Simple French phrases for beginners

by Audrey Sivadier
May 13, 2021
woman researching how to use simple french phrases for beginners

Are you starting to learn French and want to jump straight into the conversation? A new language is a communication tool, so why not use it? But where to start? Here are a few phrases that may be useful for you on your French language learning journey.

Beginner French phrases

Introducing yourself in French

In French, there is an expression that says “c’est simple comme bonjour!”. The French use it to say that something is easy to do. Except that saying “bonjour” in French is not so simple. Be careful who you talk to:

An elderly/unknown person and/or a professional:

  • Bonjour, comment allez-vous ? – Hello, how are you?
  • Très bien et vous ? – Very well and you?
  • Ça va bien, merci. – I’m fine, thank you.

A friend, a person of your age:

  • Salut, ça va ? – Hi, how are you?
  • Oui/ouais, et toi ?  – Yes/Yeah, and you? 
  • Pas mal, merci. Not bad, thanks.

The future tense in French

Presenting yourself in French

If you are in a professional or tourist context, for example at the reception of a hotel go with the following:

  • Quel est votre nom, s’il vous plaît ? – What is your name, please?
  • Mon nom est … / Je m’appelle monsieur… / Je m’appelle madame… – My name is … / My name is Mr… / My name is Mrs…

This is called “vouvoiement”. To appear more polite, the French use the second person plural, “vous”.

If you meet friends of friends, people your own age or neighbours, you can switch to “tutoiement”, i.e. use the second person singular ” tu”:

  • Tu t’appelles comment ? – What is your name?
  • Moi, c’est Catherine et toi ? – My name is Catherine and yours?
  • Je m’appelle Jules. – My name is Jules.

6 essential grammar rules you need to know about French grammar

Asking for or giving simple information in French

To register for a course or to keep in touch with people you have recently met you will probably be asked for these details! 

If you don’t know the person:

  • Quelle est votre adresse / votre numéro de téléphone ? – What is your address/phone number?

If you know the person or they are the same age as you:

  • Quelle est ton adresse / ton numéro de téléphone ? – What is your address/phone number?

However, be prepared to write down or give information containing numbers!

  • J’habite 20 rue de la République 75012 Paris. – I live…
  • Mon numéro est le 07 12 34 56 78. – My number is…

Apologising in French

When you’re first learning a language, a little diplomacy goes a long way! Whether you bump into someone in the street unintentionally or ask for someone’s attention, here’s what you should say:

  • Pardon, je suis désolé / je suis vraiment désolé. – Pardon me, I’m sorry / I’m really sorry 
  • Excusez-moi ! Je n’ai pas compris, vous pouvez répéter, s’il vous plaît ? – Excuse me! I didn’t understand, can you repeat it, please?

If you receive an apology, it is also good to say in return:

  • Je vous en prie, ce n’est pas grave ! – No worries!
  • Ce n’est rien ! – No worries!

Talking about your tastes in French

If a topic of conversation comes up about movies, sports, clothing or food, you will often be asked to express what you think about it:

  • Qu’est-ce que vous aimez ? / Qu’est-ce que tu aimes ? -What do you like?

The vocabulary of emotions is quite abundant in French, here are the essentials, in ascending order:

  • Je déteste : ☹️☹️
  • Je n’aime pas : ☹️
  • J’aime bien : 😐
  • J’aime beaucoup : 😃
  • J’adore : 😃😃

Proposing an activity in French

Now that the formalities are over, you can become an actor in the conversation and propose an activity to your French-speaking friends. First, make sure your friend is available:

  • Tu es libre samedi ? – Are you free on Saturday?
  • Oui, je n’ai rien de prévu / Oui, je suis libre. – Yes, I have no plans / Yes, I am free.

Then propose the activity you have in mind:

  • Ça te dit de… (faire du vélo, d’aller au cinéma, pique-niquer…) ? – Would you like to… (go cycling, go to the cinema, have a picnic…)?
  • Oui, super, très bonne idée ! – Yes, great, very good idea!
  • Ok, alors rendez-vous à 10h devant chez moi. – Ok, so we’ll meet at 10 am in front of my house.

Now try to match all these elements to create a conversation you could have in real life:

  • Salut ! Ça va ? – Hi! How are you?
  • Ça te dit d’apprendre le français avec Lingoda ? – Would you like to learn French with Lingoda?
  • Oui, super ! Très bonne idée ☺ – Yes, great! Very good idea ☺
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