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Some French Terms and Phrases

Rue de l'arc-en-ciel/Roejeboejegass, Strasbourg, France

Rue de l’arc-en-ciel/Roejeboejegass (Rainbow Street) is in Strasbourg, France, but it was seen by Joel, not me.

When we first went to France, I thought I didn’t know any French aside from oui (yes) and Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?), the latter of which my husband had taught me. As we went through Strasbourg, I realized I had heard a few other things before such as Mademoiselle (Miss). Some things I was able to pick up from context. For example, I saw rue on a street sign and realized it means “street”. I heard someone say “merci” and gleaned from context that it means “thank you”.

It helped that many signs were in French and German (and sometimes English also), so I was able to pick things up that way as well. For example, I saw sortie on a sign with the German Ausgang below it, and since I know that Ausgang means “exit”, I could figure out that sortie means the same thing. The German word Treffpunkt means “meeting point”, so when I saw it paired with the French point de recontre, I figured that must be “meeting point” as well. We parked at the gare, which turned out to be the train station.


Simon’s iPhone says “Bonjour”

After I got home, I looked up some basic phrases and realized there were many more things I had heard or seen before. For example: bonjour (hello/good day), enchanté (pleased to meet you), pardon/excusez-moi (excuse me), and au revoir (goodbye). I learned that au revoir, is preferred over adieu, which is a permanent goodbye. Even if you do not plan to ever see the person again, adieu could be interpreted that you do not ever want to see the person again, which would be insulting. Although this is just a handful of words and phrases, it was nice to have a starting point.

I decided I should learn at least a few more phrases for when we go back to France. Here are some I thought might be useful:

Je parle anglais et un peu de allemand. (I speak English and a little German.)

S’il vous plaît. (Please.)

Je ne comprends pas. (I do not understand.)

Comment dit-on_____en français? (How do you say_____in French) [This is a good one to know as it was quite awhile before I learned Wie sagt man… (How do you say…) in German. If you want to throw the ‘in German’ in there, when speaking in German, it’s ‘auf Deutsch‘.]

Je voudrais… (I would like…)


“How much is paid?”

Combien? (How much?) [I also saw “C’est combien? for “How much is it?”]

Je cherche… (I’m looking for…)

Of course it isn’t enough just to have these phrases. I also need to learn to pronounce them, which is often not the way you might think if you’re a native English speaker. Some things are easy based on other words I have heard, but others are harder for me. For example, it threw me off at first that Je is pronounced more like Zhuh. If you want to hear it said, here is someone saying Je m’ appelle… (My name is).

I am not sure how much I will work on learning French since, if I have time to work on learning a foreign language at all, I usually focus on German, but it will be nice to know at least a little bit (un peu).

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6 Thoughts on “Some French Terms and Phrases

  1. I am currently working on my French again. I learned it at school but forgot way too much!

  2. Uh yes – French. Had it for 4 years in school. And those terms are pretty much all you need – forget the mean Voltaire lectures or other nonsense. “I speak English” en francais is ALL YOU WILL EVER NEED! 😉

    • Haha nice. Yeah I don’t plan to ever go through lectures on Voltaire in French. Just getting a basic idea. I did look up some Disney songs in French like I have with German. If the translations are correct their versions are actually a lot more poetic than the English. But it’s good to know all I’ll actually need is that I speak English (or at least asking if they do lol).

  3. You have learned quite much considering it happened out of the blue! It’s good to have those basics, even though you don’t consider jumping into all the learning.

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