There’s a grammar rule that native
English speakers follow without even
realizing it. When describing something
in detail, adjectives are listed in this
order: opinion, size, age, shape, color,
origin, material, purpose. So, while
asking someone to hand you the ‘ugly
little old rectangular brown Italian
leather notebook’ may sound natural,
asking them for the 'Italian old brown
little rectangular leather ugly notebook’
sounds completely wrong- even if you
can’t explain why. Source
1) For questions, use “est-ce que”, or just the plain affirmative form with a question mark/rising tone.
Où vas-tu ? (correct, but nobody actually speaks like that)
Où est-ce que tu vas ? (much better)
Tu vas où ? (most common)
Partez-vous en vacances cet été ? (hello, I’m a robot)
Est-ce que vous partez en vacances cet été ? (natural)
Vous partez en vacances cet été ? (what I would probably say)
=> Note that even though I used the formal “vous” in this last example (could also be that I’m addressing multiple people, but let’s say it’s just one person), it’s still completely ok/common/natural to use these more “informal” question forms. Same goes for all the other tips below. This is how people actually speak, even in slightly more formal situations.
2) Drop “ne” in “ne pas”
E.x. Je ne sais pas. => Je sais pas.
E.x. Je n'ai pas faim. => J'ai pas faim.
3) Use “on” (conjugates like the third person) instead of “nous”
E.x. Nous habitons à Paris. => On habite à Paris.
4) Shorten “tu” to t’ when the verb starts with a vowel of a “silent” H
E.g. Tu habites où ? => T'habites où ?
5) Drop “il” in “il y a”. It turns into “y'a”
E.x. Il y a un chat dans le jardin. => Y'a un chat dans le jardin.
E.x. Il n'y a pas de soucis. => Y'a pas de soucis.
These are the most important I think. Then there’s obviously vocab, with some words/contractions being more informal to varying degrees (“bouquin” for “livre”, “aprem” for “après-midi”…).
And then, there’s pronunciation. There are a lot of sounds that can get slurred together, but I couldn’t really tell you the rules. As an example though, “je” followed by “sais” or “suis” will turn into j’, then ch if you’re really slurring.
"Je sais pas" => “J'sais pas” => “Chaipas” (this last one is not usually written, but you will hear it)
Some people will tell you that all these things are “incorrect” and “not proper French”, but I think that’s bullshit. You *need* to do all these things if you want to sound like a real person, and not like a textbook. Good luck!
- with the help of a user from the HiNative App.
When you have doubts about anything in particular, using HiNative is a great way to get the answers you’re looking for in a language you’re studying.
These were just some helpful tips I got from him/her about sounding more natural and gaining a better understanding of the language.
There are more exceptions to the
“I before E except after C" rule
than there are confirmations. In
fact, it’s been estimated that
there are only 44 words that
actually follow the rule,
and 923 words that don’t. SourceSource 2Source 3