5 French expressions you need to know to sound like a native

French language is one of the most popular Romance languages and it is the official language in 29 countries! Many of us had to take French at school but how useful were our classes in real life?

Eiffel Tower - Paris spring
Eiffel Tower – Paris

Maybe some of you wish you could use and speak that language better than you do now. That is why, here we would like to present you with the must-know French expressions so you can be on the way to speaking like a true Native in no time! From the common school phrase, we will nativise it to make you not just good at French, but to actually sound like a true Frenchie.

  1. Instead of the well-known ‘Ça va?’ used to greet people, use instead ‘Ça roule?’ or ‘Quoi de neuf?’: Both of these are common ways for the French to ask how their day is going. As in English, we say ‘How’s it going’ or ‘What’s up’ instead of always saying ‘How are you?’ This is a great way to start the conversation in a more native tone.
  2. For any singers out there, have any of you tried singing the French national Anthem ‘La Marseillaise’ before? Or maybe Edith Piaf’s ‘Non Je Ne Regrette Rien.‘ Well, that’s what the French would call ‘chanter en yaourt’, something we all do too often and it means to sing in a language you don’t know very well, or imitating the words when singing because you don’t know them that well either. So, if you ever get funny looks when trying to keep up at a French disco, you could just say: ‘Moi, je chante en yaourt’.
  3. If you know the common word for money, (argent), try and use ‘balles’ In French, this is commonly used to mean ‘bucks’. It was used before as a slang word for Francs but since the Euro has come in, the word is still used for notes. So, when you’re paying for the cheese and wine, you’ll know you can pay with balles.
  4. Shock horror, Mon Dieu – although still in use, the much more common phrase to express surprise or disbelief at something is ‘Oh, la vache!’ which literally translates to as ‘Oh, the cow!’ It sounds funny to non-native French people, and hopefully because of this, easy to remember too!
  5. Lastly, if you’ve found some French friends and would like to invite them to do something then instead of saying ‘Tu veux…?’ try instead the phrase ‘Ça te dit?’ It basically means ‘So, are you up for it?’ and is a common way to ask someone to join you with your plans.
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If you want to learn some more, then of course the best way would be to go to the country itself where not only can you listen to the locals but also practice the phrases you know or learn. Learning French in sunny Nice, Bordeaux or Montpellier just as few examples could be just the ticket for you to improve your level once and for all. Sprachdirekt offers many French courses around France where you can learn Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced or even Business French in France’s most beautiful cities. Not only do you get the chance to learn the language in beautiful settings with great like-minded international people but you also get the chance to participate in cultural events and trips to truly appreciate your time there. So, allez, don’t delay and soon you’ll be talking like a true native!


I’m offering public relations, communications and image counseling in everyday life and I have a PR agency – PRwave INTERNATIONAL. I am passionate about reading, blogging (I also have a blog in Romanian) and traveling. Follow me on Twitter - @violetaloredana (Romanian) and @TravelMoments.

2 thoughts on “5 French expressions you need to know to sound like a native

  • 20 November, 2015 at 09:46

    Good article Lori. It’s great to encourage people to use everyday phrases to break the ice and get talking. Speaking French should be fun and it if you have a few useful expressions up your sleeve it gets people interested in trying to communicate with you.

  • 21 October, 2016 at 21:39

    It’s the good approach really, to get good at French slang. You just have to talk to natives and eventually, after good practice you will sound like one!


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