Before you get ready to express congratulations on an achievement, you may first want to wish good luck to someone about to embark on a difficult task. There are various ways to say good luck in French, depending on the situation, your relation to the person and even your own preferences or customs. Some phrases are also a better fit in writing or in speaking. You may also find it useful to know the structure to specify what you’re wishing good luck for and to whom. To help you along, we have listed seven varied ways to wish good luck in French, to cover most situations:
- Bonne chance
- Je te/vous souhaite bonne chance
- Je croise les doigts
- Je touche du bois
- Bon courage
- Meilleurs vœux de réussite
- Je te dis merde
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1. Bonne chance
This is by far the most common and the most straightforward way to wish good luck in the French language. In fact, bonne chance is the literal translation of good luck. It can be used on its own. Alternatively, you can also add a little more to it. For instance, you can specify who you are wishing good luck to.
|Bonne chance à toi||Good luck to you||This is the informal form with one person|
|Bonne chance à vous||Good luck to you||This is the formal form with one person, or the form when talking to several people|
|Bonne chance à tout le monde||Good luck to everyone|
|Bonne chance à Caroline||Good luck to Caroline|
You can also mention what you are wishing good luck for, mostly with the preposition pour (for):
|Bonne chance pour la suite||Good luck for what’s next|
|Bonne chance pour ton examen en français||Good luck for your French exam|
|Bonne chance pour demain||Good luck for tomorrow|
Alternatively, you can use the preposition avec (with) when you are talking about tangible objects or people:
|Bonne chance avec ton client||Good luck with your client|
|Bonne chance avec ton ordinateur||Good luck with your computer|
You can also sometimes replace pour with dans (in), especially for something that’s already happening, or just about to start:
|Bonne chance dans ton nouveau travail||Good luck in your new job|
|Bonne chance dans ta nouvelle aventure||Good luck in your new adventure|
2. Je te/vous souhaite bonne chance
As an extension to bonne chance, you can also say Je te souhaite bonne chance with someone you know well or Je vous souhaite bonne chance with someone you’re not that close to or with several people. Both sentences mean “I wish you good luck”. As previously, you can also follow this up with the preposition pour, avec or dans to mention what you’re wishing good luck for. As a slightly more formal phrase, you’re more likely to use it in writing than in speaking.
3. Je croise les doigts
You can also figuratively cross your fingers in French to wish good luck: The phrase je croise les doigts has exactly the same meaning as in English. You can also specify who you are crossing your fingers for. Once again, you have two versions depending on if you’re being formal or not or if you’re talking to one person or several people.
Je croise les doigts pour toi >> with one person in an informal way
Je croise les doigts pour vous >> with one person in a formal way or with several people
4. Je touche du bois
French and English also share the same superstition of touching wood to bring luck. This is why you will often hear Je touche du bois (I touch wood) when someone doesn’t want to jinx something by talking about it.
5. Bon courage
Literally meaning “good courage”, the phrase bon courage is used to wish someone good luck before doing something difficult, like an important school exam, a job interview or a sports competition.
6. Meilleurs vœux de réussite
As in many other countries, it’s very traditional in France to send your best wishes at the turn of a new year. In fact, French greeting cards are not sent before Christmas but rather after New Year’s Eve and until January 31st. Alongside health and happiness, it’s very common to wish for success at work or at school with the phrase meilleurs vœux de réussite (best wishes for success).
7. Je te dis merde
Yes, using the word merde (shit) to wish good luck is one of the most surprising traditions in France. Quite simply, it’s sometimes believed that saying bonne chance can have the opposite desired effect. So, to avoid any risk of jinxing it, you can choose to say je te dis merde (I say shit to you). It’s a little bit the same logic as with the phrase “break a leg” in English. For obvious reasons, it tends to be used only in speaking and in informal situations.
Choose how to say good luck in French your own way
Depending on the occasion, your habits or your preferences, you have plenty of ways to wish good luck to someone in French — from the most straightforward to the more colorful. Some phrases are better in writing than in speaking, and vice versa. You can also choose to be quite generic or specify who you are wishing luck to and what for. So go out there and try out some new phrases. Bonne chance !
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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.