French for Beginners

Be it for school or in a business environment, you will need at one point to speak at least the most basics of phrases in French. This guide covers quite a lot from colors to numbers and most unusual verbs.

01

1. Some Basic Phrases

Bonjour (bohn-zhoor) Hello / Good day

Bonsoir / Bonne nuit (bohn-swahr/bunnwee) Good evening / Good night (only said when going to bed)

Au revoir! (ohr-vwah) Goodbye!

S’il vous plaît (seel voo pleh) Please

Merci beaucoup (mair-see boh-koo)

Je vous en prie / de rien (In Canada: Bienvenu)(zhuh voo zawn pree/duh ree-ahn/bee-awn-vuh- new)

Thankyou very much

You’rewelcome.

Oui / non (wee/nohn) Yes /no

Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle (muh-syuh,mah-dahm, mahd-mwah-zell) Mister, Misses, Miss

Comment allez-vous? (koh-mawn tahl-ay voo) How are you? (formal)

Ça va? (sah vah) Howare you? (informal)

Je vais bien (zhuh vay bee-ahn) I’m fine

Ça va bien / mal / pas mal (sah vahbee-ahn/mahl/pah mahl) I’m good / bad / not bad

Je suis fatigué(e) (zhuh sweefah-tee-gay) I’m tired

Je suis malade (zhuh swee mah-lahd) I’m sick

J’ai faim (zhay fawn) I’mhungry

J’ai soif (zhay swahf) I’m thirsty

Comment vous appelez-vous? (koh-mawnvoo zah-play voo) What’s your name? (formal)

Comment t’appelles-tu? (koh-mawn tah-pelltew) What’s your name? (informal)

Je m’appelle… (zhuh mah-pell) I am called…

Mon nom est… (mohn nohm ay) My name is…

Vous êtes d’où? (voo zet doo) Where are you from? (formal)

Tu es d’où? (tew ay doo) Where are you from? (informal)

Où habitez-vous? (ooh ah-bee-tay voo) Where do you live? (formal)

Où habites-tu? (ooh ah-beet tew) Where do you live?(informal)

Je suis des Etats-Unis / du Canada. (zhuhswee day zay-tahz-ew-nee/dew kah-nah-dah) I amfrom the United States / Canada.

J’habite aux Etats-Unis / au Canada. (zhah-beetoh zay-tahz-ew-nee/ oh kah-nah-dah) I live inthe U.S. / Canada.

Vous avez quel âge? (voo za-vay kell ahzh) How old are you? (formal)

Tu as quel âge? (tew ah kell ahzh) How old are you? (informal)

J’ai ____ ans. (zhay ____ awn) I am ____ years old.

Parlez-vous français?

Parles-tu anglais?

(par-lay voo frahn-say) Do you speakFrench? (formal)

(parl tew on-glay) Do you speak English?(informal)

Italien, Allemand, Espagnol (ee-tahl-ee-ahn,ahll-uh-mawn, es-pahn-yol) Italian, German, Spanish

Russe, Japonais, Chinois (rooss,zhah-po-neh, shee-nwah) Russian, Japanese,Chinese

Je parle… (zhuh parl) I speak…

Je ne parle pas… (zhuh nuh parl pah) I don’t speak…

Je (ne) comprends (pas) (zhuh nuhcom-prawn pah) I (don’t) understand

Je (ne) sais (pas) (zhuhn say pah) I (don’t) know

Excusez-moi / Pardonnez-moi (eg-scew-zaymwah/par-dohn-ay mwah) Excuse me / Pardon me

Je regrette / Je suis désolé(e) (zhuhre-gret/zhuh swee day-zoh-lay) I’m sorry

A tout à l’heure / A bientôt (ah too tahluhr/ah bee-ahn-toh) See you later / See you soon

Salut (sah-lew) Hi /Bye

Je t’aime (zhuh tem) I loveyou (singular)

Je vous aime (zhuh voo zem) I love you! (plural)

2. Pronunciation

French letter(s)

English Sound

a, à, â

ah

é, et, and final er and ez

ay

e, è, ê, ai, ei, ais

eh

i, y

ee

o

oh

o

shorter and more open than aw in bought

ou

oo

oy, oi

wah

u

ew

u + vowel

wee

c (before e, i, y)

s

ç (before a, o, u)

s

c (before a, o, u)

k

g (before e, i, y)

zh

ge (before a, o)

zh

g (before a, o, u)

g

gn

nyuh

h

silent

j

zh

qu, final q

k

r

rolled

s (between vowels)

z

th

t

x

ekss, except as s in six, dix, and soixante in liaisons, like z

Note: French pronunciation is tricky because ituses nasal sounds which we do not have in English and there are a lot of silentletters. However, if a word ends in C, R, F or L (except verbs that end in -r)you usually pronounce the final consonant. Their vowels tend to be shorter aswell. The French slur most words together in a sentence, so if a word ends in aconsonant that is not pronounced and the next word starts with a vowel orsilent h, slur the two together as if it were one word.

More about Pronunciation

1. The”slurring” that I mentioned is called liaison. It is always made:

after a determiner (words like un, des,les, mon, ces, quels)

before or after a pronoun (vous avez, jeles ai)

after a preceding adjective (bon ami,petits enfants)

after one syllable prepositions (en avion,dans un livre)

after some one syllable adverbs (très,plus, bien)

after est

It isoptional after pas, trop fort, and the forms of être, but it isnever made after et.

2.Sometimes the e is dropped in words and phrases, shortening thesyllables and slurring more words.

rapid(e)ment, lent(e)ment, sauv(e)tage(pronounced ra-peed-mawn, not ra-peed-uh-mawn)

sous l(e) bureau, chez l(e) docteur(pronounced sool bewr-oh, not soo luh bewr-oh)

il a d(e) bons copains (eel ahd bohnko-pahn)

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