64 Common, Vital French Phrases for Your Survival

Learn common French words and everyday vocabulary, like bonjour, so you can have a meaningful conversation in no time.

64 French Phrases You Need to Know 

Learning French isn’t just a game of mastering grammar, it’s also about building your vocabulary. Words are essential to expressing ourselves and understanding others, but keeping a dictionary at hand won’t always save the day – especially if you plan to travel! Not all words are created equal, and for a beginner, it’s hard to know which French words and phrases are the most common. That’s why Frantastique is here to help with a list of 64 French phrases vital for survival. 

Getting started

When learning a new language, asking questions is par for the course, which is why many of the essential phrases listed below take the form of a question. In French, asking questions may look complicated, but once they are broken down into pieces, you will see that they aren’t. The more formal way of asking questions involves using a main question word (où, comment, que, etc.) plus a verb followed by the subject. The formula is question word + verb + subject +… which looks like “Où allez-vous ce soir?”. It is also common to use either est-ce que or qu’est-ce que followed by the subject first and then the verb. The formula is question phrase + subject + verb +… which looks like “Qu’est-ce que vous dites?”.

French grammar

The phrases featured in this guide are ready to be used, but every language has its nuances and French is no exception to the rule. It is important to note that in French grammar, there are two ways to say you: the informal tu and the formal vous. As a general rule, if you are talking to a stranger or somebody you hardly know, the formal vous should be used. If you are talking to friends or family on the other hand, the more informal tu can be used. When in doubt between tu vs vous, always use the formal vous.

French pronunciation

French pronunciation has its challenges, and that is why we have conjured up  a French pronunciation guide to help you master the basics. Just like any language, practice makes perfect and the best way to improve your pronunciation is to speak and listen to French as much as you can. Now is the time to sign up for that online French course  or sit through  that French movie that killed it at Cannes. The name of the game is immersion! 

Regional differences

French is spoken in many countries around the world which means that there are different dialects that can vary from one country to the next. While this guide refers to French in general, some words can change quite a bit. The number seventy, for example, is either soixante-dix or septante depending on the French-speaking country.

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The most basic of basic French phrases

Listed below are very common French words that most people know or have heard before: 

BonsoirGood evening
MerciThank you
Au revoirGoodbye

Fret not, here is a list of more greetings in French to use wisely on your next trip to a French-speaking country.

French phrases for having a conversation

Ça va ?How are you? (colloquial)
Comment allez-vous ?How are you? (formal)
Ça va, merci.I’m fine thank you. . 
Je vais bien.I’m good / I’m OK
Bof !Not really (informal)
Bon appétit !Enjoy your meal!

Check out our guide on more basic French phrases to know.

Asking basic questions in French

Où ?Where?
Comment ?How?
Quand ?When? 
Combien ?How much/many?
C’est combien ?How much is it?
Pourquoi ?Why?
Où pourrais-je trouver…?Where can I find…?
Où est…?Where is…?
Comment aller à…?How do I get to…?

Getting to know someone in French

Comment tu t’appelles ?Comment vous appelez-vous ?What is your name? (informal)What is your name? (formal)
Quel âge as-tu ?Quel âge avez-vous ?How old are you? (informal)How old are you? (formal)
D’où viens-tu ?D’où venez-vous ?Where are you from? (informal)Where are you from? (formal)
Que fais-tu dans la vie ?Que faites-vous dans la vie?What do you do? (informal)What do you do? (formal)
Vous vous connaissez ?Do you know each other?
Es-tu libre ce soir ?Êtes-vous libre ce soir ?Are you free tonight? (informal)Are you free tonight? (formal)
Est-ce que je peux avoir ton numéro ?Est-ce que je peux avoir votre numéro ?Can I get your number? (informal)Can I get your number? (formal)

More on the French art of seduction to come – we hope you are ready because there’s plenty more where that came from. 

Answering questions in French

Je m’appelle…My name is…
J’ai…ans.I am…years old.
Je viens de…I am from…
Je suis (nationalité).I am (nationality).
Je suis (métier).I am (profession).

French phrases for when you have a problem or need help

Au secours !Help!
Excusez-moiExcuse me
Merci beaucoupThank you so much
Je ne parle pas français.I don’t speak French.
Où sont les toilettes ?Where is the bathroom?
Quelle heure est-il ?What time is it?
Pourriez-vous m’aider s’il vous plaît ?Can you help me please?
Pourriez-vous répéter s’il vous plaît ?Can you repeat (that) please?
Je voudrais…I would like…
J’ai besoin de…I need…
Je suis perdu(e).I am lost.
Je suis malade.I am sick.
Où est l’hôpital ?Where is the hospital?
Je ne comprends pas.I don’t understand.
Parlez-vous anglais/français?Do you speak English/French?
Qu’est-ce qui se passe ?What is happening?

Essential polite phrases for when you have a problem

MerciThank you
De rienYou’re welcome
Pas de problème !No problem!
Pardon ?Pardon? / Sorry?
Je suis désolé(e).I’m sorry.
S’il vous plaît S’il te plaîtPlease (formal)Please (informal)

Still searching for additional ways to say sorry in French? Or maybe it’s time to add oil to the fire with insults.

Note: Before leaving this page, make sure you tuck into some of the most useful French sayings the language has to offer.

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Building your French vocabulary is key to improving your French, but don’t forget that practice makes perfect. Sign up for a free personal level assessment today with Frantastique so you can practice away!

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