Here are some useful phrases to get you started:







Hello Mrs./Mr./Miss (1)

Good evening

Hi (informal)

Bonjour Madame / Monsieur / Mademoiselle 




Boh(n)-zhoor mah-dahme/ muh-syuhr/ mah-dah-mwa-sell


Boh(n) swarh


Excuse  (2)

Excuse me




Ex-kyou-say mwa


S'il vous plaît  

Seal voo play

 Thank you.



 . . . very much.  . . . bien.  . . . bee-ya(n).
You're welcome Je vous en prie Zhuh vooz ahn pree

Do you speak English?

Parlez-vous anglais ?

Par - lay vooz ah(n)-glay?

 speak a little French Je parle un peu français Zhuh parl uhn peh frahn-say

I'm here on vacation

... for work

Je suis là pour les vacances

... pour le travail

Zhuh swee lah poor vac-kahwnse

... poor trav-eye

I don't understand Je ne comprends pas Zhuh nuh comp-rond pah
Please speak slowly Parlez lentement, s'il vous plaît Par-lay lawn-teh-mont, seal voo play
How do you say ____ in French? Comment dit-on ____ en français? Come-ahn deet-on ____ ahn frahn-say?


Yeah (informal)





No Non No

Where are the restrooms?  

Where is ______?

... the hotel?

... the hospital?

... the beach?

... the airport?

... the bank?

Où sont les toilettes ?                 

Où est _____ ?

... l'hôtel?

... l'hôpital? plage?

... l'aéroport?

... la banque?

Oo soh(n) lay  twa-let?

Oo ay _____ ?

... low-tell?

... low-pea-tahl?

... lah plah-sheh?

... lare-oh-pour?

... lah bahn-kh

Sorry to bother you... Excusez-moi de vous déranger... Ek-sku-zay mwa duh voo day-rah(n)-zhay...

...but I have a problem.

...mais j'ai un problème

...may zhay uh(n) proh-blem.

Can you help ?                       

Pouvez-vous m'aider ?

Poo-vay voo meh - day?


Would you take / picture, please?

Est-ce que vous pourriez prendre notre/ma photo, s'il vous plaît?

Pourriez-vous prendre notre/ma photo, s'il vous plaît?

Esk-kuh voo  Poory-ay  pren-dr noh-tra/mah foh-toh, seal voo play?

Poory-ay voo  Pren-dr  noh-tra/mah foh-toh, seal voo play?

I would like . . .

  Je voudrais . . . Zhuh voo dray . . .

How much?

 Combien? Cohm bee-e(n)?
Do you take foreign [credit] cards? Est-ce que vous acceptez les cartes étrangères ? Es-kuh vooz ack-sep-tay lay cartz ay-trahn-jer-ay?
It's too expensive! C'est trop cher! Say trohp reesh!
I am looking for . . .   Je cherche . . . Zhuh shairsh . . .


It's here! (there it is!)


C'est là!


Say lah!

Let's go! Allons-y Ah-lonzee

It's great!

... good

... bad

... terrible

C'est chouette!

... bon

... mal

... terrible

Say shwet!

... bohn

... mahl

... tare-ee-bleh

I have a headache

... stomach ache

J'ai mal à la tête

... au ventre/ au coeur

Zhay mahl deh teht

... oh vahn-trah/ oh couhr

Goodbye (until  see each other again)(3)

Goodbye (see you later/see you at another hour/later on the same day)

Goodbye (forever/  never going to see you again)

Au revoir


À tout à l'heure



Ah reh-vwarh


Ah toot ah luhr



(1)     In France , a simple hello can be the difference between being treated with courtesy and being snubbed in a restaurant or store.  Never neglect to say hello, and add the appropriate title to be even more polite.

(2)     Say "pardon" when trying to get by someone, or bumping into someone...

(3)  "Au revoir" ( until  see each other again ) is the preferred way to say goodbye, even to strangers you will never see again because "Adieu," literal translation meaning " to God," if misused can be seen as an insult ( i.e. You don't ever want to see that person alive again). À tout à l'heure is a more familiar way to say goodbye, but can be used with strangers if you know for a fact you're going to see them later on.

In general, the stress should be placed on the last syllable of the word, and the last word of the phrase.  Also, in general, the "s", or "es" at the end of a word is not pronounced unless the word after it starts with a vowel. For example: Nous allons ( We go), the "s" at the end of "nous" would be dragged out into the "a" of "allons" making a "z" sound, but notice how the "s" at the end of  "allons" is not pronounced. ( Nooz ah-lohn). Why? Because it sounds weird if you don't, like a hiccup, or an extra breath in your speech where you don't need it. The French language is all about words flowing gracefully.

If you want to speak in English, think to speak slowly: Generally, French people don't speak English very well. And the English taught in France is the UK prononciation. For a French speaker who understand a little UK English, it is an added difficulty to understand American English. In the larger cities, you are more likely to find people who would understand some English than you are if you went to smaller villages.

Don't shout!  If they don't understand your English, shouting will not help. Also, there's a concept of a smaller "personal space" that may take some getting used to. Typically Americans need about 3 ft of personal space to feel comfortable when talking to someone. Of course this varies with familiarity. In many other countries, including France, that space is smaller and it is seen as being rude if you back up or jump back suddenly.

When shopping or ordering, it is helpful to know that the French begin counting with their thumbs, so an American holding up their first finger for "one" may appear to be signalling "two."