French idioms!
4 March 2017


French idioms can be very useful. They are used all the time. Some may have several meanings, like “Salut”, which can be used to say either hello or goodbye to your friends. And there are many others!

Everbody knows that us French people love using idioms when talking. Here is a video from “Français avec Pierre presenting a few of them!


As you can see in the video, there are different idioms to:

 Say hello or goodbye, such as:

“Bonjour”: This is the basic way to say hello in French. It may be used by anybody and is both formal and informal.

“Ça va ? ”: This one is a question, but can also be an answer. (- Bonjour, ça va ? – Ça va. (ou – Oui, ça va.)

“Comment allez-vous ?”: This is a more formal way of asking “Ça va ?”.

“Au revoir”: This is what you say when leaving a place or people.

“À tout à l’heure”: Is to be used with people whom you will see or meet during the day (in one hour, 20 minutes, etc. always on the same day).

“Bonne journée”: French people use it to wish someone else a good day.

“On s’appelle”: This is used to express the wish to keep in touch.

Talk about love or confess your feelings:

“Je t’aime”: Everybody knows “Je t’aime”, this is not just a French expression; it is just as universal as “I love you” (<3).

“Ah l’amour…”: People use it when they see a person’s behaviour change because they are in love.

What to say in what situation:

“Bon appétit”: This is used to wish somebody a good meal.

“Santé/Tchin Tchin”: These, as well as “À tes amours”, are used in a toast when having a drink with family, friends, collegues, etc.

“Bonne année”: This one is used to wish somebody else a happy new year.

“Joyeux Noël”: “Merry Christmas” in English.

“Joyeux Anniversaire !”: “Happy birthday” in English.

 To express an opinion:

“C’est pas mal”: “Not bad” in English.

“C’est génial”: It’s really good/great, etc. “Awesome” in English.

“C’est fou !”: “This is crazy!” in English.

“J’adore”: “I love it” in English.

“Ça à l’air bien”: “It looks good” in English.

“C’est dégueulasse”: “It’s disgusting” in English.

“Ben j(e) sais pas”: “I don’t know” in English.

“Ça dépend”: “It depends” in English.

“C’est la vie!”: “That’s life!” in English. The French often use it to provide an explanation when there is none.

 Other idioms:

“On y va ?”: This is an equivalent of “Allons-y” or “Let’s go” in English.

“Bref”: “Bref” is used to sum up a point or stop talking about a particular subject.

“Allô”: This one is used to answer the phone.

To express one’s surprise:

“Ah bon?!”: “Really?!” in English.

 “J’y crois pas”: “I can’t believe it” in English.

“C’est pas vrai?!”: Is synonymous with “I don’t believe it” in English. 

There are plenty of other French idioms, some of which will help you improve or which you will find amusing. Knowing how to use those idioms nonetheless requires knowledge and experience.