Even though John had been to France a few times over the last couple of years. It was year’s since i had been. So when I knew  it was to be the first country we would visit, I thought I ought to do something about my language skills. And let’s be honest we have  all probably dreamt of speaking a foreign language. I wasn’t expecting to have a full blown conversation, just a sentence or two. 

So I found a free basic course online, which at first covered what I had learnt at school; greetings, days of the week and numbers before progressing on to asking questions; What time is it? Where can I buy a ticket?

So over several weeks when I had time or remembered I tried to learn a new word or phrase. If I’m honest I found it easier to read than to speak but thought, I’ll be fine, it can’t be that difficult, it will be easier once we are there.

How wrong was I,

Learning French as a language is one thing. Learning real life French is another.

I now realise that having a vocab of words and phrases is fine if you get them in the right context or you use the right gender for the chosen word. As in any language, French words can have a number of meanings that can lead to some funny, or possibly strange sentences. Many French words also look like English words but have a different meaning altogether, so don’t assume like I did! And if you want to sound like a human as opposed to a text book you need good pronunciation.

So I’m not sure if i will ever feel at home with this language let alone become fluent. Armed with a phrase book, a translator and out of respect for being in another country we try at every possibility to use what we have learnt. I  know we make mistakes. Lots of people have been very helpful and encouraged us, others I’m sure just like to see us struggle. The minute we start to speak theres this look that passes over their faces. Each time this happens, for a brief moment, i wonder, do they understand me?  So, if you here someone say; 

“Parler comme une vache espagnole” they are saying “your lauguage skills are like a Spanish cow”!

So I thought i would share some of what I’ve learnt in case it helps someone else and Viola , you to could be muddling you way to getting understood like I am.


Try to under stand the culture

Watch the news, read a newspapers or films with French subtitles 

Understand the masculine and feminine gender associated to all nouns ( words which denote a thing, person or idea) 

Try to pronounce words correctly.

Have a few sentences you know and understand, you can then at least get yourself understood.


BASIC WORDS – Termes  de Base

Boujour –  Hello Good morning or afternoon 

Aurevoir – Bye

Bonsoir – Good evening

Merci – Thank you

Je vous en prie – Your welcome 

Gratuit – Free

Ouvert/Ferme – Open/closed 

Sorte – Exit  

S’il vous plait – Please

Non – no

Oui – yes

Au secours – Help! 

Pardon – Sorry

L’addition – The bill

Au feu – Fire



Je cherche – I’m looking for 

Je ne sais pas – I don’t know

Parlez vous anglais – Do you speak English 

Pourriez vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous pout? – Could you speak more slowly, please?

J’ai ete Mordu / pique par – I’ve been bitten/stung

C’est par ou…..? – Which way is it to …..?

Plat du jour – Menu of the day

Pouvez -vous repeter s il vous plait?  – Could you repeat that please? 

Je ne comprends pas – I don’t understand 



Balance – Scales

Eau – Water

Beurre sale – Salted butter

Lait – Milk

Sucre – Sugar

Pain – Bread

Tradition  – it’s what the locals eat 

Cafe Creme – Coffee with Milk 

Bierre – Beer

Cereales – Cereals

Oeuf – Eggs

Jus d Orange – Orange Juice 

Confiture  – Jam

Salad de fruits  – Fruit cake

2 thoughts on “A Little bit of French Language

  1. Everything you say goes for Spanish too, Karen! Did you remember enough Spanish to get by in Spain? jx

    1. Your right Jenny, perhaps I should have done just a general language blog. We found it much easier in Spain its surprising how quickly it all came back. Hope you are well x

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