How to text in French (and get what you want)

How to text in French (and get what you want)

by Audrey Sivadier

Updated August 29, 2023

Ah, the thrill of instant messaging – the realm where words flow, abbreviations reign and emojis add a splash of personality to our conversations. As we explore the fascinating world of texting in French, we find ourselves in a linguistic wonderland brimming with abbreviations, playful expressions and quirky lingo that diverges from the traditional academic way of writing. Want to try and decrypt the below messages?

  • Slt, ça va b1 ? tjs ok pr le 6né ?
  • Non, chui tro oqp, dsl.

We swear what you just read is in French! Don’t believe me? Buckle up for a delightful journey into the colorful world of French texting etiquette!

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Write phonetically

The first rule to make your text in French shorter, write phonetically! This means:

FrenchText FrenchEnglish translation
J’aiGI’ve got
Je suischuiI am
C’est trop beau !C tro bo* !it’s so beautiful!

*Note: In French the sound /o/ can be spelled in two different ways, with both “eau” or “au”. In French texting, the difference does not apply any longer and you can replace both spellings with the one letter.

  • forgetting the (many) homophones the French language contains
FrenchText FrenchEnglish translation

(I) know
His/hers (plural)
TYou are
Yours (plural)
(I) shut up
(he/she) shuts up
(I) have
(it) is
Would have
  • replacing 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 ?)

  • using signs like “+” or “@”

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 abbreviations formed from the initial letters of other terms and pronounced as a single word. For example, the English “asap” is probably one of the most common acronyms. French SMS language emploies a lot of expressions or words coming from English. You will find the following acronyms, in particular on Twitter :

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

Text away in French

French texting serves as a vivid reminder that language is adaptable, playful and ever-evolving. The informal lingo used in texts provides a unique glimpse into the dynamism of a language. Exploring the world of French texting has allowed us to see the language through a different lens, challenging our preconceptions of how we use words, symbols and expressions to communicate. So whether you’re a language purist or an advocate for linguistic creativity, there’s no denying that French texting lingo is here to stay. Its impact is felt in every corner of the modern internet, shaping the way we communicate and connect with one another.

Learn languages at your pace

Audrey Sivadier

Audrey has been a French teacher for more than ten years now, and a cheese-lover all her life. She comes from the west of France, and after living 2 years in Spain and 4 years in Oxford in England, she has just settled in the heart of France, in Auvergne, a land of cheese, rugby, Michelin tyres and ancient volcanoes. She definitely prefers the first one. She speaks French, Spanish and English and doesn’t intend to stop there! Find out more about her on her website and LinkedIn.

Audrey Sivadier
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