Today, I want to talk to you about one of the most common clichés in French — “mon ami” — and why you should never use it in French conversations.
People in France never use “mon ami” the way you might use “my friend” in English. It’s another common mistake that I hear all the time, like using “bien fait” or saying bonjour twice.
“But Géraldine,” you might say, “I do hear it a lot in movies! Even with Lumière in Beauty and the Beast! Are you saying Disney lied to me?”
Yes, I am! If you use “mon ami” (on its own) in France, you’ll sound like a tourist who only knows French clichés. Let’s fix that.
Today, we’ll look into why you shouldn’t say “mon ami” so much, and what to say instead.
Bonjour I’m Géraldine, your French teacher. Welcome to Comme une Française.
Today, like every Tuesday, I’ll help you get better at speaking and understanding everyday French.
C’est parti !
Want all the vocabulary of the lesson ?
Want to read this lesson later ?
1) “Mon ami” is just a cliché
Mon ami (or mon amie in the feminine) means “my friend.”
If there’s a French character in an American movie, they basically have to say it at some point. Like in this scene of Beauty and the Beast.
It’s kind of like saying Bonjour with a really heavy accent. Sure, it shows that the character is French, but it’s not something you’d actually hear in France.
Using “Mon ami” alone as “Hello my friend” will make you sound like you only know French clichés – and you deserve better!
It’s basically the oral version of Marcel Gotlib’s SuperDupont: a funny stereotypical representation that doesn’t exist.
By the way, in the French (dubbed) version, Lumière is… Italian! At least that’s what his accent implies, with his rolled R’s – for example in “Y’a l’pour et y’a l’contre” (= “There are pros and cons,” casual spoken French) Can you hear it?
Other works used the same “trick” of turning a French character (in the original version) into an Italian one (in the French dubbed version), like Pepe le Pew / Pépé le Putois.
2) “Mon ami” in French: what it really means
Mon ami(e) is used for very close friends.
You can use it in a sentence. To introduce your friend, for example:
Je te présente mon amie Marie.
= “I introduce you to my friend Marie” / “Here’s my friend Marie.”
But using it on its own, such as Bonjour, mon ami, comment ça va ? to mean “Hello my friend”, is a cliché.
When I was working in Leeds, England on July 14th, kind people would wish me a “Happy Bastille day” in French. That’s very nice! But “Le jour de la Bastille” does NOT exist in French – it’s just “Le 14 Juillet”. Another misconception!
You can find more in my lesson: Le 14 Juillet
3) “Mon ami” : What you can say instead
Instead of “mon ami”, you can simply use your friend’s name. For instance:
Je suis là, mon ami ! → Je suis là, Marc !
= I’m here, my very close friend! → I’m here, Marc!
Or you can also just say… nothing!
Bonjour, mon ami. → Bonjour.
= Hello, my friend. → Hello.
The scary thing is, this is a common mistake you might be making without even realizing it. And it’s not the only one!
You’ll find more examples of common French mistakes in this short playlist, like using “Bien fait” for “well done” (when it actually means “Serves you right”), or saying “bonjour” twice in the same day to the same person!
À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!
Want to save this for later ?
→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂
→ Double your Frenchness! Get my 10-day “Everyday French Crash Course” and learn more spoken French for free. Students love it! Start now and you’ll get Lesson 01 right in your inbox, straight away.
Allez, salut 🙂