Here are some very common French words that are used in everyday speech and which you can express in a more formal way, giving a touch of “sophistication” to your language.
The truth is that you may become fed up with using the same words all the time. With these words you will bring your knowledge of French to the next level and surprise your French friends.
Even if you are a beginner, you will learn here some basic but essential French vocabulary that you will certainly find useful in everyday conversations. You come back later to learn their more advanced synonymes.
Learn how to speak about jobs and professions in French. It may come in handy when meeting new people (that's one of the questions you will be asked or you will ask) or if you are planning to work in France. This lesson will allow you to make your French small talk richer and more engaging.
Gaël est pompier. Il est pompier volontaire. C'estun pompier très courageux.
No Article Please
In French, contrary to English, you put no article before the name of the profession. So:
Je suis un professeur. I'm a teacher.
Il est médecin. He is a doctor.
When you precise things about somebody's the profession (his / her qualities), you need to add an article. However, if you are only precising the category it belongs to, there is still noartilce.
Mark est un médecin exceptionnel.(quality)
Marie est médecin généraliste. (category)
When speaking about professions, you need to remember about the masculine / feminine forms of certain professions. Many of them have only the masculine form.
Knowing the names of different nationalities (les nationalités) will not only allow you to tell something about yourself but also it will help you to get to know better the person you are talking to, especially if he/she is a foreigner.
Things to remember:
As with majority of the French adjectives, there is a masculine and feminine form for most of the names of nationalities. All you need to do is to add an “-e” to the masculine form. Eg. français / française
Most of the time it will change the pronunciation français / française (z) but there are some exceptions where it stays the same: Eg. espagnol / espagnole
If the name of the adjective of nationality ends with “-e”, the word stays the same. Eg. Paul est suisse. / Marie est suisse.
The names of nationalities in French are written insmall letters, unlike in the English language !
Names of Nationalities in French:
Names of the Countries
You may also want to learn the names of the countries in French that go with the names of these nationalities. Have a look atthislesson.
Here is a list of 10 French idiomatic expressions that you will probably hear most frequently while in France. The list is rather subjective, as I did not base myself on any official document proving the frequency (Does such such thing exist ?). The only explanation I have is that to my mind these idiomatic expressions are used more often than others. Of course, there are others but I thought these might be the most useful ones for the beginning and intermediate learners of French. Thus, upon your arrival to France you won't be surprised to hear what may at first appear as some strange sounding expressions you have no idea about their meaning.
"Why learn French idioms ?"
You may ask. If you want to get over the "speaking the very basic French" level, you need to get to know some idiomatic expressions. And this is true for any language. That's just the way people like to express ideas. Idioms make the language more vivid, more colorful and more expressive.It's one of the things that shows that you know the language well.
You may also check this website about The French Idioms (origin, explanations, translation).
The List of the 10 Popular Everyday French Idioms:
Prendre quelque chose au pied de la lettre: It is used to describe somebody who believes too seriously in everything he/she hears. Eg. On entend souvent dire que tous les parisiens sont grincheux mais il ne faut pas le prendre au pied de la lettre. C'est juste un cliché.
Il n'y a pas un chat: used to say that there are very few or no people in a particular place. There isn't a soul. Eg.Cet endroit est complètement désert ! Il n'y a pas un chat !
Il pleut des cordes: when it rains a lot and hard. It's raining cats and dogs. Eg. Tu as vu le temps qu'il fait dehors ? Il pleut des cordes ! Hors de question que je sorte !
Il n'y a pas le feu au lac / y'a pas le feu: when you are not in a hurry. There is no panic. Eg. Attends ! Pourquoi t'es si pressé ? Il n'y a pas le feu au lac !
Fumer comme un pompier: to smoke a lot of cigarettes. To smoke like a chimney. / To be a chain smoker. Eg. Ca pue la cloppe chez ton voisin ! C'est parce qu'il fume comme un pompier !
Maigre comme un clou: speaking about someone really thin, a skinny person. Thin as a rake. Eg. Il est maigre comme un clou ! Il ne doit pas peser plus de 50 kilos tout habillé !
Etre au taquet: when you are fully engaged in some activity. To be going flat out / to be going full throttle. Eg. Regarde le ! Il est complètement absorbé par son travail. Ouais, il est vraiment au taquet.
Etre nickel (chrome): when something is neatly / very well done. To be spotless. Eg.(En parlant de nettoyage d'une voiture par exemple) Vous avez fait du bon travail. C'est vraiment nickel ! / C'est nickel chrome !
En avoir marre: to have had enough of something. To be fed up with something. Eg. J'en ai marre de ton comportement stupide ! Je me casse d'ici !
S'en moquer / ficher / foutre: to be completely uninterested or indifferent to something / somebody. Not to give a damn / toss about something. Eg. Tu es au courant que fumer tue ? Oui, me je m'en fous !