Why You Should Never Say “Néanmoins” in Spoken French (Improve Your Fluency!)

If you sometimes struggle to understand or be understood in French, I want you to know that spoken French is not written French read aloud. Actual spoken French is almost a completely different language than the technical, written French you learned in school, which is why you might get a funny look if you use certain words — like néanmoins, for example. Let me explain.

C’est parti !


1 – Written French Adverbs and Conjunctions
2 – Informal alternatives: “mais,” “par contre,” and…
3 – Other informal alternatives
4 – Practice with me: four sentences
5 – Practice with me: short story

1 - Written French Adverbs and Conjunctions

Some adverbs are just too elegant for everyday spoken French. That’s why you practically never hear them in real spoken French. You know, adverbs like:

  • Néanmoins = nevertheless, nonetheless
  • Cependant = however
  • De surcroît = in addition, what is more,
  • Par conséquent = therefore, thus, consequently.

Click here to learn more:
Why French People Never Say “Cependant” (And other Formal Words)

They can appear in written French or sometimes in elegant, formal spoken French, like in a debate, or to show off your verbal manners.

Literally, néanmoins means “nothing less” – or “nonetheless.” You won’t hear it in everyday spoken French, and if you use it, you’ll probably sound a bit like a textbook. You can use it in essays or school, of course, but modern spoken French follows its own rules.

That’s why I focus so much on helping you practice everyday French, by the way! By learning the rules of spoken French, you can quickly become much more confident in French conversation, or even understanding what people say in your favorite French movies and shows.

It’s the point of my lessons and programs like the 30-Day French Challenges, where you get a daily practice of real everyday French, with colloquial dialogues and vocabulary and discussion of French culture, each morning for thirty days. The next one is starting soon by the way. Check it out at the link above!

Le truc en plus: In French, we have a funny expression, “parler comme un livre” (= to speak like a book), which means using excessively formal language, similar to the elevated style often found in written texts or literary works. It implies a lack of naturalness or an incongruity between the level of formality in their speech and the casual context of the conversation.

2 - Informal alternatives: “mais”, “par contre”, and…

So what do we use in everyday French instead of “néanmoins” ?

1 – Mais

Mais (with a silent “s” and a “è” sound) = but.
J’aime beaucoup Lyon mais je préfère Strasbourg. = I really like Lyon but I prefer Strasbourg.
Le maïs = corn. (with an “a,” an “i,” and an “s” at the end: /ma·is/)
Le but = a goal. With a “u” sound and a “t” sound.

Le truc en plus : France – Brésil 1998 Coupe du Monde de Football

2 – Par contre

Par contre = on the other hand, however.
It sounds better than “mais” for starting a new sentence.
Je serai pas là demain. Par contre, je viendrai mercredi. = I won’t be here tomorrow. However, I’ll come in on Wednesday.

(You could also say: Je serai pas là demain mais je viendrai mercredi. = I won’t be here tomorrow but I’ll come in on Wednesday.)

3 – Pourtant

Pourtant (with a silent “t”) = Yet.
C’était pas loin, et pourtant il a mis du temps à arriver. = It wasn’t far, and yet he took some time to arrive.
Tu as oublié ? Mais pourtant je te l’avais rappelé ! = You forgot? But I had reminded you!

You can also use it almost on its own:
Et pourtant… = And yet…
Je pensais pas qu’il allait oublié. Et pourtant… = I didn’t think he’d forget. And yet…

Le truc en plus : Et pourtant – Charles Aznavour

4 – Mais bon

Mais bon = But, well / Oh well.

This one is more colloquial than the previous ones. It sounds like acceptance, or at least resignation.
J’ai raté mon train, mais bon, le prochain est dans pas longtemps. = I miss my train, but, oh well, the next one is coming soon.

Whenever you talk about something bad happening, you can add:
Mais bon, ça ira. = But, oh well, it will be fine.
Mais bon, on verra. = Oh well, we’ll see / we’ll see what happens next.

On the other hand, it’s sometimes used to shut down a complaint:
Ah bah ouais, mais bon… = Yeah, well, that’s just how it is. / Yeah, well, what can you do?

Le truc en plus : Ah bah ouais mais bon – Les Wriggles (2006 song)

3 - Other informal alternatives

a) Du coup
Du coup (with an “u” sound, an “ou” sound and a silent “p”) = so.

Click here to learn more:

This is another very popular conjunction. Du coup can mean a lot of things. It’s mainly used to mean “as a consequence” or simply “so”. It’s become a bit of a language tic nowadays, among certain people. It is probably one of the most commonly used expressions in everyday French!
Il était en retard, du coup, on a commencé la réunion sans lui. = He was late, so we started the meeting without him.

b) Quand même
Quand même = still.

It softens a statement, adds nuance, or expresses a concession. Its versatility makes it a go-to expression in various conversational situations, providing a more nuanced and informal tone to the language. Let’s see how it can replace “néanmoins”:
Il n’a pas trop révisé, quand même, il a obtenu une bonne note à l’examen. = He didn’t study much, but still, he got a good grade on the exam.

Click here to learn more:
Quand Même in English: Its Uses and Translations

c) En revanche
En revanche = on the other hand, but, however…

Je n’aime pas le café. En revanche, j’adore le thé. = I don’t like coffee. On the other hand, I love tea.
Attention: It doesn’t mean “in revenge”! Literally, it means “in return,” but it actually introduces a contrast or opposition to something previously mentioned.

4 - Practice with me: four sentences

Here are four examples in French, with blanks. Fill out the blanks using the alternatives to “Néanmoins” that we’ve seen today!

1 / 4  Je viens de manger, et ………. j’ai encore faim ! = I’ve just eaten, and… I’m still hungry!

2 / 4 Elle va bientôt partir, …………, on se reverra bientôt. = She’s leaving soon, …., we’ll see each other soon.

3 / 4 Il pleuvait ……… on est quand même sorti. = It was raining… we went out anyway.

4 / 4 Tu peux pas venir aujourd’hui, ………. demain je suis disponible. = You can’t come in today…. tomorrow I’m available.

Below are the answers. Don’t look at them until you tried to answer the questions yourself!


OK, here they are.

1 / 4 Je viens de manger, et pourtant j’ai encore faim !
= I’ve just eaten, and yet I’m still hungry!

2 / 4 Elle va bientôt partir, mais bon, on se reverra bientôt.
= She’s leaving soon, but, oh well, we’ll see each other soon.

3 / 4 Il pleuvait mais on est quand même sorti.
= It was raining but we went out anyway.

4 / 4 Tu peux pas venir aujourd’hui, par contre demain je suis disponible.
= You can’t come in today, however on the other hand I’m available tomorrow.

If you picked another combination, don’t worry: most answers could work fine, too! You would only need to tweak it a little, and add some context.

For instance, if someone hands you a free croissant, you could answer:
Je viens de manger, mais bon, j’ai encore faim ! = I’ve just eaten, but, oh well, I’m still hungry anyway.

So you can play around with these examples and see how it changes their meanings.

5 - Practice with me: short story

Listen to this short paragraph in the video lesson, without subtitles at first, then with subtitles and translation.
Try to hear our four adverbs: Mais, Par contre, Pourtant, Mais bon

The full text in French and in English:
Je sais pas pourquoi, mais aujourd’hui j’ai décidé de marcher pour rentrer du boulot jusqu’à chez moi.
= I don’t know why, but today I decided to walk home from work.

Pourtant c’est loin, et d’habitude je prends le métro.
= And yet, it’s a long walk, and usually, I take the subway.

Mais bon, il faisait beau, et je voulais profiter du soleil.
= But hey, it was nice out, and I wanted to enjoy the sun.

Par contre, maintenant, j’ai mal aux pieds.
= On the other hand, now, my feet hurt!

And now, you can repeat these sentences out loud with me! Don’t be shy, speak French in front of your screen!

Congrats! Did you do it? Was it easy? Can you remember what these words mean?

If you’re watching this lesson for the first time, you can take your time and practice again.

Or you can keep watching to get your next session of French Pronunciation Practice with me!

Click here to get your next lesson:

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you right now in the next video!


→ 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 🙂


Join the conversation!

  • I had to smile at your “Néanmoins ~ sound
    like a French robot” comment. There were a
    couple of occasions in France, years ago,
    when I tried fitting said word into whatever
    it was I was trying to express at the time.
    It got some strange looks ! There are
    probably a few such words in French which
    I will never attempt to use for fear of getting
    it completely wrong and causing embarrassment
    all round ~ to me especially (I’ll let you guess).
    Nevertheless, néanmoins remains one of them.
    K.I.S.S., as they say. I’m laughing, but your advice
    is always excellent Géraldine. Merci beaucoup …

    • cou cou Jon! .. ha ha ha.. I thought I was being so authentic too.. with same quizzical look from a local! However i was warned, and thus spared the mortification of the other!!
      Greetings from Western Australia.. Im using this interval between French 30 day challenges to catchup with these great U tube presentations.. ou habitez-vous?

      • On se tutoie Evelyne ~ we can keep it informal I’m sure 🙂
        And in answer to your question .. London UK.
        However, I spent four years in Australia back in the 70s ~
        in and out of Perth a bit, but also working for a couple of
        mining companies up in the north west. Goldsworthy and
        then Cliffs Robe River Mining. We drove for hours once
        from Wickham to Port Hedland for the Sunday Session
        and then back again. Crazy, but then there are times and
        places where we do stuff like that. All great memories.
        My last visit to WA was around 20 years ago and a friend
        and I drove from Perth down to Margaret River for a couple
        of days, a few beers and something to eat. I’d never been
        down there before so he was showing me around. The other
        places I actually lived were Sydney, and Darwin for around
        three months ~ pre cyclone ! Some of it I travelled overland
        and others trips I flew but all of it created a special moving
        picture in my mind of “a land down under” which stays with
        me to this day. Where in WA do you live Evelyne ? I have
        friends there who live in Wembley, and a mate and I shared
        a flat in Mt Lawley back in those days. All of this dates me
        of course ~ I was in my early twenties at the time I’m
        And the French word for a kiss !! Yeah, you’re right, I won’t
        go near it either. You’ve started me laughing again ……..

        All the best Evelyne, and many thanks for your reply ..

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