how to sound more like a french native speaker 🌿
The following points are 5 classic French conversational techniques and mannerisms to help you sound just a bit more truly français:
1. The tactical use of bah
Fairly difficult to translate, the French bah is used rather regularly and can make your speech pattern sound very authentic.
In answer to an obvious question perhaps:
“Tu aimes bien la pizza?” (Do you like pizza?)
“Bah oui, bien sur!” (Well, yes, of course!)
Or something like the following:
“Tu adores le brocoli?” (Do you love broccoli?)
“Bah non! Je déteste!” (No, I hate it!)
Or as a deep, elongated syllable to fill gaps while you think:
“Qu’est-ce que tu fais le weekend?” (What are you doing on the weekend?)
“Baaaaaahh, en fait je ne sais pas encore.” (Well…actually I don’t know yet)
2. Add quoi to the ends of sentences
This one is also not easy to translate, but it would be the French equivalent of “whatever” or “innit.” So, you might imagine that it shouldn’t be used when talking formally, but it’s used often in casual conversation and can perfectly round off a sentence.
“C’est quoi, ça?” (What is that?)
“Euuh, je ne sais pas exactement mais je pense que c’est une sorte de nourriture, quoi.” (Um, I’m not really sure but I think it’s a type of food or whatever.)
3. Using eh, ah and hein like there’s no tomorrow
Whether it’s to fill space while you think or to provoke a response, these elongated vowels are very useful when speaking French. They can be heard very often in conversation.
For example, in English we add “don’t you?”/ “aren’t you?”/ “isn’t it?” to the end of statements to toss the conversational ball back into the other person’s court. The French will simply say “hein?”
“Il fait beau aujourd’hui hein?” (It’s nice weather today isn’t it?)
Try it with raised eyebrows for added French effect.
4. Sufficient use of voilà here, there and everywhere
The slangy English phrases “so, yeah” or “so, there you go” would probably be best translated into French as “voilà.”
When you can’t think of anything else to say at the end of a sentence, you can’t go wrong with a voilà. Sometimes even two. Voilà voilà.
5. Not forgetting the classic French shrug
In response to a question to which you don’t know the answer, respond the French way with an exaggerated shrug, raised eyebrows and add a “baaah, je sais pas, moi!” for good measure.