10 ways to say “Oui” or “Yes” in French

Bonjour !

Ca va? La forme?

Sometimes, when I record Comme une Française TV episode, I’m frustrated because I realise my English vocabulary is very limited. It makes my speech weaker as I can’t express nuances.

A bit like trying to paint La Joconde with your fingers…

You know this feeling of being like a 5 year old when you speak?
In English, when asked a question, you can answer yes, no… And everything that’s in the middle : Yes I’d love to. Not really. No way…
But in French, you lack these shades.

ARGH. SO frustrating. I feel this in English so I imagine you do too, in French.
Do you?

Want to have your own toolbox of « oui »?
Want to be say « Yes indeed » and « Oh yeah » in French?
Want to agree politely with your boss in French and enthusiastically to a friend?

Click to watch « 10 kinds of Oui »:

What about you?
What nuances do you miss when you speak French?
Do you also feel like a 5 year old? What kind of vocabulary do you want to master in French?

Tell me in the comments how it went. Share your story so we can discuss in the comment area below the video.

If you are not yet a member, click to join the community on Comme une Française.com and leave your email to receive my weekly video tips to master unwritten society rules and speak Real-life French. It’s free!


Join the conversation!

  • Thanks very much Geraldine. Your emphasis on native speaker language is fascinating for me. Although I speak French fluently and lived in a French-speaking country for 10 years, my husband tells me that I sometimes sound like a book.

  • Mille Mercis Géraldine-
    Ce qui me dérange le plus est que je dois prendre le temps de réfléchir avant de répondre. La spontanéité est perdue!

  • Carrément!! Feeling like a 5 year old when I am speaking French is totally EXACTLY how I feel, and exactly how I have always described it to others! It’s been 10 years since I last spoke any French and although I can still understand written French, I can’t remember how to speak it any more (I’ve been learning Italian for the last 2 years!) – I think your videos etc will be super helpful for this and I am looking forward to the next ones. Thank you!

  • I’m just starting, an absolute beginner (debutant?) so, I decided French as my third language. Knowing what makes you feel better and motivated learning a new language, your lessons are exactly what is needed… Thanks for existing!!! Love and abundance for you.

  • Merci Geraldine, I’m nearly 70 and I’m coming back to French after 30 years or more of not using it. At its best it was schoolboy French with bits I’d picked up from holidaying there, so I’m really looking forward to improving it. as with many who learned the way I did, my French reading is way in front of my speaking ability.
    I work in tourism now, at a top UK site, York Minster, and would like to be able to converse with our French visitors in their language, rather than relying on their English, or even worse, their bad English & my mangled French! 🙂

  • Salute Géraldine, I am so glad I discovered your program. I have been trying to learn French off and on for almost 30 years. I first began in Paris by attending Alliance Française, but quit when my teacher told me I had “le cerveau dun oiseau.” I recently began again (at Alliance Française de Los Angeles) with a young woman who has been very supportive during our 1-1/2 hrs private class. I have made good progress with my reading and writing skills. However, even though we have tried to do some role-play during our sessions, speaking is my stumbling block.
    By the way I am 72 years old. My brother has lived in France for nearly 50 years, and his sons speak English better than he. But I now have a grand-niece on the way and since I am retired I would like to spend more time in France getting to know that branch of the family. And knowing French seems the most delightful way to do that.
    I am hopeful that joining your community will lead me in the right direction. You seem to be so very positive and supportive in your approach. Thank you for being there.

  • Bonjour Géraldine, j’espère que tu vas bien. Merci pour l’opportunité de améliorer ma française par moyen de cette leçon simple. Je suis très content. Je commence apprendre la langue française depuis cinq ans mais, c’est difficile de parler. Cette leçon chaque semaine est bon pour moi. Merci encore. Juliet.

  • Bonjour Géraldine, j’espère que tu vas bien.
    Tu ne veux pas de tarte…mais si, j’en aime, salée ou sucre !
    Merci pour votre leçon 1et la vidéo.
    A bientôt Julia

  • Merci Geraldine, I have always loved “the sound” of French. When for instance watching tv5monde . I like to guess what is said. But I am mostly, more or less at a loss when trying to engage in conversation in Paris. I kind of know what I am saying, but it is a bit of rag tag bunch of words. The spirit of conversation was enjoyed by all, like you said about engaging French people in French. But I now kind of have a chance with the feel and nuance you bring to the table. . . Fred

  • Bonjour Géraldine,
    I live in New Hampshire, United States. I spent a lot of time in Quebec, in the L’Estrie, between 2001 and 2015. I even took French lessons over the first 2-3 years. I had no trouble learning to read French and prononce it, but to actually have a conversation was impossible. I was fortunate (or unfortunate, depending how you look at it!) to make friends with English speakers.
    I grew up in Finland but have lived here in the USA for a very long time.
    Over my lifetime I have studied several foreign languages and found French the most difficult. I had almost given up ever been able to understand French speakers when I came upon your charming lessons quite by accident on YouTube. You have given me new hope! I’m very excited, because, did I mention, I always wanted to learn French. It was, like we say, on my bucket list.
    Merci beaucoup, Géraldine! I look forward to improving my French with you!

  • Bonjour Geraldine,
    I am just beginning your ‘Beginner’s’ class. This was an interesting video, BUT, it went by to quickly for me to formulate and connect the sounds to the words themselves. Perhaps speaking slower and giving us the chance to speak aloud the words and sentences as you go along ? Unfortunately, I have no one to share with who knows French. So, I must learn on my own … with you.
    By the way, you mentioned you were experimenting with make up during this time. For what it is worth. I happen to like the way you look in this video. It is a soft look, and lovely for your face.
    I must get back to my lesson now! Au revoir.
    Terry … [email protected]

    • A tip: if you need a youtube video to be slower, you can go to “settings” (the gear icon) and adjust the speed anywhere from 0.25 to 2x — this way, initially you can hear the dialog slowly and once you’ve watched a video numerous times, increase it to whatever pace you want.

  • En suèdois, il y a un mot exactement le même comme 《si》, “no”.

    “Vill du inte ha kaffe?”

    “Don’t you want coffee?”
    “Yes, I do!”

  • Yes, feel like a 5 year old! I want to learn the basics building blocks of every day conversation.
    Love your lessons – so clear, concise and always fun!

  • This is me starting on your 10 lessons (having stumbled across you looking on google for how to wish someone ‘get better soon’). I looked at this at breakfast time, and my husband joined in, and now we are saying ‘yes’ in French to each other, such fun! Thank you!

  • Thank you, Geraldine. I am just getting started on your 10 free lessons. “Tout a fait” equals “en effet”? I always thought it meant “all done”. I want to write the DELF A2 exam in April and I know I will learn a lot from you.

  • Does évidemment have the same connotation in French that evidently and obviously have in English? (A bit negative, as if the person asking the question should have already known the answer) I don’t hear it often, excepting the song🙂. And I’ve been afraid to use it for fear of offending.

  • For me, the best example of using the expressive “SI” is on 22:46 in Episode 6 of French Extra. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePwwpjNXHyM) The boys say, “Oh, non!” and the girls answer, “Oh, si!” By the way, on 8:07 of the same video there is a good example of the “plus” negation. Sasha says, ” Plus travaille, plus de patrons” (No more work, no more shefs.)
    Oh Geraldine, it is so interesting to find video illustrations to your teaching!

  • Geraldine veux tu m’epouser? Je suis tellement heureux de vous rencontrer, je adore tout – tes leçons, tes videos, ton style. Comment nous disons en anglais: keep it coming, s’il vous plait : )

  • Oh Géraldine I am not so smart. Had I read your text fully before watching the video I would have had my answer. Thank you!!!!!

    7. “Si !”

    “Si” is a special word for the French language. It doesn’t really exist in English.

    It’s used to answer a negative question or sentence, and to flip the assumption towards positivity. To express “On the contrary, I do”.

    « Tu n’as pas fait la vaisselle ?
    – Si ! »

    “You didn’t wash the dishes?”
    “I did!”

    It’s logically useful! Without it, “Yes” and “No” would be ambiguous answers to negative questions. Does it mean “Yes you’re right I didn’t do the dishes” ? Or “No you’re wrong I did do the dishes” ? Well, French “Si” is the lexical answer to this problem.

  • Hi Géraldine! You brought up a topic that I, as a native speaker of English, never know how to answer in English – a negative question. For me I can not simply answer with a yes or a no. “You don’t like pasta?” If I just say “no” does that mean I do like pasta? Or if I answer “yes” does that mean “Yes. I don’t like pasta?” So I usually always further define my answer with “No, I like pasta” or “Yes, that is correct. I don’t like pasta.” I am guessing that “Si” to a negative question in French means “Yes, I do like pasta.” Am I understanding this correctly? I still don’t know the correct answer in my own tongue. 😉

    • Salut Jim
      The answer can be both yes or no it is tricky. Remember the rule…. negative is to positive.
      In the case of “you don’t like pasta”??? Is a question of surprise. One might suggest or exclaim they do not like a particular pasta dish, the other person is surprised and would then ask the negative question.. Don’t you like pasta.. or you don’t like pasta??? The reply is then turned to a positive by a reply of yes, I like pasta (but I don’t like this… ) to explain more clearly. Or no, I don’t like pasta. Which is an indefinite positive response.
      Or you can have fun with this and answer yes or no to confuse the person. It is ambiguous.
      I do hope this was helpful.

  • Thank You Geraldine for your presentation. I am starting to catch up on the french that I learned a few years back. Your written and audio-video series is a perfect complement to what I already know. Merci beaucoup!

  • Thank you, yes, it is difficult speaking french. My mind often goes blanc and not a singel word comes to my mind! Terrible! The vocabulary I want to master must be polite, so politeness is good. ”Avec plaisir” when being offered drinks or food seems even nicer than ”Oui, merci”! – Yes?

  • Ouaip! I feel like a big dummy when I try to put my thoughts into french. I like your instructions. Merci beaucoup, je me sens déjà mieux

  • Bonjour Geraldine
    I learned French at school many years ago and wanted to refresh – I took a course locally but there is nobody in my neighbourhood who speaks French except the instructor. I have just discovered your site and already I am happy to say that even though I may have to hold a conversation with the walls – I am improving my conversational French – it doesn’t sound like I am talking from a grammar book ! Merci beaucoup a toi

  • In three months’ time my son will marry a French girl, and the wedding is in Cape Town. I am panicking because the parents don’t speak English, and my French is book-ish and inadequate. It seems I am to be the designated interpreter/interface. Your lessons are a lifeline. What about perhaps a topic on tour guide stuff.. like: “Would you like to take a bus tour? Do you need an ATM or a bank to draw cash? Shall we take a break for a snack? What kind of food would you like to have? Let’s go to the beach to watch the windsurfers…” oooo my panic meter just went up a few notches

    • Bonjour Rosalie,
      Thank you for your message.
      First, don’t panic. They’ll be delighted to visit Cape Town. And happy to meet you.
      And they’re French. If they need something, they’ll ask for it. 🙂
      My best advice is to buy a conversation phrasebook, highlight the phrases you think you’ll need. So that you can say or show them.
      You can buy them one too. So that they can show you (or say) the words/phrases they’ll need as well. That’s a lovely thoughtful present.
      Your French will be more than perfect to show them your country. They’ll be impressed. Don’t worry about it being “too book-ish”, it won’t matter a bit.
      Good luck and feel free to ask me any question. I got an Episode on weddings that might be useful for you.

  • This is so very helpful, Geraldine, and your teaching method is brilliant! My problem is ‘small talk’ with people.

  • A great help. I can speak a little French, but it is all textbook french and I am shy when I speak. I look forward to more.

  • je m’apple Rafee je vians d’afghanistan merci de vous beacoup quest ce quest ca vout dire less expression.
    1- Ca me gave
    2- quelles nouvelles
    3-la p^eche
    4-ca Boume
    5- Ca Gaze

  • Hi Geraldine,
    Numero 11.
    Quand je regarde le Journal a la tele, le presentateur dans le studio parle du situation ou se trouve le reporteur.
    Le reporteur reponderais souvent, “Effectivement” pour dire Oui vous avez raison.

  • Merci beaucoup Geraldine! J’ai passé trois mois en Alsace et tout le temps j’ai parlé comme un enfant de cinq ans!!! Je aimerais votre aide avant! Robyn

  • Très bien Geraldine; j’ aime bien votre maquillage et le lecon étais très bien aussi: Je suis heureuse trouver votre website ‘Commeunefrancaise’ J’en réjouis étudier avec vous:
    merci beaucoup mon amie nouveau:

  • I often hear something like ‘bah ouai’ or ‘beh ouai’ which I guess means something like ‘yeah, sure’. I live in Pays du Loire where the French is meant to amongst the most pure in France!

    • Bonjour John,
      Thank you for your message. The “purity” of French is more of a cliché than a truth.
      It’s normal for the French language to evolve, even in le Pays de Loire ! 🙂

  • Thanks! These tips are helping to improve my confidence. I personally prefer the exclamation or interjection “Mais Oui” to mean “Sure!” or “Of course!” in place of “Bien sûr.”

    However, I sense that depending on the tone in which it is said, it could carry a sense of the “irritated YES!”

    Qu’est-ce que tu dit de ça, Géraldine?

  • Bonjour Geraldine ! Je vous remercie pour cette leçon ! Alors, ma rèponse à votre question «Tu ne veux pas de tarte ?», c’est «Si, merci !».

  • Just watched the really interesting ‘Yes in French’. Saying ‘yeah yeah’ in English is usually a brush off way of giving the expected yes response to a question but conveying a disinterest in doing it.. Maybe not even doing it. “Will you take the rubbish out later?”, “Yeah yeah”. Does this translate in the same way with ‘Ouias Ouias’ or ‘Oui oui’? Just curious ????

    • Hi Charlotte, I have the same problem and I think the best solution is to find a french conversation group in your area. check out Next Door or even Meet up to find one near you. 🙂

  • Thx a lot. Yes, I agree with Thomas below that your very useful summing up has an audio problem – Only one of my headphones caught your excellent messages. Bonne Noel

  • Merci Géraldine. Lamentablement, le audio ne funcione pas ni dans votre blog ni dans You Tube. S’il vous plaît laissez-moi savoir s’il y a un moyen d’écouter cette

  • Bonjour Géraldine, I’m so happy I joined. I love your delivery (style). Your passion for your subject clearly comes through. I look forward to more of your cool and useful French.

  • Ok so I am precocious and feel 4.5 years old. The speed of conversation leaves me “in the dust,” an English idiom that expresse the sense that everyone else is racing ahead. Ok I know learning isn’t a competition but it still feels like incompetence.

    • Bonjour Sam,

      It’s normal to struggle, please don’t worry about that. Your French will improve step by step, at your own pace.
      I recommend you set yourself a goal. Knowing why you want to learn French and what you want to achieve with it is fundamental.

  • Thank you for the video; it was incredibly helpful. When it comes to speaking French, I lack confidence so listening to your pronunciation in these videos is a big plus!

  • This episode was my first experience with your website. Je am very very beginner at apprendre française. I vraiment liked your style. As a turkish origin person the pronounciation of french afraids me. Mais i am decided i will learn your beatiful language.
    Your video was very helpful for me as a starting point. I mean “volontiers”. Thank you Geraldine.

  • This video is so helpful to expand one’s vocabulary. Merci!

    Sometimes I wish I could say more about how my day went or how so feel about it. I say « bien » or « ca va » or « ca va bien » but I’m not sure that covers it. – Lauri

  • When I can’t express myself, I start using a lot of hand gestures to illustrate what I cannot say. Its comical, I guess.

  • Bonne nuit Géraldine! Merci pour votre léçon. Je veux parler Francais comme ma grande-mère et je veux conner les dits des vie “everyday”.

  • Salut! J’mapelle Chad! I am still new to learning French. As an American I think Quois de neuf? translated as “What’s up?” Lacks the ability to tease (joke about) the idiom itself. For example, someone says “What’s up?” The proper responses are “What’s up?”, “Nothing much?” “I’m just chilling/relaxing” etc. A slightly more silly response is “The Sky” “The Ceiling” “That way!”(pointing upward!”, “The opposite of down.” etc. Saying “Quois de neuf” seems quite rote/conventional, but then again I’m sure there are some American English expressions that seem rote/conventional to a native French Speaker. I find in most languages idiomatic expressions contain the most nuanced variables.

    I definitely feel like a toddler with French, but that is to be expected when learning a new language.

    Another American English example is “kicked the bucket” (I.e. “to die.”) [[I think in Britain it’s can]]

    Person A: Did you hear that Michael Jackson kicked the bucket?
    Person B: Oh yeah? How far did he kick it?
    Person A: Six feet, six feet under (six feet is the most common legal regulation depth for burial plots in the USA.)

    Are there any French expressions you can tease the expression itself in a similar manner?

    Note: “Kicked the bucket.” is colloquial idomatic slang and certainly not appropriate in every situation (e.g Don’t use at a funeral. Just don’t. It’s not just bad taste..it’s just terrible and could be offensive.) This expression should only be used when the situation is relaxed, casual, jovial and totally informal.

    Are there any French idomatic expressions that you can joke with the expression itself?

  • Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I amm
    having ifficulties with yourr RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it.

    Is there anybody having the same RSS problems?
    Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond?

  • C’est ma vie de française ! (which I am sure is wrong!!)
    I always feel, with my limited vocabulary, that people are waiting for me to expand upon my “oui”…. This vocabulary lesson was very
    helpful!!! One step to age 6.

  • I feel like 3 year old child.. I used to learn french, long time ago but now i only remember some words. Unfortunately not grammar. Now i started to learn it again, i try to do it every day. My boyfriend is french, we live in Kraków in Poland. And in one month we r going for holidays to his home place in Lorraine. Im extremely nervous about it 😀 I want say something to his parents and friends who dont speak english.
    I try to learn french as i did with english. By watching movies with french subtitles, listening french songs. I hope it will help me 😀
    I also spend a lot of time on your website, i love it !
    Thank you Geraldine !

  • Yes I feel like a, not so smart 5-year old, a lot of the time!
    Now that I am in France, I realize that all my listening to French radio has helped. I read magazines and understand a lot of what is written. But yes! The nuances in speaking French are hard to get.
    I try to speak French every day.
    In time I know it will help but right now I do feel like a oui!woman often! When I read about the other options, I do understand some of the nuances but using them is quite different!
    You are putting your finger on a obvious problem area Geraldine.
    You know because you were there!
    I do get some consolation out of that. Thanks!

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