10 Essential French Phrases Every Expat Should Know

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10 Essential French Phrases Every Expat Should Know

For many expats the prospect of moving to a different culture is a daunting one, particularly as there are so many things to consider and plan for when emigrating.

Culture shock is a common side effect of moving to a new environment and it can take weeks or months to start feeling at home.

However, learning the language of your host nation can make things significantly easier and help you to throw yourself into both the social and corporate sides of life overseas.

Locals are also likely to look on you more kindly if you make the effort to learn their native tongue (rather than lazily assuming everyone will speak English).

Although English is fairly widely spoken in France, things like street signs, restaurant menus, film listings, television programmes and music will all be in French, so you’ll be able to get a lot more out of the nation if you can understand at least a little of the language.

Obviously, learning to speak a language fluently can take a while, and learning to speak a language like a native can really only be achieved by immersing yourself in it full-time, but there are several essential French phrases every expat simply must make the effort to learn before they move to the country.

Hello – Bonjour

Goodbye – Au Revoir

Yes – Oui

No – Non

Please – Sil vous plaît

Thank you – Merci

My name is… – Je m’appelle

Nice to meet you – Ravi de vous rencontrer

How are you? – Comment allez-vous?

Do you speak English? – Parlez-vous anglais?

Now, once you’ve committed those phrases to memory (and worked on your pronunciation) you might want to start learning these other basic French words and phrases…

Good Morning – Bon matin

Maybe –  Peut-être

Where is? – Où est

Where is the? – Où est l’

How much? – Combien

I don’t understand – Je ne comprends pas

Car – Voiture

Train – Suite

Plane – Avion

Train Station – Gare

Airport – Aéroport

Left – Gauche

Right – Droite

Bread – Pain

Beer – Bière

Wine – Vin

Juice – Jus

Waiter – Serveur

Waitress – Serveuse

And, while you’re making such good progress, try learning some French numbers!

One – Un

Two – Deux

Three – Trois

Four – Quatre

Five – Cinq

Six – Six

Seven – Sept  

Eight – Huit  

Nine – Neuf

Ten – Dix

Something to bear in mind when learning French is that pronunciation varies regionally, so do a little research on the area you’re moving to before you get started!

For extensive information about moving to and living in France check out our Country Guide for France.

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