Common French Phrases

Even if you don’t even know how to say hello in other languages, these most common French phrases will at least get you through the door of your favorite French restaurant.


Learning French (especially as a native English speaker) is a little daunting. Unlike Germanic languages, French draws from Latin, the same as most romantic languages. Luckily, you don’t need to learn every word and phrase before heading to a French-speaking nation. 


Common French Greetings

Some of the most common French phrases are greetings. Greetings are commonly the most-used phrases when traveling in France. Most travelers claim that after greeting someone, they often default back to their native languages (as long as the French speaker knows said language). 


If your native language is English and you are heading to a major city where French is widely spoken, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to bypass French altogether — as long as you approach the French speaker with French greetings. 


Hello In French

Some common greetings include:

Good day: Bonjour

Hi: Salut

Hey there: Coucou

Hello: Allô


Depending on how well you know the person, you could shake hands or offer a kiss on each of his cheeks.


French Pleasantries

Pleasantries in French-speaking countries are much more important than in countries where Germanic languages are spoken. You need to acknowledge the other person in a positive manner — no matter your relationship.


One example of when Americans get this wrong is when entering a business. In the states, we always assume ‘the customer is always right’ and ‘it’s the salesperson’s job to greet me.’ 


In many French-speaking countries, it’s polite not only to say hello to a salesperson when you enter a business — but you should also ask, “How are you?” as well. Entering a store and shopping without acknowledging the proprietor is considered extremely rude.


Hello, how are you?: Bonjour, comment allez-vous?


How is your mother?: Comment va ta mère?


Thank you very much: Merci beaucoup


You’re welcome: Je vous en prie


In addition to asking how someone is doing, you might even ask how that person’s family is that day, too. 


Most Common French Phrases for Traveling

One of our best tips for learning a new language? Go with the most common phrases first. When it comes to traveling, you’ll also want to have a few words in your arsenal to get you from place to place — and know what to say at a hotel or Airbnb. These most common French phrases for traveling will help get you in, around and back out of any French-speaking country.



Getting around a French-speaking country is harder when you don’t have the right vocabulary to get you where you want to go. You’ll want to memorize these most common French phrases and French words if you’re planning on traveling without an interpreter.


Train: Train

Plane: Avion

Airport: Aéroport

Car: Voiture

Van: Camionette

Bus: Autobus

Boat: Bateau

Ferry: Ferry

Taxi: Taxi (easy one, right?)

Gas station: Station-essence

Train station: Gare

Subway: Métro



These days, most hotels hire English-speaking staff. English has become the universal language of travel, so you can probably check in to your hotel without any problems. 


But if you’re staying in a homestay or an Airbnb, you’ll want to make note of a few of these vocab words — or download a translator app that can easily translate text to speech, such as the Vocre app, available on Google Play for Android or the Apple Store for iOS. 

French Lodging Phrases

Hello, I have a reservation: Bonjour, j’ai un réservation.


I’d like a no-smoking room: Je voudrais une chambre non-fumeur.


What time is check-out?: A quelle heure dois-je libérer la chambre?


French Lodging Vocabulary

Suitcase: Valise

Bed: Lit, couche, bâti

Toilet paper: Papier toilette

Shower: Douche

Hot water: D’eau chaude


Eating at a Restaurant

Luckily, most waitstaff in large, French-speaking cities understand English. But again, it’s considered good manners to try to speak french to your waiter before throwing in the towel and defaulting to English.


Table for one, please: Bonjour, une table pour une, s’il vous plaît.

I need a menu please: La carte, s’il vous plaît?

Water, please: Une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plaît?

Restroom: Toilettes or WC


French Figures of Speech

Just like with every language, French has its own figures of speech. It can be extremely confusing (and somewhat comical) to try to figure out what people are saying!


We have eyes bigger than our stomaches: Nous avions les yeux plus gros que le ventre.


The ticket cost me an arm: ce billet m’a coûté un bras.

(In English, we say ‘an arm and a leg,’ but it’s just an arm in French!)


To get broken up with (or dumped): Se faire larguer.


Formal Vs. Informal French Phrases

In French, it’s common to use slightly different words and phrases when you’re speaking to a stranger than you would when speaking to your best friend. 


The word for ‘you’ in French is ‘tu’ if you’re speaking to someone you know. If you’re speaking to someone you want to show respect to or a stranger, you would use the formal word for ‘you,’ which is ‘vous.’


Heading to France last minute? Check out our list of the best travel apps for last-minute travel! Headed to other destinations? Find out how to say common Chinese phrases or common Spanish phrases.


Good Morning in French

Learn how to say good morning in French, when to say it, and what to avoid doing if you don’t want to look like a French-speaking novice.


One of the most common phrases you can learn to say in other languages is, “Good morning.” Even if you only know how to say good morning in different languages, you’ll at least be able to greet strangers and friends alike — and do so in an enjoyable, pleasant way!


How to Say Good Morning in French

Good morning is one of the most common phrases to say in French! You can use this phrase much of the day (not just first thing in the morning or before noon as we do in English-speaking countries).


To say good morning in French, you’d say, “Bonjour!”

Bonjour Pronunciation

In French, pronunciation is everything (or practically everything, at least)! 


The French may forgive a lot when it comes to butchering their language, but they don’t look lightly upon those that mispronounce words. In fact, mispronouncing words is probably one of the biggest offenses a French student can make!


When saying good morning in French, To pronounce bonjour, you may be tempted to simply sound out the word and say, “bahn-joor.” And while this isn’t terribly off-base to our English ears, it’s practically a crime in France. If you want to say bonjour and sound like a local, you’ll want to say, “bown-zhoor.”


If you really want to sound like a local, you may want to practice saying French words with a language translation app, like Vocre.


Vocre offers text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and even voice-to-voice translation. The best part is that you can download the app on your phone when you have wifi or cell service and continue to use it even if your signal is lost. 


Vocre is one of the best language translation apps available in the Apple Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android.

When to Say Bonjour

Bonjour can be used correctly in many situations — not just to wish someone a good morning when first waking up!


In the U.S. (and other English-speaking countries), we often say good morning only when we first awake. But in other countries, it’s used throughout the morning, often right up until 11:59 a.m.


Bonjour is also both an informal word and a semi-formal word, meaning you can use it with friends, relatives, and even some people you’ve just met. 

Informal Uses

In English-speaking countries, we use the phrase good morning pretty informally, though we may also tell a stranger good morning as we pass them on the street.


Similarly, you may the word bonjour to say good morning in French to your friends and family members, too. 


The crazy thing in French is that you can say bonjour to someone, often regardless of what time of day it is! It’s appropriate to say bonjour to others throughout the day — often until just before evening. 


This means that bonjour doesn’t just mean good morning, but it also means good day, too. 

Semi-Formal Uses

You may use bonjour to greet someone you’re familiar with or in an informal manner, and you may also say bonjour in semi-formal situations, too. 


Consider it like this: if you’re wearing business-casual style to an event, you can probably say bonjour and consider you’ll be using this word appropriately. This means you can use this phrase for business meetings in English and in French.


You’ll just need to use discretion if you’re using the word in a situation where it could be considered too formal to use it. 


For example, you may not want to use it at a funeral, to greet someone of great importance, or to meet someone of much higher stature. 

Common Mistakes in French (or how to avoid sounding like a novice)

There are many common mistakes that English speakers use when trying to speak French. When you make these mistakes, you’ll sound instantly like a novice. 


The most common mistakes English speakers use when learning French include using literal translations (word-for-word translations), mispronouncing words (a major faux pas in French), and mixing up false friends (or using French words like English words). 

Don’t Use Literal Translations

We’ve all been there: we try to hack a French sentence word for word. Instead, we just end up butchering the sentence, word, or phrase! English-to-French translations are difficult because of this.


One of the best ways to show everyone you’re a novice French speaker is to use literal translations. One of the most commonly botched French translations is bon matin.


Bon means good and matin means morning. That means you can use this phrase to say good morning, right?




If you say bon matin, everyone will instantly know that you’re new to the French language. Do yourself (and everyone else who may end up feeling terribly embarrassed for you) and avoid saying this at all costs.

Pronunciation Matters

Pronunciation is one of the most important pieces of learning French. Many English speakers try to sound out words and end up bungling pronunciation altogether.


When you mispronounce a word (especially if you do so trying to sound it out as an English word), you’ll inadvertently end up broadcasting to every French speaker in earshot that you’re a French novice. 


If you want to impress your French listeners (or, let’s be honest: simply avoid offending them), learn the correct pronunciation of each word. The best way to do this is to listen to the pronunciation of the word.


You can use a language translation app, such as Vocre, that offers text-to-voice translation. 

False Friends

False friends is a term for words that are spelled the same in two languages but have two totally different meanings.


In French, there are many words that look the same as English words, though their meanings are completely different.


Examples of commonly misused French false friends include coin (in English this means coin money; in French, it means corner), monnaie (conversely, this looks like the English word money but it means change), and actuellement (which looks like the English word actually but ‘actually’ means right now in French). 


While when we’re practicing we can use our best judgment or guess what a word means, but it’s always best to know or ask what a word means if you’re trying to impress your French friends. 

French Greetings

Don’t want to say good morning when you greet someone? 


There are plenty of French greetings you can use to say hi, hey, how are you, nice to meet you, and much more! They include:


  • Âllo: hello
  • Ça va?: how are you?
  • Coucou: hey
  • Enchanté: nice to meet you
  • Tu vas bien?: have you been well?

Bonne Journée

Want to learn how to tell someone to have a good day in French? Bonne means good and ​​journée means daytime (though when you put them together, it means to have a good day).


You can use this phrase when you’re saying goodbye to someone (especially if that someone is a person you’re slightly more formal with — such as a client or a stranger on the street). 


If you want to be a little less formal with friends or relatives, you can always say salut instead of saying hello or goodbye. 


Salut is sort of the French equivalent of, “Hey, what’s up?” It’s similar to how the British say, “Cheers,” instead of saying hi or bye. 


The direct translation of salut is salvation. When saying this word, don’t say the T sound at the end (you’ll give yourself away as a French-speaking novice right away!). 


Whatever you do, don’t say salut when you’re toasting on New Year’s Eve (or any other time for that matter!). 


Salut is often misused by English-speakers because salute means to your health in Italian. In French, it doesn’t mean this at all. If you want to toast in French you should say, “À ta santé,” or, “À votre santé,” both of which mean to your health in French.


Another common greeting in French is bienvenue, which simply means welcome.


You could say this greeting when welcoming someone into your home or to the country for the first time. 


The masculine form of bienvenue is bienvenu. 


What you don’t want to do is use the phrase bienvenue when you want to say, “You’re welcome,” in French. These two phrases mean two entirely different sentiments. 


If you want to say, “You’re welcome,” in French, you’d say, “de rien,” which translates to, it means nothing.

Common French Phrases

Ready to learn a few more common French phrases


Below is a list of common phrases and words for meeting someone new, asking (politely) if a French speaker also speaks English, you want to say goodbye, or if you want to explain that you don’t speak French (yet!).  


  • Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais? 
  • Excuse me: Excusez-moi
  • Goodbye: Au revoir! 
  • I do not speak French: Je ne parle pas français
  • Mrs./Mr./Miss: Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle
  • Pardon me: Pardon
  • See you later!: À tout à l’heure! 
  • Thank you/thank you very much: Merci/merci beaucoup 

Merry Christmas in Different Languages

Find out how to say Merry Christmas in different languages. Or, if the recipient of your greeting doesn’t celebrate any December holidays, you can find out how to say hello in other languages instead.


Christmas is celebrated across the world. 


It is celebrated predominantly by Christians, but this holiday also has a secular sister that’s celebrated by even those who don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus.


No matter where you are in the world (or what language you speak), you can say, “Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy Hanukkah, or happy Kwanzaa. 

Where is Christmas celebrated?

Christmas is truly celebrated all over the world — though, the holiday may not look the same in different countries. 


160 countries celebrate Christmas. Americans celebrate Christmas on December 25 (as do citizens of other countries), the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6, Coptic Christmas and Orthodox Christmas are on January 7. 


Christmas is not celebrated in the following countries:


Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (except Hong Kong and Macau), Comoros, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, the Maldives, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, the Sahrawi Republic, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Taiwan (Republic of China), Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.


Of course, there are always exceptions. Many foreigners in the above countries still celebrate Christmas, but the holiday isn’t an official holiday recognized by the government.


Christmas is celebrated in Japan — not really as a religious holiday but as a secular holiday — replete with gift exchanges and Christmas trees.

Inclusive Holiday Greetings

There are many instances when saying, “Merry Christmas,” might not be appropriate. In diverse countries (especially ones where the majority of residents celebrate Christmas), assuming everyone celebrates is offensive.


Even though many who celebrate Christmas do so secularly (and are not Christian), assuming everyone celebrates the holiday isn’t the best way to wish everyone a happy holiday.


If you want to be inclusive, you can always say, “Happy holidays!” Or, you can wish someone a joyful greeting tailored to their own celebrations and traditions. 


While Kwanzaa and Hannukah should never be considered “African-American” or “Jewish” Christmas (these holidays have their own cultural and religious meanings, separate from Christmas; yet, they also happen to take place in the month of December), if it’s one of the eight days of Hannukah or the seven days of Kwanzaa and the recipient of your greeting celebrates, it’s totally appropriate to wish someone a happy Hannukay or happy Kwanzaa.


Just make sure you know the person celebrates the holiday in your greeting. Don’t assume that every African-American celebrates Kwanzaa, and don’t assume everyone from Isreal or a Jewish background celebrates Hannukah. 


When in doubt, simply wish someone a happy holiday, or use a common phrase in another language and forget about the holiday season altogether in your greeting. 


Want to learn how to say want to say Merry Christmas in different languages not listed below — or holiday greetings other than Merry Christmas?


Download Vocre’s translation app. Our app uses voice-to-text and can be used with or without internet access. Simply download the digital dictionary and learn how to say common phrases, words, and sentences in other languages. 


Vocre is available in the Apple Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android

Merry Christmas in Different Languages

Ready to learn how to say Merry Christmas in different languages? Learn how to say Merry Christmas in Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and other common languages. 

Merry Christmas in Spanish

Most English speakers know how to say Merry Christmas in Spanish — probably thanks to the popular holiday song, “Feliz Navidad.”


In Spanish, Feliz means happy and Navidad means Christmas. It’s a simply one-for-one translation from Spanish to English and a common Spanish phrase


Christmas is widely celebrated throughout Latin America, including Mexico (more than 70% of Mexicans are Catholic), Central America, and South America. Spain also hosts many Christmas celebrations, including Epiphany on January 6. 


Merry Christmas in French

If you want to say Merry Christmas in French, you would simply say, “Joyeux Noël.” Unlike Spanish, this is not a word-for-word translation from French to English.


Joyeux means joy and Noël means noel. The Latin meaning of Natalis (which Noël stems from), means birthday. So, Joyeux Noël simply means joyful birthday, as Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. 

Merry Christmas in Italian

If you want to say Merry Christmas in Italian, you would say, “Buon Natale.” Buon means good and Natale, similar to Noël in French, stems from the Latin word Natalis. 


Experts say that the first Christmas was celebrated in Italy in Rome. So, if you’re celebrating Christmas in this fair country, you are paying homage to the history of the holiday!

Merry Christmas in Japanese

We already know that many Japanese celebrate a secular version of Christmas (similar to how Americans celebrate). If you’re in Japan at Christmastime, you can say, “Merīkurisumasu.” Merī means Merry and kurisumasu means Christmas. 

Merry Christmas in Armenian

Depending on whether you belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church (one of the oldest Christian religions) or not, you may either celebrate Christmas on December 25 or January 6.


If you want to say Merry Christmas in Armenian, you would say, “Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund.” This translates to congratulations for the holy birth. 

Merry Christmas in German

Another country that’s known for its extravagant Christmas celebrations is Germany. Thousands of people flock to this country to visit its whimsical Christmas markets for one-of-a-kind gifts, caroling, and hot alcoholic beverages.


If you want to say Merry Christmas in German, you would say, “Frohe Weihnachten.” Frohe means merry and Weihnachten means Christmas — another word-for-word translation!

Merry Christmas in Hawaiian 

The U.S. is so diverse, it makes sense that you might need to learn how to say Merry Christmas in different languages if you want to wish your neighbors a joyful holiday.


One of the states where you may want to wish someone a Merry Christmas in another language is Hawaii. Less than 0.1% of the Hawaiian population speaks Hawaiian, but this greeting is pretty well-known throughout the island — as well as the rest of the U.S.


If you want to say Merry Christmas in Hawaiian, you’d say, “Mele Kalikimaka.” 

English to French Translation

The language of French is a Romance language and is the third most-widely spoken language in the European Union. It is the second most-widely spoken language in Canada (after English) and is one of the official languages of Canada. In the U.S., French is the fourth most-widely spoken language in the country. 


Overall, about more than 275 million people around the world, and it’s the fifth most-widely spoken language. It’s the second most-popular second-language in the world.  


It is most widely spoken in areas of the world where France once controlled (and where the government currently controls), such as French Polynesia, some Caribbean islands, and French Indochina (now Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia). 


The most common dialects of French include:


  • Acadian French
  • African French 
  • Beglian French
  • Canadian French
  • Louisiana Creole
  • Quebec French
  • Swiss French


As Lebanon was also once under French rule, the language is still used in the country; yet, the government strictly controls when Arabic is used and when French can be used. 

English to French Translation

Translating English to French is much more difficult than translating Spanish to French or English to Germanic. This is because French is a Romantic language whereas English is a Germanic language.


The French language pronounces many letters and letter combinations completely differently than the English language does. There are also many different French accents. 


Trying to learn French online? Need fast translations for travel, school, or business? We recommend using machine translation software that has an French translation tool and can easily translate text to speech, such as the MyLanguage app, available on Google Play for Android or the Apple Store for iOS. 


Software such as Google Translate or Microsoft’s language learning app doesn’t offer the same English translation accuracy as paid apps. 

French Translators

English-French translators and translation services don’t charge as much as other language translators, as French and English translators are easier to come by than other language translators. Yet, the costs can still be considerable if you’re trying to translate longer texts, so we recommend inputting the text into a language translation software program or app. 


Check out our online translation tool that can help you learn basic words and phrases, such as hello in other languages

More Online Translation 

At Vocre, we believe that you shouldn’t need to hire a pricey translator to simply communicate with someone. Our automated translation app can translate both written and oral communication.


We offer more online translation in the following languages:


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