How to Say “I Have to Leave”

Salut !

When in France, there are situations where you need to say more than “Au revoir” and leave. You want to say “Sorry I have to go” or “I’m sorry I’m in a hurry.” All these colloquial French expressions for everyday life in France.

Today on Comme une Française TV, I’ll show you how to expand your French for everyday life. Use one of these and see a big, happy smile on French people’s faces. They’ll be impressed!

Et toi?

Did you know these expressions? What do you usually say when you leave?
Do you just say “Au revoir”?

A bientôt,


Join the conversation!

  • Bonjour Geraldine,
    I was in a French class, and had another appointment, so I had to leave immediately the class ended. The teacher was chatting to the others, so I said, “Desolé, il faut que je parte.” She seemed to understand, but I thought afterwards that it was probably not idiomatic. Any thoughts?

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  • thank you Geraldine.. I haven’t been to France for 25yrs and hope to go some day soon for a couple of months… a dream of mine. You have made my learning of the local French language a pleasure and something I could not find in any text books ! Thank you thank you

  • Can you explain why you do not use liaison with «dois aller»? I have great difficulty in know when to “slide the z sound” and when not to. Merci

  • Pardon… mais pourquoi sont mes mots entre parenthèses refusé quand je poste mon commentaire? Est-il propre de dire Je dois rompre?

    • “Je dois rompre” doesn’t mean “i have to leave”. 🙂 I would mean “I have to break up with you”.

  • Bonjour Geraldine,
    Tous les jours dans la piscine, les autres nageurs disent “Allez-y” à la fin du couloir de natation quand j’arrive et ils restent. C’est normal, non?

    • Bonjour Allyson,

      Je suppose qu’ils veulent dire “Go on, keep swimming, we are not doing anything special” 😉
      C’est comme quand tu laisses ta place à quelqu’un devant toi, tu dis “Allez-y”.

  • At the supermarket to the north they say bon soiree but south they say bon journee? Even before lunch time, I am confused.

  • Je ne suis pas sur si j’ai compris: est-ce qu’on dit “je dois y aller” si on n’a pas dit ou on va? As in the english: I have to go (where you haven’t specified where you are going but you have to leave)??? Or does one use the phrase only after saying where one is going or it is so late that everyone assumes you are going home? Thanks for your response – and your lovely videos!

    • Oui. Tu peux utiliser “je dois y aller” si tu n’as pas précisé où tu vas. C’est souvent implicite.

  • Je suis pressée est mon expression favori! J’adore comment ça sonne comment je suis un jus d’orange, lol!!! Merci beaucoup pour en partager les idées!

  • Bonjour Geraldine
    Normalement je dis – je dois aller , maintenant je vais dire je dois y aller,
    et le stickers quelle bonne surprise
    Merci Barbara

  • Le lesson est chouette, mais une question: Quand je commençais mes études en français, j’ai apris le phrase, “Je me sauve”. “Ça ne marche pas?

      • hehehe !
        Si tu veux améliorer ton français, il y a aussi 2 P à apprendre : “J’ai appris la phrase”. 😉

    • Bonjour James,

      Si si ! “Je me sauve” est excellent ! En plus, c’est à la fois une expression familière et très mignonne. 🙂
      Hélas, il y a tellement de façons de dire “J’y vais” qu’il n’y avait pas de place pour toutes les mettre !
      Merci d’avoir ajouté celle-ci à la liste.

  • Re. “allons-y”. We very regularly go out for days and on week-long holidays with the Université de Tiers Temps. EVERYONE says “allons-y” when they are telling someone to get off the coach before them.

    • Bonjour Jennifer,

      This situation makes me think people use “Allez-y” (with the “Vous” form).
      Not “Allons-y” (with “Nous”). 😉

  • Bonjour Geraldine,
    J’avais utiliser seulement “je dois aller”, mais vous m’enseignez beaucoup de phrase pour “I have to go”. C’est genial 🙂

    • Bonjour Srikanth,

      Attention : “Je dois aller” n’existe pas tout seul ! On dit “Je dois y aller” or “Je dois partir”. 🙂

    • Hi Brigid,

      Yes, we SHOULD say the s to make “la liaison”! You are right.
      But spoken French is not always “correct” and we tend to say “Jdoiyalé”.

  • Thank you so much, Geraldine! All your episodes are great!!

    This is not at all on topic, but may I possibly ask you… how would you say “to pray over”… as in “At our house, our tradition is to pray over the Galette des Rois and then eat it.” In our French class, the students were researching and giving a report on French foods.
    I’m sure one doesn’t say “prier sur” but what would a French person say?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Patricia,

      If you mean “to say grace over a meal” we use “Dire les grâces” or “Faire une prière avant le repas” or “Réciter le bénédicité”.
      A few common French examples:

      Let me know if this is what you meant!

    • Bonjour Val,

      “Il me faut aller” n’est pas correct.
      On dit “Je dois y aller”.
      There’s also a VERY formal way to say it : “Il me faut partir” that you’ll find in 1870 books. 😉

  • j’ai appris ici (en Aveyron) ‘je me casse’ et aussi ‘on y go’ mais ce sont des jeunes qui m’ont appris ça….je pense que c’est très familial de dire ‘je me casse’ et ‘on y go’. J’aime bien ‘on y go’ avec le mélange d’anglais et français 🙂
    et est-ce que c’est normal de dire ‘je dois y aller’ et partir qu’un quart d’heure après? j’ai des amies qui vont ça et je me demandais si c’est normal….

    • Bonjour Irene,
      Personnellement, j’utilise BEAUCOUP “Je me casse” et “On y go”. Certains disent aussi “Cassos” pour “On se casse”.
      Oui, c’est normal. “Partir” est une notion assez peu définie dans le temps.
      Un peu comme les limites temporelles de l’apéro ! C’est entre 18h et minuit.

  • I’m interested in the use of « bouger » here. Once, on the beach in the south of France, a woman was walking toward a man giving away some food samples. When she noticed the man, she grabbed her friend’s arm and said « Je ne bouge pas ! » (or « Je bouge pas ! » as you have taught us.) I thought she was telling her friend “I’m not moving!” meaning she intended to stand in that man’s way until she got some samples. Is it possible (or more likely) that she meant “I’m not leaving” ?

    • Hi Jim,

      Yes, absolutely!
      Bouger in common French is used as “moving” or “leaving” : Je bouge pas = I stay.

  • I saw this expression in a dictionary, is it used much?
    être à la bourre – to be rushed off one’s feet
    Sorry that in English, I have little confidence in my French, but your tips are of great help!

    • Bonjour Valeria,

      Tout à fait : “être à la bourre” est correct : to be late.
      But it is familiar. Use it with friends only. 🙂

  • in my french, which is young, i might be tempted to say…’il faut que j’y aille’ . because i think of ‘il faut que’ everytime i have to do something… of course, then i have to remember the ‘wonderful?’ subjunctive which baffles my mind … i am going to try using je doit a little more often! love your french lessons! trés charmant!

    • As I understand it, there is a subtle difference between “Il faut” and “Je dois”. Falloir is more about necessity, devoir about obligation. So, “Il faut que je fasse mes devoirs pour améliorer mon français” because that is a law of nature, a necessity, but “Je dois faire mes devoirs parce qu’ ils sont attendus demain” because that is an obligation arising from the teacher’s expectation. Another way to put it is that falloir refers to a necessity that comes from outside – from nature, or the law of the state, etc. – whereas devoir refers to obligations that arise within one, i.e. from one’s ethics, desire to be polite, etc. But of course there is some over-lap. Any thoughts on that difference, Geraldine? Do I have it right?

  • One thing I didn’t understand – why is “Allons-y” associated with Doctor Who? I don’t watch it so I was puzzled by this. 🙂

  • Très intéressant! Je suis canadienne et nous disons “allons-y” souvent. Je m’intéresse aux expressions qu’on pourrait utiliser chez la coiffeuse. Comment dites-vous “I’d like a trim” or “Cut & style” or “highlights” etc.

          • In the expression, il faut que je m’en aille. The “en” is from the verb s’en aller which means to go away. There is no real translation for the en in the expression.

          • Hi Scott,
            ohhh… That’s a great question.
            Je m’en vais : I leave – Verb : S’en aller (Je m’en vais / Tu t’en vas / Il s’en va etc.)
            J’y vais : I go [there] – Verb : aller (Je vais / Tu vas / Il va etc.)

            J’y vais : Y = place where you GO : Je vais à la maison –> J’y vais
            Either you’ve already talked about the place (the train station / your house…) or it’s implied.
            (Usually, at this time, you go home)

            Je m’en vais : EN = place you LEAVE : S’en aller = to leave.

            However, in real life, we use both with the same meaning.

            This page should help: http://www.francaisfacile.c

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