How to Say in French ...

Based on our research, following are the words and phrases that people (or, at least internet users) most commonly want translated from English into French. It is provided as part of our French Language series which covers topics such as free translating, writting letters, learning French and so on.

In our experience, the most useful words are please (s'il vous plâit) and thank you (merci). Combined with a smile and gestures, they will take you a long way. Following are some simple and common words that can help as well.


French Equivalent

a For masculine items, the French equivalent is 'un'. For feminine items the French equivalent is 'une'. Incidentally, the English words 'a', 'an', and 'one' are the same in French; in other words the French use 'un' or 'une' for all 3.

The French equivalent is either 'tout' (masculine singular), 'tous' (masculine plural), 'toute' (feminine singular) or 'toutes' (feminine plural). The singular is used if the subject is singular (e.g. 'all the time') and the plural is used for plural subjects (e.g. 'all the dogs'). These French words can be used for 'all' or for 'evenything'.

and et
because The literal translation is 'parce que'. If the word is being used in a negative sense then the phrase 'à cause de' can be used instead (e.g. 'because of you we are late' = 'à cause de toi, nous sommes en retard'). Conversely, if it is being used in a positive sense, then the phrase 'grâce à' can be used (e.g.  'thanks to you we survived' = 'grâce à vous nous avons survivre' ).
bye The French equivalent is 'au revoir', although this is somewhat more formal and polite than the English 'bye'.
cheers When drinking, the British may toast each other by saying 'cheers' (in USA one might say 'to your health' instead). In this sense of the word 'cheers', the French equivalent is 'à la vôtre' or the less formal equivalent (to be used with a close friend) 'à la tienne'. One will also often hear 'santé', which is short for 'to your health'.
congratulations  félicitations
do you speak english? Parlez-vous anglais?
English The French word is 'anglais' (l'anglais if the article is used). Note that in French, one does not capitalise the first letter of a language (e.g. 'anglais' instead of 'Anglais').
excuse me One can use 'escusez-moi' or 'pardon'.
for pour
France France

For singular masculine, plural masculine or plural mixed (e.g. a group of French men and women') this is 'français'. For single feminine it is 'française' and for feminine plural it is 'françaises'.

For some nouns, one uses 'of France' instead of 'French'. For example, the phrases 'the King of France' and the 'French king' would both be translated as 'the King of France' (le roi de France), not 'le roi française' .

German For masculine it is 'allemand' and for feminine it is 'allemande'.

Good is either 'bon' (bienne if fenimine) or 'bien', depending on how it is being used. A common explanation is that 'bon' is used in the sense of 'good' and 'bien' in the sense of 'well'. However, a detailed examination of the use of bon and bien shows that this is a simplistic and inaccurate explanation.

The term 'bien' is used for:

  • A virtue (e.g. 'good and evil' ='le bien et le mal'; 'to do good' = 'faire le bien').
  • A benefit (e.g. 'it is for your own good' = 'c'est pour ton bien'; 'for the good of the company' = 'pour le bien de la société')

The term 'bon' tends to be used for someting that is enjoyable (e.g. good book / weather / holiday / joke / news), prestigious (e.g. good address / marriage), favourable impression (e.g. Paris is good for shopping), tasty (e.g. to have a good taste or smell good), kind (e.g. 'a good deed' = 'une bonne action'), pleasant (e.g. 'good mood' = 'bonne humeur').

Unfortunately, the choice between 'bon' and 'bien' is often a matter of custom rather than a strict rule. So, while there are some guidelines which are fairly accurate (such as the above), perfect use is dependent on experience. For discussion, see How to Say Good in French.

good afternoon bon après-midi
goodbye (good bye) The French equivalent is 'au revoir'. This roughly translates as 'to see again', in the sense of 'until we see / meet again'. Consequently, it may sound odd if used in the situation where you do not expect to meet the other person again (in which case one might wish to say 'adieu' instead, which is the equivalent of 'farewell').
good day  bonjour
good evening  bonsoir
good luck  bonne chance
good morning The French equivalent is bon matin, but most French people will use 'bonjour' (goodday) instead.
goodnight (good night) bonne nuit
happy heureux (masculine) or heureuse (feminine)
happy birthday This is 'joyeux anniversaire' (literally 'joyous birthday') or 'bon anniversiare' (literally 'good birthday).
happy new year Typically one uses 'bonne année'.
hello The French would normally use 'bonjour' (goodday), except when answering the phone they would use 'allô'.
hi salut
how are you? This is 'Comment ça va?' (literally 'How is it going?'). Typical responses are 'Bien' (good), 'Ça va bien' (It's going well or I'm doing well), 'Ça va' (Okay), or 'Franchement, ça va' (translates as 'frankly, okay' but really means 'not great').
I love The French for this is J'aime, from the verb 'aimer'. However, this verb is used for both 'like' and 'love', so the intended meaning is dependent on how one uses it.
I love you  The French for this is Je t'aime or Je vous aime. See above note on the verb 'aimer'.
I miss you  This is 'Tu me manques' (informal) or 'Vous me manquez' (formal).
in dans
Italian italien (masculine) or italienne (feminime)
job emploi (employment) or travail (work) or project (company assignment)
language, languages

When discussing language in general (e.g. the development of human language) the French word is 'langage'. If discussing a specific language  (e.g. the English language), the French word is langue (singular) or langues (plural). The word 'langue' is literally 'tongue'.

merry christmas joyeux nöel
miss you See 'i miss you' above.
more plus
morning matin
mother mère
mr The French equivalent is 'Monsieur'. Note that the abbreviation 'mr.' is the same in both English and French, but one does not use the abbreviation in conversation and will normally only use it in writting if there is insufficient room for the full 'Monsieur'.
much beaucoup

This is 'mon' for singular masculine nouns (e.g. mon chien), 'ma' for singular feminine nouns (e.g. ma maison) and 'mes' for plurals (e.g. mes enfants).

There is one exception to the above rule. If a singular feminine noun starts with a vowel or a mute h, then 'mon' is used instead of 'ma' (e.g. 'mon assiette' instead of 'ma assiette').

my name is

The French use the format je m'appelle xxx, where xxx is the name (e.g. je m'appelle John, or je m'appelle John Smith).  The literally translates as 'I call myself John', which may initially seem a strange format but it is the one which is used.

To ask someone what their name is, the format is Comment vous-appellez vous? (How do you call yourself?). One would normally use the 'vous' format with someone that one does not know, but when speaking to a child one would use the familiar format Comment t'appelles-tu?


For something which  has not been been known/seen before (e.g. a new invention) the French word is 'nouveaux' (for masculine nouns) or 'nouvelle' (for feminine nouns). 

For something which is brand new (e.g. a new dress or a new carpet), the French word is 'neuf' or 'neuve'.

no no 
now maintenant
on sur

This is 'seul' (masculine) or 'seule' (feminine) if used in the sense of a single item (e.g. 'only child' = 'seul enfant').

If used in the sense of 'nothing but', one sometimes uses 'que' (e.g. 'He only reads science-fiction' = 'Il ne lit que des romans de science-fiction'). Likewise if used in the sense of 'merely' (e.g. 'I only earn $10 an hour' = Je ne gagne que $10 par heure').

or ou
paris Paris

This is usually s'il vous plâit (formal version) or s'il te plâit (informal). In both cases, the literal translation is 'if it you pleases'. In writting, if there is insufficient room to write s'il vous plâit (e.g. on a small sign), this is often abbreviated to SVP.

If used in the sense of to 'give pleasure to' (e.g. 'it pleased him') then one conjugates 'faire plaisir', whereas if one uses in the sense of 'to please' (e.g. 'I shall do as I please') then one uses the verb 'plaire'.

A somewhat rare version is 'Je vous en prie' or je t'en en prie (literally 'I pray you'), which can be either a more formal or begging version (depending on context).

problem problème'
read This is the verb 'lire'.
restaurant, restaurants restaurant, restaurants
same même
soon bientôt

For an apology this is usually 'désolé' (e.g. 'I am sorry' = 'Je suis désolé). Likewise for sympathy (e.g. I'm sorry to hear about your misfortune).

In the sense of regretting something (e.g. I am sorry I did that), one can use the very 'regretter'. If in the sense of you do not hear or understand something (e.g. Sorry, I didn't quite hear that) one can use 'pardon'.

speak The verb 'parler'
summer été
thanks, thank you

The simple and most common version is 'merci'. More elaborate forms include 'merci beaucoup' (thank you very much), 'merci bien' (means 'thanks a lot' and can be used sincerely or sarcastically), 'merci mille fois' (thank you a thousand times).

this One uses 'ce' (masculine singular noun) or 'cet' (masculine singular noun, beginning with a vowel or a silent h) or 'cette' (feminine singular noun). In the plural sense 'these' is translated as 'ces'.

This is usually 'à', especially if one uses it in the sense of 'going to'.

In other senses, different words may be used. For example 'It is difficult to understand' = 'Il est difficile de comprendre'.

translate This is the very 'traduire'.
translation traduction
understand This is the very 'comprendre'.
yes Oui
you are Vous êtes
you are beautiful

One could say 'vous êtes belle' (you are beautiful) to a woman or 'vous êtes beau' (you are handsome) to a man. The informal versions would use 'tu es' instead of 'vous êtes'.

In some circumstances, belle/beau would sound inappropriate and one might perfer 'joli' (attractive) instead.

you are welcome

The French have many ways of saying 'you are welcome':

  • De rien. The literal translation is 'of nothing', but a more accurate translation is it's nothing. This is a common and informal response with friends and people you know well.
  • Il n'y a pas de quoi. This translates as 'it is nothing' and is similiar in meaning to 'de rien' but is not used as often. When used, it is often shortened to 'pas de quoi'.
  • Je vous en prie. The literal translation is 'I pray you'. This is relatively formal and would not be used between close friends. It is a common response in shops when you say 'merci' (thank you). Between friends one could use 'Je t'en prie', which combines the informal 'tu' used between friends with the more formal 'en prie' to convey they you appreciate their thanks and that they are truely welcome.
  • C'est moi qui vous remercie. The translation is 'It is me that thanks you' and is a re. It is often used by shopkeepers since when you thank them for their service, they are thanking you for purchasing from them. It is often shortened to C'est moi.
  • Avec plasir. This means 'with pleasure', as in 'I am pleased to help'. It is not quite as informal as 'de rien'.
  • À votre service (formal) or à ton service (between friends). A polite and somewhat formal form that one hears occassionally, it translates as 'at your service'.

Also, see 'welcome' below.

your name

This is 'votre nom' (formal) or 'ton nom' (informal).

To ask 'What is your name', one can use 'Comment vous appelez-vous?' (formal) or 'Comment tu t'appelles?' (familiar). Both literally translate as 'How do you call yourself?'. A direct translation of the English 'What is your name' would be 'Quoi est votre nom?' but this format of the question is not used in French and would be considered by some to be rude.

Also see 'my name is' above. 

very much beaucoup
vocabulary vocabulaire

If inthe sense of 'welcome to my home', one uses 'bienvenue'.

If used in the sense 'you are welcome', see discussion above.

will you marry me

The simplist form is Voulez-vous m'épouser? or Veux-tu m'épouser?

One might want to proceed this by 'I love you', see above translation of this phrase.

with The translation depends on the context, but in most cases one can use 'avec'.
word, words mot, mots

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