In French, we say “texto”, it’s the SMS language that allows you to reduce the number of characters of a word. You can use it on social media or in your text messages. It comes in very handy when the number of characters is limited, or when you don’t have time, or when you want to look cool. Want to try and decrypt the below messages?

  Slt, ça va b1 ? tjs ok pr le 6né ?

  Non, chui tro oqp, dsl.

I swear what you just read is in French! Don’t believe me? Then read this article carefully and text language will no longer be a problem for you. 

Use sounds in your French text messages

The first rule to make it shorter, write phonetically! This means deleting all the letters that are not pronounced (you know those).

  •     C’est à → C (it’s)
  •     J’ai → G (I’ve got)
  •     Je suis → chui (I am)
  •     Idée → iD (idea)
  •     Occupé → Oqp (busy)

You want to write the “o” sound, but you know that in French you can write “eau” or “au”. Well, in phonetics, you can just write “o”. 

  •     C’est trop beau ! (15 characters) → C tro bo ! (8 characters) – it’s so beautiful

woman looking at her phone and sending a text in french

According to the same rule, we can forget the many homophones that the French language contains:

-C replaces : c’est, sais, sait, s’est, ses, ces

-T replaces : t’es, tes, tais, tait

-É replaces the sounds : et, ai, ais, ait, aie, ei, ê, es

You can also replace a syllable with a number of equal or close pronunciation.  

  •     G 1 iD 2 kdo → J’ai une idée de cadeau – I’ve got an idea for a gift

1 generally replaces « un / une », and phonetically the sound « in, im, ain, aim, ein, un » as in « 1possible » or « Gf1 » (« J’ai faim » meaning I’m hungry)…

2 replaces « de » as in the much-used : « 2r1 » (« de rien » meaning you’re welcome) or « 2m1 » (« demain » meaning tomorrow)

6 normally pronounced « sisss », in text language it can replace the syllable “si” as in “6néma” or even shorter “6né” (cinema). It also works with « merci » → mr6.

7 replaces « cette » or « cet » (this)

9 replaces « neuf » (new) as in « koi 2 9 ? » (quoi de neuf ? meaning what’s up ?)

We also use signs like “+” or “@” as in:

  •     @+ → à plus ! / à plus tard ! (see you later)

Abbreviations in French

Another very useful technique! Thanks to acronyms you will be able to eliminate almost all the vowels of a word, here are the most useful ones:

  •     Toujours → tjs – always
  •     Pour → pr – for
  •     Beaucoup → bcp – much / a lot
  •     Bonjour → bjr – good morning/afternoon
  •     Salut → slt – hello/hi
  •     Désolé → dsl – sorry

Acronyms in French

In French, we love acronyms and use them at every opportunity (in everyday life but also at work).

Acronyms are a group of letters that are pronounced like a normal word. For example, in English ASAP is an acronym, we say “azap” and not A.S.A.P. Moreover, French SMS language uses a lot of expressions or words coming from English, like “asap”, “2gether”, “lol”… Although for « lol », we have the widely used initialism “mdr” (pronounced èM.Dé.èR.) for “mort de rire” which literally means “dead for laughing”.

You will find the following acronyms, in particular on Tweeter :

  •     askip → «À ce qu’il paraît» (From what I hear… ) Often used to spread or start a rumour.
  •     oklm → «Au calme» Recently popularised by the French rapper Booba. We use “oklm” for a relaxed person.

In addition to all these rules, there is a special language, the verlan.

And after all that, if you don’t understand some text messages, it’s normal, you’re not alone! As the SMS language is not codified by an academy or a dictionary, some users let themselves go to too much creativity… to the detriment of the comprehension of the message! In this case, try to understand with the context… or ask to rephrase in good French.

Now, go back to the beginning of the blog and reread the texts! “pa 2 pbm ? »

If you’d like to learn more about the French language, visit the Lingoda website and sign up for your free, 7-day trial with our native speaking teachers.