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French Phrases You’ll Need On Your Next Trip to Europe

By Arden Suvalle

Have you ever dreamed of spending an evening on the balcony of the Eiffel Tower with a French croissant in one hand and a beret in the other? France is often thought of as a dream destination for several young people. With its extravagant (and delicious) delicacies, top notch fashion trends, and beautiful language, France is definitely an ideal location to visit at least once in your lifetime. But when traveling to another country, it is very important to know some phrases in the language commonly spoken amongst citizens in order to keep yourself out of trouble. Today, we will be looking at some of the most commonly used French phrases that you can use on your next trip to any French-speaking country.

“Where is the bathroom?”

As trivial as it may sound, it is always a good idea to know how to ask to go to the bathroom no matter what country you are in. Fortunately for French, asking where the bathroom is not all that difficult. “Où sont les toilettes?” is the simple phrase that you can use to ask where the bathroom is. Do not let the funky accent and extra letters fool you, the pronunciation is actually quite simple. The way you would ask this question is “Ooh-saunt-leh-twah-let”. This version of the question directly translates to “Where are the toilets?”

If instead you would like to be a bit more formal when asking where the bathroom is, you might want to try asking if you have permission go to the bathroom. The way to do this would be to say “Je peux aller aux toilettes?” which is pronounced “Jeh-puh-ah-lair-oh-twah-let”. This translates to “Can I use the toilet?” and is a question best used if you are in a classroom scene, at someone’s house, or at a shop.

“I want”

Chances are that if you are traveling abroad, you will find yourself needing something. This may be the case whether you forgot to pack something in your suitcase or you are ordering something from a restaurant. Either way, you might want to know how to say “I want” in French. The two words you will need for this are very simple. If you want to say “I want” simply say “Je veux”. “Je veux” is pronounced “jeh vuh” and exactly translates to “I want”.

Here is a short list of things you can you want:

  • Je veux manger - I want to eat

  • Je veux de l’eau - I want some water

  • Je veux une chambre - I want a room (if you are at a hotel this may come in handy!)

  • Je veux cet article - I want this item

  • Je veux acheter ça - I want to buy this

“Please” and “Thank you”

Manners are important in every language. It is not the best look to come off as a tourist that asks for things and does not thank someone for helping them. When asking for items, it is always polite to say please. In the French language there are two main ways to say please. The more formal and commonly used version of the word “please” is “s’il vous plaît,” which is mostly used when asking someone for a favor or if you are out and about in town. This phrase is pronounced “see-voo-play,” very simple and easy. The other way to say please is “s’il te plaît” which is the much more casual form. This version would be used amongst family and friends. It is pronounced “seel-teh-play”.

Knowing how to say “thank you” is equally as important as being able to say “please.” Even to non-French speakers, this word will most likely seem familiar. The word for “thank you” is “merci”. “Merci” is pronounced as “meh-see” or “mare-see,” with the latter typically being easier for non-native speakers. If you would like to say “thank you very much” simply turn the phrase into “merci beaucoup” which is pronounced as “mare-see-bow-koo”.

Hopefully these commonly used French phrases will help you on your next trip to France, Canada, or any other French-speaking country! Do not worry if your accent is perfect, French citizens will still get the general idea of what you are trying to say, and will most likely appreciate the effort. Bonne chance et amusez-vous bien! (Good luck and have fun!)

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