When it comes to learning a language, it is not enough that you know how to pronounce and mimic how the citizens from that country sounds. To speak fluently like a Paris-born man or woman, you must set aside time to expand your vocabulary from the basic set of words to the most common idioms and French sayings. To help you get started, we have listed here 30 different expressions and idioms that you can use in your day-to-day discourse with the locals.
France has always been one of the top tourist destinations for people across the world. With its terrific architectural sights, colorful history in terms of fashion, traditions, customs, and even literature, it surely has influenced the world! In fact, in 2020 alone, it was nominated as the 12th best country in the whole world according to the yearly rankings of USNews.
One of the labels whenever you hear the word “France” is that it remains to be one of the most romantic places on Earth. In terms of structures, it has a wide range of castles and historical sites which are all directly related to the stories about olden kingdoms and empires. But that is not all!
Another major idea of why the country is filled with romantic air is its angelic language. Ever heard of someone say Je t’ aime or have someone thank you with merci? Chances are, you find yourself getting all worked up with excitement…and perhaps, this is the reason why you landed on this page!
You probably want to learn French to speak confidently and establish a connection with your special someone. To learn the basics, take note of the 30 French sayings that we have listed below.
30 Most Native French Sayings
Learning a new language does not have to be hard at all. By simply memorizing a few expressions and French idioms like the ones we have below, you can be sure that you will sound like a total native in no time. As a guide, note that we have created below three columns to guide you on the literal translations as well as the English counterpart so that you can get a better grasp.
|French||English Equivalent||Literal Translation|
|Battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud||Strike while the iron is hot||Take advantage of an opportunity while you have a chance|
|Il me court sur le haricot||He is getting on my nerves||He is annoying me|
|À cœur vaillant rien d’impossible / Vouloir, c’est pouvoir||Nothing is impossible for a valiant heart||Where there is a will, there is always a way|
|À quelque chose malheur est bon / Après la pluie le beau temps||Every cloud has a silver lining||A French proverb refers that there is something positive to be found in every bad event or situation|
|Autres temps, autres mœurs||Times have changed||The world’s customs, values, and ideals are changing. It can also directly be used to represent the difference between the past and present.|
|Bien mal acquis ne profite jamais||Ill-gotten, ill-spent||Wealth obtained illegally will be spent unwisely|
|Bonne renommée vaut mieux que ceinture dorée||A good name is more desirable than great riches||A good reputation is held in higher esteem than any other riches in the world|
|Pédaler dans la semoule||Go around in circles||To seem busy without actually achieving anything|
|L’habit ne fait pas le moine||The clothes do not make the man / Do not judge a book by its cover/ Habit does not make the monk||A common French saying which means that appearances can be very deceiving|
|Ce n’est pas la mer à boire||It is not like you will drink the sea||Do not make a big deal out of it|
|La nuit porte conseil||Sleep on it||Do not rush and spend time thinking about it carefully before announcing your decision|
|Comme on fait son lit, on se couche||Reap what you sow||You have made your bed, now you can lie and enjoy it.|
|Il ne faut rien laisser au hasard||Do not leave anything to chance||Strategize and prepare carefully instead of relying on pure luck|
|Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles||To be filled with so much luck||It is a French expression that means to have ass surrounded by noodles.|
|Il faut manger pour vivre et non vivre pour manger||Eat to live not live to eat||A cultural saying which reminds us not to do mindless eating|
|À bon chat, bon rat||Meeting your match / Tit for Tat||In the French language, this directly translates to “a good cat, a good rat.”|
|Mieux vaut être seul que mal accompagné||Better alone than in a bad company||A powerful proverb that reminds us to never waste time and associate with the wrong type of people.|
|Chacun voit midi à sa porte||Everyone sees things based on their interest / Seeing things how you want to see it / To each his own||This common French expression directly means that “everyone sees noon at their door.”|
|Les murs ont des oreilles||The walls have ears||In the French language, this means that you must be careful as there is a chance you can be overheard by anyone.|
|Bien faire et laisser dire||Do well and act based on what you believe in / Do you||Let your actions make the noise and do whatever you feel is right and just.|
|Il faut qu’une porte soit ouverte ou fermée / On ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre||You can never have it both ways / You must choose / you can’t have your cake and eat it too||This saying means that a door must either be open or closed or that you cannot have the butter and the money from the butter.|
|Toute peine mérite salaire||Every pain deserves recognition||All work must be given the right amount of recognition and compensation no matter how big or small it is.|
|La jeunesse est le temps d’étudier la sagesse, la vieillesse est le temps de la pratiquer||Learn when you are young, practice it when you are old||Youth is the time to gain wisdom and experiences, while old age is the time for practicing and applying what you have learned.|
|Que vivra verra||Time will tell / Let us see how this will play out||This popular saying reminds us that we shall wait and see for the results of something.|
|Il faut casser le noyau pour avoir l’amande||No pain, no gain||This means that you need to break the shell to have the almond.|
|Il faut réfléchir avant d’agir||Look before you leap||This proverb reminds us to consider all the possible consequences of a single action.|
|Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire||There is no going back||This directly translates to the phrase “wine drawn must be drunk”|
Ready to speak with French speakers? As I end this article, I hope that I was able to shed light and give you the quickest and most modern ways on how to express native-sounding French. If you liked this post, please feel free to share it on social media and read other similar posts like how to construct questions in French, the best ways to say the word I don’t know, and the basic greetings. For more language lessons and tips, I recommend that you sign-up with Ling App, a versatile learning app that will help you reach your language goals anytime and anywhere.
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