How to speak French like a French person

The vocabulary and sayings that we are going to see here are to be used in a social context, with friends or family. When you are in a professional setting, we advise you to stay with your scholarly French and avoid any “slang” or improper language techniques.

Speaking a language fluently is not only to know the words and the grammar of this language. It is also to understand the different meanings of the words and what they can imply both traditionally and non-traditionally. It is also knowing those little things, those little “additions” that come with the words in a conversation.

To begin with, in French, we don’t say “hmm” but rather “heu… (phonetic: {ø}). A typically french sound that punctuates many conversations. To use during a pause or an hesitation.

  • exemple: J’ai aimé le film mais la fin était… heu… un peu bizarre.  (I liked the movie but the end was…hmm… a little weird.)

Then, there are the famous “oulala“, and “ah bon?“, “hein“. Those words that we add to conversations like an extra punctuation.

  • example:
      • Hier, j’ai appris une mauvaise nouvelle… (Yesterday, I got bad news…) 
      • Ah bon ? Qu’est que c’est ? (Really? What is it?)
  • example: “Tu pourrais quand même faire attention, hein.(\ɛ̃\)” (You should be more careful, really!)

The negation is a complex matter in French. “Ne… pas” is the form that is mainly used but it is important to know that French people tend to forget the “ne” when they speak.

  • example: “Fais pas ça!” (Don’t do that!)

To continue with the negation, the sentence that you will hear very often and that can sound surprising is the “Je ne sais pas” (I don’t know) that becomes “Je sais pas” and often “J’sais pas” or even “Ch’sais pas“. Once again, it is good to know about it to understand your interlocutor, but not always as good to use it.

So, here are some little things that you can add to your french (in addition to our list of French Slang“), once you reached an advanced level. Here, I don’t speak about accent, first because there are many francophone accents, there is not one french accent. Then, because your accent will often be your asset, mainly to start a conversation. And as an American would say that the French accent is cute in English, a French will find the American accent “très mignon”.

Feel free to share other examples of those little things that give all his charms to “la langue de Molière”.