When someone starts to study French, their very first lessons will probably include common phrases like Comment allez-vous ? (How are you?). A little down the line, they may discover how to express their feelings towards something or someone in more detail. Eventually, they’ll learn how to describe themselves, be it their physical appearance and health, or their mood and character. In all those scenarios and many more, they will need to master the vocabulary around emotions in French in order to express themselves.
- Vocabulary lists: Expressing emotions in French
- It’s all a question of feeling
- A short list of French idioms about emotions
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Vocabulary lists: Expressing emotions in French
When it comes to feelings, you can either talk about them in a fairly abstract way or in a more pragmatic way – in other words, as a direct reaction to a situation or a mood. You can even consider them as little characters that inhabit your brain and color your life as the animation movie Vice Versa (Inside Out) brilliantly did. Whatever your point of view on emotions, this vocabulary is bound to prove useful.
A list of the main emotions from English to French
Before you can start talking about your general mood, it’s important to first know how to name the main feelings in French. You may already be familiar with some words like l’amour (love), while others like la haine (hate) are best known for being the titles of famous French films. Here is our list of the most important emotions in French.
|L’amitié (m)||The friendship|
|L’amour (m)||The love|
|L’affection (f)||The affection|
|Le bonheur||The happiness|
|Le chagrin||The sorrow|
|La colère||The anger|
|Le dégoût||The disgust|
|Le désespoir||The hopelessness|
|La douleur||The pain|
|L’émotion (f)||The emotion|
|L’ennui (m)||The boredom|
|L’envie (f)||The urge, the yearning|
|L’espoir (m)||The hope|
|La fierté||The pride|
|La haine||The hate|
|La honte||The shame|
|L’humeur (f)||The mood|
|La jalousie||The jealousy|
|La joie||The joy|
|La peur||The fear|
|Le sentiment||The feeling|
|La tendresse||The tenderness|
|La tristesse||The sadness|
Feeling positive? Find out how to say it in French
If you are de bonne humeur (in a good mood), here are a few useful adjectives in French to express your happy state of mind. To make it easier on you, we have provided both the masculine and the feminine forms of adjectives, whenever relevant.
If you’re feeling down, talk it up!
If you are feeling a little bit sorry for yourself, the following words will help you to describe your exact mood.
It’s all a question of feeling
In French, asking “how are you” is as common, polite and harmless as talking about the weather. It’s often the first question that pops up when you arrive in the office or when you pick up your child at school. Which also makes it one of the first questions you need to learn in French. The following table gives you a few options, with the pronouns “vous” (formal “you” when talking to one person or both formal and informal when talking to more than one person) and “tu” (informal “you” when talking to one person). While the first questions of the table are generic, the last four rows of questions are used when something already seems wrong.
|Comment allez-vous ?|
Comment vas-tu ?
|How are you?|
|Comment ça va ?|
Ça va ?
|How is it going?|
|Comment vous sentez-vous ?|
Comment te sens-tu ?
|How are you feeling?|
|Qu’est-ce qu’il y a ?||What’s going on?|
|Vous ne vous sentez pas bien ?|
Tu ne te sens pas bien ?
|You’re not feeling well?|
|Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas ?||What’s wrong?|
|Ça ne va pas ?||Is there something wrong?|
A short list of French idioms about emotions
It is hardly surprising that such a common topic should have its fair share of idioms. Here are some of the most frequent expressions to say how you feel in French.
|French expression||Literal translation||Actual meaning|
|avoir le cafard||to have the cockroach||to feel blue/down|
|avoir la pêche||to have the peach||to feel great/in top form|
|casser les pieds à quelqu’un||to break the feet to somebody||to get on somebody’s nerve|
|être bien dans sa peau||to be well in one’s skin||to feel at ease/comfortable with oneself|
|être bien luné(e)||to be well mooned||to be in a good mood|
|être mal dans sa peau||to be bad in one’s skin||to be ill-at-ease/uncomfortable with oneself|
|être mal luné(e)||to be badly mooned||to be grumpy|
|ne pas être dans son assiette||not to be in one’s plate||to be under the weather|
Start saying how you feel with this list of emotions in French
Learning vocabulary for emotions in French is the first step to learning how to ask and talk about feelings. You may use it as part of your daily greeting, for instance when you check up on your French colleagues in the morning, or to have more in-depth conversations about your state of mind.
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Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.