elles écoutent

they listen ils finissent

elles finissent

they finish ils vendent

elles vendent

they sell

Some verbs are irregular, meaning that they use different roots when conjugated. The good news is that irregular verbs are very much in the minority. The bad news is that nearly all of the most useful everyday verbs are irregular; you will have to learn their conjugations individually if you wish to use them effectively: aller (to go), venir (to come), voir (to see), faire (to do), acheter (to buy), manger (to eat), boire (to drink), sortir (to go out), dormir (to sleep), pouvoir (to be able to), and vouloir (to want). The worst of these are probably être (to be) and avoir (to have), by far the most common verbs for everyday communication. Here are the present tense conjugations of each; you'll notice the entire word changes for each form of the verb:

If you hate grammar, just think of éclairs. Éclair, by the way, is a masculine noun.
AVOIR to have ÊTRE to be
j'ai I have je suis I am
tu as you have (informal) tu es you are (informal)
il a

elle a

he has / it has (masculine inanimate)

she has / it has (feminine inanimate)

il est

elle est

he is / it is (masculine inanimate)

she is / it is (feminine inanimate)

on a one has

we have

on est one is

we are

nous avons we have nous sommes we are
vous avez you have (formal / plural) vous êtes you are (formal / plural)
ils ont

elles ont

they have ils sont

elles sont

they are

International varieties of French

"Levez le pied, il y a des enfants qui jouent ici !" - Lift your foot [off the gas pedal], there are children playing here! (Guadeloupe Creole)

For its size, France is quite a linguistically-diverse country. Aside from languages which are very clearly separate from French (e.g. Basque and Breton), there is a whole slew of local parlers (e.g. Angevin, Lorrain, Norman, Picard, Savoyard...) which are just similar enough to standard French that, depending on whom you ask, they can be considered either separate languages in their own right, or simply dialects (patois) of the mother tongue. These local languages/dialects also influence the accents of standard French within their region, from the strange vowels and increased nasalisation of the far north to the 'singing' accents of the deep south.

The varieties of French which are spoken in Belgium and Switzerland differ slightly from the French spoken in France, though they are similar enough to be mutually intelligible. In particular, the numbering system in French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland has some slight peculiarities that are different from the French spoken in France, and the pronunciation of some words is slightly different. Nevertheless, all French-speaking Belgians and Swiss would have learned standard French in school, so they would be able to understand you even if you used the standard French numbering system.

Aside from Europe and Canada (see below), many French-speaking regions have incorporated the words of local languages, and on occasion have formed distinctive dialects or languages known as creoles. French-based creoles today enjoy wide use and often official status in the Seychelles, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Haiti (see Haitian creole), Réunion, and the French overseas territories in the Antilles. A dialect of French known as Louisiana French or Cajun, which is similar to the Acadian French spoken in parts of New Brunswick, and a distinct French-based creole known as Louisiana Creole are both still spoken by some residents in the southern U.S. state, while parts of New England near the Canadian border are home to speakers of a dialect known as New England French, which bears many similarities to Québécois.


See also: Quebec#Talk
Stop sign in Montreal

There are many phonological and lexical differences between the French spoken in Quebec and that spoken in France. Quebec has retained many 18th- & 19th-century French words, while in France the language has moved on, as well as incorporating many English words in the modern era. On the other side, Québécois borrowed English terms from their Anglophone neighbours as early as the 19th century, but the onset of the "Quiet Revolution" and the Quebec sovereignty movement in the 1960s led to laws that strictly limited the usage and influence of English in the public sphere, with the result that, etymologically speaking, Quebec French is in many ways more "purely" French than that spoken in France. For instance, the fast-food chain called "Kentucky Fried Chicken" (KFC) in both the United States and France is known in Quebec as Poulet Frit Kentucky (PFK). In addition, menus are all translated, resulting in le Joyeux Festin at McDonald's in Quebec, rather than le Happy Meal as in the rest of the French-speaking world.

Some examples of everyday words which differ between Québécois and standard French:

English France Quebec Notes
car voiture auto, char Char is very informal, while auto is more formal. In France, un char is 'a tank'. Voiture and auto are feminine; char is masculine.
car park parking stationnement
to park (a car) garer parker
to drive conduire chauffer In France, chauffer means 'to heat'
stop (on a road sign) stop arrêt
pavement/sidewalk trottoir cotteur
washing machine machine à laver laveuse
breakfast, lunch, dinner petit déjeuner, déjeuner, dîner déjeuner, dîner, souper Belgium and Switzerland use the same terms as Quebec
shopping shopping/courses magasinage
bicycle vélo bicyclette vélo is masculine; bicyclette is feminine
weekend week-end fin de semaine week-end is masculine; fin de semaine is feminine
In France, fin de semaine refers to the end of the working week (typically Thursday-Friday).
toothpaste dentifrice pâte à dents Canadian toothpaste packaging still says dentifrice
email e-mail/mail courriel Use of courriel, short for courrier électronique (electronic mail), is recommended by the Académie française, but this is all but ignored in France
ice cream glace crème glacée Crème glacée is a direct translation of English 'ice cream'
corn maïs blé d'inde

Each of Canada's other provinces has a Francophone population, who are not Québécois. Some of these groups have been settled for hundreds of years. Another distinct dialect of French, known as Acadian French, is spoken commonly in parts of New Brunswick, with smaller populations in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Many of these people were expelled by the British during the French and Indian War, and settled in Louisiana, where they would later become known as the Cajuns.

Nevertheless, all Francophone Canadians, including Québécois, learn standard French in school, and most of the differences between the two varieties are limited to informal speech. This means that while you may not understand conversation among locals, they will be able to converse with you in standard French if required.

Phrase list




Common signs

Ouvert (oo-VAIR)
Fermé (FEHR-may)
Horaires d'ouverture (Oh-RAIR doo-VAIR-tuur)
Entrée (AHN-tray)
Sortie (sor-TEE)
Poussez (POO-say)
Tirez (TEE-ray)
Toilettes (twah-LET)
Hommes (om)
Femmes (fam)
Handicapés (on-dee-KAP-ay)
Sortie de secours (sor-TEE duh suh-COOR)
Interdit, Défendu (ehn-tair-DEE, day-fahn-DUU)
Stationnement interdit, Défense de stationner (STAH-syonn-mon an-tair-DEE, day-FAHNS duh STAH-syonn-ay)
Cédez le passage (SAY-day luh pah-SAHZH)
Stop (stop) / Arrêt (Ah-RAY)
Hello. (formal)
Bonjour. (bawn-ZHOOR) (in the day) / Bonsoir. (bawn-SWAHR) (at night)
Hello. (informal)
Salut. (sah-LUU)
How are you? (formal)
Comment allez-vous ? (koh-moh t-AH-lay VOO)
How are you? (informal)
Comment vas-tu ? (koh-mahng va TUU); Comment ça va ? (koh-moh sah VAH)
Fine, thank you.
Bien, merci. (byang, merr-SEE)
What is your name?
Comment vous appelez-vous ? (koh-moh vooz AHP-lay VOO?); lit. "How do you call yourself?"
What is your name? (informal)
Comment t'appelles-tu ? (koh-moh tah-pell TOO?)
My name is ______ .
Je m'appelle ______ . (zhuh mah-PELL _____)
Nice to meet you.
Enchanté(e). (ahn-shan-TAY)
Please. (formal)
S'il vous plaît. (seel voo PLEH); Je vous prie. (zhuh voo PREE)
Please. (informal)
S'il te plaît. (seel tuh PLEH)
Thank you.
Merci. (merr-SEE)
You're welcome.
De rien. (duh RYEHNG), Bienvenue. (bee-ain-veuh-nu) [Quebec only]; Je vous en prie. (zhuh voo-zahn PREE) (more polite)
Oui. (WEE)
Non. (NOH)
Excuse me.
Pardon. (pahr-DOHN); Excusez-moi. (ehk-SKEW-zay MWAH)
(I am) Sorry.
(Je suis) Désolé(e). (zhuh swee DAY-zoh-LAY); Je m'excuse. (zhuh mehk-SKEWZ)
Au revoir. (oh ruh-VWAHR)
Goodbye (informal)
Salut. (sah-LUU)
I can't speak French [well].
Je ne parle pas [bien] français. (zhuh nuh PAHRL pah [byang] frahn-SEH )
Do you speak English?
Parlez-vous anglais ? (par-lay VOO ahng-LEH?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
Est-ce qu'il y a quelqu'un ici qui parle anglais ? (ess keel-ee-AH kel-KUHN ee-see kee PAHRL ahng-LEH)/ Y a-t-il quelqu'un ici qui parle anglais ? (ee yah-TEEL kel-KUHN ee-see kee PAHRL ahng-LEH)
Au secours ! (oh suh-KOOR)
Look out!
Attention ! (ah-tahn-SYONG)
Good day / good morning
Bonjour (bong̠-ZHOO(R))
Have a nice day
Bonne journée (bon zhoor-NAY)
Good evening.
Bonsoir. (bong-SWAHR)
Good night. (at the end of an evening)
Bonne soirée (bon swahr-RAY)
Good night. (when going to bed)
Bonne nuit. (bon NWEE)
Sweet dreams
Faites de beaux rêves (FEHT duh bo REV)
I don't understand.
Je ne comprends pas. (zhuh nuh KOHM-prahn pah)
I don't know.
Je ne sais pas. (zhuh nuh say pah)
I can't.
Je ne peux (pas). (zhuh nuh puh pah)
Where is the toilet?
Où sont les toilettes ? (OOH sohn leh twah-LET?)
What is it?
Qu'est-ce que c'est ? (KES-kuh-SAY)
How do you say _____ in French / in English?
Comment dit-on _____ en français / en anglais ? (koh-moh dee-TONG _____ ahn frahn-SEH / ahn ahng-LEH ?)
What is this/that called?
Comment appelle-t-on ça ? (koh-moh ah-pell-TONG SAH?)
How is that spelt?
Comment ça s'écrit ? (koh-moh sah SAY-cree?)


Leave me alone.
Laissez-moi tranquille ! (lay-say mwah trahn-KEEL!)
Buzz off.
Dégage ! (day-GAHZH!) / Va-t'en ! (va TAHN)
Don't touch me!
Ne me touchez pas ! (nuh muh TOOSH-ay PAH!)
I'm calling the police.
Je vais appeler la police. (zhuh VAYZ a-pell-AY la poh-LEES)
Police ! (poh-LEES)
Stop! Thief!
Arrêtez ! Au voleur ! (ah-reh-TAY! oh vo-LEUR!)
Stop! Rapist!
Arrêtez ! Au viol ! (ah-reh-TAY! oh vee-YOL!)
Au secours ! (oh suh-KOOR!)
Au feu ! (oh FEUH!)
Help me, please!.
Aidez-moi, s'il vous plaît ! (aih-day MWAH, SEEL voo PLEH!)
It's an emergency.
C'est urgent ! (seh toor-ZHAHN)
I'm lost.
Je me suis perdu(e). (ZHUH muh swee pehr-DUU)
I've lost my bag.
J'ai perdu mon sac. (zhay pehr-DUU mon SAK)
I've lost my wallet.
J'ai perdu mon portefeuille. (zhay pehr-DUU mon POHR-tuh-fuhye)
My things have been stolen.
On m'a volé mes affaires. (o(n) ma vo-LAY may-zaf-FAIR)
Someone / This man / This woman is harassing me
Quelqu'un / Cet homme / Cette femme me harcèle (kel-ku(n) / set om / set fam muh ar-SELL)
I'm sick.
Je suis malade. (zhuh swee mah-LAHD)
I've been injured.
Je me suis blessé. (zhuh muh swee bleh-SAY)
I've been bitten by a dog.
Je me suis fait mordre par un chien. (zhuh muh swee fay MOR-druh par u(n) shee-AH(N))
I need a doctor.
J'ai besoin d'un médecin. (zhay buh-ZWAHN duun may-TSAN)
Can I use your phone?
Puis-je utiliser votre téléphone ? (PWEEZH oo-tee-lee-ZAY vot-ruh tay-lay-FUN)
Call an ambulance.
Appelez une ambulance. (ah-puh-lay uun OM-boo-lo(n)ss)
Call the fire brigade.
Appelez les pompiers. (ah-puh-lay lay pom-PEE-ay)
Call the police.
Appelez la police. (ah-puh-lay la poh-LEES)
Call the coastguard.
Appelez les gardes-côtes. (ah-puh-lay lay garde cot)



Unlike English, French uses the long scale, so un billion and un trillion are not the same as the English "one billion" and "one trillion".

zéro (zairro)
un/une (uhn)/(uun)
deux (deu)
trois (trwah)
quatre (kahtr)
cinq (sank)
six (sees)
sept (set)
huit (weet)
neuf (neuf)
dix (deece)
onze (onz)
douze (dooz)
treize (trayz)
quatorze (kat-ORZ)
quinze (kihnz)
seize (says)
dix-sept (dee-SET)
dix-huit (dee-ZWEET)
dix-neuf (deez-NUF)
vingt (vihnt)
vingt-et-un (vihng-tay-UHN)
vingt-deux (vihn-teu-DEU)
vingt-trois (vin-teu-TRWAH)
trente (trahnt)
quarante (kar-AHNT)
cinquante (sank-AHNT)
soixante (swah-SAHNT)
soixante-dix (swah-sahnt-DEES) or septante (sep-TAHNGT) in Belgium and Switzerland
quatre-vingts (kaht-ruh-VIHN); huitante (weet-AHNT) in Belgium and Switzerland (except Geneva); octante (oct-AHNT) in Switzerland
quatre-vingt-dix (katr-vihn-DEES); nonante (noh-NAHNT) in Belgium and Switzerland
cent (sahn)
deux cents (deu sahng)
trois cents (trrwa sahng)
Cinq cents francs, used in several countries in Central Africa
mille (meel)
deux mille (deu meel)
un million (ung mee-LYOHN) (treated as a noun when alone: one million euros would be un million d'euros).
un milliard
un billion
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
numéro _____ (nuu-may-ROH)
demi (duh-MEE), moitié (mwah-tee-AY)
moins (mwihn)
plus (pluus) / no more : plus (pluu) so this time, the "S" is mute


A sculpture at the entrance to the palace of Versailles
maintenant (mant-NAHN)
plus tôt (pluu to)
plus tard (pluu TAHR)
avant (ah-VAHN)
après (ah-PREH)
le matin (luh mah-TAN)
in the morning
dans la matinée (dahn lah mah-tee-NAY)
l'après-midi (lah-preh-mee-DEE)
in the afternoon
dans l'après-midi (dahn lah-preh-mee-DEE)
le soir (luh SWAHR)
in the evening
dans la soirée (dahn lah swah-RAY)
la nuit (lah NWEE)
in the night
pendant la nuit (pehndahn lah NWEE)

Clock time


French speakers most commonly use the 24-hour clock, even in Quebec (whereas most other Canadians use the 12-hour clock). In Europe, an 'h' is used as a separator between hours and minutes, as opposed to the colon that is used in Quebec and English-speaking countries. Therefore, midnight is written as 0h00, 1AM as 1h00, and 1PM as 13h00; more details and examples below. However, the 12-hour clock is making some inroads in speech, and saying 1-11 in the afternoon or evening will be understood.

What's the time?
Quelle heure est-il ? (kel euhr et-EEL?);
heure (eur)
minute (mee-NUUT)
From 1 minute past to 30 minutes past the hour
[hour] + [number of minutes]
Example: 10:20 or "twenty past ten" = 10h20; "dix heures vingt" (deez eur va(n))
For 31 minutes past to 59 minutes past the hour
[next hour] + moins (mwa(n))
Example: 10:40 or "twenty to eleven" = 10h40; "onze heures moins vingt" (onz eur mwa(n) va(n))
quarter past
[hour] et quart (ay kahr)
Example: 07:15 or "quarter past seven" = 7h15; "sept heures et quart" (set eur eh kahr)
quarter to
[hour] moins le quart (mwa(n) luh kahr)
Example: 16:45 or "quarter to five" = 16h45; "dix sept heures moins le quart" (dee-set eur mwan luh kahr)
et demie (eh duh-MEE); et demi (after midnight or noon, eh duh-MEE)
Example : 10:30 or "half past ten" = 10h30; "dix heures et demie" (deez eur eh duh-MEE)
Example : 12:30 or "half past twelve" = 12h30; "douze heures et demi" (dooz eur eh duh-MEE)
1AM, 01:00
1h00; une heure du matin (uun eur duu ma-TAN)
2AM, 02:00
2h00; deux heures du matin (dooz eur duu ma-TAN)
noon, 12:00
12h00; midi (mee-DEE)
1PM, 13:00
13h00; treize heures (traiyz er)
une heure de l'après-midi (uun eur duh la-preh-mee-DEE)
2PM, 14:00
14h00; quatorze heures (KAH-torz er)
deux heures de l'après-midi (duz er duh la-preh-mee-DEE)
6PM, 18:00
18h00; dix-huit heures (deez-weet ER)
six heures du soir (seez er duu SWAR)
7:30PM, 19:30
19h30; dix-neuf heures trente (DEE-znuf er TRAHNT)
sept heures et demie (SET er eh duh-MEE)
midnight, 00:00
0h00; minuit (mee-NWEE)


Abbaye de Fontevraud
_____ minute(s)
_____ minute(s) (mee-NOOT)
_____ hour(s)
_____ heure(s) (eur)
_____ day(s)
_____ jour(s) (zhoor)
_____ week(s)
_____ semaine(s) (suh-MEN)
_____ month(s)
_____ mois (mwa)
_____ year(s)
_____ an(s) (ahng), année(s) (ah-NAY)
horaire (oh-RAIR)
quotidien / quotidienne (ko-tee-DYAN / ko-tee-DYEN)
hebdomadaire (eb-doh-ma-DAIYR)
mensuel / mensuelle (mang-suu-WEL)
saisonnier / saisonnière (SEH-zon-ee-ay / SEH-zon-ee-air)
annuel / annuelle (ah-nuu-WEL)
How long is your vacation?
Combien de temps restez-vous en vacances ? (com-bee-AN duh ton res-TAY voo on VAH-kons);
I am in France for ten days
Je reste en France pendant dix jours. (zhuh rest on frons pon-don dee zhoor)
How long is the journey?
Combien de temps le voyage dure-t-il ? (com-bee-AN duh ton luh vwoi-YAHZH dyoor-TEEL)
It takes an hour and a half
Cela dure une heure et demie. (suh-LAH dyoor uun er ay duh-MEE)


aujourd'hui (oh-zhoor-DWEE)
hier (yare)
demain (duh-MAN)
this week
cette semaine (set suh-MEN)
last week
la semaine dernière (lah suh-MEN dehr-NYAIR)
next week
la semaine prochaine (lah suh-MEN pro-SHEN)
the weekend
le week-end (France) / la fin de semaine (Canada) (luh week-end / lah fah(n) duh suh-MEN)

French calendars normally start on Monday. Unlike in English, the names of days are not capitalised in French:

lundi (luhn-DEE)
mardi (mahr-DEE)
mercredi (mehr-kruh-DEE)
jeudi (juh-DEE)
vendredi (vahn-druh-DEE)
samedi (sahm-DEE)
dimanche (dee-MAHNSH)


The revolutionary calendar isn't in use any longer, but inscriptions where it's been used can be seen here and there

Unlike English, the names of months are not capitalised in French:

janvier (ZHO(N)-vee-yeh)
février (FEH-vree-yeh)
mars (mars)
avril (av-REEL)
mai (meh)
juin (zh-WAH(N))
juillet (zh-WEE-eh)
août (oot)
septembre (sep-TOMBR)
octobre (oc-TOBR)
novembre (no-VOMBR)
décembre (deh-SOMBR)


le printemps (luh PRAH(N)-toh(m))
l'été (LAY-tay)
l'automne (loh-TOMNUH)
l'hiver (LEE-vair)


France has many beaches, and they are popular destinations during les vacances d'été
Enjoy your holiday/vacation!
Bonnes vacances ! (bon vah-KOH(N)S)
Happy holidays! (festival)
Bonnes fêtes ! (bon fet)
Happy birthday!
Joyeux anniversaire ! (ZHWY-yeuz-AN-ee-vair-SAIR)
Happy New Year!
Bonne année ! (BON-a-NAY)
New Year's Day
le jour de l'an (luh zhoor duh lah(n))
Shrove Tuesday
le mardi gras (luh MAR-dee grah)
les Pâques (lay pak)
la Pâque juive / le Pessa'h (lah pak zh-WEEV / luh pess-AKH)
le Ramadan (luh RAH-mah-doh(n)) (the other Muslim festivals are also called by their Arabic names)
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (24 June, Quebec)
la Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste (lah fet duh lah sa(n)-JOH(N)-bap-TEEST)
Canada Day (1 July)
la Fête du Canada (lah fet duu CA-na-DA)
Bastille Day (14 July, France)
le Quatorze Juillet / la Fête Nationale (luh kat-ORZ zh-WEE-eh / lah fet nah-syon-NAL)
summer holidays
les vacances d'été (lay vah-KOH(N)S DAY-tay)
school holidays
les vacances scolaires (lay vah-KOH(N)S skoh-LAIR)
beginning of the school year
la rentrée (lah roh(n)-TRAY)
Thanksgiving (2nd Su of Oct, Canada)
l'Action de grâce (LAC-sio(n)-duh-GRASS)
All Saints' Day
la Toussaint (lah TOO-sahn)
Hanoucca (ah-NOO-kah)
Noël (noh-EL)
Merry Christmas!
Joyeux Noël ! (ZHWY-euh noh-EL!)



Like in other Romance languages, nouns in French are either "masculine" or "feminine"; adjectives vary accordingly.

For instance, a lady may be blonde or brunette while a gentleman with hair of the corresponding hue is blond or brunet.

noir/noire (nwahr)
blanc/blanche (blahng/blahnsh)
gris/grise (gree/greez)
rouge (roozh)
bleu/bleue (bluh)
jaune (zhone)
vert/verte (verre/vehrt)
orange (oh-RAHNZH)
violet/violette (vee-oh-LEH/vee-oh-LET)
brun/brune (bruh/bruhn); marron (MAH-rohn)
rose (roz)



Like in other Romance languages, nouns in French are either "masculine" or "feminine"; adjectives vary accordingly.

Bon (m.) (bo(n)) / Bonne (f.) (bon)
Mauvais (MO-vay) / Mauvaise (f.) (MO-vez)
Grand (m.) (gro(n)) / Grande (f.) (grond)
Petit (m.) (puh-TEE) / Petite (f.) (puh-TEET)
Chaud (m.) (sho) / Chaude (f.) (shode)
The summit of Mont Blanc, at about 4800 m above sea level, is froid toute l'année
Froid (m.) (frwah) / Froide (f.) (frwahd)
Rapide / Vite (both genders) (rah-PEED / veet)
Lent (m.) (lo(n)) / Lente (f.) (lont)
Cher (m.) (shair) / Chère (f.) (shairr)
Bon marché (both genders) (bo(n) mar-SHAY)
Riche (both genders) (reesh)
Pauvre (both genders) (pov-ruh)


France's famous TGV (train à grande vitesse - high speed train) crossing the Ain river

Bus and Train

How much is a ticket to _____?
Combien coûte le billet pour _____ ? (kom-BYAN koot luh bee-YEH poor)
One ticket to _____, please.
Un billet pour _____, s'il vous plaît. (ung bee-YEH poor ____ seel voo pleh)
Where does this train/bus go?
Où va ce train/bus ? (OO va suh trahn/boos?)
Where is the train/bus to _____?
Où est le train/bus pour _____ ? (OO eh luh trahn/buus poor ____)
Does this train/bus stop in _____?
Ce train/bus s'arrête-t-il à _____ ? (suh trahn/buus sah-reh-tuh-TEEL ah _____)
When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
Quand part le train/bus pour _____? (kahn par luh trahn/buus poor _____)
When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
Quand ce train/bus arrivera à _____ ? (kahn suh trahn/buus ah-ree-vuh-RAH ah _____)
the/this shuttle
la/cette navette (lah/set nah-VET)
a one-way ticket
un aller simple (uhn ah-LAY SAM-pluh)
a return/round trip ticket
un aller-retour (uhn ah-LAY ruh-TOOR)
I would like to rent a car.
J'aimerais louer une voiture. (ZHEM-eu-ray LOO-way oon VWA-tuur)


Where is / are _____?
Où se trouve / trouvent _____ ? / (oo suh tr-OO-v _____)
...the train station? gare ? (lah gahr)
...the bus station? gare routière ? (lah gahr roo-TYEHR)
...the nearest metro station? station de métro la plus proche ? (lah stah-syon duh MAY-tro lah ploo prosh)
...the airport?
...l'aéroport ? (lehr-oh-POR?)
...the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy?
...l'ambassade américaine/australienne/britannique/canadienne ? (lahm-bah-SAHD a-may-ree-KEN / os-trah-lee-EN / bree-tah-NEEK / ka-na-DYEN)
...the (nearest) hotel?
...l'hôtel (le plus proche) ? (loh-tel luh ploo prohsh)
...the town / city hall?
...l'hôtel de ville / la mairie ? (loh-tel duh veel / lah mair-REE)
...the police station?
...le commissariat de police ? (luh com-mee-SAHR-ee-ah duh po-LEES)
...the tourist information centre?
...le syndicat d'initiative ? / l'office de tourisme ? / le bureau touristique ? (Quebec) (luh SAN-dee-kah dee-NEE-sya-teev / loff-EES duh toor-REEZ-muh / luh BOOR-oh toor-REES-teek)
...the nearest bank / ATM? banque la plus proche ? (lah bonk lah ploo prosh) / le distributeur de billets le plus proche ?(luh dees-tree-buu-TEUR duh bee-YAY luh ploo prosh) / le guichet automatique le plus proche? (luh GEE-shay oh-toh-mah-TEEK luh ploo prosh)
...the nearest petrol/gas station ? station-service la plus proche ? (lah sth-syon-SAIR-vees lah pluu prosh)
...the market?
...les halles ? (city or large town) / le marché ? (small town or village) (layz AL-uh / luh MAR-shay)
...the beach? plage ? (lah plaazh)
...the best bars?
...les meilleurs bars ? (leh meh-YUHR bahr)
...the best restaurants?
...les meilleurs restaurants ? (leh meh-YUHR res-toh-RO(N))
_____ Street
rue _____

e.g. rue de l'Église, rue Victor Hugo, rue de Rivoli...

Please could you show me it on the map?
S'il vous plaît, pourriez-vous me l'indiquer sur la carte ? (SEE-voo-PLEH POO-ree-yeh-voo muh la(n)-DEE-keh syoor la cart
Is it far?
C'est loin ? (seh lwa(n))
No, it's quite close.
Non, c'est tout proche. (No(n) seh too prohsh)
Straight on
Tout droit (too drwah)
Turn right
Tournez à droite (TOOR-neh a drwaht)
Turn left
Tournez à gauche (TOOR-neh a gohsh)
Towards the...
Vers le / la / les... (vehr luh)
Past the...
Après que vous passiez le / la / les... (ap-REH kuh voo PASS-see-yeh luh / la / leh)
Before the...
Avant que vous arriviez au / à la / aux (av-O(N) kuh vooz-a-REEV-ee-yeh o / a la / o)
Next to the...
À côté du / de la / des (a COH-teh duu / duh la / deh)
Opposite the...
En face du / de la / des (o(n) fass duu / duh la / deh)
Suivre : (sweevr)
The north
le nord (luh nor)
The east
l'est (lest)
The south
le sud (luh suud)
The west
l'ouest (loo-WEST)
The (next) exit
la (prochaine) sortie (lah pro-SHEN SOR-tee)
Ici (ee-SEE)
Là(-bas/-haut) (lah (BAH / OH)
Watch out for...
Repérez... (ruh-PAIR-ray luh / lah / lay)
...the road route (lah root)
...the street rue (lah ruu)
...the intersection
...le carrefour (luh car-FOOR)
...the traffic lights
...les feux (lay fuh)
...the roundabout
...le rond-point (luh ro(n)-pwa(n))
...the motorway
...l'autoroute (loh-to-ROOT)
...the railway
...le chemin de fer (luh shuh-MA(N) duh fehr)
...the level crossing
...le passage à niveau (luh pah-SAAZH-ah-NEE-vo)
...the bridge
... le pont (luh po(n))
...the tunnel
... le tunnel (luh tuu-nell)
...the toll booth
le péage (luh pay-ahzh)
Bouchon (boo-sho(n))
Travaux (trah-vo)
Road closed
Route barrée (root BAH-ray)
Déviation (day-vee-ah-SYO(N))


Taxi in Lyon
Taxi ! (tahk-SEE!)
Take me to _____, please.
Déposez-moi à _____, je vous prie. (DAY-poh-zay-MWAH ah _____, zhuh voo PREE)
How much does it cost to get to _____?
Combien ça coûte d'aller à _____ ? (kahm-BYENG suh-LA koo-TEEL dah-LAY ah _____?)
Take me there, please.
Amenez-moi là, je vous prie. (AH-muh-nay-mwah LAH, zhuh voo PREE)
I want to get out here.
Je veux descendre ici. (zhuh vuh duh-SO(N)D-rr EE-SEE)
Thank you! Keep the change.
Merci ! Gardez la monnaie. (MERR-see GARR-day lah moh-NAY)


Hotel du Palais in Biarritz
Bed and breakfast
Chambres d'hôte (SHAHM-bruh dote)
Camping (CAHM-ping)
Hôtel (OH-tel)
Self-catering cottage / holiday rental
Gîte / Location de vacances (zheet / lo-cah-syo(n) duh vah-CAHNS)
(Youth) hostel
Auberge (de jeunesse) (oh-BAIRZH duh zheuh-NESS)
Do you have any rooms available?
Avez-vous des chambres libres ? (ah-veh VOO day SHAHM-bruh leeb)
How much is a room for one person/two people?
Combien coûte une chambre pour une personne/deux personnes ? (com-BYA(N) coot uun SHAHM-bruh poor uun PAIR-son / duh PAIR-son)
Does the room come with...
Dans la chambre, y a-t-il... (dah(n) la SHAHM-bruh, ee-ya-tee)
...des draps de lit ? ( dra duh lee?)
...a bathroom?
...une salle de bain ? (...uun sal duh bah(n)?)
...a telephone?
...un téléphone ? (...u(n) teh-leh-fone?)
...a TV?
...une télévision ? (...uun teh-leh-VEEZ-yo(n)?)
...a refrigerator?
...un réfrigérateur / un frigo ? (...u(n) ray-FREEZH-ay-rah-teur / u(n) FREE-go?)
...a kettle?
...une bouilloire ? (...uun boo-WEE-wah?)
Bungalows in Foulpointe, Madagascar
May I see the room first?
Pourrais-je voir la chambre ? (poo-RAY zhuh vwaah la SHAHM-bruh?)
Do you have anything quieter?
Avez-vous une chambre plus tranquille ? (ah-veh VOO uun SHAHM-bruh ploo trahn-KEE?)
...bigger? grande ? (ploo grahnd?)
...cleaner? propre? (ploo prop?)
...moins chère? (mwahn shair?)
OK, I'll take it.
Bon, je la prends. (bo(n), zhuh lah proh(n))
I will stay for _____ night(s).
Je compte rester pour _____ nuits. (zhuh compt REH-stay poor _____ nwee)
Can you suggest another hotel?
Pourriez-vous me suggérer un autre hôtel ? (poo-REE-ay voo muh soo-ZHAY-ray u(n) OH-truh OH-tel ?)
Do you have a safe?
Avez-vous un coffre-fort ? (ah-veh VOO u(n) COFF-ruh-FOR?)
...un vestiaire ? (u(n) ves-tee-AIR?)
Is breakfast/supper included?
Le petit-déjeuner/le dîner est-il compris ? (luh puh-TEE DAY-zhuh-nay / luh DEE-nay eh-TEE com-PREE?)
What time is breakfast/supper?
À quelle heure est servi le petit-déjeuner/le dîner ? (ah kell euhrr eh SAIR-vee luh puh-TEE DAY-zhuh-nay / luh DEE-nay?)
Please clean my room.
Veuillez faire le ménage. (vuh-YEH fair luh MEH-naazh)
Can you wake me at _____?
Pourriez-vous me réveiller à _____? (poo-REE-ay voo muh REH-veh-yeh ah _____? )
You have a bedbug / cockroach / fly / mouse infestation here.
Vous êtes envahi de punaises / blattes / mouches / souris ici. (voo ZET O(N)-vah-YEE duh poo-NEZ / blat / moosh / soo-REE ee-see)
I want to check out.
Je voudrais régler la note. (zhuh VOO-dray REH-glay lah note)


Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?
Acceptez-vous les dollars américains/australiens/canadiens ? (ahk-sep-tay VOO leh doh-LAHR ah-may-ree-KANG/aws-trah-LYAHNG/kah-nah-DYAHNG?)
Do you accept British pounds?
Acceptez-vous les livres Sterling ? (ahk-sep-tay VOO leh leevr stehr-LING?)
Do you accept euros?
Acceptez-vous les euros ? (ahk-sep-tay VOO lehz-OO-roh)
Do you accept credit cards?
Acceptez-vous les cartes de crédit ? (ahk-sep-tay VOO leh kahrt duh kray-DEE?)
Can you change it (the money) for me?
Pouvez-vous me le faire changer ? (poo-vay-VOO muh luh fehr SHAHNZHAY?)
Where can I get it (the money) changed?
Où puis-je le faire changer ? (oo PWEEZH luh fehr SHAHNZHAY?)
Can you change a traveler's check for me?
Pouvez-vous me faire le change sur un chèque de voyage ? (poo-vay-VOO muh fehr luh SHAHNZH suur ung shek duh vwoy-AHZH?)
Where can I get a traveler's check changed?
Où puis-je changer un chèque de voyage ? (oo PWEEZH shahng-ZHAY ung shek duh vwoy-AHZH?)
What is the exchange rate?
Quel est le taux de change ? (KELL eh luh TAW duh SHAHNZH?)
Where can I find a cash point / ATM?
Où puis-je trouver un distributeur de billets ? (oo PWEEZH troo-VAY ung dees-tree-buu-TEUR duh bee-YAY?)


Belon oysters
A table for one / two.
Une table pour une personne / deux personnes. (uun TAH-bluh poor oon PAIR-son / duh PAIR-son)
I'd like to reserve a table for tonight/tomorrow.
Je voudrais réserver une table pour ce soir/demain. (zhuh voo-DREH REH-sair-VEH uun TAH-bluh poor suh SWAAH / duh-MAHN(G))
set menu
menu (muh-NUU)
à la carte
à la carte (ah lah KAHRT)
the dish of the day
le plat du jour (luh PLA duu ZHOOR)
serves food all day
service continu (SAIR-vees con-tee-NOO)
France: petit-déjeuner (ptee-day-zheu-NAY); Switzerland/Belgium/Canada: déjeuner (day-zheu-NAY)
France: déjeuner (day-zheu-NAY); Elsewhere: dîner (dee-NAY)
France: dîner (dee-NAY); Elsewhere: souper (soo-PAY)
I would like _____.
Je voudrais _____. (zhuh voo-DREH _____)
something local
un plat typique (de la région) (uhn pla tee-PEEK (duh lah RAY-zhyong))
I would like a dish containing _____.
Je voudrais un plat avec _____. (zhuh voo-DREHZ ung plaht ah-VEK _____)
de la viande (duh lah vee-AWND)
du poulet / de la volaille (duu poo-LEH / duh lah voh-LIE)
Note: volaille literally means "poultry", but nearly always means "chicken" on menus
de la dinde (duh lah DAND)
du canard (duu can-AR)
de l'agneau (duh LAN-yo)
du porc / du cochon (duu POHR/duu coh-SHONG).
du jambon (duu zhahng-BONG)
du bœuf (duu BUFF)

Quelle cuisson ?

A common question when ordering meat (especially, but not only, steak) is how long you want it cooked for: rare, medium, or well done? Simple enough, you might think. But if you're from an English-speaking country, then as a general rule of thumb, you'll find that if you ask for what you're used to at home, the meat will be rarer than you'd like. Therefore, it's worth getting to know these terms:

  • Bleu – "Blue", almost raw, meat that is cooked for less than a minute each side.
  • Saignant – "Bloody", i.e. very rare, but cooked slightly longer than a bleu steak.
  • À point – "Perfectly cooked", and the most popular among the French, but still rare by British or American standards.
  • Bien cuit – "Well cooked", but not well done. More like medium, with pink on the inside, though there should be no blood.
  • Très bien cuit – This should get you a "well done" steak that is totally cooked through. Mais, attention ! If chef is not used to catering to les Anglo-Saxons, he might just overdo it and give you a plate of leather.
du steak / du bifteck (duu stek / duu BEEF-tek)
des saucisses (hot) / du saucisson (cold) (deh saw-SEESS / duu saw-see-SON)
du gibier (duu ZHI-bee-ay)
Note: gibier may also mean specifically venison
du sanglier (duu sahng-GLYAY)
du cerf / du chevreuil / de la venaison (duu SEHR / duu shev-REUY / duh lah vu-NAY-so(n))
du lapin (duu lap-ANG)
du poisson (duu pwa-SONG)
du saumon (duu saw-MONG)
du thon (duu TONG)
du merlan (duu mehr-LANG)
de la morue (duh lah moh-RUU)
du loup (de mer) / du bar (duu LOO (duh MAIR) / duu BARR)
des fruits de mer (deh frwee duh MEHR); literally: "fruits of the sea"
de la dulse (duh lah DUULS)
du homard (duu oh-MAR), de la langouste (duh lah lan-goost) (rock lobster)
des palourdes (deh pah-LOORD)
des huîtres (dez WEETR)
des moules (deh MOOL)
des coquilles Saint-Jacques (deh kok-EE-sah(n)-ZHAK)
Escargots at a farmers market in Paris
des escargots (dez es-car-GOH)
frogs' legs
des cuisses de grenouille (deh gruh-NOOEY)
du fromage (duu froh-MAHZH)
cow's cheese
du fromage de lait de vache (duu froh-MAHZH duh leh duh vash)
goat's / sheep's cheese
du fromage de chèvre / de brebis (duu froh-MAHZH duh SHEV-ruh / duh bruh-BEE)
des œufs (dehz UH)
one egg
un œuf (un UF)
(fresh) vegetables
des légumes (frais) (deh lay-guum (FREH))
des oignons (DEZ-on-yon)
des carottes (deh kah-ROT)
des (petits) pois (deh (PUH-tee) PWAH)
du brocoli (duu broh-COLEE)
du maïs (duu my-YEES)
des champignons (deh SHAM-pee-nyon)
du chou (duu shoo)
des épinards (DEZ-ep-ee-NARR)
green / French beans
des haricots verts (DEZ-ah-REE-ko VAIRR)
white / haricot beans
des haricots blancs (DEZ-ah-REE-ko BLAWNG)
Brussels sprouts
des choux de Bruxelles (deh shoo duh bruu-SEL)
des lentilles (deh lon-TEE)
des pommes de terre (deh POM-duh-TAIR)
French fries
des frites (day freet)
(fresh) fruit
des fruits (frais) (deh frwee (freh))
an apple
une pomme (uun pom)
a pear
une poire (uun pwarr)
a plum
une prune (uun pruun)
a peach
une pêche (uun pesh)
des raisins (deh RAY-zan)
des cerises (deh suh-REEZ)
an orange
une orange (uun oh-RAWNZH)
a banana
une banane (uun bah-NAN)
a mango
une mangue (uun mawngg)
a lemon
un citron (un SEE-trong)
a lime
un citron vert / un limon / une lime (un SEE-trong vair / un LEE-mon / uun leem)
des fruits rouges (deh frwee roozh)
des fraises (deh frez)
des framboises (deh from-BWAHZ)
des mûres (deh muur)
des myrtilles (deh MIRR-tee)
des cassis (deh kah-SEES)
a salad
une salade (uun sah-LAHD)
du concombre (duu cong-COMBRR)
des tomates (deh toh-MAT)
de la laitue (duh lah LEH-tuu)
red / yellow / green pepper
du poivron rouge / jaune / vert (duu PWAH-vrong roozh / zhoan / vairr)
spring onions
des oignons nouveaux (DEZ-on-YONG NOO-vo)
du radis (duu RAH-dee)
de la ciboulette (duh lah SEE-boo-LET)
mixed herbs
des herbes de Provence (dez-AIRB-duh-pro-VAWNSS)
du pain (duu pang)
des toasts (deh toast
(milky) coffee
du café (au lait) (duu kah-FAY (oh LEH))
Note: Coffee will always be served black unless you ask for milk
du thé (duu tay)
du jus (duu zhuu)
du lait (duu leh)
fresh / sparkling water
de l'eau plate / gazeuse (duh loh PLAT / gah-ZUHZ)
Note: If you ask for "water", you will get mineral water. To specify "tap water", say "eau du robinet" (OH duu roh-bee-NEH) or ask for a jug of water "une carafe d'eau" (uun cahr-AHF doh).
(draught) beer
de la bière (pression) (duh lah byehr)
red / white / rosé wine
du vin rouge / blanc / rosé (duu vang roozh / blahng / ro-ZAY)
May I have some _____?
Puis-je avoir _____ ? (pweezh ah-VWAHR duu)
du sel (duu sel)
black pepper
du poivre (duu pwavr)
de l'ail (duh lie)
du beurre (duu bur)
olive oil
de l'huile d'olive (duh LWEEL-doh-LEEV)
du ketchup / de la mayonnaise / de la moutarde / de l'aïoli (duu KECH-up / duh lah MIE-oh-NEZ / duh lah MOO-tard / duh LIE-oh-lee)
Excuse me, waiter / waitress?
S'il vous plaît, monsieur / madame ? (seell voo PLEH muh-SYUH/ma-DAHM)
Note: "garçon" (boy) is offensive and should be avoided.
I'm finished.
J'ai terminé. (zhay TAIRH-mee-NAY)
It was delicious.
C'était délicieux. (seh-tay de-li-SYUH)
Can you please clear the plates?
Pouvez-vous débarrasser la table, s'il vous plaît ? (poovay voo DEH-bahr-a-seh lah tah-bluh seel voo play)
The check (bill), please.
L'addition, s'il vous plaît. (lah-dee-SYOHN seel voo play)

Dietary requirements

I am _____.
Je suis _____. (zhuh swee)
végétalien (vey-zhey-tal-YENG) (m); végétalienne (vey-zhey-tal-YEN) (f)
végétarien (vey-zhey-tar-YENG) (m); végétarienne (vey-zhey-tar-YEN) (f)
I do not eat eggs, milk, or cheese.
Je ne mange pas d'œufs, de lait ni de fromage. (zhuh nuh monzh pah dooh, duh leh, nee duh froh-MAHZH)
I do not eat meat, chicken, or pork.
Je ne mange pas de viande, de poulet, ni de porc. (zhuh nuh monzh pah duh vee ahnd, duh poo-LEH, nee duh pohr)
I do not eat _____.
Je ne mange pas_____. (zhuh nuh monzh pah)
de miel. (duh mee ehl)
...animal products.
de produits animaux. (duh pro-dweez-ah-nee-mo)
de laitage. (duh leh tazh)
de blé. (duh blay)
de fruits de mer. (duh frwee duh MEHR)
de noix (duh nwaah)
de gluten (duh gluu-TEN)
I do eat _____.
Je mange _____. (zhuh monzh)
des céréales. (deh say-ray-ahl)
des légumes. (deh lay-guum)
des fèves. (deh fehv)
des fruits. (deh frwee)
I only eat kosher / halal food.
Je ne mange que de la nourriture kasher (casher, cachère) / halal. (zhuh nuh monzh kuh duh la noo-ri-toor CASH-eh / alal)
I am allergic to...
Je suis allergique à... (zhuh sweez ah-lair-ZHEEK ah...)


Cognac barrels
A table for one / two.
Une table pour une personne / deux personnes. (uun TAH-bluh poor oon PAIR-son / duh PAIR-son)
Do you serve alcohol?
Servez-vous des boissons alcoolisées ? (sair-vay VOO day bwa-songz al-co-ol-ee-SAY)
Is there table service?
Est-ce que vous servez à la table ? (ess-kuh voo ser-VAYZ ah lah TAHBL?)
A beer/two beers, please.
Une bière/deux bières, s'il vous plaît. (uun BYEHR/deuh BYEHR, seel voo PLEH)
A draught beer, please.
Une pression, s'il vous plaît (uun pres-SYON, seel voo PLEH)
A glass of red/white/rosé/sparkling wine, please.
Un verre de vin rouge/blanc/rosé/pétillant, s'il vous plaît. (an ver duh van rooj / blan / ro-ZAY / PET-ee-YAUN, seel voo PLEH)
A quarter litre of beer, please
Un demi, s'il-vous-plaît. (an deh-mee, seel voo PLEH)
A pint, please.
Une pinte, s'il vous plaît. (uun pannt, seel-voo-PLEH)
A bottle, please.
Une bouteille, s'il vous plaît. (uun boo-tay, seel voo PLEH)
_____ (spirit) and _____ (mixer), please.
_____ et _____, s'il vous plaît. (____ eh ____, seel voo PLEH)
whisky (m.) (wee-skee)
vodka (f.) (VOD-kah)
rhum (m.) (room)
cidre (m.) (seedr)
eau (f.) (oh)
club soda
soda (m.) (so-dah)
tonic water
Schweppes (m. or f.) (shwep)
orange juice
jus d'orange (m.) (joo d'or-AHNJ)
Coke (soda)
Coca (m.) (koh-KAH)
One more, please.
Un/une autre, s'il vous plaît. (uhn / uun OH-truh, seel-voo-PLEH)
Another round, please.
Un autre pour la table, s'il vous plaît. (ahn OH-truh poor la tah-bluh, seel voo PLEH)
When is closing time?
À quelle heure fermez-vous ? (ah kell EUR fer-MAY voo)


Marigot Market, Saint Martin
Do you have this in my size?
Avez-vous ceci dans ma taille ? (AH-veh-VOO say-SEE dan sma THAI)
How much (is this)?
Combien (ça) coûte ? (COMM-bee-yan (SAH) coot)
That's too expensive.
C'est trop cher. (say-TRO-shair)
Would you take _____?
Pourriez-vous accepter _____ ? (poor-yay-VOOZ ahk-sep-TAY)
cher (shehr)
bon marché (bong mar-SHAY) (Note: this doesn't change with the gender or number of the noun. Elles sont bon marché is correct.)
I can't afford it.
Je n'ai pas les moyens. (zhe nay pah leh mwah-YAHNG)
I don't want it.
Je n'en veux pas. (zhe nahng veu pah)
You're cheating me.
Vous me trompez. (voo muh TROM-pay)
I'm not interested.
Je ne suis pas intéressé. (zhen swee pahz-ann-tay-ress-SAY)
OK, I'll take it.
D'accord, je le/la prends. (dah-kor zhe luh/lah prahn)
Can I have a bag?
Pourrais-je avoir un sac ? (poo-REHZH ah-VWAR ung sahk)
Do you ship (overseas)?
Livrez-vous (outre-mer/à l'étranger) ? (leev-ray-VOO ootr-MEHR/ah lay-trahn-ZHAY)
I need...
J'ai besoin... (zhay buh-ZWAHN)
...toothpaste. dentifrice. (duh dahn-tee-FREESS)
...a toothbrush.
...d'une brosse à dents. (duun bross ah DAHN)
...tampons. tampons. (duh tahm-POHN)
...soap. savon. (duh sah-VOHN)
...shampoo. shampooing. (duh shahm-PWAHN)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
...d'un analgésique (aspirine, ibuprofène);. (dun ah-nal-zhay-ZEEK (ahs-pee-REEN/ee-buu-proh-FEN))
...cold medicine.
...d'un médicament pour le rhume. (dun may-dee-kah-MAHNG poor luh RUUM)
...stomach medicine.
...d'un remède pour l'estomac. (dun ray-MED poor less-toh-MAHK) antihistamine
...d'un antihistaminique (dun on-tee-STAM-eek)
...a razor.
...d'un rasoir. (dun rah-ZWAR)
...batteries. piles. (duh PEEL)
...a SIM card.
...d'une carte SIM (duun cahrrt seem) umbrella. (rain)
...d'un parapluie. (duun pah-ra-ploo-ee) umbrella. (sun)
...d'une ombrelle. (duun ohm-brehl)
...sunblock lotion. crème solaire. (duh crehm so-LEHR)
...a postcard.
...d'une carte postale. (duun kahrt post-AL)
...postage stamps. timbres. (duh TAHM-burs)
...writing paper. papier à lettres. (duh pap-YEH ah LEH-TR)
...a pen.
...d'un stylo. (dun STEE-loh)
...English-language books. livres en anglais. (duh LEE-vruh-zahn ahngh-LEH)
...English-language magazines. revues en anglais. (duh REH-voo-zahn ahngh-LEH) English-language newspaper.
...d'un journal en anglais. (dun zhoar-NAL ahn ahng-LEH)
...a French-English dictionary.
...d'un dictionnaire français-anglais. (dun deect-see-ohn-AIR frahn-SEH ahng-LEH)


I haven't done anything wrong.
Je n'ai rien fait de mal. (zhuh nay ree-AHN fay duh MAL)
It was a misunderstanding.
C'est une erreur. (set uhn air-UR)
Where are you taking me?
Où m'emmenez-vous ? (ooh mehm-en-EH voo)
Am I under arrest?
Suis-je en état d'arrestation ? (SWEEZH ahn EH-tah dahr-es-ta-SYONG)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. (m)
Je suis un citoyen américain/australien/britannique/canadien. (zhuh sweez uhn see-twa-YEN a-may-ree-CAN/os-trah-LYEN/bree-tah-NEEK/ka-na-DYEN)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. (f)
Je suis une citoyenne américaine/australienne/britannique/canadienne. (zhuh sweez uhn see-twa-YEN a-may-ree-CAN/os-trah-LYEN/bree-tah-NEEK/ka-na-DYEN)
I want to speak to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy or consulate.
Je veux parler à l'ambassade ou au consulat américain/australien/britannique/canadien. (ZHUH vuh pahr-LAY ah lahm-ba-SAHD oo oh kon-soo-LAHT a-may-ree-CAN/os-trah-lee-AHN/ahn-GLEH/ka-na-DYAN)
I want to speak to a lawyer.
Je voudrais parler à un avocat. (ZHUH vood-RAY par-lehr ah uhn AH-vo-cah)
Can I just pay a fine now?
Pourrais-je simplement payer une amende ? (poo-RAYZH sampl-MANG pay-AY yn ah-MAHND)
[offering bribe] Will you accept this in place of my fine?
Acceptez-vous ceci au lieu de mon amende ? (accept-eh voo suh-see oh LOO duh mon ah-MAND)
Note: Only consider attempting this in third world countries. Do not try to do this in European Francophone countries or in Canada as it will get you in worse trouble!
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