Essential French - L'Essentiel

Learn basic French vocabulary and phrases

Couple walking in Paris
Smith Photographers/Blend Images/Getty Images

Even if you're just going to France for a week, you should know some survival French - a few essential words and phrases that you'll use over and over. This is a somewhat miscellaneous list of the basics, so be sure to follow the links at the end for even more essential French like "hello" and "please."

Je parle (un peu de) français
   I speak (a little) French.

Parlez-vous anglais ?
   Do you speak English?
Comment ?

Je ne comprends pas.
   I don't understand.

Que veut dire ___ ?
   What does ___ mean?

Répétez, s'il vous plaît.
   Repeat, please.

Plus lentement
   More slowly

Encore une fois
   One more time

Comment dit-on ___ en français ?
   How do you say ___ in French?

Je ne sais pas
   I don't know

J'ai une question
   I have a question

J'ai un problème
   I have a problem

oui    yes
non    no
si    yes (in reponse to a negative question)
d'accord    OK

et    and
ou    or

qui    who
quoi    what*
quand    when
pourquoi    why
comment    how

*Be careful, there are several ways to say "what" in French.

Practice Essential French Vocabulary

More essential French

For more in-depth study, check out French for Beginners.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Team, ThoughtCo. "Essential French - L'Essentiel." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). Essential French - L'Essentiel. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Essential French - L'Essentiel." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).