Basic French Phrases to Survive Any Conversation

Bonjour !

Building positive connections in France can be a rewarding experience. When learning French, it helps to know a few phrases that will help maintain the conversation or nurture your connections with the French people.

Learn the essential french phrases (as well as expressions) to use particularly on situations when responding to a good news, when you want to say “just kidding!”, when greeting or meeting a person, and ways you can say goodbye. We’ll also learn how to politely ask a person to repeat what they said, how to express agreement or motivation and most importantly how to manage when you’re caught in conversations that leads to either being right or wrong.

Watch these related episodes:

Greetings in French
How to Make Small Talk in French
How to Small Talk in French: When Walking on the Street
Prevent a Conversation from Switching to English

Et toi ?

Which sentence do you think is necessary to survive any conversation?

Bonne journée,


Join the conversation!

  • Je suis tres hereux d’arriver ici encore. J’aime becoup ces lecons. Un ami francais a ri beaucoup quand je lui disais, “J’ais tombe dans les pommes.” Tu m’as appendu cette idiome. Merci pour tout.

  • Bonjour Geraldine! Je viens de découvrir votre chaîne sur youtube et je l’aime bien! C’est très utile. J’ai aussi entendu <<je rigole=””>> pour dire <<just kidding=””>>. C’est aussi correct? Merci!

  • Si je ne said pas le mot pour quel que chose. Puis-je dis <<comment dit-on=”” lollygag=”” en=”” français?=””>>

  • I thought that “content” ie je suis content is ” I am happy (to know/hear).never heard it to mean excited!

  • Bonjour, Geraldine! Juste un petit mot pour dire un grand merci pour tes videos. Je les adore! Tu es une professeur français merveilleusement divertissante et efficace.Merci mille fois! Susan

  • When I’m just kidding in French I usually say “je plaisante” rather than “je déconne.” Is that ok or should I be using déconner?

    • Bonjour Keith,

      “Je plaisante” is safe everywhere.
      “Je déconne” is bit vulgar so I’d recommend you keep it for friends who use slang too. 🙂

  • My biggest problem hearing French is to tell where one word ends and the next begins. African French much better!

    Interesting how words we share have very different meanings. I did not know that “content” meant “entheusiastic”, which it explicitly does not in English, where it is just over the line between unhappy and happy.

    I already knew that “désolé” is the opposite. In English “desolated” is extreme despair. Death of a close relative AND you have gone bankrupt.

    Is that a minitel in the back of your studio? Which I used to think looked like an American wild west wagon due to its curved sides!

    Mercy buckets for too your effors!

      • I thought so. Minitels were an invention ahead of their time and France Telecom is to be commended for them. Do they still function? Alan Sugar (UK version of Donald Trump) tried to introduce something similar in UK but far too late when wifi and PC/Tablet was obviously the way forward.

        I presume your set used to have curved sides because of a slightly “fish-eye” lens on your camera!

        Returning to topic, I like to ask

        “Comment dit-on [cul-de-sac] en français ?”

        But people often don’t understand, leading to an impasse.

        • The Minitel stopped working in 2012. Now, some geeks can program them to use simple online services (like Twitter): a friend of mine did!

          Ahahah, love the joke. 🙂

  • Yes ! The biggest problem is getting back a torrent of French that you do not understand or even have any clue about!
    Of course you can say ” Désolé je ne comprends pas”, but many French people think you can speak French if you start speaking French.
    Speaking French isn’t the problem for many here, it;s understanding it particularly with the regional accents
    .It is this fear of getting in too deep that deters a lot of people from starting a conversation. But most French people appreciate that yiou try and you can only get better 🙂

    For Jenny, you just say “Désolé je ne comprends pas” or “je sais pas le mot francais ”
    There are many guides to using tu ou vous, best one is if you are not on first name terms, use “vous”!

  • If I don’t know a word I want to use I would say ‘comment dit on en francais?’ Is that correct? Also you used tu a lot in this episode, do I still have to use vous if I don’t know the person I’m talking to?
    Thanks for your help.

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