Common French Phrases

Essential French Phrases and Expressions to Continue the Conversation

French fans
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To keep up a conversation in any foreign language, it's important to familiarize yourself with common phrases and expressions. Odds are that they'll come up more often than not. In French, some of the most common phrases like pas de problème ("no problem") are similar if not identical to their English equivalent. These expressions are usually taught in class and tend to be relatively easy for students to grasp and recall.

Not all common French phrases are simple. A good example of a more confusing expression is revenons à nos moutons, which directly translates to "let's get back to our sheep" but actually means "let's get back to the subject at hand." Expressions like these are often used conversationally among native French speakers but are often neglected in classrooms. Whether you're planning your first trip to a French-speaking country or you just want to improve your speaking skills, here is a list of common phrases (both simple and more elaborate) that are essential to keeping the conversation going.

Affirmatives and Agreements

Courtesies and Salutations

Causality, Comparison, and Condition

Debate and Discussion

Duration and Time

Exclamations and Expressions

Negatives and Disagreements


  • de trop: too much/many
  • du tout: not/none at all 
  • il y a: there is, there are


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Team, ThoughtCo. "Common French Phrases." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). Common French Phrases. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Common French Phrases." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).